Overkill on New Flu

chisue

I waste a lot of time on the Hawaii forums on Trip Advisor. Now there's a big commotion over the new virus that originated in China. People are getting hysterical about traveling to Hawaii -- not just *travel*, which I can understand. As far as I can tell, this virus is news because it's NEW to the spectrum of flu viruses -- not any worse, just new. I do not see a rationale that would focus on Hawaii -- or your local Chinatown either. (That area of Chicago is suddenly devoid of visitors.)


It appears to me that, given the limited information we have about this particular strain, it's half as deadly as our normal flu.


Word-of-mouth in my home town is that mostly younger people with 'normal flu' have run (102F) fevers with severe body aches. A common refrain is, "Even my *eyes* hurt." Tamiflu has brought some relief, and no one I know has been hospitalized. Fourteen thousand Americans have died of this normal flu since the beginning of flu season in October -- out of 250,000 diagnosed with it.


DH and I both had what sounds similar to this in late December 2016. Since I'm mostly hearing about this affecting young people, maybe older peoplewe have some acquired immunity? Neither of us tested positive for a 'known strain of flu' back then, but, oh boy, were we miserable! We'd had flu shots then and have them every autumn.

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Lucille

Only a very stupid person would pick up a snake if they had no idea how venomous it is and were not sure how to handle it.

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blfenton

I had the flu so bad one year that it did hurt to blink.

Anyway, my understanding with this new virus is that yes, fear is driving a lot of the narrative. From the medical community it sounds like there is still a lot of unknowns about it, It's not yet known definitely how and why it spreads or how it differs from the regular flu as we know it.

The other unknown apparently is how the two viruses will interact should they ever mingle. The flu we normally see apparently starts in Australia and this new one started in China. Now whether or not this one that started in China will be an annual occurrence is also unknown. So many unknowns which is I guess why there is such a big effort to contain it. Do we really need two viruses killing upwards of 300.000 - 600,000 people worldwide a year? Just a question, not, hopefully, a fear-mongering statement.

I'm not changing my routine for it but I'm not going on a cruise anytime soon either.

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Bookwoman

Coronavirus ‘Hits All the Hot Buttons’ for How We Judge Risk

Shortly after the University of Washington announced that the school’s fourth suspected case of the new coronavirus had turned out negative, two professors, one of public policy and the other of public health, held a small dinner for students and faculty members. Like everywhere else on campus, and in much of the world, the coronavirus was all anybody could talk about.

But one of the attendees, a public health student, had had enough. Exasperated, she rattled off a set of statistics.

The virus had killed about 1,100 worldwide and infected around a dozen in the United States. Alarming, but a much more common illness, influenza, kills about 400,000 people every year, including 34,200 Americans last flu season and 61,099 the year before.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/world/asia/coronavirus-risk-interpreter.html

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Lucille

That is really an oft quoted yet idiotic statistic since we don't know much about this new virus. There is plenty of information about the possibility of undercounting deaths, mostly for political reasons, so the quoted death counts may be misleading. There is also new info that the virus may be able to mutate and no info yet as to what that might mean.

There is a difference between fear mongering, and acknowledging that we do not yet have enough info to adequately judge the risk and so should be careful. Don't pick up that snake until you know more what you are dealing with and how to deal. Being cautious is valid, trying to minimize the appearance of risk using statistics that are not really comparable is foolish.



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Elmer J Fudd

Until more time passes and this thing plays out a bit more, concluding the risk is real and imminent everywhere seems equally irrational as concluding the likelihood for an area or any individuals is remote.

It's new and not enough is known. Yes, it's uncertain! Caution and precaution are warranted, how much is the right amount is unknown too. What's disappointing to me is for a country that has modernized in so many ways, China has yet again been dishonest and ham-fisted, and again had a lack of transparency and inaction, in addressing the problem.

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chisue

I don't see how I can edit my OP. I have mistakenly said that 250,000 Americans were diagnosed with 'regular' flu. That's the number who required hospitalization. The *diagnosed* number is something like 26 million -- and no one knows how many others went undiagnosed. Deaths attributed to flu remain at 14,000 for that same period.

It will be awhile before we see mortality 'comps' for the new strain as it appears in First World nations.



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functionthenlook

People are afraid of the unknown and there is many unknowns so far about this flu. Then you got the people screaming pan epidemic that doesn't help. Always better to error on the side of caution.

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Elmer J Fudd

"Then you got the people screaming pan epidemic that doesn't help"

I think the word you meant to use is pandemic.

We agree, it's the unknown and uncertainty that's troubling. Erring on the side of caution is fine, but how much caution? Where and when? Stay home? Cancel travel plans? Wear an isolation bunny suit out in public? There are people avoiding urban areas and Chinese restaurants, is that necessary, rational or prudent?

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Debby

Not a single case in the city I live in, but you can't find a face mask on a shelf in the stores, and antibacterial is sold out all over. Even my dentist office is having difficulty getting masks in, and they actually need them. Stranger yet; we sold out of masks in a hot minute and yet I think I've only seen a couple people wearing one. A customer wanted one because "I work in customer service, so I want to protect myself." I looked at him and said, "Yeah, I work in customer service and in a drugstore full of sick people and I'm not wearing one." I got a funny look....

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colleenoz

The really stupid thing about people buying masks is that the only benefit they offer is they might stop YOU passing on COVID-19 if you have it, but they won’t prevent you getting it if you are exposed.

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Richard (Vero Beach, Florida)

Just out of curiosity...

Cheap dust masks that were probably a bit overpriced at around $13 are now almost $50.

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functionthenlook

Wow people are really over reacting. Of course that doesn't surprise me. Look how people acted when AIDs surfaced and New Years 2000. Not going on vacation, eating at Chinese restaurants IMO is overreacting.

One thing I am wondering about is how long the virus lives on objects. The flu virus can only live for a few hours on an object, but the Norovirus can live up to 5 months on an object. I wonder what kills the virus on surfaces. I think I would be more worried about current China imports than eating at a local Chinese restaurant or going on vacation.

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colleenoz

I work in a high school science department and getting cheap dust masks for students to use is pretty well impossible for the foreseeable future thanks to panicking idiots.

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arkansas girl

I've pretty much decided that people are mostly insane! It's not like it's some flesh eating virus or something! We have had deaths from the flu, which is pretty much the same as the coronavirus, since forever! Thousands of people die each year from the flu!

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Kathsgrdn

I read a news article last week about a Dean Koontz book he wrote years ago. Out of curiosity (because I used to read his books) I went on Amazon to check it out. The cheapest book I could find was $91 for a paperback! Today there are some in the $40 range for a used paperback!! https://brobible.com/culture/article/coronavirus-wuhan-dean-koontz-eyes-darkness/  People have lost their minds over this virus.

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ritaweeda

DH is in charge of ordering electrical supplies for upcoming jobs. He is having a hard time getting a lot of items coming from China because of this. Since this is the only instance I've heard of this happening, I'm wondering why. Is it because certain vendors are prohibiting the import on these goods and they happen to be related to his business? Or is it because the powers that be are keeping a lid on this situation to prevent economic panic? I know this sounds conspiratorial but my mind sometimes works that way. I do find it hard to believe that the media wouldn't have caught on and leaked it by now if it's the latter. I think the financial and psychological damage that this outbreak can do is much worse than the actual physical damage. Shortly after this outbreak became the news I saw a woman in the grocery with a mask on and the fear-mongering half of my brain screamed "coronavirus!" - then my logical half calmly stated that she was probably either panicking and over-reacting or was in chemo treatment and was being cautious. I am also curious whether the local Chinese businesses are suffering from these fears.

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colleenoz

Flights in and out of China have been banned by the Chinese government so shipments of manufactured goods aren't getting out either.

Functionthenlook, you're not quite eight regarding Norovirus: it's Clostridium Difficile that can last up to five months on surfaces while Norovirus can last a few weeks. But they are stomach viruses; influenza viruses typically can't last more than 24 hours on a surface if they last that long.

Sadly, Chinese restaurants etc here are reporting dramatic drops in business, and one poor young Malaysian lass who went home (to Malaysia) for Chinese New Year found on her return to her rented room in a house that her landlady had put her stuff out on the verandah and locked her out with a big sign to the effect that due to the WHO's declaration of a pandemic the Malaysian lass was no longer welcome. Talk about ignorant.

I don't know if the lass found a new home but I would hope so. And I believe Consumer Affairs had one or two things to say to the landlady.

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functionthenlook

Collenoz, I read that they also have found the norovirus can last up to 5 months on objects. We both got it last month at a resort in the Caribbean. Along with a lot of others. Fun vacations. Lol I researched it quite a bit. I didn't want to spread it to my family. You can be still contagious for 2 weeks after the symptoms are gone.

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dallasannie

The corona virus is not influenza. That is another virus. They are both a virus but corona virus is not the flu. It can't be expected to behave like the influenza virus because it is NOT the influenza virus. One could expect it to behave as is typical of a virus, but it is a NEW virus and science can't yet define it's parameters of how it might mutate or how it might come to be transmitted.

Humans act irrationally everyday, all over the world, about all manner of things.

There is a large population of Asians in my part of the world and, on any given normal non virus fear fueled day, you see Asians with face masks, particularly those of Chinese culture. It is a common measure that they take , so to do so in the face of these fears is not a great leap for them.

I have wondered about the real value of them. As one poster pointed out, it seems that the mask would do more to protect others from getting your disease from you. I am skeptical if it is that dependable as a means to protect you from getting someone else's disease. You could just as well pick it up on your hands or any object and transmit it to yourself even through just rubbing your eye, brushing your lips or the inside of your nose. Am I right in assuming that a surgeon wears a mask to protect the patient from the surgeon? Although, it seems that a covering would also protect the surgeon from bodily fluids. But, am I wrong that it is, mainly, to protect the patient?

This virus is something that I am following closely as we have family in Wuhan and they are all in the demographic group that is most likely to die from it.

People all over the world are going to act irrationally. Fear spreads quickly, and irrational fear spreads even faster. Fear can spread much faster than can a virus.

Perhaps the lack of shipments of supplies of things from China has to do with the fact that so much of commerce is hampered or closed down.

I, too have had the real influenza so bad that I know were that to happen me today in my older age, that I probably be one of those statistics. It was the very sickest that I have ever been, barring the measles that I had as a child. I remember my eyes hurt with both the measles and with the influenza.

Some people call everything "the flu", no matter what it really is. It has become almost a generic term for any type of fever or stomach upset. There is not really an influenza of the stomach, but it gets called "the stomach flu".

Many people know nothing about the Spanish flu of the early 20th century. And, also polio created a traumatic time in this country that bordered on panic and disrupted society and commerce. Americans are great for not knowing history. Any wonder that we are in the spot where we are now, politically and socially? Humans in the past. had only world of mouth and a few symbolic ways of preserving their history. But, we have no excuse to be so ignorant in this day and age.


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sjerin

Well-said, Dallasannie!

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dallasannie

Talk about transmission avenues--- with a virus that affects birds and poultry, the virus can be spread by birds flying overhead and dropping their poop onto backyard chicken coops and fields and places where other birds rest. It is my understanding that this is one possible explanation for when a virus turns up in a remote place that does not have any connection to a known source.

Viruses are scary, no doubt about it! It may not be rising seas that are the biggest threat. It may be a microbe that takes us down, or our fear of the unknown.

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Alisande

When I see videos coming out of China of people in hazmat suits fogging rooms full of office workers and welding doors shut (what was that about?), it seems to me we shouldn't assume we know all there is to know about this virus.

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joanmn

A doctor said that there is no anti-virus for it, and we have no antibodies against it, because it is new. As in NO ONE in the world has anti-bodies. He said it could infect 60-70% of the world's population. And who knows what the death toll would be. I think it is fearsome. Am I staying home? NO. But I have a healthy respect for any unknown "new" disease.

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bob_cville

I think a big part of the official worry about this is the unknowns coupled with the possibilities. Although it is a different virus than the influenza virus, it does appear that is might be able to be spread from person to person at about the same rate as with the flu. And taking the numbers for the flu in the US, results showed that about 8 percent of the U.S. population gets sick
from the flu—which translates to 26,176,000 million people a year. And 200,000
end up in the hospital every flu season, which is about 1% and about 3000 to 49000 die from complications of the flu which is a range from about 1.5% and 25% of those who are hospitalized, for the flu, die from complications of the flu. Which is a really broad range, but when compared to the total number of cases, is only 0.015% to 0.25% or those who contract the flu die because of it.

Whereas based on the numbers that have emerged so far, 46000 cases of this new Corona virus have been confirmed, and 1300 deaths have been tallied, which produces a rate of 2.8% of patients confirmed with this new virus have died. So if these numbers are accurate and if that rate holds true as the numbers increase, and if this new virus becomes as commonly widespread as the flu, that could mean (crunch, crunch, crunch) 7.28 million deaths in the US alone !!!!! (<--- was that enough exclamation points)

However although it is widely believed that the numbers out of China greatly (and purposely) underestimate the actual numbers. The 2.8% death rate shown above probably greatly overestimates the actual situation since that is deaths from confirmed cases, and they were likely only confirmed due to their seriousness and many more may have been infected so far, that have only experienced mild symptoms or none at all.

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

When a new strain of a virus is detected, it tales time to develop any antiviral medications. And they are not always effective as the viral organisms mutate rapidly so by the time scientists have a vaccine in hand, it may not work on the current rendition of the virus. And humans do have existing antibodies that will respond to any virus but with varying degrees of success.

According to current data the WHO has prepared on this version of the coronavirus (2019 nCoV) - there have been any number of prior strains of coronavirus detected - the spread of the pathogen has not been very rapid. And only one fatality reported outside of China (Philippines). WHO assesses the risk "very high" in China but only "high" globally. There is a current team of WHO scientists present in China to monitor and document the outbreak and to work with Chinese scientists and doctors to attempt to curtail or limit the outbreak.

And like other similar coronaviruses, the suspected carrier is a species of southeast Asian bats.

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greenshoekitty

All I can add to this , is that I get very angry at the people out there that will not get a flu shot and then are afraid of two young boys from China. The way they have been treated a few times is just wrong. (and no I would NEVER stoop to their tiny height, but I just want to have the boys get close to them and cough on them)

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Ladydi Zone 7A NW BC Canada

There are many people who cannot have the vaccines due to medical issues, me being one of them. I imagine that at some point the vaccines will eventually not catch up to the new strains in time to avoid massive fatalities. It has always been survival of the fittest & we continue to keep prolonging life far past the time where life is even meaningful. Just my personal opinion.

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Lucille

we continue to keep prolonging life far past the time where life is even meaningful.

I do not think there is a specific age at which that happens. Some who are in fragile health and old in terms of years have meaningful relationships with friends, spend quality time with companion pets, and may be beloved great grandparents or simply happy with their life. Others in their 30s may be of sour disposition, complain about everything, hate people, animals, etc.

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Ladydi Zone 7A NW BC Canada

Oh, I agree Lucille. I didn't mean to imply that we should just get rid of people after a certain age. There was an excellent discussion on another Gardenweb forum where they talked about caring for parents with various medical problems that explained it well. I did not mean to offend anyone but I just don't see this quest to live 'forever' being sustainable.

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sjerin

Greenshoe, do you speak up to your neighbor to tell her how foolish and hurtful she is being? I know that's easier said than done. There are waaaay too many narrow-minded and downright stupid people out there.

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morz8

Interesting, mdln. And Thank you. That sounds like approx the course the virus took with the man in our State. He wasn't exceptionally ill, then a few days into his flu he developed pneumonia. Staff had been checking him daily so they were able to treat immediately and prevent him becoming more seriously ill. A younger man. If like many of us might have done, if he had waited until he was pretty sick before seeking help that might have had a different outcome.

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greenshoekitty

Sjerin, these people were not anyone known to us. The people were in a restaurant, and in a store. I know one cannot keep the kids from the way some people act, but it is hard to try and explain why they were treated so badly when they were just minding their own business. The boys( my grandsons) still don’t quite understand the why of it. Many for one reason can’t have vaccines, and that is far different then ones that just don’t care about others.

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chisue

mdln -- Thank you. Very readable, understandable article.

Sad to read that two newborns contracted the virus within hours of birth, but I'd also think they will survive -- unlike old people whose bodies are already less viable, just because they *are* old.


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Lucille

I'd also think they will survive -- unlike old people whose bodies are already less viable, just because they *are* old.

In reading mdln's excellent info, it seems that a lot of damage is done by the person's own too strong response to the infection. Newborns have antibodies from their mothers. While old people certainly have antibodies, over the years the body forgets some antigens, which is why adults get vaccinations for some illnesses.

More research is needed, but a young, too strong attack may produce its own set of problems.

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