Thursday, 17 September 2009

One-fifth of swine flu deaths 'healthy'

Last night's Panorama didn't reveal many new facts but it did confirm what I had been told earlier in the day by the Health Protection Agency - that the majority (four-fifths) of swine flu victims have those so-called Underlying Health Problems. That leaves one-fifth who are perfectly healthy. Indeed, in the case of the Northern Ireland soldier who died - incredibly healthy. It's a worrying figure which recalls the ghost of the Spanish flu of 1918 which seemed to "like a good fight" (in the words of the recent docudrama on TV). There was a chilling moment in the Panorama episode when the doctor in charge of Glenfield Hospital (which specialises in the treatment of severely ill flu victims) that he had not had any person through his doors yet who had had underlying health problems. Panorama touched on what these UHPs might be: asthma, diabetes - pregnancy was also pointed at. Though I'm not sure how many women (or even doctors) would classify pregnancy as a 'health problem'. At the end of the day we have to bear in mind that, despite the sadness of anyone dying from swine flu, numbers in the UK are still small - 75 to date.


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  2. Would You know, what has been the immediate cause of death in those patients, who have died unexpectedly at home. Has it been respiratory insufficiency or something else ?

  3. Hi sinitiainen
    There's very little research so far on swine flu deaths but a report just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says: "The most common causes of death were viral pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome." This is for all deaths of course, not just those at home. I can't find any figures but I suspect the majority of swine flu victims die in hospital - the same report says it takes about 12 days from onset to death which would usually mean them going to hospital as the condition deteriorated.