May 7th, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu Emerging Slowly

Posted at 11:00 AM ET

David Rains, FSA, MAAA, Managing Director and Practice Leader — Life, Accident & Health Specialty

The recent H1N1 swine flu outbreak has garnered considerable attention, but evidence that the outbreak will become a statistically significant pandemic event remains sparse. As of May 6, 2009, there have been 1,516 cases confirmed globally by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 30 fatalities. Consequently, H1N1 has shown a lethality rate of only 1.98 percent. While any loss of life is tragic, the implications of swine flu have not reached pandemic proportions.


To date, most cases of H1N1 swine flu have been confirmed in Mexico; 29 deaths have resulted from 822 WHO-confirmed cases. The United States and Canada have reported 403 and 165 cases of H1N1 respectively, with one fatality in the former and none in the latter. Fifty-seven cases have been confirmed in Spain and 27 in the United Kingdom.

Overall, there have been 1,516 confirmed cases of H1N1 and 30 fatalities. Outside Mexico and the United States, there have been no confirmed deaths related to H1N1 swine flu.


Meanwhile, speculation is spreading much faster than the disease. Wikipedia lists nearly 3,000 suspected cases of H1N1 swine flu in Mexico, with 101 suspected deaths. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, and Colombia also have much higher suspected cases than those confirmed by the WHO: 390, 84, 27, and 108 respectively. Overall, the number of suspected cases listed on Wikipedia is 3,981 worldwide, with 101 suspected fatalities. The Wikipedia “swine influenza” page was viewed more than 3.5 million times in April 2009 and has been accessed more than 1.5 million times so far this month (as of May 6, 2009).

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