The differences between these two types of flu is like night and day. The seasonal flu comes every fall and we already have vaccines to fight it. It is usually deadly to those over 65 years whose immune systems are aging. But those people with healthy immune systems are usually able to survive.
But the 2009 Swine Flu (Influenza A H1N1) Pandemic is much different. This flu may be able to kill by means of a Cytokine Storm. That’s an over reaction of the immune system. When the immune system encounters the Swine Flu, its reaction becomes uncontrolled and too many immune cells are activated in a single place. This can cause significant damage to body tissues and organs often causing death. A healthy immune system becomes a liability. Therefore, the Swine flu will be deadly to those with healthy immune systems such as children and young adults. The older population is usually spared because of aging immune systems.
There is no proof at this time, however, supporting the theory that the 2009 H1N1 flu does cause a Cytokine Storm. But there is circumstantial evidence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in an article dated September 24, 2009 that the 2009 H1N1 flu has attacked people younger than 25 years old more than older people. This is the way a Cytokine Storm operates – killing young people while leaving the older population relatively unscathed.
Another example is an article published in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on October 12, 2009. It said that the 2009 H1N1 flu has killed mainly young healthy people. It also says that this flu has caused multisystem organ failure. As noted above, a Cytokine Storm has our healthy immune system causing significant damage to our body tissues and organs often causing death.
An article posted on the World Health Organization (WHO) website dated October 16, 2009 said that some patients with 2009 H1N1 flu may have severe pneumonia that is often associated with failure of other organs. It also said that these patients are usually previously healthy young people.
The vaccine for the Swine Flu is being distributed in the United States in a very slow fashion as I write this article. But will there be enough doses world wide? The United States, for example, will need over 300 million doses. Will less-developed countries such as in North Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, and especially China be able to even get a fraction of the doses they need? That’s doubtful. In these poorer nations, Swine Flu will run rampant. The death total around the world will be staggering.
Because of these differences in the two types of flu, the distribution of the vaccines should also be different. In both cases, the health-care workers should be the first to get the vaccine. But in the case of seasonal flu, the older population should be next in line. The younger people in the population should be last.
In the case of the Swine Flu, however, children and young adults should be next in line after the health-care workers. The older people in the population should be last on the list.
Both types of flu are deadly. The seasonal flu kills about 36,000, mainly the elderly, every year in the United States. It has been forecast, however, in a report released on August 25, 2009 by a presidential panel that the Swine Flu Pandemic will kill up to 90,000 Americans, mainly children and young adults, this flu season. Both kill, but the Swine Flu Pandemic may turn out to be the deadliest pandemic since the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 that killed over 50 million people world wide.