Swine Flu – Bacon’s Revenge


Hello valued readers! Today we are having a guest blog from a dear friend, “Seattle”.  (You might remember her from the Mindbling Blog days) She is an Infectious Disease Immunologist (she is scary smart!) and just wants to rant about the Swine Flu.  Enjoy!

O-K. Ooooh-kay. Seriously people, this (piggy) flu season mania has gone TOO FAR. It must be fate for me to write about this today, because not 4 hours ago, I received an email from Wormy, asking for my “expert (no I’m not actually a flu expert but don’t tell Wormy)” opinion about the current Swine Flu Epidemic. And just now, 4 hours after that fateful correspondence, I get a forwarded email from my dear husband who plays hockey in a league in which about 90 teams play. The gist is: during flu season, there will be no end-of-game handshakes (to this point a customary show of good sportsmanship between the losers and the winners of a game) during flu season. That’s right, we are no longer allowed to say “good game” to our opponents and shake their hands because horrors we might get the flu from someone else’s hand shake. Um…have you ever had the flu before? You know, chills, fever, fatigue…general malaise…Do you really think people are going to be playing hockey with the FLU??? And also, uh…you know that the flu is an upper-respiratory infection, right? So it’s ok to sneeze and cough next to your teammates, but you can’t shake the hand of your opponents afterward? Wouldn’t you rather get your opponents sick than your teammates? So we’re going to promote bad sportsmanship, instead of telling people to wash their hands…ooookay.


And then there’s the other side of the spectrum. I heard on the news this morning, that people are having “Swine Flu” parties. People are actually getting together with people who have had contact with the Swine Flu and trying to catch it. On purpose. I think my mom did something like that to me with the chicken pox, but still, let’s not be silly here, people, if you’re lucky enough to not get the dreaded H1N1 this year, then chances are, you will be able to get the vaccine before the next flu season, thus avoiding the certain chills and sweats and a week of general misery and malaise associated with the flu…any flu. Because really, it is just the flu. Yes, it might be a little more severe because you’re never seen that particular flu strain or anything like it’s little seasonal cousins before, but it really still is “the flu.” Yes, children have died from it…I think the count in Washington is up to 40-something kids, and yes, that is horrible, but kids also die of the regular flu, too.

In fact, the seasonal flu annual death toll in the United States is 36,000 people. Did you know that? Yup, little kids and old people die from the flu. From the Swine flu, from the seasonal flu…people die of the flu. Which brings me to one last topic…Vaccines.

I am SO tired of hearing people being afraid of vaccines. Vaccines are good. Vaccines are why you haven’t died from smallpox. Vaccines are why both of your legs are the same length because you didn’t have to live through childhood polio (look it up, polio is disfiguring). Vaccines are why you didn’t have to have the mumps and why you don’t have to worry about tetanus- you know, lock jaw- it would suck, trust me. Vaccines are why (as in the 1970’s) you will one day be allowed to have as much promiscuous, unprotected sex as you want (unless you’re married- spouses tend to frown on promiscuity in their life-partners)– because we’re going to one day eradicate the clap, genital warts and HIV. And Vaccines are the glorious reason why you don’t have to have the seasonal flu. Do you ever hear people say “I don’t want to get the flu vaccine because it causes you to get the flu,” and “the flu vaccine causes neurological damage so I won’t get it,” oh, and my favorite “if I start getting the flu, I’ll just get Tamiflu (which is an anti-viral medication) and then I’ll be fine and I don’t have to get the flu shot.” Listen, if you think vaccines cause neurological damage, you probably already have neurological damage so you’ll probably be fine even if vaccines DID cause neurological damage, which they don’t. And trust me, getting vaccinated against ANYTHING is better than getting the disease. Even if you DID get a day of the sniffles, which is UNLIKELY from the vaccine.

I’ve had the flu shot every year for the past 5 years and I have never gotten sick from it. In the words of one of my anonymous vaccine developing co-workers “trust me, it works on lab rats and mice,” this vaccine will work for you. Go and get the flu vaccine. If you can find it, get the swine flu vaccine. While you’re at it, get your tetanus booster and your HPV vaccine too, what the hell.

But can we all just chill out and stop freaking out about the flu already? Chances are, you’ve lived through decades of flu seasons at this point; you will probably live through this one, too. So if you feel like you want to show your sportsmanship, why not just go and shake the hand of your opponent. Go ahead and lick it first; it will help them get their immune systems cranking if they’re stupid enough not to wash their hands.

Bitchburghs’ self-appointed science correspondent,

Geekless in Seattle



Filed under Uncategorized

18 responses to “Swine Flu – Bacon’s Revenge

  1. Joe

    This document from the CDC’s website shows the the final death counts from the flu for 2006 at 849. For 2005, 1812 deaths.


    “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”

  2. Seattle


    This link is to the CDC website. It CLEARLY states that approximately 36,000 people die of the flu each year, and explains how the CDC arrives at that number. An excerpt:

    “In 2009, CDC published additional estimates of seasonal flu-related deaths comparing different methods, including the methods used in the 2003 JAMA study. The seasons studied included the 1993-94 through the 2002-03 flu seasons [9]. Results from this study showed that during this time period, 36,171 flu-related deaths occurred per year, on average.”

  3. Seattle

    How did CDC estimate that an average of 36,000 people die in the U.S. each year from seasonal flu?

    This statistic came from a 2003 JAMA study by CDC scientists [10]. The study used statistical modeling to estimate that during 9 influenza seasons from 1990-91 through 1998-99, an annual average of 36,000 flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death on their death certificate was listed as a respiratory or circulatory disease. A 2009 study that appeared in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses made a similar estimate for the 10 influenza seasons from 1993 to 2003 [9].

  4. Seattle

    To Joe who posted “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”

    Biomedical researchers are the unsung heros of the medical profession. Research is what we do when we want to save the world from horrendous diseases. and we get paid practically nothing for it. this is NO JOKE> MD’s get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for treating you. and yes, they may deserve it. do you know what medical researchers make? peanuts:
    After around TEN YEARS OF SCHOOL- bachelors degree followed by PhD schooling, here is the salary scale required by the National Institutes of Health: (from this website http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-07-057.html )

    Postdoctoral Salary by Years of Experience:
    0 : $36,996
    1: $38,976
    2: $41,796
    7: $51,036

    SO before you talk about how useless researchers are, think of the people who get paid practically nothing to design for you antibiotics, cancer treatments and vaccines when we could have been getting paid hundreds of thousands for treating you with them.

  5. Joe

    Quoted exactly like a popular major new source would have it done. In the 11:43 post that link asked the question: Does CDC know the exact number of people who die from seasonal flu each year?

    And then answers:
    CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year.

    The continues on with how they “estimate” the numbers and report the 36,000 is based on ‘people who die from flu-related complications”. So if a person has Crone’s Disease and contract the flu and then progress to pneumonia and dies, the person is placed in the category of dying from the flu. That produces an absurd statistic if not plain crummy.

    Here is more fun: Since vacinations are proposed to “work” then how come the 36,000 number has not changed since, 1993, the year the estimate began with?

    Because of the fine print in the Flulaval package insert:

    Link: http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_flulaval.pdf

    and this wonderful blurb(especially read the second one):

    —————————-INDICATIONS AND USAGE———————
    • FLULAVAL is an inactivated influenza virus vaccine indicated for active immunization of adults 18 years of age and older against influenza disease caused by influenza virus subtypes A and type B contained in the vaccine. (1)
    • This indication is based on immune response elicited by FLULAVAL, and there have been no controlled trials demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL. (14)

    Hmmm, they didn’t try to even prove it worked, but anyone can get a prescription.

  6. Seattle

    Flu vaccines elicit antibodies to the flu. Antibodies neutralize vaccine upon entry. The FDA is VERY VERY Strict on what they let though for general consumption of the public, so it is safe. furthermore, animal research would have shown protection in animals before it was ever considered by the FDA for release to the public. As i said “trust me it works on rats and mice.” at hte very least, it is SAFE and not going to HURT you. SO wouldn’t you like to gamble on your health being protected if there are not real risks? ANd don’t bring up the crap about Guillain-barre because that is a load of 1970’s BS that isn’t even worth going into. Essentially- i got sick 6 weeks after i got the flu shot. oh, it must have been the flu shot. not withstanding that you fit well into the percentage of the population that woudl have developed such and such anyway and there has been no rise in any illnesses with the advent of flu vaccine, but anyway….
    The difficulty in clinical trials such as the one you request is this: How would you ever know that someone had been exposed to the flu and didn’t get it becuase they were vaccinated or whether they just were never exposed? you’d have to have insane numbers of participants and i’m sure you know that many members of clinical trials often drop out or might not report having gotten the flu. and you can’t just sit people down and expose them to the flu; it’s not ethical.

    so i’ll say it again: “trust me, it works on rats and mice.”

  7. Joe

    How can you say the FDA is strict when they approve FLULAVAL without proof it actually works? Furthermore, if the vaccines are safe then why does this government entity exist:


    So any citizen cannot bring a direct law suit against any of the pharmaceutical companies which manufacture the vaccines, yet as of 2007, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out $1.18 billion to 1,500 victims. If they are safe then this tax money has been ill spent. Vaccines are a witchcraft designed by chemists to make a crap load of money. Period. H1N1 was a marketing device by the pharmaceutical companies. Too many people without the vaccine have lived for it to be otherwise. I’m not sure about the rats and mice though.

  8. Seattle

    That government entity was set up in response to the outbreak of people claiming they or their children had gotten sick or injured form a vaccine. IT was the biggest mistake the government ever made; to compensate people because it does make it look legitimate, while it truly is not.

    You can say what you want, you can think what you want. it’s really not my problem. However, H1N1 truly exists. Research is going on not only at pharma but at non-profit and government agencies to protect you. People survive the common cold, too; is that made up just to sell cold medicine?

    If you don’t believe in the danger of the flu, look up the 1918 flu and do some reading.

    it’s really hard to believe you don’t have anything better to do with your life than argue about whether or not the H1N1 flu actually exists. Guess what? I do, i’m going to go and save some lives by working on a vaccine, and you can go and waste yours arguing against vaccination. you can waste yours arguing against it all you want.

  9. Mindbling

    I fall on the ‘glad you’re working to save my butt’ side. Joe, I appreciate your side of this, and I’m glad that both of you are bringing a healthy (PUN! FLU, HEALTH. GET IT?) to Bitchburgh.

    I personally am glad that my son, and myself, will never have to worry about contracting polio or small pox, and I got us both flu shots this year. We haven’t gotten H1N1 yet, but I am working on that.

    It’s incredible what you do, Seattle. And I’m grateful everyday. I’m also glad that we have people like Joe who question and push, forcing us all to actually research what we are putting into our bodies and not just blindly listening.

    Now, kiss and make up.


  10. @krazykrause

    Joe, go hug a tree you will feel better!

  11. Joe

    Ok, I agree with the kiss and make up and I shall come clean, but first with a comment.

    I believe that the cleaning up of the water and the regulation for food handling have had the greatest impact on the number of people contracting the diseases discussed. That said, I believe that at some time in history there are vaccines which I would have subscribed to and had my kids get as well like polio and smallpox because I do believe they work for the majority of people. And there is my hook. There is currently, in the US, no need for either vaccine due to the eradication of the diseases based on the cleansing of the water systems and the vaccine. My eldest child had two major reactions within three hours of receiving vaccines that he had to be hospitalized and placed on an IV. The doctors said he would have died otherwise. He screamed for 48 hours. He was 2 and 3 years old respectively at the time.

    At the age of ten he was hospitalized for an immune disorder in which he could not eat for six months. The symptoms where the same as when he had the reactions to the vaccine only there was no swelling at the needle mark because he had not had any shots since the episode at the age of three. So then I researched.

    There was nothing else to blame because it all came back to when he had the vaccines and the complications. I was a mess sitting in that hospital for 6 months but enough of that. My point is if it can do this to one person than that is one too many for me. Of course I am jaded…

  12. Mindbling

    Aw, Joe, as someone who has had to sit in a hospital while her four-week old fought to breath, I can relate. All I can say is that not everyone has the same reaction to everything. jr. handled his shot just fine. Although now he running around my house screaming like a maniac, so maybe a little polio would have been ok.

    I kid, I kid. I hope the little guy is A-ok now, and I’m glad you cared enough to toss your hat in the ring.

  13. Greg

    I am a friend of of Joe’s and have been reading and enjoying the posts too but can’t help myself and need to add to this even though it appears this subject is at it’s end. My overall view of vaccines is that they have their place but only a handful of them. If you want any of the backup data/studies on my information just let me know.

    In my opinion when vaccines were first introduced they were single focused and had one purpose to try and save lives but that was long, long ago. In today’s world all companies want to do is make money and we have gone from 10 vaccines in the 70’s before the age of 6 to over 30 now for diseases that are not even life threatening to the majority of the population. Except for testing for antibodies which does not equate to immunity by the way, a vaccine has never been tested on a person by then giving them the actual disease to see if it actually works.

    Antibodies do not equate to immunity. You will find this paragraph in all flu vaccine inserts. “Specific levels of HI antibody titers post-vaccination with inactivated influenza virus vaccine have not been correlated with protection from influenza virus. In some human studies, antibody titers of 1:40 or greater have been associated with protection from influenza illness in up to 50% of subjects.”

    What that paragraph says, is that the vaccine only works in half, or less, of those individuals who attain the specified level of seroconversion after vaccination. The FDA defines seroconversion as achieving an antibody titer of 1:40. This means that IF a vaccine was 100 percent effective at achieving this level of seroconversion, it would only protect up to 50 percent of the recipients of the vaccine. Of course they won’t advertise this.

    But none of the vaccines are 100 percent effective at achieving seroconversion (FACT). That means that, at best, their vaccine works in one out of every four people! (49 percent of 50 percent). This also means the vaccine does NOT work in 3 out of every 4 people.

    Did you know that since 1980 the only cases of Polio in the United States were caused by the Polio vaccine itself (Qty 144)? This is on the CDC website, they admit it. These Polio vaccine injuries were the main reason the Government vaccine compensation fund was created, it’s anything but hogwash.

    According to the CDC’s own website they claim the flu vaccine saves lives, here is evidence to the contrary. Again this information can be verified on the CDC’s own website.
    In the history of flu vaccines, there were two years in which the formulated flu vaccine was a total mismatch to the widely-circulating influenza that made people sick. These years were 1968 and 1997. In both of these years, the vaccine was a completely mismatch for the circulating virus. In effect, nobody was vaccinated! [Knowing this, if the vaccine itself was effective at reducing death rates, then we should have once again seen a huge spike in the death rates during these two years, right? Seriously, if the vaccine reduces death rates by 50% as is claimed by vaccine manufacturers, then these two years in which the vaccine completely missed the mark should have seen huge spikes in the winter death rates, right? But what really happened was… nothing. Not a blip. Not a spike. Nothing. The death rates didn’t rise at all. If vaccines really worked to save lives, then the more people you vaccinate, the lower death rates you should see, right? But that’s not the case. Back in 1989, only 15 percent of over-65 people got vaccinated against the flu. But today, thanks to the big vaccine push, over 65 percent are vaccinated. And yet, amazingly, death rates among the elderly have not gone down during the flu season. In fact, they’ve gone up!

    I am not looking for you to all of a sudden change all of your views and beliefs about vaccines but with all these facts you should at least be saying to yourself “Wow” there’s definitely somehing behind what they saying”. You can’t just read headlines like the 36,000 deaths estimate and believe it without looking into it, espeially when they include the word estimate and the CDC quote ” we really don’t know how many people die from the flu every year. My last words are paint your own picture, don’t let someone else paint one for you or you will seeing what they want you to see. Thanks for letting my participate.

  14. Seattle

    Joe, i’m sorry about your experience, but it’s very, very rare. sorry it was you, but i wonder what happened because i’ve never heard of anything like that happening before.

    Greg, i understand what you’re saying, but i don’t think vaccines “have their place.” i think we need to eradicate all disease. i think you should ask the people in Africa suffering from malaria and HIV if vaccines should still be developed.

    no, antibodies alone don’t equate to protection. but please understand, first that is self-protection jargon and second, there are different kinds of antibodies and it’s avidity and affinity that differ and can equate to protection.

    i just hate to see people not stand behind vaccination. it’s scary to see people NOT wanting to save and change the world

  15. Greg

    U.S. health officials say the largest U.S. outbreak of mumps in three years is occurring in New York and New Jersey. About 180 cases were identified in those two states from the time an investigation began in August through the end of October. The vast majority of kindergarteners in New York — 98.5 percent — are vaccinated against mumps. But this outbreak wasn’t limited to children who skipped their shots. Instead, three-quarters of affected people had been vaccinated.

    Vaccines strike again, 75% of the infected had been vaccinated. I guess you will say this is rare too. How do you expect to eradicate diseases with a 25% success rate? Unfortunately vaccine makers will never be able to prove they work because no placebo-controlled studies need to be conducted at all and no long-term safety tests are required or pursued. You tell me how we are supposed to get behind this? I haven’t even touched on the harmful ingrediants in vaccines, that’s a whole other story but I am sure you would say all those are within acceptable levels.

  16. Greg

    From USA Today – U.S. health officials say the largest U.S. outbreak of mumps in three years is occurring in New York and New Jersey. About 180 cases were identified in those two states from the time an investigation began in August through the end of October. The vast majority of kindergarteners in New York — 98.5 percent — are vaccinated against mumps. But this outbreak wasn’t limited to children who skipped their shots. Instead, three-quarters of affected people had been vaccinated. That means 75% of these infected people were vaccinated.

    Just wondering what you will say this time, probably this is rare too? Don’t kid yourself vaccines strike again. You must think a 25% success rate of vaccinations will eradicate all diseases.

    No placebo-controlled studies are ever conducted at all and no long-term safety tests are required or pursued to prove the efficacy of vaccines. This is a fact that you IGNORE. Yet you wonder why so many people don’t stand behind vaccines.

    Again I will tell you vaccines had their place (YES HAD), ever be it small but that was long ago before corporate greed took over. They have never been proven to work because of the lack of studies. (See above mumps vaccine at 25%) If you would like to provide me or anyone with studies that prove vaccines work I would be glad to look at them but you won’t be able to because there are not any.

    The facts Joe and I have provided are documented and can be proven, what have you come back with is only word misdirection without lack of substance. I would really welcome any studies you have to share with us that you can back up. If you have no facts or studies please don’t respond as you are wasting our time on this subject. We have won and proven our point.

  17. Seattle

    You have neither “won” nor “proven your point.” most vaccines need to be boosted. think tetanus as a prime example.

    i don’t feel i need to waste my time further trying to argue you into believing in vaccines. if you want to be against them, that’s fine, but it’s foolish.

  18. Greg

    Your right about the winning comment, just couldn’t help myself. Thanks it was fun !!

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