In April 2009, a case of an unexpected type of seasonal flu was reported in California. Laboratory tests revealed that the H1N1 virus, dubbed the swine flu because of its similarity to a virus found in pigs, was unlike anything anyone had ever seen in humans or animals.
Reports of people infected with the virus spread like wildfire, reaching tens of millions in the United States. In a matter of days, the government declared a public-health emergency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began dipping into its national stockpile of influenza-battling supplies, like viral drugs, respiratory devices, and gloves. By June, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, with H1N1 popping up in more than 100 countries, including all 50 U.S. states.
A year after the outbreak, WHO reported 18,449 laboratory-confirmed deaths from the H1N1 pandemic worldwide, a number widely considered too low. A WHO-funded study published online Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine has found that the death toll from the 2009 outbreak is 10 times higher than the original count, totaling nearly 203,000 deaths around the world.
The researchers, more than 60 in 26 countries, explain that the original statistics were based only on people with confirmed cases of H1N1, excluding those infected who were never tested and diagnosed but nevertheless perished as a result of the virus.
Researchers combined virology data from WHO and mortality information from 21 countries, which account for about 35 percent of the world’s population, to estimate the number of H1N1-induced respiratory deaths. They then projected those results onto the rest of the globe. If deaths stemming from other health problems, such as heart diseases, exacerbated by the virus are taken into account, the pandemic’s casualties can reach up to 400,000.
Most of the deaths occurred in people younger than 65, the study found. By contrast, seasonal influenza usually affects older individuals. A majority of deaths also occurred among those living in certain parts of the Americas, with Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil showing the highest death rates in the world. The toll was far lower in New Zealand, Australia, and most parts of Europe.
The H1N1 virus continues to circulate in the U.S. and abroad, and it has joined the ranks of other seasonal flu viruses that current flu shots protect against. The threat of another outbreak like the one in 2009 is low — at least for this specific kind of virus.
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The conventional wisdom is already emerging that Donald Trump opened last night's debate well, but that he faded badly down the stretch. And most viewers apparently witnessed it. "The early Nielsen data confirms that viewership stayed high the entire time. Contrary to some speculation, there was not a big drop-off after the first hour of the 98-minute debate." Final data is still being tallied, but "Monday's face-off may well have been the most-watched debate in American history. CNN and other cable news channels saw big increases over past election years. So did some of the broadcast networks."
As Congress continues to bicker on riders to a continuing resolution, federal agencies have started working with the Office of Management and Budget to prepare for a government shutdown, which will occur if no continuing resolution is passed by 11:59 p.m. on Friday night. The OMB held a call with agencies on Sept. 23, one that is required one week before a possible shutdown. The government last shut down for 16 days in 2013, and multiple shutdowns have been narrowly avoided since then. It is expected that Congress will reach a deal before the clock strikes midnight, but until it does, preparations will continue.
President Obama's Clean Power Plan, a large pillar of his efforts to leave a lasting environmental legacy, "goes before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today." The plan "imposes the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants." A number of consolidated cases finds 27 states challenging this plan, which was blocked by the Supreme Court in February pending decisions from lower courts. The states will argue that the government doesn't have the right to impose restrictions requiring them to shutter plans and restructure full industries.
There seems to be a clear consensus forming about Monday's debate: Hillary Clinton was the winner. One focus group of undecided Pennsylvania voters, conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, found 16 favored Clinton while five picked Donald Trump. In a Florida focus group organized by CNN, 18 of 20 undecided voters saw Clinton as the winner.
As both candidates walked off the stage, Donald Trump lauded himself for being restrained and for not bringing up Bill Clinton. "I didn’t want to say—her husband was in the room along with her daughter, who I think is a very nice young lady—and I didn’t want to say what I was going to say about what’s been going on in their life," Trump said. Trump claims he stopped himself from hitting Bill Clinton because daughter Chelsea was in the room.