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Rethinking seasonal flu death counts

I have had a blog idea for a few weeks, specifically regarding the nagging feeling in the back of my mind regarding seasonal deaths attributed to influenza.  Just how reliable are those numbers? 

It is like the statement that every day the Florida Legislature is in session, it costs the taxpayers of the Sunshine State $45,000 per day to keep the 160 members in Tallahassee.  As a former Member of the Florida House, the Peoples' Chamber, I recalled that in 1982, when I served, the same figure was recited.  The $45,000 figure was repeated over and over and over again so often that it took on this bulletproof reputation.

Except that it is not bulletproof.  Costs have (at least) doubled since those days, and I can find no one who has actually taken the time to Question Authority and recalculate those numbers. 

Therefore, I am inclined to question the Conventional Wisdom whenever I hear a figure thrown out by everyone as if it were gospel.  It is with a great sense of personal relief that someone had the same idea regarding deaths from seasonal flu; but, unlike me, that person actually acted upon that idea and wrote a mighty fine blog about it as well.

The source is the blogsite Pandemic Information NewsThe blog in question, which was reprinted from the Website HealthSentinel.com, questions the validity of the CDC's claim that "36,000 people die every year from influenza."  This mantra is repeated over and over again until it takes on this granitelike stature of absolute correctness.

As the PIN/HealthSentinel blog points out, the 36,000 figure is a recent change from the previous estimates that only 20,000 or so actually die every year from seasonal flu.  Without trying to explain it, I defer to the actual blog itself.  It is so well written and so well-sourced it makes me jealous!

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