Millions of people a year catch the flu in the U.S., and an average of 37,000 people die from it annually. Those are big numbers compared to what’s happened thus far with the swine flu. It kinda makes you wonder if this swine flu is being blown way out of proportion.
(And, yes, I am refusing to do the now politically-correct thing and call it “H1N1.”)
Political agendas and money trail aside, there seems to be another reason why this new virus is getting a lot of press: We’ve been warned about it’s potential to go pandemic for years.
According to The New Scientist‘s Debora McKenzie, this type of virus (a “triple reassortant” virus, or mix between swine, avian, and human flu viruses) emerged in the U.S. in 1998 and has since become endemic in hogs across North America. For years, these viruses have been incubating in pigs, switching out surface proteins in order to evade the pig’s immunity.
This rapid evolution posed the “potential for pandemic influenza emergence in North America”, Vincent said last year. Webby, too, warned in 2004 that pigs in the US are “an increasingly important reservoir of viruses with human pandemic potential”. One in five US pig workers has been found to have antibodies to swine flu, showing they have been infected, but most people have no immunity to these viruses.
Last year, scientists at the CDC warned that the new swine flu would “represent a pandemic threat” if it mutated to start spreading in humans. I already wrote about last year’s Pew Commission’s findings, which also warned that hog CAFOs were a breeding ground for this type of swine flu. Even our own government has had a website up for years warning about the coming flu pandemic that would likely be the result of a triple reassortant virus.
All the evidence suggests that swine flu was a disaster waiting to happen. But it got little research attention, perhaps because it caused mild infections in people which didn’t spread. Now one swine flu virus has stopped being so well-behaved.
For now, the virus appears to not be spreading rapidly enough among humans to cause a pandemic. According to McKenzie:
A mathematical model permits the calculation of an important variable called R0 – the number of additional people infected, on average, by each case. If R0 is less than one, an infection dies out.
Grassly also cautions that the estimate is very preliminary. But with the data available now, he gets an R0 of 1.16 – enough for the virus to keep going, but only just.
But it may be too early for celebrations. The 1918 flu pandemic, caused by another H1N1 virus, started with a mild, early wave in spring and early summer. The flu lab at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US estimates that the R0 of the 1918 virus in spring was only 1.45. That shot up, they estimate, to 3.75 when the virus began its lethal second wave the following autumn.
Much may now depend on how quickly the new H1N1 virus from swine adapts to people.
But was the “lethal” 1918 flu pandemic really all that deadly?
According to Rami Nagel,
Fear of a flu epidemic is based upon the supposed flu of 1918 and 1919 in which 20,000,000 people are said to have died. This old epidemic is important today because the US Government and media entities constantly provide this epidemic as proof another epidemic will happen. And thus base their public policies on this flu. But what evidence do we have that these people died from the flu? The US government’s own website claims that in 1918 scientists did not understand viruses. And it wasn’t until 1933 that the influenza virus was discovered. But where is the missing is the link from the discovered influenza virus and the 1918 pandemic? One would expect to see scientific articles, documents, lab reports, linking the two together. Yet, we see none.
Meanwhile, scientists at Emory University in Atlanta recently have announced that they discovered that it was NOT THE FLU virus that killed people in the epidemic. But rather people died from secondary bacterial infections, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae.
According to health researcher Dr. Dan Duffy, the 1918 flu deaths were caused by frequent use of medications like CALOMEL, used to treat “sepsis.” Sepsis is another word for infection. Calomel is mercury. With two independent sources saying essentially the same thing, it is quite reasonable to assume that a majority of people who died in the flu epidemic did so as a direct result of a Streptococcus infection, or of the result of being treated for the infection with poisonous mercury. During the same time, if people exhibited flu like symptoms they may have been given methyl chloride, which was used in for cough syrup in 1918. Methyl chloride is also used as a refrigerant, a solvent, and it is neurotoxic, with side-effects, e.g., drowsiness, and coma.\r\n\r\n(source)
In other words, even if this new swine flu virus mutates to the point where it can go pandemic, chances are it will be nowhere near as deadly as the 1918 pandemic thanks to modern medicine’s knowledge of how to treat secondary infections.
Plus, you\’ll have an added advantage on your side: You’re Food Renegades. That means you know about how to keep your immune system strong by eating Real Food, detoxing the body & promoting healthy instenstinal flora, & getting plenty of Vitamin D.
As an interesting aside, I’ve been doing some reading on Pastuer’s “germ theory” and the findings of one of his contemporaries, Antoine Beauchamp, which has made me question whether or not viruses even exist. (CRAZY, I know!) Beauchamp argued that it wasn’t bacteria or viruses that made us sick, but “the terrain” of our internal systems. I’ve got my hands on a couple books on the subject, and when I’m done reading them I plan on writing a review of the best one. In the meantime, if your curiosity is piqued, go check out this fascinating introduction by a fellow Food Renegade reader.
(photo by sarihuella)