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Swine Flu News – They Saw It Coming

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.

McKenzie’s conclusion?

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)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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13 Responses to Swine Flu News – They Saw It Coming
  1. Raine Saunders
    May 4, 2009 | 1:37 pm

    Great article! Since I changed my way of eating over three years ago, I have wondered and wondered if our internal systems being so messed up as they are by all the non-food we consume was the REAL cause of sickness and illness. After all, if our bodies are so limited in their capacities to fight off bacteria or viruses, any old thing can come along and wipe us out. So it’s really not the fact that the bacteria and viruses are so deadly, but more that we are not diversified enough in our intestinal flora and accompanying components to handle most things that come along – why? Because we have departed so greatly from real food and eat garbage. It’s really so simple and so maddening at the same time that people don’t understand this.

    Raine Saunders

  2. KristenM
    May 4, 2009 | 4:02 pm

    Raine — Yes, I have wondered the same things. I’ve been remarkably healthy over the past five years. I used to be sick all winter long and suffer from allergies the rest of the time. I changed my diet and VOILA — no more colds & sinus infections. I didn’t improve or change my hygiene, just my diet! If it really is all about (and only about) hygiene (as Pasteur’s germ theory would have us believe), then why the difference?

  3. CHEESESLAVE
    May 4, 2009 | 6:13 pm

    Wonderful post! I’m going to tweet it and stumble it. It’s bizarre to me that people are wearing face masks.

    You know, there was an interview with a former conventional hog farmer in that movie we saw last week FRESH (will be posting about it soon). He talked about all the infections his pigs had before he switched to a sustainable/organic operation. He said his pigs are healthy now and he does not need to shoot them up with antibiotics — ever.

    That’s the other thing I wonder about. All the antibiotics. From what I have read, all those antibiotics create superbugs. Vicious cycle.

    CHEESESLAVE

  4. KristenM
    May 4, 2009 | 6:38 pm

    Cheeseslave — I can’t wait to see FRESH! I’ve read that 70% of the antibiotics produced in this country get fed to our livestock because of the bizarre living conditions they must endure thanks to industrialized agricultural practices.

  5. debbie
    May 4, 2009 | 8:41 pm

    Thank you for this post. I am excited to read about Beauchamp. I love what I read on your blog, and am very interested in your questions about viruses/bacteria.

    Here’s a very recent scenario and question: my 2 1/2 year old son has been on antibiotics (Z-pak) only 2x in his life, a year apart, for dbl ear infections; he has eaten almost no sugar of any kind; he eats plenty of saturated fat from pasture-raised animals and coconut oil, organic vegetables, soaked oat pancakes/waffles and a kefir/fruit/coconut oil smoothie several times a week, yet last week, after shaking hands with the garbage man, he started throwing up about 30 hours later. Then 25 hours after I ate the rest of his dinner off his plate & fork (before I knew he was sick), I started throwing up. A day later, my husband got it. After 24 hours, we were each pretty much back to normal.

    I would have thought that our eating habits would have prevented us from contracting whatever the stomach bug was that we caught. But we all got it – our son worst of all.

    I’m very much wanting to adjust whatever I can to keep us all even healthier. Is there something I’m not yet doing that would increase the healthy bacteria in our guts? And I’m especially curious to discover if it wasn’t a virus (as we’ve been told by everyone from my mom to what I can find on the Internet), what caused our vomiting and how do we avoid it in the future?

    Thank you for all the research you do. I look forward to all of your posts!

  6. KristenM
    May 4, 2009 | 9:04 pm

    Debbie — Ha ha. You’ve opened a can of worms! I recommend reading that link on Beauchamp first, and then waiting on me to actually write a blog post on this to explain it in more detail.

    To put it as simply as possible, there appears to be some evidence that these tiny micro-organisms are pleomorphic (meaning they change shape) in response to their environment. It takes the most powerful electron microscopes to even *see* what scientists call viruses, and even then they’re so small that they can’t be identified beyond that as to what kind of virus, etc. Furthermore, by barraging the virus with the electron radiation in order to see it, you kill it. In other words, we can only look at fuzzy snapshots of these little buggers once they’re dead. We can’t see them in action, alive, doing their thing.

    There were a handful of different scientists over the past 100 years who used different kinds of optics to witness bacteria changing shape (the most famous of which is Royal Rife) — literally changing from something else INTO the bacteria that causes strep throat then changing again into an altogether different bacteria. So, what we call or identify as various kinds of bacteria and viruses may indeed be something else altogether, something that apparently changes shape in response to its environmental stresses.

    If that’s true, than many of our underlying presumptions about germ theory are flawed. It’s not all wrong, just an incomplete picture that could be greatly clarified once we develop easily accessible optical technology that would make it possible to actually look at LIVING viruses. Needless to say, it would radically alter the way we treated infectious diseases.

    Anyhow, I don’t really want to talk about that in great detail here. I want to finish reading my books first, dabble with some refutations, etc. In short, I want to make up my mind before I actually share something substantive about this with my readers.

  7. KristenM
    May 4, 2009 | 9:13 pm

    Debbie — P.S. I meant to also suggest that if you’re serious about increasing the healthy flora in your gut, you should buy Bio-Kult probiotics from GapsDiet.com. Not all probiotics are the same, and this is the stuff that everyone in the know really recommends!

  8. Motherhen68
    May 5, 2009 | 7:45 am

    I’m so thankful that I discovered your blog. You make all the confusing scientific stuff easy to understand for the lay person. Thanks for the great post. I was already beginning to freak out about the Fall version of the Swine Flu (I also refuse to call it by it’s PC name, what’s up with that?). I feel a little better seeing the results you posted here about the 1918 pandemic.

    Motherhen68

  9. Raine Saunders
    May 5, 2009 | 10:59 am

    I’ve seen the Bio-Kult probiotics and heard they are good, but never used them before. The one I use daily (I have no appendix nor gallbladder anymore, so I have to take probiotics, digestive enzymes, and bile salts) is PB8 (http://www.nutritionnow.com/PB8.htm). It has 14 billion per 2 capsules as compared with Bio-Kult’s 2 billion per 2 capsules – I was just reading that fact about their supplement on their web site. But maybe I got the numbers wrong? My nutritional therapist recommended this brand to me as well as another called Prescript-Assist, a really powerful probiotic that is supposed to be really effective for individuals who have very weak immune systems and especially for those who have ever been on antibiotics.

    I just put an article up today about the NAIS (national animal identification system) and how it reinforces the government’s behavior about the swine flu, and could potentially destroy our sustainable foods systems and ability to procure healthy food.
    Please read! I’m very concerned about this issue, as well as anything to do with overblowing the swine flu .

    http://astotd.blogspot.com/2009/05/protect-rights-of-consumers-and-farmers.html

    Raine Saunders

  10. KristenM
    May 5, 2009 | 11:26 am

    Motherhen68 — Hey thanks! That’s quite a compliment.

    Raine — WOW. You lost BOTH your appendix and your gall bladder! You poor thing. That’s just terrible. I know that with probiotics, it’s not just about numbers. It’s about quality. Since there’s not much regulation on the claims of labels for these “food supplements,” you really have to trust word of mouth on this one. I’ve heard of PB8, mostly good stuff. How about anyone else here?

    And, yes, NAIS is scary for me unless they make explicit exceptions for small-scale producers and enthusiasts. Honestly, they wouldn’t need NAIS with small-scale producers anyway b/c most of these guys sell directly to consumers (if they sell at all), so any potential outbreaks would be easy to trace and contain. I don’t mind restrictions on large-scale industry operations because I know their only motive is profit — which means they’re inclined to cut as many corners as they can get away with, for as long as we allow them to do so. Plus, the traceability WOULD allow us to trace and contain potentially devastating outbreaks more quickly. That said, I can only support the law if it clearly protects small-scale operations. Otherwise, it’d be a disaster for the little guys and drive them out of business.

  11. Raine Saunders
    May 5, 2009 | 11:57 am

    Yes, I.D. tagging and monitoring on big-farm operations would be fine, except it just reinforces their current conditions of those abhorrent facilities – a new, expensive program designed to fleece taxpayers and absolutely no changes made in production/farming/animal husbandry methods, and no focus on prevention. That’s the part that really makes me furious. And according to Mary Zanoni, Executive Director of Farm for Life, there will be stringent protocol adhered to by all farmers, no exceptions or the USDA will exercise authority over non-compliants (http://www.poultrypress.com/hobby/Why%20You%20Should%20Oppose.pdf). If that doesn’t seem outlandish and nazi-ish, I don’t know what is!!

    Yes, my appendix went south while I was in my 7th month of pregnancy with my only child, Tristan. Admittedly, I caused my own problems from eating a poor diet and having sweets and bad foods mostly whenever I pleased. I’ve always been a petite person and for years I thought that since I never gained any weight, I could eat however I pleased. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Seven months later, my gallbladder was removed. I started having gallbladder issues the day I came home from being in the hospital for two weeks after premature birth and my appendix rupturing during pregnancy. Tristan and I could have easily died; it is but only for the grace of God that we are here today. None of the doctors saw it coming or were able to diagnose – they were all “stumped” and finally wheeled me into exploratory surgery 3 days after my son was born 7 weeks premature and discovered my perforated appendix. Part of the book I am working on will have this sordid story in it. I don’t know of anyone else who has had this happen while pregnant.

    Thanks Kristen! Keep up the great articles, and thanks for the community you support here. :)

    Raine Saunders

  12. debbie
    May 5, 2009 | 7:38 pm

    Thank you very much for your helpful responses. I will certainly look into the probiotics mentioned.

    Also, I’m wondering what your position is on cod liver oil. I’ve read that Nordic Naturals is not necessarily safe and also that CLO should really be fermented. It also appears that the capsule form is not as good as the liquid (or is it just not recommended b/c of the cost?). But I can’t imagine getting my husband to take something that tastes as bad as I imagine fermented cod liver oil must smell (and honestly I’d have a hard time, too). And if it’s anything like the vitamin capsules were when I was a kid, I tasted them all morning long – a rather unpleasant experience! Any thoughts?

  13. Raine Saunders
    May 6, 2009 | 8:28 am

    What about Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil? https://www.greenpasture.org/products/cod-liver-oil

    I’ve used it and it’s great, but my husband and son hate the taste of it, even though it’s in capsule form. It is also very expensive (about $45 per bottle), and if we all took it, that wouldn’t last long in our house. Several years ago we used Nordic Naturals, but stopped because it contains refined soybean oil. I returned to using Carlson’s, which used to be recommended on Dr. Mercola’s site, but now I think he has his own brand. Carlson’s doesn’t contain Vitamin A or D, and cod liver supplements should have the proper 10 – 1 ratio of Vitamin A to D. That’s why Green Pasture’s is superior. Anyone else have a good brand?

    Raine Saunders

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.