Strep infections, rather than the flu virus itself, may have killed most people during the 1918 influenza pandemic. This suggests that some of the most dire predictions about a potential new pandemic could be exaggerated.
Scientists looked at the available information regarding the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed anywhere between 50 million and 100 million people globally in the space of about 18 months. Some research has shown that on average it took a week to 11 days for people to die, which fits in more with the known pattern of a bacterial infection than a viral infection.
People with influenza often get what is known as a "superinfection" with a bacterial agent. In 1918 it appears to have been Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Many projections for a new pandemic have been based on a worst-case 1918 scenario, in which tens of millions of people would die globally. However, since strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, a new pandemic might be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century.
|Dr. Mercola's Comments:|
Most health experts agree that another pandemic of influenza is inevitable. But what most fail to understand is that the real answer is not stockpiling more vaccines and antibiotics – which more often than not are ineffective anyway.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the U.S. government projections, in which some 200,000 to two million people are bound to perish, based on the worst-case 1918 scenario mentioned above.
However, not only does it now appear these projections were based on flawed assumptions about the cause of death itself, I’ve long argued that similar conditions, like the bird-flu pandemic envisioned, is pure fantasy to begin with.
Why You Shouldn’t Place Your Bets on a Pneumonia Vaccine
In the article above, they mention that we now have vaccines that protect against many different strains of S. pneumonia – of which there are more than 90 different serotypes – that cause infections from pneumonia to meningitis.
However, many of these vaccines simply do not work and come with a number of dangerous side effects, so personally, I would not bet on a vaccine to prevent another pandemic of any kind. The pneumonia vaccine, for example, which is recommended for all adults over 65 years of age, does not reduce the risk of contracting the disease, according to researchers.
Worse yet, another pneumonia vaccine designed for infants killed at least a dozen children in Argentina just last year. Meanwhile, according to UNICEF, the most effective forms of prevention of pneumonia in children include:
- Exclusive breast feeding
- Promoting adequate nutrition and zinc supplementation
- Reducing indoor air pollution
Additionally, after reviewing a total of 10 studies, investigators at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that using zinc supplementation alone reduces the risk of pneumonia by 41 percent!
But be careful, and do not use this study to give you a blanket recommendation to supplement with zinc as everyone is different and indiscriminate supplementation without the guidance of a trained health care professional can be problematic and actually make the condition worse.
Compare that to another recent GSK vaccine trial in Gambia that boasted about a 37 percent reduction in pneumonia cases…
Another little-known pneumonia-buster is good old fashioned essential oils.
Researchers have found that some essential oils -- oregano, thyme and rosewood oils in particular -- create an autolytic reaction in organisms, including Streptococcus pneumonia identified as the real culprit behind the 1918 mass mortality.
Spraying these essential oils in the laboratory simply made the pneumonia cells fall apart! The oils are much safer than zinc and I believe can be used without more careful supervision.
The best results occurred with oregano, thyme and rosewood, and intermediate inhibition of the pathogens was achieved with cinnamon oil and clove oil.
What About another Flu Pandemic? Are You at Risk?
When it comes to the flu, to avoiding becoming a statistic you need to be aware that your vitamin D levels play a direct role in your risk of getting the flu!
The vitamin D levels in your blood fall to their lowest point during flu season, which generally coincide with low-sunlight seasons. Less than optimal vitamin D levels will significantly impair your immune response and make you far more susceptible to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.
Dr. John Cannell and colleagues introduced the hypothesis that influenza is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency in their paper Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D, published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection two years ago, and published additional research on this topic in a recent issue of the Virology Journal. Remarkably, they found that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day abolished the seasonality of influenza!
Unfortunately, conventional medicine’s answer to preventing the flu is not to increase vitamin D levels, but rather to encourage, or even mandate, flu shots. What they don’t tell you is that flu shots, at best don’t work, and at worst, can make your health worse.
If you maintain your vitamin D levels in the optimal range, the odds of you getting the flu are very remote. However, you can also use vitamin D therapeutically to TREAT the flu.
According to Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, who has been successfully using vitamin D therapeutically for a number of years, the therapeutic dose is 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight (one pound is 0.45 kg).
The dose would be taken once a day for three days. (This could be a very large dose if you are very heavy – as high as 2-300,000 units per day). If you start this program early on in the illness, it should be able to completely wipe out the flu in short order.
For more information about safe sun exposure and tanning, vitamin D testing, and the recommended forms of supplementation when sufficient sunlight is not available, please see my article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency, which includes recent, and vital, updates.
Yet another powerful supplement to keep in your home arsenal is olive leaf extract, which you can find in most any health food store. Olive leaf extract has been found to be a potent broad-spectrum antiviral agent, active against all viruses tested, including numerous strains of influenza and para-influenza viruses.
Why You Need Not Worry About the Bird Flu
One type of flu referenced most often when the discussion turns to potential pandemics is the H5N1 influenza, also known as the bird flu. Government agencies have stockpiled avian flu vaccines for years now, fearing that it may make the leap from bird to man any day now.
However, over and over; in 2005, in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, these fears have been exposed as little more than a cruel hoax, designed to instill fear, and line the pocketbooks of various individuals and industry. I became so convinced by the evidence AGAINST the possibility of a bird flu pandemic I even wrote an entire book on the subject.
How to Prevent Flu’s Without Vaccinations
I have not caught the flu in 20 years, and you can avoid it too, without getting vaccinated, by following these simple guidelines, which will keep your immune system in optimal working order so that you’re far less likely to acquire the infection to begin with.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels.
- Avoid Sugar. Sugar decreases the function of your immune system almost immediately, and as you likely know, a strong immune system is key to fighting off viruses and other illness. Be aware that sugar is present in foods you may not suspect, like ketchup and fruit juice.
- Get Enough Rest. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu. Be sure to check out my article Guide to a Good Night's Sleep for some great tips to help you get quality rest.
- Don't Let Stress Become Overwhelming. We all face some stress everyday, but if stress becomes overwhelming then your body will be less able to fight off the flu and other illness.
If you feel that stress is taking a toll on your health, consider using an energy psychology tool such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is remarkably effective in relieving stress associated with all kinds of events, from work to family to trauma. You can check out my free, 25-page EFT manual for some guidelines on how to perform EFT.
- Exercise. When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads. You can review my exercise guidelines for some great tips on how to get started.
- Take a good source of animal based omega-3 fats like Krill Oil. Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats like the omega-3 found in krill oil, which is crucial for maintaining health.
- Wash Your Hands. Washing your hands will decrease your likelihood of spreading a virus to your nose, mouth or other people. Be sure you don't use antibacterial soap for this -- antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary, and they cause far more harm than good. Instead, identify a simple chemical-free soap that you can switch your family to.
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