Every day you hear some a new story that warns of a possible avian flu pandemic, and the stories are getting worse. You want to take sensible steps to protect yourself and your family against a possible pandemic, but you don’t want to overreact and waste money on things you don’t need, as many people did prior to Y2K.
What do you do?
First, arm yourself with information. There are actually three different terms that get tossed around with respect to the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
Seasonal flu crops up every fall and winter, in various strains. If you’ve ever had a flu shot, it was intended to prevent the possibility of contracting seasonal flu.
Pandemic flu is a global outbreak of contagious flu that passes from person to easily. As of February 7, 2006, the CDC states that there is no current pandemic flu.
Avian flu (H5N1) is a flu virus that occurs naturally within birds. Wild birds carry these viruses within their intestines but usually don’t get sick from them. However, once birds do get sick from it, it is easily transmitted to other birds via excrement and secretions.
The risk to birds and poultry is one of severe sickness and possible death. The severe risks are seen with the high pathenogenic strain—the bird mortality rate can reach 90-100% within 48 hours. There is also a low pathenogenic strain and its causes tend to be limited to a drop in egg production and ruffled feathers.
However, since 1997 there have been cases of humans contracting bird flu from infected poultry in southeast Asia and Turkey. There have been a few cases of human-to-human infection, but it has not spread pass the second infected human. The danger, though, is that this flu mutates quickly and has a mortality rate in humans that approaches 50%.
Symptoms of bird flu in humans include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches
- Eye infections
- Severe respiratory diseases such as acute respiratory distress)
- Other severe and life-threatening complications
At this time, there is no commercially available vaccine for bird flu. However, there are measures you can take to lower your risk for contracting bird flu. Gerry Morton, CEO of EnergyFirst, has these 7 suggestions for lowering your risk of bird flu:
- Get in shape—this strengthens your immune system and gives you a fighting chance to fend off flu.
- If you smoke, quit—smoking depresses immune system response.
- Reduce alcohol consumption to no more than seven drinks a week for men and four for women—drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol hampers your immune system.
- Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, after you touch doorknobs, and before preparing food.
- Make sure that poultry you eat is free-range and that it comes from the US.
- Take anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C (3,000 mg per day) and Vitamin E (300 I.U. per day) to strengthen your immune system
Even if a vaccine is developed, you may not wish to use it. Vaccines may backfire. At the turn of the 20th century, smallpox outbreaks occurred in many Americans who had supposedly been vaccinated against smallpox. Additionally, the US government now admits that as many as 60 million Americans have had bad reactions to vaccinations, particularly in the following populations:
- People with HIV/AIDS or other immune deficiencies
- People who have had organ transplants
- People with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy
- People who have eczema and certain other skin disorders
- Pregnant women or those who might become pregnant
Vaccines carry risks. Don’t rely on them to protect you. Take responsibility for your own health.
Gerry Morton, CEO of EnergyFirst, is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and exercise. Since 1997, he has been educating and motivating others on how to attain peak performance.