Every year a major flu kills hundreds of people worldwide. Vaccines don?t always work, because the strain of virus frequently changes. For years, we?ve heard about a possible flu pandemic – an outbreak that would kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Scientists predict it will be a variety of the avian (bird) flu and are working furiously to come up with a vaccine to protect us. Whether or not you are in favor of vaccines, the world would benefit from one that would target such a killer flu. But now there?s another glitch. A major one.
Avian flu is passed on from direct contact with infected birds and from people who have the virus. This means there was a way to control its spread – kill the infected birds and isolate contaminated people. But all this has gone out the window with a discovery in Java, Indonesia. A molecular biology researcher, C.A. Nidom, has found a virulent strain of avian flu that can jump from birds to pigs.
What?s so disturbing about that, you ask? A lot. Pigs are genetically similar to humans. They?ve already been found to carry human varieties of flu. It?s a greater leap to pass on a flu from birds to pigs than from pigs to humans.
But there?s more.
Viruses mutate in humans. They change quickly enough so that a vaccine, or treatment, that works on one variety doesn?t work on another variety. Any virus in pigs can mutate just as easily, making it next to impossible to find a workable vaccine for people. Each mutation is more difficult to control. These viruses are fighting to stay alive.
While scientists rush to develop a vaccine that will protect us from the next pandemic, which many predict is just around the corner, this is the time to look at everything we can do for ourselves. One thing we can do is to strengthen our immune systems so they can fight any virus – even a strong strain like the one that?s predicted.
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Some people find that the herb echinacea works for them. Others prefer large doses of vitamin C. One immune formula I?ve found especially effective uses medicinal mushrooms. I haven?t had a cold or the flu since I started taking it several years ago. My favorite blend is called MycoPhyto and is available from Advanced Bionutritionals (call 800-728-2288 to order).
I?ve written about strengthening immunity many times in my newsletter along with specific supplements I?ve found to work well. Subscribers can go to my website, www.womenshealthletter.com, and search for these articles.
In February 2001, for instance, I wrote about antibiotic resistance and herbs that can fight bacteria without losing their effectiveness. Many of these herbs are antiviral as well. If you?re at all concerned about a coming pandemic - and I think we all should be - you?ll want to strengthen your immunity now, before next year?s flu hits.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand