A doctor from a care center in Wisconsin recently made an amazing discovery that could help you fight the swine flu. He made the discovery after he noticed that almost none of his patients got the swine flu (H1N1) when it was rampant in that state. What really surprised him, though, was that a number of staff members did get sick.
How could patients and staff in the same facility have such different reactions to the virus?
The doctor, who practices at Central Wisconsin Center (CWC) — a long-term care facility for nearly 300 residents with developmental disabilities — looked long and hard to find a reason for this disparity. After much searching, here’s what he found:
Many of the nearly 300 residents were on anticonvulsant drugs. These drugs lower vitamin D levels. Because of this, CWC gives all of its patients regular doses of supplemental vitamin D to raise their levels. However, none of the staff thought they needed to take the supplements since they don’t take the drugs.
The staff was sadly mistaken. Out of the 800 staff members, 103 came down with the flu. That’s nearly 13%.
Compare that to the patients, where only two of the 275 residents developed flu-like symptoms that proved to be the H1N1 virus. One of them had just transferred to CWC — and he had the flu when he arrived. In other words, only 0.7% of the patients came down with the flu (and one of them wasn’t taking vitamin D supplements).
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This finding is not new. So far, two-thirds of children who died from the H1N1 virus in our country had epilepsy, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, or other neurological problems. Many of these cases take these same drugs and have a vitamin D deficiency.
Dr. John Cannell, president of the non-profit Vitamin D Council, is frustrated. He’s heard this and other similar stories, but he can’t get anyone at the CDC or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to check this out. This just doesn’t make sense, because the CDC has already reported that patients with neurological problems are at greater risk to die from the H1N1 flu.
While the government may not do anything about it, you can keep this travesty from affecting you. Get your vitamin D level checked. Dr. Cannell finds the greatest protection when the levels are between 50 and 80. If you’re low, take 2,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. It’s the best way — even better than the vaccine — to protect yourself.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand