Is swine flu (H1N1) a cause of an epidemic or pandemic in 2009?
An epidemic is defined as an outbreak of a contagious disease that is rapid and widespread, affecting many individuals at the same time. The swine flu outbreak in Mexico fits this definition. A pandemic is an epidemic that becomes so widespread that it affects a region, continent, or the world. As of April 2009, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak does not meet this definition. However, as of June 11, 2009, WHO officials determined that H1N1 2009 influenza The swine flu reached WHO level 6 criteria (person-to-person transmission in two separate WHO-determined world regions) and declared the first flu pandemic in 41 years. To date, the flu has reached 74 different countries on every continent except Antarctica in about three month’s time; fortunately, the severity of the disease has not increased.
What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients that get swine flu (H1N1)?
The following is speculation on the prognosis for swine flu (H1N1) because this disease has only been recently diagnosed and the data is changing daily. This section is based on the currently available information. In general, the majority (about 90%-95%) of people that get the disease feel terrible (see symptoms) but recover with no problems, as seen in patients in both Mexico and the U.S. Caution must be taken as the swine flu (H1N1) is still spreading and may become a pandemic. So far, young adults have not done well, and in Mexico, this group currently has the highest mortality rate, but this data could quickly change. The first traceable case in Mexico, termed “patient zero,” was a 5-year-old child in Veracruz who has completely recovered. Investigators noted that large pig farms were located close to the boy’s home. The first death in the U.S. occurred in a 23-month-old child who was visiting Texas from Mexico but apparently caught the disease in Mexico. People with depressed immune systems historically have worse outcomes than uncompromised individuals; investigators suspect that as swine flu (H1N1) spreads, the mortality rates may rise and be high in this population. Unfortunately, the problem with the prognosis is still unclear. If the mortality is like the conventional flu that causes mortality rates of about 0.1%, the result would be about 35,000 deaths per year because of the huge number of people that get infected. If the Mexico swine flu (H1N1) ends up with a mortality rate of about 6% and infects the same number of millions of people as conventional flu viruses, the projected numbers could be as high as 2 million deaths in the U.S. alone. This is a bad prognosis for about 2 million people and their families; these potential deaths are major reasons that health officials are so concerned about the spread of this new virus. Another confounding problem with the prognosis of swine flu (H1N1) is that the disease is occurring and spreading in high numbers at the usual end of the flu season. Most flu outbreaks happen between November to the following April, with peak activity between late December to March. This outbreak is not following the usual flu pattern. Some scientists think that swine flu (H1N1) will quickly die out in the summer and may not ever return, while others think it may die down but return with many more cases in the fall, and still, others speculate it will become a pandemic that will resemble the outcomes similar to the 1918 influenza pandemic. Some suggest it may resemble the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus strain) outbreak in 2002-2003 in which the disease spread to about 10 countries with over 7,000 cases, over 700 deaths, and a 10% mortality rate. Effective isolation of patients was done in this case, and many investigators think the outbreak was stopped due to this measure. Because swine flu (H1N1) is a new virus and does not seem to be following the usual flu disease pattern, any prognosis is speculative.
How do I keep a strong immune system?
Here are just a few tips:
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked once each season. You can have your vitamin D levels checked yourself through our website (order the vitamin D test). Vitamin D supplementation may be needed at higher doses than what you get through diet alone.
- Avoid processed foods. These foods can greatly decrease the function of our immune systems. Do not be fooled by the verbiage “Fresh” or “Natural”. Learn to read your labels. A general rule of thumb: Show on the outsides of the grocery store. Most processed foods are located in the aisles.
- Run a food antibody blood test. Food sensitivities can weaken the immune system thus increasing your risk of infections.
- Get checked up by a Functional Medicine doctor like myself. The information we interpret from blood work can show subtle changes in immune function so that specific changes in lifestyle, diet, and supplementation can be recommended. This is the opposite of what most MD’s look for in blood work…disease only. If you’re well, you want to stay well, right?
- If the Swine Flu is contracted. Chlorine Dioxide may be of benefit.
Dr. Brady Hurst
Clinic Director- True Health Labs.