Swine Flu: Is the H1N1 Flu Pandemic Real?
Because, in general, people don’t worry about things that don’t immediately affect them. And they’ll keep this attitude until their local school locks the doors and sends all the children home.
That’s when reality will set in.
Should We Be Afraid of the Bird Flu Or the Swine Flu?
It is true that what appears to be a potentially very harmful influenza at the national (or global) level might simply fade away before doing much harm.
It is also true that government warnings can sometimes turn out to be false alarms because the officials misread the findings and go public with something prematurely. This happened with the threat of swine flu in 1976.
When an official warning doesn’t pan out, it generally leaves a sour taste in the mouths of the general public. It also leaves the government footing the bill to cover preparations for a pandemic that never happened.
So when you watch the evening news and see Katy Couric warning you that a new flu strain called H1N1, or “swine flu,” has health officials concerned, it’s only natural for you to ask: “Is this for real? Is my family going to be OK?”
According to Stephen Carter, author of Surviving Pandemic Flu, the strain of swine flu that is currently receiving world wide attention is suspected of originating in a pig farm located near La Gloria, in Vera Cruz, Mexico, and is thought to have first emerged in the early months of 2009 as an entirely new strain of influenza that has not seen been before in humans.
In 1997 we saw a similar story with the emergence of a new strain of bird flu in Hong Kong which was capable of infecting human hosts and killing about fifty percent of its victims.
But these kinds of incidents aren’t particularly surprising to anyone who understands the influenza virus.
New strains of influenza appear every year in different locations all around the world. Strains are widespread, varied, and generally not dangerous to the average person. The elderly, with their weakened immune systems, are the obvious exception.
But every once in a while there comes that “perfect storm” with all the conditions to cause complete and utter havoc for human beings.
H1N1, or swine flu, is variation of Influenza A which circulates in pigs and crosses over into the human population on occasion (though very rarely).
Pig intestines are a natural incubator for a variation of Influenza A which is known as H1N1.
Another strain, known as H5N1, percolates in the intestinal tracts of ducks and gulls, and sporadically gives rise to avian, or bird, flu in other species of birds that do not ordinarily host the virus.
Both of these strains of influenza have the potential to be lethal to humans that become infected by them.
The key word here is potential. Pigs have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years — and for the most part we co-exist with them without
a problem, even though pigs do routinely get sick with their own flu strains.
We have also been cultivating ducks for for over 4,000 years, and they don’t seem to cause us much problem either. Ducks tend to experience very mild flu symptoms only once — and that is early in their lives.
The point is, none of this usually affects us. Every once in a while something dramatically different takes place. The “perfect storm” crashes unannounced upon the shores of an ill prepared population of human hosts, sometimes infecting up to one of every three people on the planet.
The last time this happened was in late 1918 and early 1919.
At the time, the science of virology was just emerging. Nobody understood the cause of influenza, and, just like today, almost no one had any appreciation for how the devastating disease had struck before in recent recorded history.
A few years before that, in 1889, a strain emerged from Bukhara, Russia, which claimed at least a quarter million lives in Europe alone.
The origins of the flu that caused these two pandemics, in 1889 and 1918, will never be known for sure. The standard assumption is that an animal strain, of avian or swine origin, managed to “jump” the species barrier and set off a chain reaction in the human population
It would not be until the passing of the 1918-1919 episode that evidence of this animal to human mode of transmission was finally demonstrated.
In the first theory, it is speculated that the pandemic was likely initiated by an instance of bird flu that leaped directly into the human population. That is, a sick bird somehow managed to transfer the virus into the respiratory passages of a single human host, and the resulting infection spread from that one person to a large portion of the rest of the human population.
This has been the prevailing theory since about 1997 when we first got a close look at the genes involved in the 1918 episode.
Prior to this, however, the first indications of animal involvement – revealed with the introduction of the new antibody science of the 1930s – pointed to swine as the source of the pandemic. Hence the name, swine flu.
From the early 1930s, right on up until a sample of the 1918 virus finally became available for testing, it was believed that sometime in 1918 a strain of swine influenza made its way from a single pig into a single human host, and then proceeded to spread globally.
When the pandemic struck in 1918, particularly during the second and third waves of the illness, the immune systems of many victims were simply unable to mount an offense to the new virus quickly enough, and it decimated communities everywhere.
In the United States, an estimated 675,000 people died.
Twenty-two percent of the population of Western Samoa died.
Some Alaskan Eskimo and South African villages were entirely wiped out.
Across the globe, the total number of deaths is thought to have been somewhere in the region of 40 to 50 million, and may have even been twice that number.
No other recorded plague, or natural disaster, is known to have resulted in the loss of so many human lives in so short a period of time.
So – should we be scared when swine flu or avian flu outbreaks make for the lead story on the evening news every day for a week or two?
Stephen Carter, author of Survive Pandemic Flu answers — “Yes, absolutely!”
Carter says when that happens we should be very worried indeed. He has known about the very real threat of another influenza pandemic since 1995 when he first began studying it, and it has bothered him ever since, as it should bother all of us.
Look at this comparison: In the United States about 36,000 deaths, on average, are attributed to seasonal (regular) influenza infections every year. But most of these deaths involve aged patients whose immune systems are weakened, and who cannot put up a very good natural defense.
Pandemic flu, which occurs when an entirely new strain is introduced into the human ecosystem, can also take the lives of those who seem to be in the prime of health.
The Spanish Flu, as the pandemic came to be known, was notable for taking the lives of people between 20 and 40 years of age.
In order to get some idea of how likely it is that a pandemic event will occur in the near future, check out Carter’s book on Surviving Pandemic Flu.
MAKING PREPARATIONS FOR THE PANDEMIC
When most people think about the prospect of a severe pandemic visiting their community, it is the fear of becoming infected that scares them. In the case of a flu strain that kills as efficiently as the one that circled the world in 1918, the prospect is hardly a comforting one.
In the case of blue collar workers, it is believed that in some U.S. communities the mortality rate for those infected was as high as 10 percent. In more epidemiologically isolated communities, like the Inuit Eskimo tribes of Alaska, the mortality rate reached 90 percent and virtually wiped those communities off the map.
Less widely appreciated is that a pandemic need not even reach your door in order to be able to kill you or a family member. During a severe pandemic you could literally starve to death while never having come in close contact with the virus. This is just one of the conclusions I reached after reading Survive Pandemic Flu, which will have you rethinking just how much you really understand about your own place in the world.
Why? Because it turns out that we are a lot more delicately positioned than we would like to believe.
To illustrate: Get up from your chair and head to the kitchen and make a quick inventory of the amount of food you have. How long would it last if you discovered tomorrow that the shelves are empty in all of the stores where you shop? Most retailers today work in “just in time” mode — they stock just enough product to keep the shelves full for a few days, and restock only as new shipments come in.
No retail food outlets store inventory in large quantities any more because their profit margins are too thin to accommodate the practice. So any disruption to the supply line to your grocery store will quickly affect your ability to obtain necessary food and supplies for your family.
A national crisis could also knock out our truck drivers and other transportation workers. This could be because a large number of them become infected, or simply due to their fear that being away on a long haul would make them unavailable if one of their family members fell ill during a pandemic.
Panic buying by consumers could easily clear store shelves in as little as 24 hours, leaving whatever you have in your cupboards the only food and water you may be able to get your hands on for weeks.
Your neighbors will be facing the same dilemma, so don’t bother looking to them to bail you out. Nor should you expect the government to come rushing in with supplies to help you. That kind of government assistance happens only during local emergencies, not during the kind of nationwide threat we are talking about here where *everyone* is experiencing the same kind of disruption to their normal existence.
If you are lucky enough to have a huge stockpile of food in your home – enough to get you through the crisis with some rationing – you certainly won’t want to advertise the fact. If your neighbor is faced with the option of either watching his family starve to death, or forcibly taking food and water from you for his family, well, your life may be threatened yet again.
As stated earlier, a virus that causes a severe pandemic does not need to reach your door in order for it to claim your life or the life of a family member. It only has to spread fear to get the job done.
HOW TO AVOID SWINE FLU
It’s likely you will meet people who will catch the H1N1 virus. When they do, their bodies will most likely react as they do to any other flu virus – they will find themselves sick in bed for a period of time feeling miserable.
Naturally, you want to avoid swine flu and the miserable feeling that goes along with it.
There are certain steps you can take to minimize your exposure to the H1N1 virus. Most of these are plain common sense, but let’s go over some preventative measures to make sure you’re protected as much as possible from the virus, thus avoiding swine flu infection.
At the risk of over-simplifying the matter, hand-washing is the most obvious defense we have against any virus. When you wash, be sure to work up a good soapy lather under hot water.
Wash after using the bathroom, before eating, after exposing yourself to germ-infested objects, after shaking hands, sneezing or coughing –– any time you have exposed yourself to a potential source of the virus. Carry an antibacterial product, such as Purell™, and use it whenever soap and hot water are not available. This is a year for special vigilance.
Where can you expect to find the greatest exposure? The answer may surprise you. Think about items that are touched frequently by a variety of people, some of them unknowingly already carrying a flu virus. High on the list would be doorknobs! This would include doorknobs in your own home but even more so in public places. Door knobs are touched by everyone going in or coming out of any given door — In public places this can mean thousands of people, many who may be carrying the virus.
Speaking of public places, do you like to eat out? Just think of how many hands have touched the salt and pepper shakers in your restaurant. How about the menu you’re holding? Or consider your local grocery store: How many hands have been on the handle of your grocery cart?
Going to the doctor? Don’t you imagine a good number of the people sitting in the waiting room are there because they’re sick? How badly do you really want to read those year-old magazines that have been touched by hundreds of sick people? You might want to bring your own book or magazine, just to play it safe. (Or better yet, have you ever considered getting a Kindle?)
Were you aware that the average kitchen sponge has nearly 20 million microbes on it? Do you really want to wipe your counters with that? Or your plates? If you think soaking it in bleach water will eradicate the beasties, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, you’re wrong. Your dishwasher will do the job if the water is hot enough. Another option is to cook it in your microwave oven for one minute.
Are there other places that merit your attention when you’re trying to figure out how to avoid swine flu? Well, think of this: The average public toilet bowl contains 41 germs per square inch. Compare that to your computer keyboard. The average personal keyboard has 21,000 germs per square inch! Wipe it down daily with a disinfectant wipe – and don’t forget the mouse!
And how about the steering wheel in your car, your hand-held telephone or your cell phone? What about that collection of remote control devices sitting in your TV room or in front of your family entertainment center? If you think in terms of things other people touch — you will be well on your way to discovering how to avoid the H1N1 virus.
So in conclusion: If you have been wondering how to avoid the swine flu this season, keep these simple pointers in mind and you might just be able to dodge the anticipated H1N1 epidemic. At the very least you will minimize its impact on you and your family.
A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE BOOK SURVIVING PANDEMIC FLU
Concern about swine flu peaked the day that the World Health Organization raised their warning all the way up to Level 6 and declared they were at “full pandemic status.” Since then the world has not fallen off of its axis, so we have all gone back to the same old, same old. Most people have figured this is yesterday’s story and that swine flu is no more dangerous than any flu that seems to show up each fall and winter.
And guess what? So far, that’s the way it looks. Sure, some people have died of swine flu complications — but not nearly as many as were expected.
You were probably starting to feel the same way, but if you read the book “Survive Pandemic Flu – Understand and Protect Against Novel Strains Of Influenza”, you will find out that looks can be deceiving when it comes to strains of flu.
The author points out that the last time we saw a flu strain like this novel H1N1 strain begin spreading around the world, it ended with the deaths of about 100 million people.
This wasn’t some dark ages plague, either. It was 1918 — less than a century ago.
An H1N1 strain came out of nowhere at about the same time of the year, spring time, and then just vanished a month or two later without causing much of a problem. Just like this year.
But then it came back in the fall.
This time it was completely changed, and that seemingly harmless virus that caused little loss of sleep in the early part of the year was suddenly dropping people in their tracks.
I can remember my grandfather telling me about people turning blue. It turns out that those who turned blue did not last very long. Most cities around the world quickly ran out of coffins and had to stack corpses in makeshift piles and bury them in mass graves.
There are obvious parallels between that 1918 strain and the one we are dealing with in 2009. But really, we would only be scratching the surface of a very involved story that actually goes way back to Abraham Lincoln. Something he did during the Civil War guaranteed that, even if nature acting on its own does not come up with a twin version of that 1918 strain, we may yet experience it again anyway.
That was just one of the surprising things you will discover in Survive Pandemic Flu.
Earlier this year many thought the officials at the World Health Organization were simply calamity howlers for raising the alarm, because nothing bad seemed to happen.
Well, as it turns out, there is more to their ‘howling” than originally thought.
If you think all the swine flu warnings are just hype and that our troubles are behind us, then you will likely be one of the 99 percent of the population that gets caught with its pants down when it all hits the fan.
No one knows whether it will be this year, next year, or five years from now.
But if you would rather be among the one percent whose family isn’t taken by surprise, get hold of this book. For the cost of an inexpensive family meal you will get an education that might just save the life of you or anyone of your family members.
Check out Survive Pandemic Flu right now so that you can be prepared well ahead of time.
Your family is going to be a lot better off if you learn what is in this book. Why? Because now you will be able to make sure they are protected as much as possible against any pandemic threat – no matter when it makes its appearance.
Usually when someone tells you a book they are recommending will be the most important book you will read this year, you KNOW it’s just a line. But in this case, it really is true.
You decide for yourself when you check it out. You can thank me later for pointing you in the right direction.
Here is that link one more time: CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY OF SURVIVE PANDEMIC FLU
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