Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why a True Bird- or Swine Flu Pandemic is HIGHLY Unlikely!

From Dr. Mercola

Why a True Bird- or Swine Flu Pandemic is HIGHLY Unlikely

While in my opinion it is highly likely factory farming is responsible for producing this viral strain, I believe there is still no cause for concern.


You may not know this, but all H1N1 flu"s are descendants of the 1918 pandemic strain. The reason why the flu shot may or may not work, however, from year to year, is due to mutations. Therefore, there"s no vaccine available for this current hybrid flu strain, and naturally, this is feeding the fear that millions of people will die before a vaccine can be made.

However, let me remind you of one very important fact here.

Just a couple of months ago, scientists concluded that the 1918 flu pandemic that killed between 50-100 million people worldwide in a matter of 18 months -- which all these worst case scenarios are built upon -- was NOT due to the flu itself!4

Instead, they discovered the real culprit was strep infections.

People with influenza often get what is known as a "superinfection" with a bacterial agent. In 1918 it appears to have been Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Since strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, a new pandemic would likely be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century, the researchers concluded.

Others, such as evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald,5 claim that a pandemic of this sort simply cannot happen, because in order for it to occur, the world has to change. Not the virus itself, but the world.

In a previous interview for Esquire magazine, in which he discusses the possibility of a bird flu pandemic, he states:

"They think that if a virus mutates, it"s an evolutionary event. Well, the virus is mutating because that is what viruses and other pathogens do. But evolution is not just random mutation. It is random mutation coupled with natural selection; it is a battle for competitive advantage among different strains generated by random mutation.

For bird flu to evolve into a human pandemic, the strain that finds a home in humanity has to be a strain that is both highly virulent and highly transmissible. Deadliness has to translate somehow into popularity; H5N1 has to find a way to kill or immobilize its human hosts, and still find other hosts to infect. Usually that doesn"t happen."

Ewald goes on to explain that evolution in general is all about trade-offs, and in the evolution of infections the trade-off is between virulence and transmissibility.

What this means is that in order for a "bird flu" or "swine flu" to turn into a human pandemic, it has to find an environment that favors both deadly virulence and ease of transmission.

People living in squalor on the Western Front at the end of World War I generated such an environment, from which the epidemic of 1918 could arise.

Likewise, crowded chicken farms, slaughterhouses, and jam-packed markets of eastern Asia provide another such environment, and that environment gave rise to the bird flu -- a pathogen that both kills and spreads, in birds, but not in humans.

Says Ewald:

"We know that H5N1 is well adapted to birds. We also know that it has a hard time becoming a virus that can move from person to person. It has a hard time without our doing anything. But we can make it harder. We can make sure it has no human population in which to evolve transmissibility. There is no need to rely on the mass extermination of chickens. There is no need to stockpile vaccines for everyone.

By vaccinating just the people most at risk -- the people who work with chickens and the caregivers -- we can prevent it from becoming transmissible among humans. Then it doesn"t matter what it does in chickens."

Please remember that, despite the fantastic headlines and projections of MILLIONS of deaths, the H5N1 bird flu virus killed a mere 257 people worldwide since late 2003. As unfortunate as those deaths are, 257 deaths worldwide from any disease, over the course of five years, simply does not constitute an emergency worthy of much attention, let alone fear!

Honestly, your risk of being killed by a lightning strike in the last five years was about 2,300 percent higher than your risk of contracting and dying from the bird flu.6 I"m not kidding! In just one year (2004), more than 1,170 people died from lighting strikes, worldwide.7

So please, as the numbers of confirmed swine flu cases are released, keep a level head and don"t let fear run away with your brains.



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READ THE REST of Dr Mercolas info here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/04/29/Swine-Flu.aspx

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