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  1. #1
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    Avian Flu-- advice from medically minded craftistas?

    Ok, I'm not usually one to freak out about medical stuff that the media is freaking out about. However, I do like to be informed about what I can do to be as healthy and immune as possible when something scary is out there.

    It seems like there's lots of news about the possibility of a pandemic if the bird flu becomes transmissable between human beings, but very little about how we can protect ourselves in the meantime.

    Any particular advice from medically/homeopathically/naturopathically minded craftistas out there for how to protect ourselves/families from this kind of scary flu?

    I'll state the obvious:
    1. Wash your hands
    2. Sleep enough, eat well, get exercise-- be in a generally healthy state

    Other things I've heard are good for viruses:
    1. Oil of Oregano- apparently a natural anti-bacterial and apparently anti-viral
    2. Sambucol-- an italian black currant (i think) syrup that is supposed to be good for the immune system-- i take it when i am beginning to feel sick, or am a little sick, and it seems to help.
    3. Zinc-- is this good just for bacterial infections, or would it help as an anti-viral?

    I'm all for taking positive action instead of giving way to unreasoning fear about things I have no control over!

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  3. #2
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    To keep up to date on accurate and non-alarmist information I suggest the Harvard World Health news. They (well, Jen) compiles all the good articles of the week on important public health topics.

    I also suggest reading books on the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, as we now know that it was an avian flu that mutated to a human flu. America's Forgotten Pandemic : The Influenza of 1918 is a good one.

    Honestly though, there are a lot more thing that we should be concerned about that we DO have control over and are much more likely to happen to us.

  4. #3
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    wasn't there a similar panic last year about the same flu? i remember it being an avian flu last year, too.

    i'm not worrying. and i'm not getting that shot, either.

  5. #4
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    K, I'm not a doctor - but my background is biochemistry and my sister is a doctor, so I guess that qualifies me as "medically minded" ...

    The flu shot will only help you for viruses that already exist - it likely won't help for a newly mutated version of avian flu. That said, even regular influenza can be really bad for anyone who is immunocompromised, or has respiratory problems. Also, if you spend a lot of time around someone like that, you could transmit the virus to them inadvertently, and do them significant harm. So, for those people who are less resistant and for their close loved ones and caretakers, I think a flu shot is a really good idea. I get one every year becuase I have athsma, which gets really bad if I get a cold (I have ended up in the emergency room). I should also say that I generally think the flu shot does no harm, so why not get it? However I do know that there is no consensus on this and I respect anyone's choice that is different from mine - your body, you decide what goes in it!

    Other than that, I think, really your best bet is to wash your hands a lot, eat a diverse diet, get lots of vitamins (Tom & Katie will be safe! LOL!) and be healthy. I've started being more anal about hand cleanliness. I now tend to use that hand sterilizer gel before I eat and stuff. As it uses alcohol to kill germs it won't contribute to antibiotic resistance, and psychologically it feels good.

    I think people should remember that there's no reason to think that avain flu will be any worse than the worse flu you've already had - which you've clearly survived from. But I haven't read as much about it as some other people (thanks for the suggestions brdgt).

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by delqc
    I now tend to use that hand sterilizer gel before I eat and stuff. As it uses alcohol to kill germs it won't contribute to antibiotic resistance, and psychologically it feels good.
    Thanks for that info...I thought sanitization gel did contribute to antibiotic resistance...but now that I think about it, how could it? I used it a lot when Toronto was under the shadow of SARS, but I dropped the habit when the hysteria died out.

    I just wonder...does anyone else think it's strange how the media is following the bird flu with such zeal? I swear that they're hoping for a super-bug. Why do they think that this will be "the BIG ONE"?

    I have a medical book that was written in the late 1800's, and it documents the spread of cholera from Africa (I think), around the world, giving the dates on which it was discovered in each country. It is fascinating in morbid way, to see how quickly disease was spread, back when there were no airplanes to move people around. I thinks that if any disease is virulent enough, it will spread no matter what precautions we take. For my part, I too try to eat healthy, take my vities, and wash my hands often. If avian flu began to jump from human to human, I'd think very seriously of packing up the family and moving into the county where there aren't quite so many people per square foot. I'm not sure that would help, but I'd feel better!

  7. #6
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    lots of hand sanitizers have Triclosan, which can encourage the growth of resistant bacteria. it's a really bad idea to use heavy-duty antibacterials in shampoo and hand cream, in general.

    alcohol doesn't really kill bacteria that well. it kind of antagonizes them, though, and the friction of rubbing it in probably helps it kill more.

    you know, people die from the plain old flu all the time. people who are very old, very young, or have compromised immune systems. the same people who will die of the avian flu. viruses are very good at what they do.

  8. #7
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    By the same token, if you have high antibodies, as in those w/ auto-immune diseases, you might consider skipping vaccines.
    You can have a titer test done to determine which illnesses you are immune to before going ahead w/ what might be an unnecessary vaccine.
    I don't know if it's true all over the states, but I found out just recently that titers can be used to prove a person doesn't need the vaccine, thereby it can give parents an exclusion from vaccinations for their children, aside from the religious exclusion. I would think the same would be true for someone who works in the medical community.
    There is still so much we don't know about vaccine's safety. And I don't know what to believe. But I'd rather my kids were vaccinated against the really serious stuff than not.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sewlittletime
    There is still so much we don't know about vaccine's safety. And I don't know what to believe. But I'd rather my kids were vaccinated against the really serious stuff than not.
    For every child who receives a vaccination that has horrible effects, there are tens of thousands (maybe more) of kids who have no ill affects, other than the fever/rash for a couple of days. In our generation, at least here in North America, we have very little understanding about what it is like to be under the constant threat of death or deformity from disease. But ask you grand parents what it was like to see their friends struck down by polio! Even my parents lost friends to polio, and they're just into their middle fifties.

    In all fairness, it was a difficult decision for me to have my daughter vaccinated...In Canada at least, we don't have to site religious reasons...we can site 'conscientious objections' to vaccination. I was pretty leary, but I decided to go for it, and luckily, she has weathered them well. Now I'm glad I did it. My problem with the flu vaccine is that this flu-scare seems to be totally media driven. I can't remember anyone having a fit over a flu outbreak when I was young, but maybe I just didn't notice.

  10. #9
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    i can understand the ambiguity of giving vaccines to kids. personally, i wouldn't give children flu or chicken pox vaccines. but polio, mumps, and rubella? kids used to die horrible deaths from those illnesses, and they are not eradicated from the planet.

    back to topic.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sewlittletime
    By the same token, if you have high antibodies, as in those w/ auto-immune diseases, you might consider skipping vaccines.
    You can have a titer test done to determine which illnesses you are immune to before going ahead w/ what might be an unnecessary vaccine.
    Interesting. I have autoimmune weirdness, and I have a lot of antinuclear antibodies, but none of my doctors has ever suggested that they protect me against anything other than various body parts against which I don't actually need to be protected. Are people with autoimmune diseses more likely to have other antibodies as well, or just the bad ones?

    I get the flu shot every year because I periodically have to take drugs to suppress my immune system, and they make me more susceptable to infection. I'm not immunosuppressed at the moment, but I might be in a month or two. I guess it's possible that vaccines aren't safe, but I'm willing to take my chances.

    I don't know very much about the avian flu, but I thought it was a particularly strong strain, kind of like the 1918 flu. And the 1918 flu was peculiar in that it most killed young, healthy people. I think I read somewhere that what actually killed them was not the flu but their immune systems' response, so that people with teh strongest immune systems were actually most likely to die.

    Anyway, I'm not freaking out about avian flu. I don't think it's a false threat, but there's not a lot I can do about it, and I just don't see how freaking out is going to do me any good.


 
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