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New Form of Influenza

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Just read this on BBC world...

"In the US, experts say the seven people who fell ill across two states were suffering from a new form of swine flu that combined pig, bird and human viruses.
"This is the first time that we've seen an avian strain, two swine strains and a human strain," Dave Daigle, a spokesman for the CDC, told AFP.
The CDC said none of the seven victims had been in contact with pigs, which is how people usually catch swine flu.
It was tracking those who had been in contact with the seven to see if they were ill, it said. All seven had made a full recovery. "

This was on the tag end of a story about a lethal outbreak of swine flu in Mexico which has so far killed 60 people and sickened many more. The two strains don't seem to be related.

Seems like they've been watching the wrong species... and pigs are a whole lot more like humans physiologically, so it won't take much for it to cross the species barrier. Interesting that the American strain is composed of some genomes (?) from several species... did someone cook that up or is it natural?

Sheesh, glad I live in the country...

Clarkson, KY


Tamworth, NH(Zone 4b)

It just takes a vector like some kind of biting insect to transfer virus from one species to another, where it recombines with a virus already present and then another insect bites that animal and transfers the "new" virus to yet another species and the process repeats. That makes it sound way more simple a process than it really is, and also makes it sound like it happens at the drop of a hat, which it doesn't. So no need to panic. :-)

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I think it's a lot more complicated than that, or they wouldn't differentiate them into bird flu, swine flu or equine flu.

I'm not panicking, but I'm not ignoring it either. The most likely scenario for societal meltdown is a pandemic like 1918. And obviously global health authorities are concerned or they wouldn't be repeatedly slaughtering hundreds of thousands of birds in nations all over the globe on the suspicion of cross-species mutation of bird flu.

Authorities in Mexico City are closing down schools and other public gathering places to prevent the spread of a new lethal swine influenza. An influenza that is killing young adults, not infants and elderly. Apparently they have matched it to 8 cases here in the states.

I see it as further encouragement to become more self-sufficient and energy independent as a homestead. A rapidly spreading pandemic is not a matter of IF, it's a matter of when. And if major portions of the population are gravely ill or quarantined, then infrastructure service... electricity, communications, water, etc... not to mention health care... will be severely impacted to the point of shutting down.

So here's a question to address... if that were to happen, do you have enough supplies to support your family and animals for 30 days while things sort themselves out... if your neighborhood/area was quarantined tomorrow, how well would you fare?

Remember the gov't response to Hurricane Katrina? I think it's unrealistic to expect anything different. So we need to look to our own self-reliance...

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

In the United States, so far, at least 11 swine flu cases have been confirmed. Tests show that eight students at a Queens high school are likely to have contracted the human swine flu virus that has struck Mexico…The students were among about 100 at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows who became sick in the last few days.

The United States has had detailed pandemic emergency plans in place since 2005, as well as stockpiles of emergency supplies and flu drugs (the plan can be read at

World Health Organization and the CDC are on the case, but they are clearly concerned. They are saying publicly that this virus is serious. This virus is a combination of several viruses that have "come together" to create the new swine flu virus. In the world of viruses, that's called "reassortment.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Thanks, Darius, I'll take a look at that. =0)
What's really interesting about this virus is the combo is from several countries. To quote the Wall Street Journal...

"Pigs are especially prone to be such 'mixing vessels' since they can be infected by viruses that infect swine, birds and humans. Reassortment is often seen in water birds, especially ducks. Though these birds don't show symptoms, they shed the virus in their feces--which could go on to infect pigs or possible humans who come in close contact [with the feces].
"The CDC said some of the genetic segments of the current swine-flu virus come from bird-flu viruses found in North America, plus one gene segment from a human-flu virus and two gene segments typically seen in pig-flu viruses in Europe and Asia."

"Symptoms are similar to those found in seasonal human flu, including fever, respiratory symptoms, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea."

This does respond to Tamiflu and Relenza.

Quite a cocktail of genetic material and it does make me wonder if it got out of some lab somewhere.

Two more new words... morbidity and mortality. Morbidity is how easily something spreads, and mortality is the death rate. For example, the common cold has a pretty high morbidity, but a low mortality rate. HIV has a low morbidity but a high mortality rate.

To really turn society on its ear, a new pandemic will need to have both high morbidity and mortality. Such was the case in 1918. That flu also struck the young and healthy. Folks feared to go into town for supplies, worried they'd pick it up and bring it home to their families. It had a lot to do with the switch from horse-powered farming to tractors (along with the first WW).

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Oh and by the way... influenza isn't spread by insect vector. It's spread by aerosolization (sneezing, coughing, fecal dust) and foment contact (door handles, drinking glasses).

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Oh ratz... the really interesting stuff (preparedness manuals) are giant files. I'll have to go into town to read them on the library computer.

I do know, though, that the feds are ASSUMING that any large scale disaster, including pandemic, will overwhelm first responders (fire, police, emergency med) and have therefore established CERT units... citizen emergency response teams... made up of the folks in the neighborhood. In my Search and Rescue team, which is a wilderness team, we've begun to talk about becoming CERT trained. Check with your local fire dept. to find out about this neighbor helping neighbor training...

There may be a plan to deal with a rapidly spreading pandemic, but just imagine the scene when everyone shows up for the vaccine or Tamiflu... CERT will be part of crowd control, at a minimum.

Here's some more info on what it takes to be a pandemic, from the CDC site (a truly useful site that I've bookmarked)....

"...there are really three things we want to look for when we’re thinking about whether a virus is causing a new pandemic.  One is is it new?  In order to cause a pandemic, you need a virus to which the majority of the population does not have protection or immunity.  Does it cause severe disease?  There are probably new viruses that appear all the time that don’t cause severe disease, but with an influenza virus, one of the factors we look at is the severity of disease.  And then the third factor is whether it’s easily transmissible and sustainable in a population." 

This message was edited Apr 26, 2009 8:00 AM

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

What really concerns me is the potential to lose civil rights in an effort to protect us. In Mexico, the government has published an order giving them the power to "isolate" people who might be affected. They have also banned public gatherings (can 3 neighbors talking be considered a public gathering?), closed bicycle paths and 'recommended' that restaurants, bars and nightclubs close.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yep, that's how it's going to go... quarantine is nothing new, just new to us. Used to be very common in the early 20th century... that's just one of the reasons to have a well-stocked pantry. =0) Kinda puts one ahead of the curve, as it were.

If a pandemic comes into this area, I'm just staying home, out of town, another reason to stock up. It's a small town, but still plenty of silly folks who just plain won't listen and will spread the disease or will... let's just say... behave badly.

I think we can learn a lot of lessons from Katrina... there were a few folks well set up for the disaster--back-up electricity & communications, water purification, food, self-defense, first aid--and no one can say they were over-reacting or being alarmist now.

When the authorities base a response plan on the assumption that they'll be overwhelmed... well, what more need be said?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This is an article from Backwoods about a terrorist scenario the gov't ran a few years back. Much of it would apply to a naturally arising pandemic as well, there'd just be no one to bomb. But note how quickly things kinda go to H### in a handbasket....

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sounds spot on... unfortunately.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yeah, and to tell the truth, I am not set up to handle things shutting down for a month. I need hay... that's a family run business and if they had to close due to illness I'd just be SOL. Need more dog food... no way would I go near Wally World. Our staples are kinda on the low side right now, but we could probably squeak by.

I'm thinking I oughta get some dried eggs and milk as I'm not set up for chickens or goats, yet.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Not a bad idea. Dried milk probably comes from China and might be contaminated, but perhaps better than being exposed to a pandemic.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Oh, I'm not worried about the milk from China anymore... that's been a while and they gave a few executives the death sentence for scamming. No, everyone's got an eye on the milk products now. It's the rest of the stuff made in China... well, except maybe the dogfood... milk and dogfood, that sounds like a balanced diet.


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

A twist has emerged in the story of Israeli citrus fruit reportedly sold in Iran...

It has now been revealed the fruit, a type of orange-grapefruit hybrid marketed as Jaffa Sweetie, were not Israeli in the first place. The Sweeties were brought to Iran from China, where faking the origin of goods is a common practice.

The fruit was packed in boxes marked "Origin China", but individual fruits had a fake label marked “Israel”.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I've been to a few developing world markets and it's definitely a free-for-all. I believe it's called 'free enterprise' or 'market liberalization' in the business world. Yep, only takes one trip around the bazaar to see how effective self-regulation by industry is...


Oh, I should add... IMHO. =0)

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

The latest update...

Folks with flu like symptoms after a trip to Mexico have been identified in France, the UK, Israel, Spain, Canada, and New Zealand.

People are leaving Mexico City, the epicenter of the virus, and moving into the countryside... so spreads the bug.

And a really ridiculous response... Russia has banned raw pork and pork products from Mex. and the US... there has been no indication that this actually came from pigs.

This bug is in the Influenza Type A group; it is unknown if that vaccine will give any protection from this particular variation.

But as I'm getting on a plane in a couple of weeks, I'm thinking it might not hurt... well, it might hurt, but only a little. =0)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I read in the NYT that it seems to respond to the Tamiflu (?) shot.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Yes, it does, but isn't that after you get it? I'd rather prevent it or at least minimize it... I'll be traveling and it's a hassle trying to find where to get a shot in a strange city/town. As I understand it, you have to get the shot within 24 hrs of initial symptoms (correct me if I'm wrong).

Not to mention, I wouldn't want to carry it around and give it to others, so I'm even considering wearing a surgical mask on the plane. Feels sort of extreme, but I'll be joining many other people... remember that fed scenario where they assumed 1 person infected 10 others? And that was conservative? I'll be spending hours each day with about 30-40 people, some of them elderly, not to mention the ones on the plane.

I'd rather not be known as typhoid Jay, thank-you! LOL

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Frankly, I don't know enough about the shot(s)... I just believe enough in some natural medicine to avoid allopathic medicine when I can. (and I'm okay with being outside the box of conventional thinking.)

My healing guru developed daily drops to build up immunity against the ongoing permutations of these strains for several years. I don't have the 2008-2009 version but I'm thinking to order it next Friday when I get my check.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

From the CDC...

"There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal influenza vaccine will likely help provide partial protection against swine H3N2, but not swine H1N1 viruses."

Which is what this one is.... H1N1.

Well, so much for the vaccination idea, looks like it'll just be the surgical mask.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Y'all might want to look into some aromatherapy.

There are several plant essential oils (EOs) that are anti-microbial. These have proven effective when drugs have failed. Anti-microbial pharma drugs target particular metabolic pathways in the bacteria or virus. The bacteria/virus/fungus then mutates to change its metabolic pathway to be immune to the drug.

Plant essential oils are more effective in the vapour phase (eg, when diffused into the air). Plants diffuse them to protect themselves by way of transpiration.
We use diffusers or nebulizers.

EO molecules are lipophyllic (attracted to lipids/fats) and act on bacterial pathogens in three ways: 1)they degrade the membrane of the microbe (physical degradation of the lipid structure of the cell wall or protective coating), 2) they plug the pores in the cell membrane causing suffocation, and 3) the degradation of the microbes protective membrane causes punctures that pull out the postassium ions so that it essentially "bleeds" to death.

The Thieves Oil blend of essential oils is the most well known and works very well on respiratory infections. My veterinarian mixes his own by adding a dropper full of each EO into a 2 oz bottle and then filling with olive oil. He then diffuses this in the clinic area for 20 - 30 minutes (30 minues max). It clears up the respiratory infections in the cats very quickly. I have a micro bottle of this in my purse for airline travel. I open the bottle and take a few sniffs of the oil and close the bottle periodically during my flight.

Equal parts of the following essential oils (use medical/pharma grade oils only):
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum), lemon (Citrus limon), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), Eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

Other antimicrobial oils include Thyme, Oregano, Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Tea Tree oils

Please keep in mind that 99% of the essential oils manufactured around the world are manufactured for the flavouring and fragrance industry and most are synthetic or diluted with synthetic oils.

You'll want to use medical or pharma grade essential oils for therapeutic aromatherapy.

I recommend essential oils from Floracopeia or Original Swiss Aromatics.

This message was edited Apr 26, 2009 10:09 PM

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

g_m, I've just finished an article on the Four Thieves' herbal vinegar.

My guru is Machelle Small Wright at Perelandra.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

I love the Perelandra gardening books but haven't tried her flower essences yet.
We have an excellent flower essence source in the Sierras. I'll have to read up on her FSBS drops. I've had great success with homeopathy, EOs and ayurveda. I suppose I should put a chart on the inside of my medicine cabinet for the uninitiated visitor who might need an aspirin or tylenol substitute.

I took David Crow's Pharmacy of Flowers seminar. It reinforced what I had learned from Kurt Schnaubert (a Swiss biochemist who is the author of Medical Aromatherapy) and from my relatives in Europe.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Okey doke... there's a profound difference between bacteria and virus. Anti-microbials work on living things, which viruses are not. Viruses are more like little bits of computer data packets (which is why they call them computer viruses) that reprogram living cells (namely ours) but can't reproduce on their own outside a cell. Anti-microbials work by interferring with either the cell membrane or the reproductive cycle. Viruses are very, very different kinds of critters.

I have no idea whether essential oils would be effective against viruses, but I wouldn't bet my life on them.

In the veterinarian hospitals, when we get a highly transmissable virus, we pull out the bleach. Ordinarily we use quaternary compounds to sanitize surfaces, but they are not effective against parvo... a high morbidity, high mortality virus.

I've just ordered my surgical masks. Turns out what is needed is what is called an N95 respirator mask... not those flappy things that are in all the pictures. Those only protect you from the big flying chunks, say if someone sneezes in your face. They won't protect you from little floating virus-laden dust particles.... Amazon has a nice special on them right now.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

G_M, thank you for those links. Definitely something I need to investigate more thoroughly. After this past week of DH and I both being sick, the money we paid out for treatment and the lost income off his next week's paycheck, I'm kicking myself for not following this lead last year...

Darius, you know I'll be contacting you later for a basic lesson?

Jay, what do you do that you travel so much?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Yes, there is a profound difference between a bacteria and a virus. There is still much debate even in the allopathic medical world as to whether viruses are alive or just a robot that activates when it enters a host cell. The antimicrobial essential oils have been used successfully on both.

Conventional veterinary medicine in the US tends be allopathic medicine as dominates the human healthcare system. There are many systems of veterinary medicine around the world, just as there are many systems of human medicine.
We will have to agree to disagree on approach. We sanitize surfaces and diffuse the EOs into the air as well. There are many studies on the effectiveness of antimicrobial EOs on PubMed. If you want to discount the effectiveness of EOs, so be it.

N95 masks need to be fitted to the user, so if you order through Amazon, make sure you know how to fit them.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I worked in a holistic vet clinic as well as others... we still used bleach for parvo.

I'm not discounting it, I just haven't seen any science to support its ability to disinfect the air or neutralize viruses in the body. I'm personally not willing to risk it with something as serious as a possible pandemic. I think I'll stick with the CDC recommendations for this one.

Your explanation of how EO's work wouldn't effect a viral packet, so if they do work on viruses (and I was able to find some indication that some may work in disinfecting surfaces) it's probably not in the ways mentioned above.

It's not that hard to fit the mask... two sizes, small (for smaller adult faces) and regular (bigger faces, probably most men).

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Ok, I've edited my post to clarify that I was describing the specific effect of EOs on bacteria. The specifics of the mechanism through which the EO's destroy the protein coat (or shell if you prefer) of viruses is a little more complicated. I'm looking for an English language version of the French studies of EO's on viruses (one that doesn't require a subscription to read).

I wouldn't trust bleach alone for parvo, neither does my vet. He will sanitize and then diffuse the room with EO's for at least 30 minutes before reusing the room.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

g_m, I knew you'd know Perelandra.

I took all the Bach courses (except the final one which required going to England), and had a private practice when I lived in Asheville. I have used a few of Machelle's essences for many years (mostly in my practice), and I use her Microbial Balancing Solutions for myself. I am getting ready to implement her Garden Processes here now that I have finally unpacked most of my books; I use her techniques of working with Nature Spirits in my garden a lot.

What I have learned from her really helps me understand and work better with the microbial population to balance/improve my soil and increase Brix. I have no doubts about the efficacy of her FSBS...

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

The ascribed death toll continues to climb, now over 100, but still only 20 positively tested for swine flu... I guess the labs are closed over the weekend?

The acting HHS Secretary has declared a nationwide state of emergency regarding this virus.

Checked on the Tamiflu... the manufacturer says it needs to be taken within 12-48 hours of symptoms developing to minimize viral replication in the body, and hence virus shedding into the environment. So not only does it minimize the subjects disease, it reduces the transmission of the virus. =0)

Unfortunately, there seem to be the potential for some pretty serious psychological side-effects, especially in young adults, the very population this virus seems to target.

I'm going to stop by my Dr.s office this morning and see if I can get a prescription to take with me... I was thinking I would take it as a preventative (a legitimate use) but the possible side-effects gave me pause. So I'll rely on the mask, and just have the Tamiflu in case I do get the bug.

I'd really hate to think I spread something that could kill someone. =0(

Be interested to see what you find, GM. But I'm still sticking with the CDC on this one.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm not trying to change your habits or comforzone, just giving you food for thought.

The US lags behind other industrialized nations in terms of integrated healthcare.
EOs are used for infection control in France and have been used there for decades.
There are many studies available - in French. Can you read science papers in French?

I've seen how well the diffused EOs work in clearing up the respiratory issues with our animals and ourselves, so I know they have worked well for us. Each person needs to do what gives them comfort.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

The latest recommendations from the CDC...

Got our months supplies in this am.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

What is the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

A pandemic is a worldwide epidemic.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Thanks. I was curious.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This is an interesting article on the various genetic aspects of the H1N1 virus, and how they determine the bug's severity.

I think we're very fortunate that this seems to be a mild strain. Sort of a dry run, as it were. =0) It certainly helped me focus my preparedness thinking.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Is this flu worlwide or just in the US and Mexico?

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

It's becoming world wide. An entire hotel in Hong Kong has been quarantined because one guest there has tested positive. It appears there are now cases in South Africa, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Brazil.... check the CDC and WHO sites for the latest updates. It looks to spread pretty easily, just like the seasonal flu, but fortunately it isn't severe or life threatening in most cases.

Because it's a new variety, no one has any immunity and there is no vaccine right now, so if it really gets going it can make a lot of folks sick. So today Mexico has shut down all none essential gov't offices, public gatherings, churches, schools, restaurants can only offer take out... all to try and prevent further spread. This shut down will last for 5 days and covers two big holidays in Mexico.

That's part of the reason for preparedness, even if it's not particularly lethal it can shut things down. Imagine that tomorrow everything was shut down for 5 days and you were encouraged to stay home... are you ready? Essential services (power, police, hospitals) are still available.

Then imagine that enough folks get sick to not be able to run things... no groceries, no gas, no electricity, medical services overwhelmed... and National Guard is deployed to keep everyone home for 10 days... are you ready?

So it doesn't have to be a very lethal strain to cause major difficulty... say you're out of animal food and all the feed stores are closed for a week... Or your medications are fixing to run out and the pharmacy is shut down because personnel just flat didn't show up to work because they're afraid (hospitals in Mexico are having this problem now)...

It's like being prepared for a major snow storm, but all year round.

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