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Influenza

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

 

Influenza, is commonly referred to as the ‘flu;  it is an infectious disease caused by a viral infection.

Many people these days, say they have flu when in fact all they have is a common cold.  Influenza is a more severe disease than the common cold and is caused by a different type of virus.  The common cold doesn’t kill you, ‘flu can.  For example, ‘flu can cause either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Influenza spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of between 250,000 and 500,000 people every year, up to millions in some pandemic years. Typically, in a year's normal two flu seasons (one per hemisphere), there are between three and five million cases of severe illness, which by some definitions is a yearly influenza epidemic.  

Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains appear when an existing ‘flu virus spreads to humans from other animal species, or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from a virus that usually infects birds or pigs.

The most famous and lethal outbreak was the 1918 flu pandemic (Spanish flu pandemic) (type A influenza, H1N1 subtype), which lasted from 1918 to 1919. It is not known exactly how many it killed, but estimates range from 20 to 100 million people. It is estimated that 2.5% to 5% of the world's population was killed. It killed more people than World War I and this pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history".  This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms.  The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, but the virus also killed people directly, causing massive haemorrhages and oedema in the lung. 

The chart below from Wikipedia shows the difference between the influenza mortality age distributions of the 1918 epidemic and normal epidemics. Deaths per 100,000 persons in each age group, United States, for the interpandemic years 1911–1917 (dashed line) and the pandemic year 1918 (solid line).

Transmission

 a demonstration of oral transmission

Typically, influenza is transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus. Influenza can also be transmitted by direct contact with bird droppings or nasal secretions. As the influenza virus can persist outside of the body, it can also be transmitted by contaminated surfaces such as banknotes, doorknobs, light switches and other household items. The length of time the virus will persist on a surface varies, with the virus surviving for one to two days on hard, non-porous surfaces such as plastic or metal, for about fifteen minutes from dry paper tissues, and only five minutes on skin. However, if the virus is present in mucus, this can protect it for longer periods (up to 17 days on banknotes).

The virus survives longer on surfaces at colder temperatures and aerosol transmission of the virus is highest in cold environments (less than 5 °C) with low relative humidity, which is one reason why flu outbreaks tend to occur during winter time.  Indeed, the lower air humidity in winter seems to be the main cause of seasonal influenza transmission in temperate regions.

Airborne aerosols have been thought to cause most infections, although which means of transmission is most important is not absolutely clear.

Influenza virus shedding (the time during which a person might be infectious to another person) begins the day before symptoms appear and virus is then released for between 5 to 7 days, although some people may shed virus for longer periods. People who contract influenza are most infective between the second and third days after infection. The amount of virus shed appears to correlate with fever, with higher amounts of virus shed when temperatures are highest. Children are much more infectious than adults and shed virus from just before they develop symptoms until two weeks after infection.

Cause

be aware of the science behind flu, it is not just one virus

‘Flu is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses), that affects birds and mammals. Viruses can replicate only in living cells and influenza infection and replication is a multi-step process: 

  • first, the virus has to bind to and enter the cell,
  • then deliver its genome to a site where it can produce new copies of viral proteins and RNA. [Drugs such as oseltamivir prevent the release of new infectious viruses and halt viral replication]
  • assemble these components into new viral particles 
  • and last, exit the host cell.  After the release of new influenza viruses, the host cell dies

Influenza viruses bind onto sialic acid sugars on the surfaces of epithelial cells, typically in the nose, throat, and lungs of mammals, and intestines of birds, which is why we can pick up flu from bird droppings

In virus classification influenza viruses make up three of the five genera of the family Orthomyxoviridae

  • Influenzavirus A
  • Influenzavirus B
  • Influenzavirus C

 Influenzavirus A - This genus has one species, influenza A virus. Wild aquatic birds are the natural hosts for a large variety of influenza A. Occasionally, viruses are transmitted to other species and may then cause devastating outbreaks in domestic poultry or give rise to human influenza pandemics. The type A viruses are the most virulent human pathogens among the three influenza types and cause the most severe disease. The influenza A virus can be subdivided into different serotypes based on the antibody response to these viruses. For example:

  • H1N1 which caused Spanish Flu in 1918, and Swine Flu in 2009
  • H2N2, which caused Asian Flu in 1957
  • H3N2, which caused Hong Kong Flu in 1968
  • H5N1, which caused Bird Flu in 2004

 Influenzavirus B - This genus has one species, influenza B virus. Influenza B almost exclusively infects humans and is less common than influenza A. The only other animals known to be susceptible to influenza B infection are the seal and the ferret.   This type of influenza mutates at a rate 2–3 times slower than type A and consequently is less genetically diverse, with only one influenza B serotype. As a result of this lack of antigenic diversity, a degree of immunity to influenza B is usually acquired at an early age. However, influenza B mutates enough that lasting immunity is not possible.

Influenzavirus C - This genus has one species, influenza C virus, which infects humans, dogs and pigs, sometimes causing both severe illness and local epidemics. However, influenza C is less common than the other types

Symptoms

 

Symptoms of influenza can start quite suddenly one to two days after infection. Usually the first symptoms are chills or a chilly sensation, but fever is also common early in the infection, with body temperatures ranging from 38-39 °C (approximately 100-103 °F). Many people are so ill that they are confined to bed for several days, with aches and pains throughout their bodies, which are worse in their backs and legs.  The most common symptoms of the disease, shown in the diagram, are

  • chills
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • muscle pains
  • severe headache
  • coughing
  • weakness/fatigue
  • and general discomfort

Diarrhea is not normally a symptom of influenza in adults, but it can be a symptom in children.

Flu can be distinguished from the common cold by the presence of a high fever and extreme fatigue. Influenza's effects are much more severe and last longer than those of the common cold.  Whereas the common cold does not seriously affect people with emphysema, chronic bronchitis or asthma, these people will experience severe shortness of breath while they have the flu, and influenza may cause worsening of coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure.  'Flu causes cell death.

People over 50 years old, very young children and people of any age with chronic medical conditions are more likely to get complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus, and ear infections.

Prevention

vaccines can cause more problems than they solve
one problem is the excipient used

Vaccines

Theoretically the most common way to prevent yourself getting flu is to be vaccinated, but there are some drawbacks and problems with vaccination. 

1.  It is possible to get vaccinated and still get influenza.  - The vaccine is reformulated each season for a few specific flu strains but cannot possibly include all the strains actively infecting people in the world for that season. It takes about six months for the manufacturers to formulate and produce the millions of doses required to deal with the seasonal epidemics; occasionally, a new or overlooked strain becomes prominent during that time and infects people although they have been vaccinated.   New influenza viruses are constantly evolving by mutation or by reassortment. 

  • Mutations  - can cause small changes in the antigens on the surface of the virus. This is called antigenic drift, which slowly creates an increasing variety of strains until one evolves that can infect people who are immune to the pre-existing strains. This new variant then replaces the older strains as it rapidly sweeps through the human population—often causing an epidemic. However, since the strains produced by drift will still be reasonably similar to the older strains, some people will still be immune to them. 
  • Reassortment - In contrast, when influenza viruses reassort, they acquire completely new antigens—for example by reassortment between avian strains and human strains; this is called antigenic shift. If a human influenza virus is produced that has entirely new antigens, everybody will be susceptible, and the novel influenza will spread uncontrollably, causing a pandemic. 

2.  Does not counteract infection -It is also possible to get infected just before vaccination and get sick with the very strain that the vaccine is supposed to prevent, as the vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective. 

viruses can secrete themselves in joints and cause appallingly painful
inflammation

3.  Can cause flu symptoms - Vaccines can cause the immune system to react as if the body were actually being infected, and general infection symptoms can appear, though these symptoms are usually not as severe or long-lasting as influenza. 

4.  Can cause allergic reactions - The most dangerous side effect is a severe allergic reaction to either the virus material itself,or residues from the hen eggs used to grow the influenza, or the excipient in the vaccine.  The excipient is the 'holding fluid' and it contains a strange variety of substances - some of them quite unexpected - like fructose and glucose, and peanut oil [see LINK for more details of the content].  The adjuvant tells the immune system to fight everything in the vaccine and as a consequence it does, building up immunity to peanuts, fruit juices, eggs,.... and as a consequence we can develop apparently unexplained allergies to all sorts of innocuous substances.  For more details follow the link to the Allergy section.

5.  The nervous system - In some vaccines the excipient used has been a sustance which is very similar to our nervous system proteins. The adjuvant tells the immune system to fight everything in the vaccine and it does, it starts to believe our own nerves are  a foreign body and attacks them too.   It has already been recognised that the disease GBS may in some instances be caused by the immune system attacking our own nerves after a vaccination.  There are now concerns that motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis may in some cases be vaccine related and a host of other nervous system diseases

6. A virus is a virus - by giving someone a dose of the flu virus you are opening them up to a whole range of other possible diseases.  Influenza A has been implicated long term in the development of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, ADHD and other forms of brain damage.  The Influenza virus has also been associated with a range of autoimmune disorders.  Polymyalgia rheumatica, for example, is one disease associated with the flu virus, but not the only one....

The influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccination programme was the largest mass vaccination initiative in recent US history. Commensurate with the size and scope of the vaccination programme, a project to monitor vaccine adverse events was undertaken, the most comprehensive safety surveillance agenda in the USA to date. The adverse event monitoring project identified an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination..... Guillain-Barré syndrome is a … serious health disorder in which a person's own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, sometimes paralysis, and infrequently death. PMID: 23498095

What is not commonly recognised is that the live viruses you are given in a 'flu vaccination may not actually be defeated by the immune system.  The system may develop antibodies, but the virus may have replicated substantially and some of the viruses may have hidden in adipose tissue and in the skeletal joints.  People who lose weight suddenly often release these viruses again and suddenly get viral symptoms.  Worse perhaps is that if the virus hides in the joints, it can give you rheumatoid arthritis of a severity you cannot imagine, until you see someone suffering from it.

 

Other approaches

Hygiene - Influenza viruses can be inactivated by sunlight, disinfectants and detergents.   As the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.

Heat and sun - The effect of the sun on the virus seems to be key in determining the  seasonal changes in infection rates that occur in tropical regions - in some countries these peaks of infection are seen mainly during the rainy season.  In effect, we may be better protected from the virus when it is sunny.  If we stay indoors, away from the sun, [as we do in winter] we are more likely to be vulnerable.   I also have a number of observations that show that heat from a sauna or similar is also effective.

heat and sun are healers

Food - in the section on Healing yourself, one option mentionned is the use of food as medicine - both Eating for health and the use of plants as medicines.  A gradually growing body of evidence from researchers with papers published on PubMed,  shows that many plants contain extremely effective antiviral compounds.  One of these plants, amazing though this may be, is the apple.  All these options are provided in the observations in the section 'healing'.

Treatment

If you get flu, people with the flu are advised to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco and, if necessary, take paracetamol [NOT aspirin] to relieve the muscle aches associated with the flu. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics have no effect on the infection.

In the same way that heat and food can help to prevent influenza, they can also be used to treat it. 

Heat and sun - Stay warm, but go out in the sun and try heat from a sauna or similar, if you have a fever your body is attempting to do the same thing 'fry the virus!!'  Perspiration and heavy sweating is good, don't try to stop this, just drink plenty of fluids to ensure you don't become dehydrated

Food - most people with flu do not want anything to eat, but again the observations show food that has healing potential.  

How it works

Hallucinations etc

hallucinations can appear very real ....

Influenza produces very high fevers with greatly increased temperatures, thus hallucinations are usually caused by the  fever and hyperthermia.  It may also be caused by dehydration.  There are a small number of observations that show that the virus is capable, if the body's immune defences have been compromised, in entering the blood stream and crossing the blood brain barrier.  In these cases, the hallucinations are caused by brain damage.

Ironically, one way in which the immune defences are compromised has been the mis-prescription of antibiotics and the use of antibiotics in intensive farming, which destroy the intestinal flora, which along with stomach acid act as our main primary protection.  Overuse of pharmaceuticals to reduce stomach acid can have the same effect. 

Healing

The observations themselves describe the healing mechanism - if it is known

Related observations