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Animal Waste From Factory Farms Poses Risk to Public Health

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Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — gigantic factory farms that hold many thousands of animals in a warehouse-style setting — are an environmental disaster in more ways than one, and when hurricanes hit, this fact becomes acutely obvious when animal waste, collected in massive “lagoons,” overflow, contaminating both land, water and residential homes.

Even under the best circumstances, the lagoons may leak, seeping millions of gallons of waste a year into neighboring soil and groundwater.1 Add in a formidable force like a hurricane and the potential for leakage, overflow and runoff is virtually guaranteed. I recently discussed this at length in “After the Hurricane: Swine Waste Swirls in North Carolina.”

Environmental contamination from overflowing animal waste is bad enough in and of itself, but CAFO waste is made all the worse by the fact that these animals are routinely fed antibiotics, which promotes antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

These drug-resistant pathogens are then spread through the environment in a variety of ways. Storms drive contaminated water across large areas, wind spread airborne pathogens, and other foods are contaminated by using the waste as fertilizer, as discussed in “Factory Farm Responsible for Lettuce Contamination.”

Hog Waste Poses Risks to Public Health

Vice News highlighted some of the problems associated with North Carolina’s CAFO hog waste in a recent article, noting:2

“The waste-filled lagoons have created a constant source of environmental pollution during hurricanes, which frequent North Carolina’s coast. Lagoons overflowed or breached in 1996 during Hurricane Fran, in 1998 during Hurricane Bonnie, in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd, in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew, and just last month during Hurricane Florence — 33 overflowed.”

Hurricanes, which hit North Carolina with regularity, clearly compound the environmental problems associated with hog CAFOs, but it’s an inescapable issue for residents year-round.

When the lagoons are emptied by spraying the liquid waste onto fields, nearby residents are quite literally showered with liquefied feces, and several studies3,4,5 have noted the health dangers of living near these CAFOs. A North Carolina swine farm nuisance lawsuit6 even presents evidence of hog DNA collected from the walls in residential homes.

Many find the stench unbearable and the air hard to breathe. Most recently, a study7 published in the North Carolina Medical Journal found communities near hog CAFOs have higher mortality rates from anemia, kidney disease, tuberculosis and septicemia, as well as higher infant mortality. According to the authors:

“Although not establishing causality with exposures from hog CAFOs, our findings support the need for future studies to determine factors that influence these outcomes, as well as the need to improve screening and diagnostic strategies for these diseases in North Carolina communities adjacent to hog CAFOs.”

As noted in the featured article,8 more than 20 nuisance lawsuits have been filed against the industry, arguing the stench and contamination from hog waste is reducing residents’ quality of life. So far, the first three cases were won by the plaintiffs, who were awarded $2.5 million,9 $25 million10 and $473 million11 in punitive damages respectively.

Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens Are a CAFO Scourge

American livestock farmers use nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year in the raising of their animals.12,13 Most of these are raised in CAFOs, where overcrowding, lack of sanitation, stress and an unnatural diet make the animals prone to illness. Antibiotics are routinely added to their feed to combat disease.

Antibiotics also have the side effect of promoting growth, making the animals grow fatter faster, which is another reason for the drugs’ use. This agricultural use accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S.,14 making it a significant source of continuous low-dose exposure via your diet.

However, while low-dose antibiotic exposure is a health risk, a far more significant concern is the antibiotic-resistant bacteria CAFO meats may harbor. As revealed by a recent analysis of food testing done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015, 83 percent of meats sold in U.S. supermarkets are contaminated with enterococcus faecalis, i.e., fecal bacteria. A high percentage are also contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria:15,16

  • 79 percent of ground turkey samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis; 73 percent of the salmonella found on ground turkey was antibiotic-resistant salmonella
  • 71 percent of pork chops were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis
  • 62 percent of ground beef samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis
  • 36 percent of chicken breasts, legs, thighs and wings were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis; 1 in 5 strains of salmonella was resistant to amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, which as a class is designated as “critically important” in human medicine

Drug-Resistant Bacteria From Feedlots Go Airborne

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are not just in the meat, however. Researchers have found drug-resistant pathogens can also spread from CAFO feedlots into the environment via the air, spreading far and wide by wind.17,18,19,20

Between August and December 2012, Phil Smith, an associate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology at Texas Tech and his colleague, Greg Mayer, an associate professor of molecular toxicology, collected air samples from 10 commercial cattle yards within a 200-mile radius of Lubbock, Texas. Texas Monthly reported the findings, saying:21

“… Downwind, they found antibiotics — specifically tetracycline — present at significantly higher levels than in the upwind samples. Yet as they dug deeper, they discovered something even more worrisome. Along with the antibiotics, they found another hitchhiker: remnants of bacteria that had acquired a gene that made them resistant to tetracycline.

‘The tetracycline resistance was 400,000 percent more prevalent downwind than upwind,’ said Smith. At some of the locations, there was tetracycline resistance in 100 percent of the samples. ‘That was really the wow moment,’ said Mayer.”

The pair explain that the drug-resistant genes are contained in the fecal matter. When it dries, it allows the genes to spread by winds over great distances. The study estimates that the amount of potentially contaminated dust particles released by cattle yards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas exceeds 46,000 pounds (21,000 kg) per day.

So not only can you be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria via water and contaminated meat, depending on where you live, simply breathing could be a route of exposure as well.

Smith also notes that microbes are “promiscuous with their genetic information,” and can share their genetic information across species.22 What this means is that microbes that have not been directly exposed to antibiotics may still develop resistance, simply by coming into contact with drug-resistant bacteria.

The fact that this mingling may occur just about anywhere — even out in nature — is troubling, as it implies there’s virtually no way to stop the progression of resistance. It simply cannot be confined.

Cattle Industry Tries to Kill the Story

As reported by Texas Monthly,23 the findings caused quite the headache for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. Its president and CEO, Ross Wilson, said the idea that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were airborne was “a big accusation” based on “a superficial, initial set of science.”

“They found genetic material. That does not mean that there’s any organism that is out there that is going to transfer that potential resistance,” Wilson said. “And if people expect us to sit idly by and not defend our members when some are alleging this is our fault, it’s not happening.”

Mayer and Smith agree there are unanswered questions, such as “What is the consequence of the bacteria’s gene sequence when it lands?” and “Can it cause an infection in humans?” Texas Monthly continues:

“If the bacteria are dead … then what Smith and Mayer found was naked DNA, which is released by bacteria after their cell walls have decomposed. When these pieces of DNA fall out of the wind, they can be picked up by bacteria on the ground, in a process known as transformation.

If live bacteria downwind of the feed yard absorbed the DNA found in Smith and Mayer’s samples, they could acquire antibiotic resistance, though the process is much less efficient than conjugation. Smith and Mayer don’t know if the bacteria they detected downwind of the feedlots were dead or alive.

Nor do they know at what concentrations the bacteria might be found as they move farther away from the feedlots. But they had demonstrated that antibiotic resistance could be spread on the wind.”

Disturbed by comments made by Smith and Mayer during the media storm that followed the publication of their findings, Wilson called the duo for a meeting, in which he asked them to dial back the media attention. According to Texas Monthly:

“The incident upset Smith and Mayer, who have both grown weary of the controversy their research has sparked. ‘This is like nothing I have ever experienced in science before. And it’s not that we haven’t done cooler things, better things, more technical things,’ said Mayer.

‘It’s just that there isn’t a big industry that cares about it.’ Smith put it another way. ‘They would like nothing more than for us to zip our mouths, put our instruments away, and never do another study,’ he said … ‘I just don’t like to be bullied’…”

Slaughterhouse Wastewater Is Destroying Streams and Rivers Across US

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manure from industrial agriculture is the primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways.24 The resulting damage includes algae overgrowth that depletes the water of oxygen, killing fish and other marine life. (Such risks are again magnified if large quantities of waste enter waterways following hurricane-driven flooding or overflow.)

Slaughterhouses are another surprising source of nitrogen pollution. A recent report25 published by the Environmental Integrity Project found that 3 in 4 American meat processing plants that discharge nitrogen waste into local waterways have violated the pollution limits of their federal Clean Water Act permits at least once between January 1, 2016, and June 30, 2018.

One-third of them had 10 or more violations. FB Purnell Sausage Co. in Simpsonville, Kentucky, had a record 109 permit violations over this time period. Of the 98 processing plants reviewed, the JBS USA pork processing plant in Beardstown, Illinois, was identified as the No. 1 polluter, discharging 1,848 pounds of nitrogen per day into the Illinois River.

That’s equal to the raw sewage created by a town of 79,000 residents. On average, each slaughterhouse released 331 pounds of total nitrogen per day into local waterways in 2017. As noted in the report:

“While meatpacking is obviously cleaner today than it was more than a hundred years ago, slaughterhouse waste contaminates too many rivers and streams in rural America with pathogens, oxygen-depleting pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, and other contaminants like sulfates and chlorides.

When released into waterways in high concentrations, these pollutants drive excess algae growth, feed “dead zones” that suffocate aquatic life and turn waterways into bacteria-laden public health hazards …

Slaughterhouses dispose of wastewater in three ways, typically after some treatment: piping it directly into waterways, spraying it on land or sending it to a nearby town or county sewage treatment plant. Sixty-five of the 98 plants we studied slaughter poultry; 15 process beef; 9, hogs; and the rest other meat.”

Tyson Foods had the greatest number of plants with violations — 26 in all — followed by Pilgrims’ Pride, which had seven plants in violation, and Sanderson Farms with six plants. According to the report, “Large pollution loads and frequent permit violations are impairing streams and rivers. Fifty-nine of the 98 plants discharge to waterways that are impaired by one or more pollutants found in slaughterhouse wastewater.”

The report also notes that enforcement of pollution limits and penalties for violations are rare. During the time period reviewed, 18 plants had more than 100 violations per day, yet eight of them paid no fines at all.

Buy Organic and Grass Fed

What can be done about all of these problems? From an individual standpoint, one of the most proactive things you can do to promote change is to vote with your wallet by buying organic (or even better, biodynamic) grass fed meats and animal products.

Livestock is an important part of regenerative agriculture, and when raised and integrated properly, the waste from the animals goes straight back into and feeds the ecological cycle rather than becoming a source of pollution.

While many grocery stores now carry organic foods, it’s preferable to source yours from local growers whenever possible, as many organic foods sold in grocery stores are imported.26 If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods:












Demeter USA — Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands. This directory can also be found on BiodynamicFood.org.

American Grassfed Association — The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; and born and raised on American family farms.

EatWild.com — EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation — Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange — The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest — This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets — A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

The Cornucopia Institute — The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

RealMilk.com — If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund27 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.28 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes

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(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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