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Fermented Fruit Leads to Drunken Animals

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Animals and alcohol don’t mix. Residents of Gilbert, Minnesota, have reported birds flying under-the-influence in their community. They were flying into windows and cars and generally acting confused after partaking of fermented berries in the neighborhood before flying south.

The chief of police reported the younger birds were getting more “tipsy” as their livers may not handle the toxins as efficiently as the more mature birds.1 In Wayne Township, Indianapolis, a woman called on firefighters in the early morning hours, frightened her pet raccoon was in danger after having eaten someone else’s marijuana.2

More animals are presenting at the veterinarian’s office after having imbibed alcohol or marijuana-laced treats as they typically don’t have the impulse control to stop at one.3 Just as overindulging on alcohol is not healthy for animals, it isn’t for humans either.

Incidence of Alcohol Use Rising

Alcohol use disorder is a diagnostic classification that is widespread and often untreated in the U.S. While lifetime prevalence is 29.1 percent, only 19.8 percent of adults have ever been treated, according to data released in JAMA Psychiatry.4 

Alcohol use disorders are among the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide, contributing to an estimated 88,000 deaths from alcohol-related causes annually and an economic burden of $249 billion.5 Globally, 3.3 million deaths in 2012 were attributed to alcohol consumption. In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases.

It was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability worldwide, and in a 2015 national survey,6 86.4 percent over age 18 reported they had consumed alcohol at some point during their lifetime, and 70 percent reported they had something to drink in the past year. In the same survey, 26.9 percent over age 18 reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month.

The number diagnosed with alcoholism increased by 49 percent during a study evaluating data from 2001 to 2013.7 Researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago8 revealed alcohol may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by disrupting the way amyloid-beta is cleared from your brain.

Binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption may make it more likely your brain will accumulate damaging proteins and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. Generally, women are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning and feel the effects of alcohol faster than men of the same size. They’re also more predisposed to suffer from long-term alcohol-induced damage in the body.

Not All Raccoons From Milton Were Drunk on Crabapples

You might not imagine wildlife or your pets getting drunk, but that’s what appeared to have happened to raccoons in Milton, West Virginia.9 Residents of the town reported seeing raccoons acting strangely and suspected they may have been infected with rabies. Officers staked out the area where the animals had been seen and caught two.

The first raccoon was caught near a crabapple tree where fruit was fermenting on the ground. It appeared the raccoons were not rabid but instead drunk from eating fermented crabapples. In an official statement to the community, the police said,10 “Turns out they appear to be drunk on crabapples.”

The raccoons were held in custody to allow the alcohol to be metabolized before being released into the wild. The story quickly spread through social media outlets. Unfortunately, just days later the police were once again called about a third raccoon who had fallen out of a tree.11

At this point they called local wildlife rescue group Point of View Farm, which suggested the animals may be suffering from distemper. They suggested all three raccoons be caught and tested. The police had the third raccoon and were able to track the second, which they found just 10 feet from where he’d been released, suffering continuous seizures.

The two raccoons were euthanized, but the police were unable to locate the first that had been trapped and released. Although health officials agreed with the diagnosis of distemper, the animals are being tested for rabies. In their Facebook post, police warned:12

“Sorry for such a long and depressing post but since this incident garnered so much unexpected national attention we wanted to be as transparent as possible. Please do not approach any wild animals that are acting abnormal and remember their natural instinct should be to avoid people or to run away. “

Raccoons Aren’t the Only Animals Eating Fermented Fruit

In preparation for winter hibernation, some report black bears appear to eat too many fermented apples and are found staggering near towns and residential communities. However, it’s unlikely a 600-pound bear will become intoxicated from eating fermented fruit for several reasons.

The idea is when apples fall off the tree, they begin to rot and ferment. Bears eat them and the apples continue to ferment in the their stomach, releasing alcohol. However, after testing the alcohol by volume percentage in fermented berries and Hawthorn fruits, closely related to the apple, researchers found only 0.3 percent could be achieved.13

Wildlife biologist Darrell Smith from Western Wildlife Outreach, believes,14 “One of the issues with fermented fruit is that it would take a lot to get a bear drunk. You know, people don’t get drunk from fermented apples either.”

Although black bears can eat a lot, often up to 20 pounds of food in preparation for winter hibernation, fermented fruit contains an extremely minimal amount of alcohol given the weight of the animal. According to the theory, the apples continue to ferment in the bear’s stomach. However, the pH of a bear’s stomach is around 3.5, much lower than alcohol-producing yeast prefers.

Birds and Insects Also Experience the Effects of Fermented Fruit

There is evidence some insects and smaller animals consume alcohol routinely. Male butterflies drink beer in order to boost spermatophores and many entomologists often bait insect traps with beer.

In a study comparing the diet preferences of male fruit flies that had successfully mated with those of males who had not mated, data demonstrated unmated males preferred food containing alcohol while the mated males did not.15

Some animals have a high tolerance for fermented treats. Malaysia’s pen-tailed tree shrew drinks nectar from the bertram palm, whose flower has the highest alcohol levels recorded in natural food, nearly 3.8 percent. Despite drinking this nectar nightly, they show no effects of intoxication.16

Many bats also eat fermented fruit and nectar but appear unaffected. Birds routinely eat winter berries in the northern hemisphere, which may have begun fermenting after the first frost. Meghan Larivee, laboratory coordinator at the government agency Environment Yukon in Canada, reports:17

“Most birds likely just get a bit tipsy, and very few people would be able to pick them out as intoxicated. However, every now and then, some birds just overdo it.”

Arriving with juice-stained beaks, several Bohemian waxwing birds ended up admitted to the Yukon territory’s Animal Health unit after they were observed flying in uncoordinated flight patterns and unable to walk. Likely intoxicated related to their small size and weight, they were checked for illnesses, recovered after a few hours and were subsequently released.18

Animals Acting Strangely May Be Infected

These anecdotal stories indicate there are some animals that may be affected by fermented fruit. However, it is critical you don’t assume animals that appear to be incapacitated are safe to approach. The raccoons in Milton, West Virginia, were infected with distemper, a condition often fatal in animals. However, while humans may acquire the virus, it produces no illness or symptoms.19

Another condition affecting wild and domesticated animals that can cause strange behavior is rabies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),20 wild animals accounted for 92.4 percent of cases of rabies in 2015.

In the U.S., bats were most frequently reported followed closely by raccoons and skunks, with foxes a distant fourth. Reports of rabid raccoons reached an all-time high in 1994 when nearly 6,000 were reported and found.21 The number dropped to close to 2,000 in 2014.

Rabies virus variants are distributed in distinct geographic regions. The majority of rabies affecting raccoons occur along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida. Skunks are more highly affected in the Midwest from the Canadian border to Texas and in small regions in California.22

The condition is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal.23 The rabies virus can also affect humans and domestic dogs. Cross-species infection from raccoons to dogs or humans is possible and the majority of human deaths from rabies are caused by dog bites.24 

Rabies Presents in Five Stages

With the exception of Antarctica, rabies is found throughout the world.25 The virus is transmitted in the saliva of an infected animal and enters the body through the wound. The disease progresses in five unique stages26  — incubation, prodrome, acute neurological syndrome, coma and death.

Incubation — The incubation period happens after you’ve been exposed to saliva of an infected animal. It usually lasts between three and 12 weeks but it may be as little as five days or more than two years. The closer the bite is to your brain, the sooner you may expect to see symptoms.

Unfortunately, by the time you experience early symptoms, the condition is usually fatal. Today, less than 10 documented cases of human survival from clinical rabies have been reported.27

Prodrome — Early symptoms include fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, headache, anxiety, sore throat and discomfort at the site of the bite. These symptoms can last between two and 10 days and usually worsen over time.

Acute neurological syndrome — During the next phase, neurological symptoms develop, including confusion and aggression, convulsions, hyperventilation, hypersalivation and hallucinations. It is during this phase it appears the sufferer is afraid of water, as it is difficult to swallow. In some instances, contractions of the throat occur even at the thought of drinking water.

Coma and death — Once an individual enters into a coma, death often occurs in a matter of hours from a lack of respiration. Life can be extended if a ventilator is used, but rarely does a person recover at this late stage.

What to Do if You Are Bitten

Whether an animal appears to have rabies or not, it is wise to take precautions if you’re bitten. Rabies is spread through exposure to the saliva of an infected animal, so immediately wash the wound to reduce your risk for rabies or any other infection.

If bitten by a domesticated animal, insist you receive a copy of the animal’s rabies vaccination certificate. If in doubt, contact the veterinarian yourself. Report your exposure to your physician immediately, whether the animal was vaccinated or not. Lab tests on the animal may show antibodies, but these often don’t appear until symptoms of the disease appear.28

Since confirmation of a diagnosis from raised antibodies or visible symptoms may be too late to take action, patients normally start on a course of prophylactic treatment immediately. Discuss your options with your physician and if you aren’t satisfied with the answer, contact your local health department.

A series of shots is used to prevent the virus from replicating and thriving in the body. A fast-acting dose of rabies immunoglobulin is delivered immediately and as close to the bite wound as possible.29 Next a series of rabies vaccinations will be injected over the following two to four weeks to assist the body in recognizing the virus and fighting it.

Preventing the Spread of Rabies

Although serious, the disease is preventable and controllable in domesticated and wild animals. Regular rabies vaccinations for all domesticated animals and bans or restrictions on the importation of animals may help to reduce the spread of the disease.30

In rural Canada and the U.S., bait laced with oral vaccine has been used to reduce the number of wild raccoons with rabies, and in Switzerland, authorities have distributed vaccine-laced chicken heads. The foxes that consume the chicken heads immunize themselves and the country is now nearly free of rabies in wild animals.31

Protect your own pets by vaccinating them, keeping them indoors or confined and supervised when outside. Report stray dogs and cats, or any animal that appears ill, to local authorities. Never approach wild animals as those with rabies are likely to be less cautious and more likely to approach people.

Keep bats out of your home and seal exterior holes to keep them from nesting. In 2015 a woman died from rabies after having been bitten by a bat in her home during the night. She did not seek treatment as she did not realize she’d been bitten.32 Even if you don’t have bite marks or any outward sign of injury, you’re encouraged to seek medical health after an encounter with a wild animal.

In the U.S., between 30,000 and 60,000 people seek post-exposure prophylaxis each year after contact with suspected animals. Despite U.S. vaccinations to control rabies in domesticated animals, between 60 and 70 dogs and nearly 250 cats are reported rabid each year. Many of these have not been vaccinated and were exposed to the virus through wild animals.

The prevalence of the disease varies in different countries, so it’s important to determine the probability of infection when traveling. If you’re preparing to participate in activities where it’s likely to come in contact with wild animals, such as caving or camping, discuss the potential for a vaccination with your doctor prior to travel.33

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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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