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Fish Farm Mortality on The Rise

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Salmon is the second most popular type of seafood in the U.S. (shrimp is the first), with just over 2 pounds consumed annually, per person.1 While many love its flavor, a key reason behind its popularity has to do with its perceived health benefits. As a rich source of beneficial animal-based omega-3 fats, salmon can, indeed, be a very healthy food choice.

However, it can also be among the worst food choices, and the difference lies in the details. While wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an example of good-for-you salmon, rich in healthy fats and low in pollutants, farm-raised salmon is not. Unfortunately, farm-raised makes up 75 percent of the salmon consumed worldwide, and its volume has increased nearly 1,000 percent from 1990 to 2015.2

Two Dumpsters Full of Rotting Salmon Discovered at Fish Farm

The video above, captured by Don Staniford of Scottish Salmon Watch, shows dead salmon rotting in dumpsters at two Scottish salmon farms, one owned by Marine Harvest and the other by Scottish Salmon Company.

“This is symptomatic of factory farming — it’s the underbelly of battery factory salmon farming. Infectious diseases are rife in the industry and about a fifth of farmed salmon stock is dying. The fish in these tanks are not going to shops but they have been swimming alongside ones that are,” Staniford said in a news release.3 “These fish are dying of horrible infections and diseases.”

It’s unclear how the fish in the video died, but salmon farms are required to store dead fish in a safe manner prior to disposal.4 How many farmed salmon are dying every year in Scotland?

According to Scottish Salmon Watch in a submission to the Scottish Parliament in March 2018, record levels of mortalities were uncovered in 2017 — 25,000 tons amounting to an estimated 15 million to 20 million farmed salmon, which is a mortality rate of 26.7 percent.5

The mortalities appear to be on the rise, increasing from 5,000 tons in 2002 to 10,000 tons in 2011. As for what’s killing the fish, a laundry list of diseases was reported on Scottish salmon farms in 2017, including:6





Salmon gill poxvirus

Paranucleospora theridion

Gill pathology

Complex gill issues

Vibrio anguillarum

Proliferative gill disease

Amoebic gill disease

Pancreas disease

Fungus

Cardiomyopathy syndrome

Haemorrhagic smolt syndrome

Heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI)

Enteric redmouth disease

Anemia


Farmed Salmon Could Pose ‘Irrecoverable Damage to the Environment’

Farmed salmon is Scotland’s biggest food export, bringing in more than $789 million annually,7 and the industry is set to expand from a volume of 163,000 tons in 2016 to 200,000 tons in 2020.8 The industry claims aquaculture, as fish farming is known, is beneficial because it creates jobs while providing a sustainable source of food, but conservation groups and even government entities are finding otherwise.

The Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee issued a report in 2018 that found a host of concerning issues surrounding farmed salmon and concluded the industry could “cause irrecoverable damage to the environment” if said issues were not addressed.9 Some of the top issues covered in the report include:10

Sea Lice

Sea lice are marine parasites that attach to salmon skin, feeding on their skin and blood and leading to wounds that can be life threatening. Fish farms, with their large numbers of salmon living in close proximity, are ideal breeding grounds for sea lice, and there’s potential for lice on salmon farms to infect wild salmon, damaging their populations.

“Although conclusive evidence for damage at the population level is hard to find in Scotland, studies in Norway show that increasing sea lice burdens on wild salmonids adds to pressures on the wild populations already impacted by climate change, river modification and commercial fishing,” the report noted.11

While medications added to farmed salmon feed or water can help prevent sea lice buildup, they only represent a bandage — not a solution to the problem.

“Nearly all of these treatments are costly, none are fully effective, and most need to be repeated,” according to the review.12 “In addition, sea lice populations also appear to be developing resistance to many existing treatment medicines and therapeutants.”

The Scottish Salmon Company has attempted to block the public release of photos showing their diseased salmon and even claimed losses of more than $1.3 million in 2016 because of sea lice and other disease. Despite this, they reported profits of over $38 million in 2017.13 Sea lice also represent a welfare issue for the fish, as the parasites can literally eat the salmon alive.

OneKind, an animal welfare group in Scotland, is calling for a halt on expansions to salmon farms until the sea lice issue and other welfare concerns are under control.

“It is now widely acknowledged that fish are sentient animals and are capable of feeling pain,” OneKind campaigner Sarah Moyes told The Ferret. “Not only does this make this suffering wholly unacceptable, but the industry’s reputation is once again being damaged by another report of animal neglect.”14

Diseases Could Spread to Wild Salmon

The Scottish Parliament report pointed out that fish farms provide a “favorable habitat” for the growth and spread of pathogens and parasites. Water currents can then spread the pathogens from farmed fish to wild salmon populations.

“There is some evidence that some disease is transmitted between farmed and wild fish by direct infection, by escapees, or by infection from wild to farmed fish,” the researchers noted, and “Increased numbers and sizes of farms could lead to increased risk of infection of wild fish unless improvements in farm biosecurity and disease prevention outpace the expansion of production.”15

Fish Farm Waste Accumulates on the Seabed, Degrades Marine Life

Like concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on land, fish farms produce an inordinate amount of waste, which sinks to the seafloor, not only reducing oxygen levels in the water but also physically smothering the organisms living on the seafloor (benthic animals).

Seabed marine life are known to significantly degrade when located beneath or near fish farms, and although they can recover if the industrial site is abandoned, full recovery can take more than two years. Further, monitoring of marine life is not sufficient enough near farms or in protected habitats, to reveal whether long-term damage is occurring.

Fish Farms May Lead to Nutrient Overload, Algae Blooms

Increased nutrients, including ammonium and phosphate, are observed near salmon farms, which could disturb the balance of organisms, degrade water quality and lead to the overgrowth of algae.

Drugs and Other Chemicals Could Be Harming Ecosystems

Drugs and other chemicals, including pesticides and antibiotics, used in the treatment of sea lice, fungal infections and bacterial infections in farmed salmon also pose a risk to the surrounding ecosystem.

For instance, British Columbia granted aquaculture company Cermaq Canada a permit to apply 2.3 million liters of Paramove 50, a pesticide, to 14 salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound in order to fight sea lice.

Not only may the pesticide be toxic to other marine life such as Dungeness crab, prawns and herring, but it’s also known to suppress salmon immune systems, making them even more susceptible to viruses. In turn, wild salmon swimming by may be further exposed to deadly diseases.

“Increased production is likely to require additional use of existing or newly developed chemicals,” the report added. “There is a lack of ability to adequately predict low-level effects of long-term usage of these chemicals on benthic and pelagic ecosystem components at the scale of lochs.”16

Escaped Farmed Salmon Could Interbreed With Wild Populations

It’s estimated that 146,000 farmed salmon escape from fish farms into the sea in Scotland alone, a number that’s likely underreported. In Norway, it’s already been shown that genes from farmed salmon have mixed with wild populations.17

Dangers Posed to Predators, Including Seals

A number of marine mammals and birds find salmon farms to be attractive sources of prey. One of the largely unknown casualties of industrial fish farms are seals, which may be legally shot by fish farmers and fishermen “when necessary” under the U.K.’s Conservation of Seals Act.18

According to Andy Ottaway,19 campaign director with the Seal Protection Action Group (SPAG), about 1,600 seals were shot in Scotland alone over the last six years, primarily by industrial fish farmers like Marine Harvest Scotland and Scottish Sea Farms.

Some fish farms have taken steps to deter seals using nonfatal means, such as the use of acoustic devices to scare seals away and removing dead fish from the cages to avoid luring the animals in. Still, gray seal populations have dwindled to 400,000 individuals worldwide, one-quarter of which live in U.K. waters.

Farmed Fish Isn’t a Healthy Choice of Food

Farmed salmon typically contain far more pollutants than wild-caught fish, along with an inferior profile of fatty acids. When the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores, they found farmed salmon had, on average:20

  • 16 times more PCBs than wild salmon
  • 4 times more PCBs than beef
  • 3.4 times more PCBs than other seafood

Further, while half a fillet of wild Atlantic salmon contains about 3,996 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 and 341 mg of omega-6,21 the same amount of farmed Atlantic salmon contains an astounding 1,944 mg of omega-6.22

The standard American diet is already heavily skewed toward omega-6, thanks to the prevalence of processed foods, and with farmed salmon, that unhealthy imbalance is further magnified rather than corrected.

Part of the problem is the fish feed given to farmed salmon, which may include everything from fishmeal to corn gluten meal, soybean meal and feather meal.23 The fishmeal used to produce commercial fish feed not only accumulates toxins found in the fish, but also poses another sustainability threat.

About 25 percent of wild-caught fish — amounting to about 20 million tons of seafood — is used to make fishmeal that’s fed to farmed fish,24 and stocks of wild fish may be dwindling as a result.

The Farmed Fish Market Is Collapsing

It appears the word may be getting out about the potentially disastrous consequences of farmed fish to the environment and human health.

Nasdaq reported that prices for Norwegian farmed salmon are falling, with all major weight classes decreasing. The average price per kilo was $5.80 near the end of November 2018, down more than 10 percent compared to one month prior, and nearly 8 percent compared to 12 weeks prior.25

When seeking healthy, environmentally friendly salmon, look for “Alaskan salmon” and “sockeye salmon,” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” comes from fish farms.

If price is a factor (wild salmon can be pricier than farmed varieties), canned salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets but will still offer the health benefits and flavor you’re after.

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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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