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Beavers May Benefit Endangered Salmon Species

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Beavers are intriguing animals found throughout North America. The largest living rodents in the region, beavers were hunted for their pelts to near extinction in the 1800s, but have made a comeback and are now relatively common along rivers, streams, lakes and marshes.

Beavers’ have an ingenious ability to change the landscape to suit their needs, building dams in order to create deep, calm water, or ponds, in which to build their homes, known as lodges.

It’s their natural inclination to build dams that has led to conflicts with humans, as the dams can cause flooding or block irrigation, not to mention that sometimes the trees beavers chew down may be ornamental or fruit-bearing instead of a type not missed by landowners.

As a result, many have long labeled beavers as little more than pests. In the 1970s, states including Washington, California and Oregon had laws in place that required beaver dams to be removed from streams to allow fish to pass through and, in 2009, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation funded a proposal to eradicate beavers from 10 rivers systems on Prince Edward Island.1

Even as recently as 2016, Wildlife Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, killed more than 400 of the animals in Oregon in order to “allow people and wildlife to coexist,” prompting the Center for Biological Diversity and Northwest Environmental Advocates to threaten legal action against the agency to stop the killings.2

The threat of litigation led Wildlife Services to agree to stop killing beavers (along with river otter, muskrat and mink) in Oregon in January 2018 as well as analyze their wildlife-killing program’s effects on endangered fish, including salmon and steelhead.3

The fact is, killing beavers and removing their dams remains hotly debated and highly controversial, as research continues to show that these creatures, far from being pests, are actually an integral and beneficial part of the environment.

Beavers May Benefit Endangered Salmon Species

Beavers are known as “ecosystem engineers” with an “ability to manipulate and change their environment” that’s second only to humans.4 Their creation of dams and ponds benefits many other animal, bird and insect species. According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife:5

“Beavers dams create habitat for many other animals and plants of Washington. In winter, deer and elk frequent beaver ponds to forage on shrubby plants that grow where beavers cut down trees for food or use to make their dams and lodges.

Weasels, raccoons and herons hunt frogs and other prey along the marshy edges of beaver ponds. Migratory waterbirds use beaver ponds as nesting areas and resting stops during migration.

Ducks and geese often nest on top of beaver lodges since they offer warmth and protection, especially when lodges are formed in the middle of a pond. The trees that die as a result of rising water levels attract insects, which in turn feed woodpeckers, whose holes later provide homes for other wildlife.”

Ironically, while it was long believed that beaver dams would provide an obstacle for salmon and steelhead, posing a threat to the fish, it’s now been shown that they may, in fact, do the opposite.

One study revealed that the density and survival of juvenile steelhead increased following the installation of simulated beaver dams, with researchers concluding, “Beaver mediated restoration may be a viable and efficient strategy to recover ecosystem function of previously incised streams and to increase the production of imperiled fish populations.”6

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that in the early 1800s, when Lewis and Clark explored the Pacific Northwest, both salmon and beavers not only existed but coexisted in very high numbers.7

Young salmon, it turns out, spend the early seasons of their life in the quiet depths of beaver ponds before migrating toward the ocean. As such, beaver provide help in maintaining the proper complexity of habitat that young salmon need to thrive.

In their recovery plan for Oregon Coast Coho salmon, the National Marine Fisheries Service even named beaver dams and man-made beaver dam analogues among their strategies for improving habitat.8

Meanwhile, research by Michael Pollock, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), revealed that decreasing beaver populations were responsible for declines of up to 86 percent of juvenile coho salmon production potential in the Stillaguamish River basin in Washington.9

Speaking to The Atlantic, Pollock explained, “Beavers create complex habitat and enhance local biological diversity in a way that’s really unique … They do a much better job of managing these systems than we do.”10

Beavers Slow Down Water Flow — An Understated Benefit to the Environment

Ben Goldfarb, an environmental journalist who has written extensively about beavers, describes beavers as a keystone species because their dams and resulting beaver ponds support so many other organisms. In an interview with Water Deeply, Goldfarb explained that one of the beavers’ greatest gifts to the environment is slowing down water flows and impounding water.11

The latter results in water storage, allowing water to infiltrate the ground and restore aquifers. Further, for young salmon, beaver ponds provide much-needed protection that larger waterways can’t provide. He explained:12

“Think about what it’s like to be a baby salmon — you’re this tiny little creature that gets eaten by bigger fish and birds and all kinds of things, and you’re looking for a nice, slow bit of slack water in which you can take refuge.

You don’t want to be in the main channel because then you just get blown downstream. For a juvenile salmon or trout, you can’t really conceive of better habitat than a beaver pond or wetland.”

The Tulalip Beaver Project, which relocates “nuisance” beavers from urban and suburban areas to the upper Snohomish Watershed in Washington, has had great success in creating wetlands that support fish spawning habitat and water storage. Since its start in 2014, the project has moved 122 beavers to 20 locations, building more than 12 acres of wetlands in the process.13,14

There’s still a long way to go to restore beaver habitats and related benefits, however. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, beaver populations remain at only 3 to 10 percent of their historical levels.15 A study by researchers with Utah State University similarly found that beavers occupied just 8 to 17 percent of available stream habitat.16

Goldfarb acknowledged the challenges of humans coexisting with beavers, but believes there’s much room for improvement:17

“The problem is that good beaver habitat is the same as good human habitat. We both like low-gradient, fertile river valleys. That’s where we’ve build our towns and our farms and our infrastructure.

Today, we’re occupying a lot of the habitat that beavers would like to use. It’s not possible to get back to the place that we once were with beavers in every stream and pond and wetland. But, certainly, I think that we’re at a tiny fraction of where we could be.”

Beavers Change Water Chemistry, May Offset Some Effects of Industrial Agriculture Pollution

Runoff from synthetic chemical fertilizers as well as the excessive amounts of manure from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that’s often sprayed onto farm fields are highly problematic for water.

When provided with an excess of nutrients, such as occurs when fertilizer runoff from farms contaminates waterways, algae can quickly grow out of control, depleting oxygen from the water, blocking light to organisms lower in the water column and clogging fish gills.18

Massive manure and fertilizer pollution churned out by CAFOs has been blamed for causing the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.19 Fertilizer runoff has also been blamed for toxic algae taking over Florida coastlines. It’s so prolific in some areas that blue-green algae can now be seen from space.20

Solving the problem will take sweeping changes to industrial agriculture, transitioning to a regenerative agricultural system instead, but there’s also potential for beavers to help.

When University of Rhode Island researchers were looking into the nitrogen content of streams, they noticed that nitrogen levels were lower in water collected downstream of beaver ponds — an effect that’s believed to be related to the slowing down of the water and its mixing with organic matter.21

When researchers looked into the matter, they found beaver ponds acts as sinks for nitrogen in the water and result in a process called denitrification, during which nitrogen compounds are turned back into nitrogen gas, which is then released from the water. They estimated that in rural watersheds of southern New England with high nitrogen loading, denitrification from beaver ponds could remove from 5 to 45 percent of nitrates from the water.22

Following Nature’s Cues May Help Solve Man-Made Problems

Separate research by scientists at the University of Exeter in England has followed a family of captive beavers living in an outdoor fenced-in enclosure, which are part of Devon Wildlife Trust’s enclosed beaver trial. From 2011 to 2018, the family of beavers built 13 dams, creating deep ponds in an area that was formerly a small stream.23

The actions trapped significant amounts of sediment (made up of mostly soil eroded from an industrial agriculture site upstream), nitrogen and phosphorus, which would otherwise have passed through to a local river system.

The results suggest that beaver ponds may help mitigate the soil erosion and pollution from industrial agriculture. Lead study author Richard Brazier, a hydrologist and professor of earth surface processes, said in a news release:24

“It is of serious concern that we observe such high rates of soil loss from agricultural land, which are well in excess of soil formation rates. However, we are heartened to discover that beaver dams can go a long way to mitigate this soil loss and also trap pollutants which lead to the degradation of our water bodies.

Were beaver dams to be commonplace in the landscape we would no doubt see these effects delivering multiple benefits across whole ecosystems, as they do elsewhere around the world.”

It seems that, when humans are willing to listen, nature has many lessons to teach, and the more we strive to live in concert with nature, as opposed to against it, the better off we’ll be.

Similar to the way oysters have been found to process nitrogen compounds into harmless nitrogen gas, or worms naturally excrete beneficial microbes into the soil, drastically improving its composition, by allowing beavers to do what they naturally do in the environment, the ecosystem as a whole may glean a great benefit

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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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