Swine FluIssue: Section:
Every day I answer my patients’ questions and try to assuage their fears about Swine Flu. At least once a week, I see a patient that has been diagnosed with the 2008-2009 H1N1 Swine Flu. They come in scared and worried. Most have been convinced to take the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu. Every day in the papers and on the tube there is mention of the H1N1 pandemic and the impending flu season. “Many people could die; thousands will get sick. Will we have enough of the novel H1N1 vaccine? Dire times are just ahead,” we are told, over and over.
Don’t believe the hype. People aren’t dying or getting sick in numbers that are any different than regular flu numbers. The novel influenza H1N1 virus is the mild flu. Shout it from the roof tops. The Swine Flu is a mild flu. It is no worse than any typical influenza virus one might meet in any particular flu season. In fact, it is milder than many we meet on a regular basis. If you meet the flu this season and are relatively healthy and don’t have any pre-existing conditions, rest, and sleep, stay well hydrated and ride it out. Trust your body. You’ll come through the other side stronger, purged and healthier for it.
The symptoms of the H1N1 virus are the exact same symptoms as regular influenza: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. In addition, some people experience nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. As with the regular flu, it is a self-limiting disease that usually lasts from two to seven days. The vast majority of people who come down with the flu experience relatively mild symptoms. Those that meet more intense symptoms, usually burn through them in a few days. The diagnosis of H1N1 infection is usually made by symptoms alone (the same symptoms as just about every influenza strain). The test that the CDC recommends to confirm a H1N1 infection is not an H1N1 specific test at all, but just a positive test for Influenza A, which shows positive for literally hundreds of different viral strains. Medical doctors don’t even know which influenza strain an individual is infected with, but because H1N1 is the strain du jour, they diagnosis it as such.
It is important to understand, people don’t die from the flu. They die from secondary bacterial infections. Once the body has been weakened by the flu, and their immune system has been suppressed with pharmaceutical agents like aspirin, Tylenol and anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu, secondary infections can flourish. When we look at the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed so many thousands, it wasn’t the flu they died from it was secondary bacterial pneumonia, particularly Streptococcus pneumonia, that killed them. For people that met influenza and sought medical care in the 1918 pandemic, the mortality rate was astounding. In U.S. medical hospitals the mortality rate was 30-40%. A rate of 68% was seen in New York hospitals and in U.S. military hospitals the average mortality rate was 36%. In contrast, for homeopathic, osteopathic and chiropractic cases, the mortality rate was zero to 1%. The primary difference was that medical doctors suppressed the patient’s symptoms, especially their fever with aspirin and quinine, while the chiropractors, osteopaths and homeopaths, through their techniques, promoted wellness and allowed the fevers and symptoms to express themselves.
If H1N1 isn’t that scary and isn’t really that much different than the regular flu, why are we supposed to be so afraid of it? Infectious diseases, especially pandemics, are wonderful for creating hysteria. Hysteria stimulates herd instinct. Herds are easy to manipulate. Fear, hysteria and manipulating herds are the tools of politics and the business of the pharmaceutical giants. Our hysteria is created by design. An example of this, one we see every year, is the marketing plan CDC and big pharma came up with to scare us into getting our seasonal flu shots. It is a seven step plan that spells out, in creepy detail, how to create flu hysteria.
Step 1: Plant seed with posters, flyers and other media at public health and health provider facilities in the summer.
Step 2: Media makes pronouncements that new influenza strains will be associated with severe illness and serious outcomes.
Step 3: Medical experts and public health authorities via media state concern and alarm by predicting dire outcomes.
Step 4: Reports from medical experts used to motivate behavior. Language should include “very severe”, “more severe than last year”, “this could be the worst flu season ever”.
Step 5: More reports to help foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a severe case of influenza.
Step 6: Give visible and tangible examples of sick people and people getting vaccination, first to motivate and then to reinforce.
Step 7: Make continued reference to the importance of vaccination.
Pay attention. Every year it is the same flu show, same flu time, same flu channel.
Every few years, on top of the flu, we have another infectious disease to be worried about. Playing into our fears, politicians promise to protect us and pledge money to protective measures like vaccines and antiviral drugs. The drug companies reap massive profits. Remember small pox after 9/11, SARS, the Avian flu, and now Swine flu again. Whatever happened to the very scary threats those infectious diseases presented? Once the hysteria generated enough profits, the diseases slipped from our consciousness.
Consider the Avian flu as a perfect example of the relationship between false fears and massive profits. The powers that be projected 150 million deaths due to the Avian flu. In a six year span, world-wide, only 262 people died. Hear this. There were $10 billion in vaccine sales. At the time, the Bush administration Funded Sanofi Pasteur $100 million to develop a vaccine for Avian flu. They pledged $7.1 billion to combat Avian flu with drugs and vaccines. In 2005 alone, the U.S. senate approved $3.9 billion for the purchase of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug marketed as a cure for the Avian flu. Guess who was the Chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences (the company that invented Tamiflu), from 1997 until he was sworn in as Secretary of Defense in 2001. That’s right, Donald Rumsfeld. He still receives stock and benefits from Gilead and is a major share holder.
In the early days of the 2009 Swine flu pandemic, President Obama pledged $1.5 billion. Mark my words. We are in for a heavy dose of H1N1 doom and gloom this flu season. Very few will get sick, fewer will die. Billions will be made, and then in a year or two, we will forget all about H1N1.