Headlines across the country are indicative of epidemic fears
- 9 Texas schools have closed due to flu outbreaks this month
- Several Tennessee schools closed due to the flu
- Flu has sent more than three times the number of people to the hospital in Colorado than usual
- The University of Chicago hospital is even taking steps to restrict visitors. In a recent article, the hospital “will not allow children under age 12 and those with a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion will not be allowed to visit patients.
- U.S. not prepared for a flu pandemic, experts warn
- Texas flu epidemic spreading rampantly
- Severe flu brings medicine shortages, packed ERs and a rising death toll in California
An Ineffective Flu Shot Has Led to Health Concerns
The results of tests performed by public health laboratories, as well as the age group distribution of influenza positive tests, during the current week are summarized below.
|Week 50||Data Cumulative since
October 1, 2017 (Week 40)
|No. of specimens tested||1,623||15,994|
|No. of positive specimens*||795||5,046|
|Positive specimens by type/subtype|
|Influenza A||689 (86.7%)||4,387 (86.9%)|
|A(H1N1)pmd09||58 (8.4%)||366 (8.3%)|
|H3N2||611 (88.7%)||3,965 (90.4%)|
|Subtyping not performed||20 (2.9%)||56 (1.3%)|
|Influenza B||106 (13.3%)||659 (13.1%)|
|Yamagata lineage||75 (70.8%)||438 (66.5%)|
|Victoria lineage||10 (9.4%)||39 (5.9%)|
|Lineage not performed||21 (19.8%)||182 (27.6%)|
*The percent of specimens testing positive for influenza is not reported because public health laboratories often receive samples that have already tested positive for influenza at a clinical laboratory and therefore percent positive would not be a valid indicator of influenza activity. Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/overview.htm.
With the flu shot only mildly effective, many will not stand a chance at fighting off this powerful strain. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suspects the vaccine won’t work any better in the U.S. [than it did during Australia’s flu season] “It is possible that we will experience low vaccine effectiveness against influenza A (H3N2) viruses and a relatively severe influenza season if they predominate,” Fauci and colleagues wrote in an article published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Source)
The reason the 2017 shot isn’t preventing as many cases of the H3N2 strain or Flu A is that the flu strain scientists were using to grow the virus mutated during the growing process. It’s not a harmful defect, but it means that the non-live strain of H3N2 influenza in the injection is slightly different than what’s actually circulating in the human population. This means that our bodies are not capable of fighting this flu strain off as easily.
This is not the first time the flu shot has been ineffective. In 2015, the UK experienced a sharp increase in flu cases. Only 3 out of every 100 vaccinated people were prevented from getting full-blown influenza, a situation that led to a large rise in the elderly winter death rate in the UK. In the same year, on the other side of the pond, the U.S. saw extreme flu cases leading the CDC to admit the flu shot did not work.
The same is being said for this year’s flu shot and we must stay aware of the symptoms and prepare accordingly.
The suddenness of symptoms is also what sets this flu apart from others. Experts indicate that with this flu, you are aware of the moment you begin coming down with symptoms rather than a gradual decline in health. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Prepare for the Worst
While medical experts urge everyone to take their vitamins, get plenty of sleep, frequently wash their hands, and of course get the flu shot, there are some natural ways to amp up the body’s immune system with a flu-fighting arsenal.
Herbs and essential oils are considered mankind’s first medicine and it has been used throughout history for medical treatment. Using herbs can significantly reduce cold and flu-like symptoms.
In my home, we drink a lot of herbal teas with honey, lemon, ginger syrup added to it. As well, we include a lot of fresh vitamins from fruit and vegetables; and, if we are beginning to feel the onslaught of the flu, we begin taking a vitamin regimen of zinc and Vitamin D and spoonfuls of homemade elderberry syrup. As well, diet alterations can make a profound difference in boosting your body’s immunity.
Some foods that will provide you with optimum health are:
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, yogurt, kimchi, etc.
- Organic, pastured meats and eggs (including 100% grass-fed beef)
- Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts.
- Avoid sugar, especially refined sugars. Sugar weakens the immune system. If you need sweeteners, use raw honey, maple syrup, & stevia.
- Drinking teas high in antioxidants such as green tea can stimulate the production of immune cells.
- Raw honey has antibacterial, antifungal, & antiviral properties (LOCAL raw honey is best, especially for allergies).
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar per day.
- Eating nuts such as almonds have an immune-strengthening antioxidant.
Mushrooms are an untapped medicinal source that could help fend off the flu due to their high antioxidant content, anti-viral and antibiotic properties. With their high protein sources, they can be used as meat alternatives which would be easier on the body’s system, specifically our nervous systems. Over time, these health-enhancing properties synergize and build up in the body and improve health.
Bone broth is another way to boost your health and is one of the most healing of diet staples. This used to be a dietary staple with our ancestors as was fermented foods. It aids in digestion, contained easily absorbable minerals and is great for the immune system. Bone marrow helps the immune system by carrying oxygen to cells in the body.
Turning toward natural remedies now will give you the knowledge and skills you need to keep your family well during this severe flu season. As well, consider learning ways to make homemade lozenges to soothe sore throats, or possessing basic knowledge on which herbs may be used to treat cold/flu symptoms. Further, knowing how to combine these together to make cold/flu syrups will only better your family’s chances at beating the cold/flu season when OTC medicines aren’t as readily available.