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Avian Flu:
Pandemic or Hoopla?

Home > Avian Flu

In the past, I have paid little attention to flu viruses or their movement through the population.  But I’ve become aware of a dramatically different playing field now, and because I believe Oriental Medicine has much to offer in this scenario, I've decided to give it some attention in these pages. 

No one knows what part the H5N1 virus may play in our future, but experts agree on a number of unsettling points:

  • The strain of H5N1 in question, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1," is spreading globally and has killed tens of millions of birds.

  • The virus demonstrates an alarming potential to mutate into a pathogen equally deadly to other species, including humans.

  • Internationally respected virologist, Robert Webster, warned in 2003 that such mutations are imminent and have the potential to decimate the world population of humans by one-third.

  • Since the appearance of the current incarnation of this virus, there had been 272 officially confirmed human cases of this virus globally, as of 6 February 2007.

  • 61 % of those 272 individuals died as a result of contracting the virus.

  • As of this writing, there have been confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Sumatra, resulting in death.  WHO officials acknowledge that no one knows actual count.

  • The virus has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa.

  • Proliferation of air travel makes the likelihood of transmission to the western hemisphere nearly a certainty.


Not only is this virus different, but the environment in which it exists (life on this planet) is very different, as well.

Humanity finds itself in a unique circumstance.  The number of us on the planet far exceeds that of any previous time.  Uncrowded spots on the globe are rare, and our growth accelerates each day.  Human activity is responsible for profound shifts in every aspect of our environment.  The direction of many of these shifts cannot be maintained for very long.  In short, there are too many of us. 

Ultimately, nature will not tolerate an imbalance, especially one that relentlessly tips the scales toward further imbalance.  Other forces, beyond the scope of this discussion, are at play as well.  It’s difficult to ignore that life — both personal and social — has undergone dramatic shifts in the past five years alone.  The game is entirely different.  The stakes are higher, and the pace is furious.  What does this have to do with “avian flu?”

Just this.  Given our current condition, the question is not whether this particular virus will do what experts fear.  It’s not even a matter of whether or not something of this nature will occur.  It’s a matter of when.

What we can do to prepare

Forget about vaccines.  Not only is vaccination a highly questionable and controversial approach to curbing the spread of disease, but a vaccination for this virus does not exist.   The development of a vaccine for an unmanifest, highly contagious, and lethal flu virus won’t even be possible to create until it’s far too late. 

One’s most effective response to such a prospect is a pre-emptive one, which, hopefully, was begun decades ago.  Invest heavily in good health and a resilient immune system through wise choices in diet and lifestyle.  Yes, there are a handful of “little secrets” which can be used to augment this commitment, but the task is really just that simple — diet and lifestyle.  The irony of such a remark is, of course, that diet and lifestyle are huge, complex expressions of how we choose to live. Both remarks are true, but we’ll focus on the simplicity.  You can flesh out the details.



These links are sequential. Maximum understanding will be obtained by reading the pages in the order in which they're listed.


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