May 10th 2013: As the bird flu death toll in China gradually creeps up (31 at the time of writing), Susan Jamieson, one of Hong Kong’s longest serving expat family doctors, runs through the facts and proffers advice on how best to protect yourself and your family.
Bird Flu is an Influenza A virus, which we can test for at our Holistic Central Medical Practice on Queen’s Road Central, giving a result in just 10 minutes. The strain causes typical flu symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, cough and muscle ache.
This bird flu virus, known as H7N9 because of the specific antigens of the virus, is a different strain to the one we saw three years ago with the H5N1 virus. There is confusion about the mode of transmission of the new strain, as while we initially thought it could only be contracted directly from birds, this no longer seems to be the case.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)
To date, a total of 131 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N9) virus and 31 deaths have been reported to WHO. Contacts of the confirmed cases are being closely monitored. So far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.However, the virus is at the very least contagious – ie can be contracted by touching a contaminated work surface. This may explain the family cluster patterns of infections seen in China.
It is perhaps only a matter of time before there is a mutation causing the virus to change structure and allowing for transmission from person-to-person contact, coughing, sneezing, and of course, using the same glass, telephone or elevator button as an infected person.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Frightening though this prospect is, the good news is that our immune systems fight off viruses of all kinds, day-in day-out; not only viral pathogens, but bacteria, fungus, parasites and even cancer. Given a fighting chance, our immune systems have no difficulty protecting themselves against any kind of virus. At Holistic Central Medical practice, we import special supplements that are scientifically proven to boost immunity, and all are available without a prescription.
Although our bodies are naturally capable of protecting us against flu and other viruses, it’s very common to become tired, run down, stressed and jet lagged when living in Hong Kong. All these things are scientifically proven to deplete our immune systems. It’s not a myth or old wives’ tale any more, but proven science!
Self-care is all about treating our bodies as human beings rather than machines. Many self-help books have been written about loving ourselves more, not working late to impress the boss and promote our careers, and saying no to that social function you feel you ‘should’ go to but secretly can’t be bothered with.
Personal hygiene, such as hand washing after touching coins and sneezing, has also of course been proven to be of great importance in the fight against this type of infection.
I am reluctant to prescribe the only medication for flu available, Tamiflu, because of the adverse side effects, one of which (in very rare cases) is death! It also doesn’t cure the flu, but masks the symptoms and shortens the illness very slightly.
SPECIALLY IMPORTED SUPPLEMENTS:
At Holistic Central Medical Practice, we stock special supplements proven to boost your immune system, all of which you to purchase over the counter. One such supplement is in liquid form, where drops to be easily added to a drink, making this a great choice for those with children. Capsules are also available, and all our products are natural, side effect free and have been scientifically proven to work.
– Vitamin A: works as an antioxidant; found as retinol in fatty fish, fish oils and dairy products, as carotene in fruits and vegetables such as yellow and red capsicum, carrots, yams, mangoes and papaya
– Vitamin C: involved in many functions of the immune system; found in citrus fruit, red and green peppers, pineapple, strawberries, cabbage, parsley, rosehips
– Bioflavenoids: reduces viral activity; high amounts in the pith of citrus fruits
– Zinc: essential for the normal functioning of the immune system; good sources include nuts and seeds
– Selenium: a powerful antioxidant; found in alfalfa, brazil nuts, cashews, eggs, fish and garlic
– Colloidal silver: anti-viral agent
– Echinacea: the prime remedy to combat viral and bacterial infections
– Thyme: anti-microbial for the respiratory tract
– Astragalus: enhances immune response and counteracts fatigue
– Phytolacca: supports lymphatic tissues
– Golden Seal: ideal for respiratory tract defense
– Licorice: boosts the immune response
DIET AND SUPPLEMENT BOOSTING
Easy to do? We can optimise our vital immune systems by ensuring that the chemical building blocks are adequate; lots of healthy Chinese green veg and at least 1,000mg of Vitamin C daily will stand you in good stead. In 25 years of general Practice in Hong Kong, I’ve seen many of these bird flus scares come and go, and I have evidence that these measures really work.
While most people know about the immunity-boosting power of Vitamin C, many are unaware of the immunity-boosting powers of zinc and selenium. In fact, zinc is often found in over-the-counter flu and cold remedies as it’s associated with building up the respiratory lining, making viral invasion less likely.
Natural sources of zinc and selenium:
-Crab, lobster, tuna, cod
-Beef shanks, pork shoulder, chicken leg
-Baked beans, kidney beans, peas, chick peas
-Yogurt, cheese, milk
-Cashews, almonds (zinc)
-Brazil nuts (selenium)