The Health Threat
Is a global pandemic still knocking on our door?
How could nature be a health threat?
Global pandemics happen, on average, every 30 years
Can anything stop a global health threat such as a pandemic. One of these can be just as deadly as heart disease, cancer or anything else that kills us, just quicker.
The main threats seem to be influenza viruses and antibiotic resistant infections.
They are of a form that is probably trying to adapt and live in different species, including humans. An example of things in the environment that are deadly.
Sars is an example of a super spreading virus.
It is a coronavirus that normally exists in civet cats.
If the avian flu virus, which has been infecting people and killing over 50% becomes an easily spread virus like Sars, it could leap around the world in days. A global pandemic.
How it works
This system doesn’t sleep or stay still though. Scientists know that some flu comes from wild birds but these viruses change all the time trying to get a better life off anything that’s walking around.
These researchers are working frantically to work out the sequences of these viruses so they can work out where they are heading. At the moment they only really have “family” snapshots.
These threatening viruses kill different mammals, not just humans, and spread easily in other animals with deadly results.
Right now they are not passing efficiently from human to human. If this starts to happen, will it be our biggest health threat yet?
Scientists are discovering how they can extract immune system cells from individuals that were sick with the bird flu but recovered.
These immune system cells were given to mice and then the mice were given bird flu viruses. The mice that were treated first with the memory cells survived.
More and more scientists are going to return to this strategy.
The reason why this research slowed down in the past was the discovery of antibiotics. Antibiotics were inexpensive and effective.
Now that germs are becoming resistant to antibiotics and the increase in the mutation of deadly viruses, is the best weapon still our own immune system?
Our Own Immune System
Blood donated by survivors of bird flu seems to harbor a potent protection against the deadly virus.
Scientists have long suspected that culling immune system molecules from survivors could provide a new therapy for the hard-to-treat flu strains.
An international team of researchers has reported the first evidence, albeit from tests in mice, that it really may work.
If the research pans out, it could be possible to stockpile these antibodies, the immune system's search-and-destroy force, as an additional way to treat or even prevent the flu strains ever mutating to spark a worldwide epidemic.
There have been some real tests.
First mice were infected with H5N1 virus.
Some were given the antibodies before they were exposed, others after they already were infected; still others were given antibodies that target different diseases, that were not influenza.
Mice given the non-H5N1 antibodies died.
The H5N1-targeting antibodies protected mice, both when they were administered as a vaccine-like preventive or after infection.
Importantly, they worked against both the same 2004 strain that the people had survived and against a different H5N1 strain that circulated in 2005.
This approach is called "passive immunotherapy," and more crude forms of the approach have long been used to protect against certain viruses.
For example, before hepatitis A vaccines, antibody-containing shots were common for tourists heading to developing countries.
And during the 1918 flu pandemic, the worst in history, doctors sometimes transfused blood directly from survivors to the newly sick, sometimes with good results.
Human antibodies protect mice from H5N1 avian flu
Ebola Convalescent Serum: It's No Magic Bullet
What treatments are available now?
- What about other health worries too?
- Are there even more elegant and powerful natural things?
Can a simple process be used on a daily basis to prevent illness?
Even “older” viruses are reappearing and are often more virulent. Just like the bird flu like viruses, they are trying to adapt widely and get stronger.
Maybe, there is only one natural defense we can put up to our biggest health threat. Sure we can clean; wear masks, develop vaccines and “anti virus” drugs but really, it all falls back on our own immune system.
The immune system is one of the oldest of all our body systems.
Some of the oldest forms of life recorded on earth also had an immune system.
If they didn’t they would have died almost immediately from any “germ”.
Bird Flu, Ebola, Antibiotic Resistance, ??? - A big Health Threat?
Return from Health Threat to Health
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