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Bird Flu - Archives


Lower Your Cholesterol and Beat the Bird Flu
Might anti-cholesterol drugs also help defend against bird flu? Britain's Daily Mail reports:

Low-cost drugs that are used to treat high cholesterol levels could be used to beat epidemics such as bird flu, scientists say.

Early evidence suggests that statins, which are prescribed to 1.8 million people in Britain every year, can combat virulent influenza strains such as H5N1.

In a letter to a national newspaper, three flu experts said that statins could save millions of lives in a potential human pandemic and urgent research is needed to explore the idea.
October 5th, 2006


Blood Products - New Flu Cure?
British scientists want more work done on the possibility of using blood products to help H5N1 victims:

Blood products taken from people who have recovered from bird flu could be useful for treating other patients in the event of a pandemic, research has suggested.

An analysis of how such transfusions were used in hospitals during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 has indicated that they reduced the risk of death and eased symptoms, raising the prospect that a similar approach could be used against H5N1 influenza.

August 31st, 2006


Sauerkraut, Kimchi and Protective Masks - Looking for a Bird Flu Cure
Does sauerkraut cure bird flu?

No, it doesn't, say the experts. But the pickled cabbage dish is still one of many bird flu "remedies" - from kimchi to alkaline water - being touted to a nervous public, according to an amusing article from Bloomberg News.

This week, 235 items related to bird flu were for sale at the U.S., British and German Web sites of the online auctioneer eBay, from disinfectant sprays to treatment advice including books.

A Web site in Germany,, has a waiting list for protective masks, Klaus Forsthofer, the head of distribution for ACE, the company that runs the site, said in an interview. The British Web site UK Survive advertises a family pack including face masks, five single-use medical suits and 600 powder-free latex gloves for £493.50, $917, marked down from £869.

"It is going massively, yes, massively," Nick Powell, the managing director of UK Survive, said in an interview. The company has sold 20,000 packs of face masks for £24.99 since January, an increase from about 200 a month last year.

"Gowns and boots are not something for the general public," said Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman for World Health Organization.

Masks effective enough to stop the virus are so uncomfortable that they are difficult to wear for more than an hour, said Gundula Jaeger, a virologist with the Max von Pettenkofer Institute in Munich.
June 8th, 2006


Oh, and Cover Your Mouth When You Cough

Time magazine summarizes the US government’s new pandemic report:

What can individuals and businesses do? Wash your hands. Clean sinks, railings, keyboards and phones--the virus can survive up to two days on hard surfaces. Reduce face-to-face meetings. Encourage telecommuting as well as flexible work hours. Keep 3 ft. of distance from other people ("spatial separation," in governmentspeak). Oh, and cover your mouth when you cough.

May 8th, 2006

GM Tomatoes – the Latest Bird Flu Weapon

Do generically-modified tomatoes hold the key to a bird flu vaccine? Here in Melbourne a plant scientist thinks so.

March 18th, 2006


A Quick Round-Up of Breaking Bird Flu News:

* Algerian health authorities have denied reports that a poultry breeder in Oran has died of bird flu.


* A Japanese group helping North Korean defectors claims that a woman in Pyongyang was infected with bird flu last month.


* GlaxoSmithKline expects to have a new bird flu vaccine in production by the end of the year.


* An Israeli virologist believes she has found a new remedy for bird flu, based on elderberries.

January 26th, 2006


Bogus Bird Flu Remedies

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned nine companies to stop marketing fake bird flu cures. These include capsules allegedly containing bacteria from dirt and other immune system "boosters" and claiming to help prevent or treat bird flu.


According to a report by Reuters:


"FDA is not aware of any scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety or effectiveness of these products for treating or preventing avian flu and the agency is concerned that the use of these products could harm consumers or interfere with conventional treatments," the agency said in a statement.


"The use of unproven flu cures and treatments increases the risk of catching and spreading the flu rather than lessening it because people assume they are protected and safe and they aren't," said Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, acting FDA commissioner. "I consider it a public health hazard when people are lured into using bogus treatments based on deceptive or fraudulent medical claims."


All of the companies sell via Internet Web sites and the FDA complained about several claims, including "prevents avian flu," "a natural virus shield," "kills the virus," and "treats the avian flu."

Most are promoted as being "natural" or "safer" treatments that can be used in place of approved drugs.

December 14th, 2005


Sauerkraut "Could Fight Bird Flu"

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that sauerkraut could become a “secret weapon” against bird flu. It says scientists believe it contains bacteria that helps combat the disease. Sauerkraut sales are apparently already rising in the UK. There have been reports that Korean kimchi (also spelled kimchee) has been shown as effective against bird flu. Both sauerkraut and kimchi are made from fermented cabbage.

November 13th, 2005


First Kimchi, Now Sauerkraut

Now it’s sauerkraut that’s being touted as a possible preventative for bird flu. Like Korean kimchi (also spelled kimchee), sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish.


"Unlike the government, we've got the preventative, and 115,000 tons of it in Wisconsin alone," said Ryan Downs, owner and general manager of Great Lakes Kraut Co., which has sauerkraut factories in Bear Creek and Shiocton, Wis., and in Shortsville, N.Y. Downs said more extensive scientific research is needed to prove any curative link to avian flu, but he's more than happy to tout kraut as a healthful part of any diet. "People are starting to realize kraut is a pretty doggone good food," Downs said when contacted about the South Korean study. "We're ready to help keep the world healthy."

November 8th, 2005


Will Kimchi Cure Bird Flu?

My Korean wife believes kimchi – fermented cabbage with garlic and fiery hot spices – will cure anything. She makes it regularly in large, pungent quantities, to feed our family. It certainly hasn’t stopped my hay fever, and I credit my annual flu shot for sparing me from the flu in recent years.


But kimchi (also written as kimchee) is widely viewed as the Korean national dish, and many Koreans believe it has wondrous properties. During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, kimchi consumption rose....continue reading Will Kimchi Cure Bird Flu?

October 24th, 2005

Is More Selenium the Answer?

A Texas Tech University researcher Dr. Julian Spallholz has suggested that adding more selenium to the diets of Asian chickens would hinder the H5N1 virus from mutating into a more virulent form that could pass between humans.


Viral mutations are thought to emerge from selenium-deficient regions of the world, such as Africa, China and Southeast Asia. Selenium can be added, fairly easily and inexpensively, to animal feed as a supplement to help prevent the mutation of the bird flu virus. "A lot of these viral mutations that end up in the human population come from areas that probably have selenium-deficient soils," Spallholz said. "This is the natural melting pot for these viral evolutions that take place. Raising the levels of selenium may reduce the frequency of these viral mutations."

October 13th, 2005