What is Swine Flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans.
The 2009 flu outbreak in humans is due to a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 that derives in part from human influenza, avian influenza, and two separate strains of swine influenza. The origins of this new strain are unknown. It passes with apparent ease from human to human, an ability attributed to an as-yet unidentified mutation. The strain in most cases causes only mild symptoms and the infected person makes a full recovery without requiring medical attention and without the use of antiviral medicines.
Why is there so much panic about Swine Flu? After all it’s just a flu!
The most significant flu pandemic occurred in 1918/1919. The global mortality rate from the 1918/1919 pandemic is not known, but is estimated at 2.5 to 5% of those who were infected died. With 20% or more of the world population suffering from the disease to some extent, a case-fatality ratio this high would mean that about 0.5-1% that 50 million to 100 million people worldwide were killed. In 1957, an Asian flu pandemic infected some 45 million Americans and killed 70,000. Eleven years later, lasting from 1968 to 1969, the Hong Kong flu pandemic afflicted 50 million Americans and caused 33,000 deaths, costing approximately $3.9 billion. In 1976, about 500 soldiers became infected with swine flu over a period of a few weeks.
The scare and panic about the bird flu and swine flu have occurred because people now know what a simple flu can lead to and are afraid of the consequences – not just to the human capital but also to the global financial health.
Swine Flu Symptoms
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms of Swine flu may including all or some of the following:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Lack of appetite
Complications Of Swine Influenza
Those at higher risk of catching influenza in general include those with the following:
* Age of 65 years or older
* Chronic health problems (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
* Pregnant women
* Young children
But the past epidemics and pandemics of flu have shown that during pandemics most people that are affected are healthy young adults.
Complications of Swine Flu can include:
* Sinus infections
* Ear infections
Transmission of Swine Flu (How does Swine Flu spread?)
As with other flu like illnesses, Swine influenza is spread as follows:
- Touching infected objects
- Touching nose, mouth and/or eyes with infected hands
- Swine flu does not spread by eating pork.
Treatment of Swine Flu
Swine Flu Vaccination / Swine Flu Shot
The protective ability of influenza vaccines depends primarily on the closeness of the match between the vaccine virus and the epidemic virus, so the presence of non reactive H3N2 SIV variants suggests that current commercial vaccines might not effectively protect pigs from infection with a majority of H3N2 viruses. The current vaccine against the seasonal influenza strain H1N1 is thought unlikely to provide protection. The director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said that the United States’ cases were found to be made up of genetic elements from four different flu viruses—North American swine influenza, North American avian influenza, human influenza A virus subtype H1N1, and swine influenza virus typically found in Asia and Europe.
What You Can Do to Prevent Swine Flu?
There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
* If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Above all. Don’t get stressed by the fear of getting the swine flu. Stress can undermine your immune system. The flu doesn’t kill everyone and in most cases may prove benign. Mild exercise, meditation or yoga and healthy nutritious diet can help keep your immune system in good condition and able to ward of any infections. Not every ‘infection’ becomes a full blown ‘disease’. Most infections are taken care of by your body even before you know that you were infected. Most infections affect gravely those people who are vitally deranged. So instead of panicking about the flu, stay calm and focus on becoming a healthy ‘you’.
Homeopathy Remedies for Swine Flu
Homeopathy was very successful in dealing with the 1918-19 flu pandemic. Here is a quote from the famous historian Julian Winston:
Perhaps the most recent use of homeopathy in a major epidemic was during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. The Journal of the American Institute for Homeopathy, May, 1921, had a long article about the use of homeopathy in the flu epidemic. Dr. T A McCann, from Dayton, Ohio, reported that 24,000 cases of flu treated allopathically had a mortality rate of 28.2% while 26,000 cases of flu treated homeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05%. This last figure was supported by Dean W.A. Pearson of Philadelphia (Hahnemann College) who collected 26,795 cases of flu treated with homeopathy with the above result.
The most common remedy used was Gelsemium, with occasional cases needing Bryonia and Eupatorium reported. Dr. Herbert A. Roberts from Derby, CT, said that 30 physicians in Connecticut responded to his request for data. They reported 6,602 cases with 55 deaths, which is less than 1%. Dr. Roberts was working as a physician on a troop ship during WWI. He had 81 cases of flu on the way over to Europe. He reported, “All recovered and were landed. Every man received homeopathic treatment. One ship lost 31 on the way.”
Considering that the Swine Flu virus produces symptoms similar to the human influenza virus, the following homeopathy medicines may prove useful in cases of swine influenza:
This remedy corresponds to the commencement of the trouble, when the patient is weak, tired and aches throughout the body. It removes speedily the intense aching and muscular soreness. There is constant chilliness and the patient hugs the fire; the fever is less acute than that of Aconite, and the cough is hard and painful. There are paroxysms of sneezing with excoriating discharge, and great torpor and apathy. An extensive experience with this remedy in the great Epidemic of 1918 proved its usefulness. Simple cases were speedily cured. Aconite will sometimes prove the better remedy for children, but the drug will never be a prominent one in influenza. Still it may be prescribed when indicated; it will, perhaps, soothe and moderate the subsequent attack, but its action is not quick here as in simple fevers, as we have to do with a blood affection.
Influenza with marked gastro-intestinal symptoms may need this remedy, especially when there are present putrid diarrhoea stools. Clarke considers this remedy the nearest specific for the disease; he prefers the 30th potency. Hughes also praises it, but uses it in the 1x and 2x dilutions, which seem to have more extensive testimony as to their efficacy.
This remedy has much soreness and aching of the entire body; hoarseness and cough, with great soreness of the larynx and upper respiratory tract. Coryza with thirst and drinking causes vomiting. The cough is a very shattering one, hurts the head and chest, and as in Drosera, the patient holds the chest with the hands. The breakbone pains are characteristic of the remedy. Add to these symptoms acute bilious derangements, and it is all the more indicated. Many physicians rely on this remedy in influenza / flu almost exclusively in the early stages.
Sneezing is the great keynote of this remedy. Sneezing and lachrymation on going into the open air. The throat is swollen and the pain is worse on empty swallowing; the sneezing is excessive, shaking the whole body. Shudderings, with gooseflesh chills creeping upwards, are also prominent symptoms. Frontal headache, dryness of mouth, without thirst and cough, worse on lying down, are additional symptoms. It suits well many cases of the catarrhal form of flu; other remedies having sneezing are Cyclamen and Euphorbia.
This remedy covers more phases of flu than perhaps any other remedy. Hughes believes that it will cut short an attack, especially when there is a copious flow, prostration and paroxysmal coryza. Its periodicity makes it suitable to epidemics, and it suits the early symptoms when the affection is in the upper portion of the respiratory tract. The burning dryness and copious watery excoriating secretion and the involvement of the conjunctiva are unmistakable indications. Langour and prostration are prominent symptoms.
Chills, flushes of heat and severe fluent coryza, discharge irritating and corrosive, sneezing and prostration. It corresponds to true influenza and is highly recommended by Hale. Sanguinaria nitrate is especially valuable when the trachea and larynx are affected. Phytolacca. Specific when the throat is inflamed and spotty, with great hardness and tenderness of the glands.
This is one of our best remedies in the acute form; the eyes are suffused, the throat is sore and the cough hurts because of the muscular soreness. If brought on by damp, cold changes in the weather, so much the surer is Dulcamara indicated.
The trouble here is largely bronchial and going down. When a person is very grumpy and feels miserable with the flu, wanting only to lie still and be left alone, this remedy is likely to be useful. Headache, muscle aches, and cough or stomach pain may be the major symptoms. Everything feels worse from even the slightest motion. The person’s mouth usually is dry, with a thirst for long cold drinks.
#Phosphorus may be indicated, especially when the trouble moves towards the chest. It is a very useful remedy for the debility following la grippe, as it is usually of the pure nervous type. It is the great post-influenza “tonic.”
#Rhus toxicodendron. [Rhus-t]
Influenza, with severe aching in all the bones, sneezing and coughing. The cough is worse evenings and is caused by a tickling behind the upper part of the sternum. Especially is it useful in cases brought on by exposure to dampness. There is much prostration and depression, and the patient may have some symptoms which are suspicious as pointing towards typhoid fever, such as burning tongue, stupor and delirium. Aching pains, nightly restlessness are keynotes symptoms. Causticum, like both Rhus and Eupatorium, has a tired, sore, bruised sensation all over the body and soreness in the chest when coughing, but it has in addition involuntary urination when coughing.
#Allium cepa. [All-c]
Profuse catarrhal coryza; the nose runs freely, there is sneezing, irritability cough, the face is swollen and looks inflamed. Camphora. This remedy is often sufficient at the outset to cut short an attack, or at least modify the severity.
Nasal catarrh; headache, thirst, nightly expectoration, great watering of eyes,running at nose, hoarseness of voice, frontal headache and depression of whole system. Tuberculous subjects attacked by influenza. “There is no better remedy,” says Dr. Fornias,”for the incessant wearing, racking cough of this class of patients.” Tuberculinum is an excellent prevention of recurring attacks of influenza / flu in those who have annual attacks.
Adapted to cases where the gastric symptoms predominate; tongue clean or slightly coated. Nausea: with profuse saliva; vomiting of white, glairy mucus in large quantities, without relief; sleepy afterwards; worse from stooping. Low thirst. Cough: dry spasmodic, constricted, asthmatic. Difficult breathing from least exercise; violent dyspnoea, with wheezing and anxiety about the stomach. Cough, with rattling of mucus in bronchi when inspiring; threatened suffocation from mucus. Pains as if bones were all torn to pieces.
Adapted to diseases with rapid sinking of the vital forces; complete prostration; collapse. Cold perspiration on the forehead (over entire body, Tab. ); with nearly all complaints. Thirst: intense, unquenchable, for large quantities of very cold water and acid drinks; wants everything cold. Diarrhoea: frequent, greenish, watery, gushing: mixed with flakes: cutting colic, with cramps commencing in hands and feet and spreading all over; prostrating, after fright; < least movement; with vomiting, cold sweat on forehead during and prostration after. Vomiting: excessive with nausea and great prostration: < by drinking ( Ars. ); by least motion ( Tab. ); great weakness after.
The Current Swine Flu Epidemic or Possible Influenza Pandemic
It has been reported that in the current Swine influenza epidemic, the gastrointestinal symptoms (Nausea, Vomiting) are pronounced. Considering this remedies like Baptisia, Arsenic-album or Ipecac may work as Genus epidemicus or as prophylactic treatment for the current Swine influenza epidemic.
How to differentiate in these flu medicines?
If the patient has mild flu like symptoms (runny nose and watery eyes etc) but no other peculiar symptom but is anxious if it might be swine flu – think about Aconite.
If the flu patient is listless, prostrated, indifferent, has offensive diarrhoea and the parts rested upon feel sore and bruised – think about Baptisia.
If the flu patient is restless, anxious or fearful, thirsty but drinks small quantity and often, prostrated, diarrhoea after eating or drinking and nausea on seeing/smelling food, burning pains – think about Arsenicum-album.
If the nausea is more pronounced, the patient is thirstless and has pain felt in bones – think about Ipecac.
If the gastrointestinal symptoms are not marked but the patient has deep pains as if bones are aching – think about Eupatorium perf.
If the flu patient is feeling dull, dizzi, drowsy, has low thirst, feels chilly, esp in back – think about Gelsemium.
Lessons from the 1918/1919 Flu Pandemic
Many people believe that the current virus strain matches closely to the 1918/1919 flu pandemic, although it is not exactly alike.
In the 1918/1919 flu pandemic, people without symptoms could be stricken suddenly and within hours be too weak to walk; many died the next day. Symptoms included a blue tint to the face and coughing up blood caused by severe obstruction of the lungs. In some cases, the virus caused an uncontrollable hemorrhaging that filled the lungs, and patients drowned in their body fluids (pneumonia). In others, the flu caused frequent loss of bowel control and the victim would die from losing critical intestinal lining and blood loss.
If such symptoms present themselves in the current pandemic, the remedies that may prove useful would be Arsenic-album, Cantharis, Phosphorus, Cuprum-met, Camphora, Veratrum-album, Ipecac or Carbo-veg.
Ars-alb, Phosphorus, Ipecac and Carbo-veg may seem to have a more pronounced action on lungs/respiratory symptoms in the above mentioned symptom group. Cantahris, Phosphorus, and Carbo-veg seem to cover the bloody stools better. Camphor and Verat-alb cover the acute collapse with bluish discoloration better.
Homeopathic remedies need strict individualization and are given as specifically prepared, non-toxic, micro-dose homeopathic potencies. Please consult a qualified homeopath before taking any homeopathic remedy for Swine flu / influenza
Reference for Swine Flu Information
1. Center for Disease Control (CDC), USA