I have posted on influenza in the past and I will do a brief summary later in the post on the precautions that you can take to help prevent contracting the virus.
What is the Aussie Flu?
Winter in Australia is during our own summer. Usually with modern travel the virus will appear in the UK and the rest of Europe at the start of our own flu season. The flu strain that has mutated in Australia has resulted in the worst flu season there for many years and the vaccines had little impact on the outbreak. There were a reported 170,000 cases of the flu, but that is only recorded and does not include the thousands who would have not visited a doctor or hospital.
Already numbers in the UK and Irish flu season are higher than last year and there have been some fatalities within the vulnerable groups including ten people here in Ireland.
This particular flu virus is classified as an Influenza A (H3N2) virus.
Early in the year a vaccine is produced against the most common viruses that data has indicated are the most likely to be in circulation during the upcoming flu seasons, such as middle of the year in Australian and October onwards in the UK and Europe.
For the 2017/2018 flu season a trivalent vaccine (against three viruses – Influenza A (H1N1), Influenza A (H3N2) as in the Aussie flu, and an Influenza B virus.
Even if you do have the vaccination it can take up to 14 days for the antibodies to develop that will protect you from those particular virus strains. However, as in the case of the Aussie Flu (H3N2), a virus can mutate to become resistant to that particular year’s vaccine.
Which is when you have a much larger outbreak than predicted..
However, because the flu vaccination for this season contains a close match to the mutated H3N2, it should still provide some protection.
What are the symptoms of the Aussie Flu?
They are the same for any flu but more severe and are more likely to lead to respiratory issues after the initial stage, including pneumonia in those with a weakened immune system.
- Sore throat and cough
- Muscle ache
- Runny nose and sneezing
Who should be vaccinated?
It is recommended that vulnerable groups such as babies over six months old, the elderly and those with impaired immune system should be vaccinated. It is free for example in some countries over 65 years old and for other at risk groups.
Some people should not be vaccinated including babies under 6 months and some people who have a life threatening allergic reaction to egg protein which is an essential component in the development of the vaccine.
The number of people with an egg protein allergy is quite small, and they can receive the vaccine. However, if there has been a moderate response to egg protein in the past such as hives, the vaccine will be administered under medical supervision. Anyone who suffers from anaphylactic level reactions to eggs is not recommended to receive the vaccine.
Apart from a flu vaccination what precautions can you take to help prevent contracting the virus.
I am sure that you would not believe me if I told you that you touch your face including your mouth and nose up to three thousand times a day!
If you don’t believe me.. where are your hands right now?
The flu virus is becomes attached to everything you touch, left as a gift from the person suffering from the illness who has proceeded you to the public bathroom, the bus or plane seat you are sitting in, in using the shopping trolley you pushed this morning at the supermarket or on the keyboard in the Internet Cafe where you are reading this post.
One of the major elements in contracting the flu is touch and so it is very important to wash your hands frequently. Personally I use tea tree soap and a hand sanitiser boosted with tea tree oil and silver.. It is also very useful to have a packet of sanitising hand wipes with you when you go out.. Do not be embarrassed to wipe down the handle of the shopping trolley before using and as soon as you get back in the car before handling the steering wheel. Then wash when you get home before unpacking your bags and preparing any food.
I also use a tea tree and silver infused face cream during the winter months although I cannot claim that it works… only that I have not had flu for some years now.
The past weeks of Christmas has been a flu virus festival, with lots of hugging and kissing, sometimes with complete strangers. Whilst not nearly as much fun, imposing a kissing ban from October to March may safe you a nasty bout of the flu or at least a common cold.
It is never too late to boost your immune system to help it fight off opportunistic pathogens and here is a shopping list that gives you an idea of the foods to be eating regularly during flu season.
Components of the immune boosting eating plan
This plan contains all the elements to help relieve symptoms and boost your immune system. The purpose is to boost your immune system as well as naturally support your body as it fights the infection on your behalf.
- Two litres of fresh water. Combats dehydration and helps flush toxins from the body.
- Fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Use ½ grapefruit to one large orange. Juice of a whole lemon in hot water with some Manuka or ordinary Honey. Vitamin C and Manuka honey 15+ has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
- Cranberry juice – Antibacterial and for Vitamin C.
- Herbal Teas – Drink as many of these as you like.
- Green tea with juice of ½ lemon & teaspoon of honey. Antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidants, Vitamin C and energy. Soothing for throat and chest.
- Fenugreek & thyme tea with a slice of lemon and spoon of honey. Expectorant – ridding the body of mucous, tonic and soothes sore throats.
- Camomile tea with a slice of lemon and ginger. Soothing and anti-inflammatory. Ginger also promotes sweating part of the bodies defence system for getting rid of toxins.
- Elderflower tea – Immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory and relieves catarrh. You can mix this tea with Green tea and serve hot or cold with lemon.
- Soups – Have three times a day with a small piece of wholegrain toast or mixed with a tablespoon of cooked brown rice. Garlic and onion soup might leave your breath less than fragrant, but the combination of these ingredients provides many health benefits. Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.
- Chicken and vegetable soup – Chicken contains Cysteine an amino acid that has a similar action to a drug called acetylcysteine, which is used to treat patients with bronchitis and respiratory infections. This soup relieves nasal congestion, reduces inflammation caused by active white blood cells, and provides most of the essential immune system nutrients and fluid and warmth.
- Beef tea soup – This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. This provides lean protein which the body needs to recover, the B vitamins essential to combat the stress of infection and rehydrates the body.
- As I have already mentioned, it is a good idea not to overload the body with heavy stodgy meals while it is trying to fight infection. Salads tend to be unappealing which is why soups are so good at this time.
- If you feel like eating something more solid then omelettes and scrambled eggs are light and easy to digest. Add spinach and onions to the omelettes to give you a nutrient boost and serve with a slice of toast.
- A bowl of porridge with honey and a mashed banana and rice milk makes a creamy and nutritious breakfast or snack. You can also make a rice or semolina pudding with rice milk and add dried fruit or honey.
- Apart from the fluids and juices that I have mentioned, eat whatever fruit appeals to you while you are feeling unwell. Any will give you a great boost to the immune system.
- One in particular though is great at this time and that is pineapple. Apart from the usual healthy properties it contains Bromelain which reduces inflammation in general but also in the glands that tend to be swollen during an infection.
- Pineapple also works to cleanse the body and blood and increase circulation, allowing toxins to be moved from effectively from infected sites and out of the body.
If you do come down with the flu.
- Rest is critical: your body, although great at multi-tasking under normal operating circumstances, needs to focus all its energies on fighting the invaders. Sleep is a great healer and you should just go with the flow. If you go to work you are going to pass on your cold or flu to everyone anyway and you will also extend the length of the illness and possibly develop a more serious chest infection. Go to bed or lie on the sofa with a box of disposable tissues and plenty of fluids to hand.
- Fluids are also absolutely essential as your body will not only dehydrate but will be forming thick mucus in great quantities, blocking airways. You are likely to have a slight fever, which will raise your body temperature and you will also suffer chills that will make you feel cold. A combination of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and soups, along with 2 litres of fresh water will help flush the toxins from the body efficiently.
- The body, as I have just mentioned, needs to focus on getting rid of the infection and it has not got the resources to digest large and stodgy meals during the first few days. Little and often is the key and this is where the soups come in. I will give you the recipes for a chicken and vegetable soup, onion and garlic soup and a beef tea that are great, packed with infection fighting nutrients and can be served with brown rice, a little fresh-baked wholegrain bread or toast. Easily digestible foods such as milk free scrambled egg or spinach omelettes are ideal during this time.
- Dairy products increase the production of mucous and therefore congestion and I strongly suggest that you avoid them during the early stages of an infection. Also if bronchitis or other lung problem develops you should also give them a miss. Calcium however is very important in the battle against infection so you need to include other foods that contain this vital mineral.
- Bacteria and viruses love warm, moist, sugary and acidic conditions and so processed and sugar based foods and drinks are definitely off the menu. This includes all fizzy drinks, sugar on cereal and in tea and coffee, chocolate and heavily processed meats such as ham.
- The symptoms of a cold, flu and of bronchial infections are a detox process, with your body working extremely hard to get rid of the bacteria or virus. Taking suppressive over the counter remedies therefore drives the infection back into the body – and this is one of the reasons why something that begins as a simple cold or even the flu, that the body can deal with, can turn into a more entrenched condition such as bronchitis.
- Use tissues rather than a material hanky and throw away after using – it may sound wasteful but if you continually apply infected nose mucus to your hands you will not only re-infect yourself but also others who your hands come into contact with. Put used tissues in a plastic bag and knot securely and dispose of safely.
- Wash your hands regularly or use a natural anti-viral hand lotion – mine contains tea tree and silver.
- If you are in bed or using a pillow on a sofa do remember that you will be sneezing and contaminating the pillow case during your infectious period. Change every morning and wash at high temperature.
- If you have a partner then if possible as soon as you have symptoms go and sleep elsewhere and do not share toothbrushes etc for the duration. Love might be blind but it is certainly not bug resistant!!
- If you feel a sneeze coming on then do cover your mouth and nose with a tissue so that you do not dispense germs across the universe.
If take Vitamin C and Zinc, topped up with 15 drops of the herbal essence Echinacea daily throughout the winter. I also use a high potency Vitamin D3 spray once a day along with Turmeric daily oral spray.
You may not see this pathogen coming that wishes to take up residence in your body, but you can prepare a welcoming party that might just make it change its mind..
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to leave in the comment or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org