Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Nobody can predict when the next pandemic will hit and whether it will be from an avian flu, but Canada and other countries are not taking any chances. The feds have commissioned a mock vaccine that can be adapted to whatever strain comes along. The Canadian Public Health Agency is also calling for alertness to patients coming back from countries where avian flu has occurred, especially countries with human cases. Canada is erring on the side of caution when it comes to the national flu pandemic preparedness plan. There is preparation for up to 138,000 people in need for hospitalization and between 11,000 and 58,000 death could occur. The economic impact is estimated between $ 10 and 24 billion.
It is true that public health agencies are worried, as three conditions for a possible pandemic are present: the viral strain is a new one, humans have no immunity to this new virus, and the strain is virulent.
The fourth condition would be that the strain could be spread from person to person. However this condition has not developed at this point.
A lot of hype has gone through the press, misinformation is rampant, and as a result people are mixing up influenza preparedness with an avian flu pandemic. Anxiety runs high in the population. Some health professionals are already suffering from pandemic burnout before the virus has even landed, which is not a surprise: in the last few years warnings were sounded due to the outbreak of SARS. West Nile, Ebola, and Lassa fever have been other diseases that caused concern and anxiety. Before jumping to frightening conclusions that the avian flu will jump from person to person, it is important to see the facts in perspective. H5N1 at this point is not spread from person to person. The virus is transmitted from affected birds (chicken ducks, and other fowl) to humans, who have to be in close contact with the animal. The virus is found deep in the lungs of the infected person, and as a result it is more difficult to transmit than a virus that is found in mouth, nose or throat.
Human fatalities have occurred in Asia and the Middle East. Vietnam has had the highest number of deaths related to H5N1: 93 infections, 42 fatalities. Turkey has had 12 documented cases, four of them fatal.
In the meantime the world is not defenseless. Vaccines are in preparation, and vaccination trials are have been introduced in Vietnam. Work with horse antibodies is ongoing and the results are encouraging. Researchers in China developed a passive immunization by using horse antibodies. The advantage is the fact, that larger amounts of vaccine can be produced faster than with the culturing of the virus on eggs.

Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Avian Flu Needs Preparedness Instead Of Panic

Public health agencies and health professionals are aware of the fact that pandemics have been around in the past. They are still a threat now. They agree that programs have to be in place to help mitigate the impact by doing the best they can. Disaster preparedness and alertness are definitely in order. Panic is not.

More information about other flus:

1. the Flu (influenza, H3N2):

2. Swine flu (H1N1):

3. Bird Flu (H5N1):

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, March 30, 2006, page 5.

Last edited Oct. 31, 2014


Edible Vaccines From Lettuce, Tomatoes And Other Plants

Can vaccines be taken by mouth (orally)? Yes, we know this from the polio vaccine.

Can vaccines be produced by plants? This does not sound likely, but this is exactly what researchers have already achieved and what they are working on now. A group of researchers under Dr. Robert Rose from the University of Rochester in New York have been working on a number of vaccines with the help of genetic engineering.

The rationale is simple: in developing countries it can be difficult to keep vaccines refrigerated and to administer them by injection in a sterile manner through doctors and nurses. Also, the cost of production can be a major factor with regard to effectiveness of the vaccine on a population basis, if large parts of the community cannot afford the vaccine. For many vaccines to be effective more than 85% of the population have to be vaccinated. Newer research has shown that the protein envelope of a virus, which has a certain surface antigen associated with it, can be broken down into smaller subunits. According to a review article in The Medical Post ( March 4, 2003, page 29) Dr. Rose and his team have isolated the DNA sequence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) envelope in the early 1990’s. They were able to program potatoes to grow the protein subparticles that were immunologically active, but were not infective (no virus activity). In other words after genetic engineering the plant grows a vaccine, which can be safely consumed and the body mounts an immune response to this modified virus protein similar to the polio vaccine, but without a trace of virus.

Edible Vaccines From Lettuce, Tomatoes And Other Plants

Edible Vaccines From Lettuce, Tomatoes And Other Plants

As potatoes have to be cooked before consumption, some of the effectiveness of the vaccine gets lost. The researchers have since concentrated on other plants like apples, bananas, tomatoes and lettuce, which are eaten in the raw state. The various diseases that are being tested at the present time are: hepatitis B, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Norwalk virus, rotavirus and even the measles vaccine.

Dr. Charles Arntzen from the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, has successfully applied the above technology to the production of plant vaccines against the Norwalk virus, the E.coli enterotoxin and hepatitis B in potatoes and tomatoes. He is taking this a step further as he is developing a technique of freeze-drying tomatoes containing the vaccine against the Norwalk virus, which allows the vaccine to be stored for long periods of time. When it is needed, it can be rehydrated and could also be delivered in pill form to vaccinate the population at risk at the time of an epidemic of enteritis the with Norwalk virus.

In summary, the new plant technology of vaccine production allows for much cheaper vaccine manufacturing. It eliminates the problems surrounding sterile injection techniques. The vaccine delivery by mouth allows for a much simpler distribution to a population at risk and can be done by lay persons. Also, a variety of vaccines will be able to be manufactured this way in future. The plant production is similar to the photocopying process where a template (the specific viral protein subparticle) is being copied by the plant. This allows for a number of vaccines against different strains of viruses to be programmed fairly quickly. It is an exciting new technique.

Here is a link to Influenza, which is one of the viral illnesses that can be significantly suppressed by vaccination.

Here is a link that explains the rationale of vaccinations and vaccination schedules.

Last edited October 25, 2014