The possible threat of a global epidemic of avian influenza depends on the convergence of several interrelated factors:
- the appearance of virulent strains in Asian domestic fowl (chickens, ducks, geese) with occasional spread to their human handlers, coupled with a high mortality rate, approaching 50% in some areas;
- its rapid transmission across Eurasia by migratory birds;
- the proven ability of influenza viruses to produce mutant strains capable of human-to-human transmission, causing worldwide epidemics in the past;
- their short incubation period (2-3 days at most), which spreads them more rapidly than large-scale preventive measures can easily keep up with;
- the limited effectiveness of standard antiviral drugs against them;
- the triple necessity of developing a new vaccine every year with enough specificity to be effective, of producing it in sufficient quantity for large populations, and of distributing it in time to do any good;
- and the lack of adequate hospital beds, trained personnel, and outpatient facilities to administer vaccines or treat severe cases on a nationwide scale.
This special Advisory is meant to address this important but still hypothetical threat. It is in no sense a plea or recommendation that people choose homeopathic treatment in lieu of standard public health measures or effective vaccines when they become available. It is intended solely to inform the public and the medical community about a simple method for the prevention and treatment of epidemic diseases that is safe and inexpensive and has repeatedly proven its worth in the past.It calls for a modest three-tiered strategy that is well within the capability of any region or locality acting on its own, without any need for Federal assistance or the quota of unwanted surveillance and red tape that usually comes with it.Level 1. Prevention in Advance of the Outbreak.The first level is prevention in advance of the outbreak, or in its earliest stages, when the first documented or reported cases appear in the vicinity. If the specific vaccine is not yet available in sufficient quantity, either of two common homeopathic medicines may offer a measure of protection for a period of weeks or months, and may be taken with perfect safety by anyone. The first is called Influenzinum, the medicine or nosode prepared from the virus itself, and may be taken in the 30C (30th centesimal) dilution, roughly as follows: 3 doses within a 24-hour period (waking, bedtime, waking), repeated weekly until the outbreak passes.Although the mutability of the virus limits the efficacy of any medicine previously prepared from it, even from the deadly 1918 strain, it has had a good track record in the regular annual epidemics since then. For bird flu in particular, an even better alternative might be the medicine prepared from duck heart and liver, because ducks are one of the main reservoirs of the virulent strain, and the medicine has nothing to do with the microbiology of the virus, but only with the reaction of its animal host to it. It is available OTC from several different manufacturers, under a variety of trade names, such as Oscillococcinum (Boiron Labs), and may be taken in the 200C dilution, on roughly the same schedule as the nosode. It has proven highly effective in preventing influenza if begun at or before the time of exposure, and also works quite well for incipient cases if given early enough.Level 2. Preventive Treatment in the Early Stages of the Disease.Once the disease has broken out in the vicinity, homeopathic physicians are trained to examine each case individually and prescribe the one medicine that corresponds most closely to the unique symptom-picture of that patient as a whole. After 15 to 20 cases are treated in this fashion, one medicine will usually stand out as having been extremely beneficial to about 75% of the cases, both in alleviating the intensity of the symptoms and in speeding the recovery and thus shortening the course of the disease. Once identified as the basic medicine or genus epidemicus for the outbreak as a whole, it may be given out prophylactically to everyone at the time of exposure, or beforehand when the disease is nearby. It will also do great service in treating early or incipient cases.