Tag Archives: virus

Measles: Get A Grip

Mrs. Brady's homegrown vaccination card

Mrs. Brady’s homegrown immunization card – looks like the gang is getting measles!

Oh boy the latest Disneyland measles outbreak is generating some serious name-calling and reprimanding in the newspapers these days and it’s not even limited to the editorials section.

The story is that in January 2015, six people (five unvaccinated) in Southern California came down with measles and they had all been to Disneyland in late December. Since then, the virus has spread to over 100 people. Now there are even 10 cases in Ontario, way up here in Canada and many miles from Disneyland. I guess it really is a small world after all

The way this story is being covered in North America, it sounds like the cause of the outbreak is unvaccinated locals and in particular the parents of unvaccinated children, who are portrayed as selfish, resistant to science and downright stupid.

However the way this story is being covered in Europe is that most likely someone from abroad (Europe, or the Philippines) went to Disneyland and unwittingly spread measles to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, which is much closer to the truth.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE OLD COUNTRY…

There is currently a slightly larger measles outbreak in Germany, instigated most likely by an influx of unvaccinated Bosnian, Herzegovinian and Serbian refugees – but the Germans have totally got a grip and are not overly concerned about it.

In fact, maybe they are eating ice cream and happily watching translated re-runs of the Brady Bunch episode where the whole gosh darn gang gets measles at the same time! (see link at end of post – you have got to watch this episode to see how completely irrational we have become in the last 40 years).

One thing our media refuses to cover is that some of our unvaccinated people may actually be seeking out measles in order to contract and survive the disease – to give themselves guaranteed lifelong immunity, a stronger immune system, greater resistance to various diseases potentially including some cancers, and if they are women to confer immunity to their newborns until they are at least 6 months old.

However when stories of “measles parties” surfaced in January, they were quickly denied as required in a litigious society like Marin County. Although such a media outcome may have disappointed scores of injury lawyers, it may or may not be true. My guess is that “measles parties” have gone the way of raw milk purchases – something you participate in secretly in the shadows.

MEASLES KILLS! SOME PEOPLE!

Let’s get some things straight: measles can be deadly or cause permanent damage if you are exposed to it when you are in the womb, under the age of one-ish, old-ish and weak-ish, chronically malnourished (that can include you, college kids) or suffering from some other issue like auto-immune disease or anything where your immune system is already compromised, including pregnancy.

And if you look at the people who have died, ever, from measles, you will find that these contributing factors were always involved. It is for these people’s sake that we vaccinate the rest of us, just like it is for the peanut-allergic person’s sake that we don’t eat nuts on planes or schools, and for the disabled person’s sake that our building codes enforce ramps and elevators. It may be irritating that we have to avoid peanuts, spend money on ramps and get a couple dozen immunization shots, but all of those irritations are the cost of living in close quarters and being exposed to globalization.

Most people don’t actually die of measles, they die of pneumonia or encephalitis which can also be brought on by scores of other childhood diseases including the flu, colds, herpes and chicken pox, and also from various mosquito-borne viruses. Famously, the children’s author Roald Dahl tragically lost his daughter to encephalitis after she first contracted measles. He led a compelling pro-vaccination movement in England in the 1960s, spearheaded by a very moving letter which I will link to at the end.

At the time, he was certainly acting on the best recommendations and research available. But we’ve learned a lot since then.

I’m no doctor, but 7 year-old Olivia Dahl’s problem might not have been so much that she contracted measles, but that it progressed to encephalitis which killed her. However, eradicating measles will not eradicate encephilitis, as it can be caused by so many other exposures.

A different measure might be to stop measles from progressing to more complicated and dangerous illnesses by the since-proven method of administering high doses of vitamin A and also starting out with adequate nutritional vitamin A levels (source: PubMed).

MEASLES AS A TEACHER

Measles rashBut let’s get something else straight: if you are healthy and properly nourished, it is actually more beneficial to contract measles between the age of 3 – 10-ish than to never contract it at all.

Measles is yet another essential agent in stimulating and teaching young immune systems how to react to greater threats later in life (mechanism works similarly to benefits from parasites, helminths and germ exposure).

Contracting measles has reversed some cancers and has even eliminated a tumor in only two weeks (source:Nature), and prompted pharmaceutical companies to pursue a super-measles “vaccine” as a cancer therapy, which has been used successfully in those patients who didn’t die from the lab-created super-measles. (source: CNN)

So are “anti-vaxxers” really selfish and stupid? In some ways, for sure. But it’s not black and white like that. There is a sweet spot for not vaccinating your kid, and the risk-reward is different for every disease. Since we’re talking about measles though, let’s start there.

If all the adults in the household have either had measles or are up-to-date on their vaccines, you could consider not vaccinating your children for measles. But ideally you also live in a small community of like-minded people, who are super health-conscious, devoted to biodynamic farming and bioavailable vitamin A, and do not plan on traveling the world or going to the Big City.

In addition, you and your community need to have “measles parties” where you force your 3 – 10 year olds to catch measles together and remain quarantined from the younger kids and the pregnant women and oldies. You also want to make sure that no one in your community has any allergies or other immune compromised issues, or at least keep your quarantine very, very tight.

I have to be very clear here: the point of not vaccinating your kid should only be because you intend for them to catch and survive the wild virus. You can’t not vaccinate and then avoid measles – it will catch up to your kids when they are adults and the complications can be much worse, or lethal. In addition, later in life you could catch measles and be a carrier who then goes on to infect vulnerable people.

There is NO BENEFIT to avoiding the vaccine unless you are determined to catch and survive wild measles in your youth. So if “anti-vaxxers” do not intend to give their children wild measles at the appropriate age, then yes I agree they are stupid.

BUT GETTING MEASLES IS HARD NOWADAYS

However even if you do plan to introduce wild measles to your kids,  the isolation of your idyllic community (hell let’s just call it a commune) means that you might have trouble contracting the disease in the first place.

In that event, you may have to fly a few of your commune’s 3 – 10 year olds to Switzerland for a few weeks, or maybe to EuroDisney if that’s even still around. It’s a lot easier to get measles in Europe, and nearly impossible to find it in North America. However it is also nearly impossible to bring your measles infection home on the airplane while simultaneously following adequate quarantine protocols, so this solution creates a huge risk to other people.

A better compromise might be to get your kids a season pass to Disneyland and tell them to seek out European-looking people presenting with a respiratory infection, until they catch wild measles. For all we know, this is just what the “anti-vaxxers” did.

STILL, MEASLES KILLS!

I have to be very clear on another thing: not every 3 – 10 year old survives wild measles!

Things that will help are super nutrition, especially natural fats and fat soluble vitamins like A and D. In fact at the first indication of measles (respiratory infection with white spots in the mouth), anyone should immediately start taking at least 10,000 IU of retinol (vitamin A) every hour for at least three days but probably for the duration of the disease.

There are also herbal preparations that can curtail the cytokine cascade, like Chinese skullcap, houttuynia, ginger and licorice. (Okay post-collapse in Ontario you would have to settle for local wild solutions like blue cohosh rhizome, the invasive kudzu root and elder berry tincture.)

The other question, are “anti-vaxxers” selfish, requires stepping back a little further. In the small picture, it is certainly selfish to risk exposing the young/old/immune compromised to measles knowing that these sick-prone members of the community can literally die or get compilations like brain damage.

However in the much bigger picture, it’s a different story.

WELCOME TO THE BIG PICTURE

If you subscribe to the idea that we are going to suffer through a collapse event in the next 100 years (or much sooner), then these “anti-vaxxers” who expose their children to wild viruses on purpose are in fact preserving a gene pool of potentially higher resistance to plagues and pestilence, and also passing on a learned immune response to disease. If collapse comes for us, the “anti-vaxxers'” immune systems may be better prepared to survive disease, and you might want to consider breeding with them to ensure the viability of your offspring.

Wait, collapse? All civilizations have collapsed, and those that haven’t are simply in the “yet” category. It doesn’t really matter what the cause is, we have so many potentials to choose from: antibacterial resistance, climate change, resource scarcity leading to increased warfare, ecosystem impoverishment, pandemic resulting from factory farming, robot overlord enslavement, financial and political collapse… whatever! The fact is, all civilizations try to squeeze the most out of the short term that they can, and pretend the bigger picture is never gonna happen.

It doesn’t mean civilization won’t come back again; we always do! But your position on vaccinations has to include whether you are willing to sacrifice your genetic lineage for the short-term right to be a beloved member of polite society’s herd immunity protocols. Since most of us live here, in this polite society, we have made the choice to vaccinate our children.

I’m just begging everyone to stop hating the “anti-vaxxers”; those that survive wild measles and respect quarantine protocols are doing a service for the bigger picture post-apocolyptic scenarios. Systems may be more efficient when there is homogeny, however they are safer and more durable when there is diversity.

The “anti-vaxxers” are that diversity for us, because if they are doing it right, they are catching diseases and developing immunities and then passing those learned responses along to their children. When the next pandemic hits, they will fare better than us and basically inherit the earth.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MEASLES?

We are the ebola bats in this case, harboring pestilence! We can successfully live with measles! Although we don’t have any predators or species left who might encroach on us, measles may have helped us deal with encroachment in the past. For example you can spread measles to your pet monkey by coughing on him. Likewise a primate invading your territory could tear your body to bits and feast on your raw, measles-infected flesh and then catch and spread measles to his invading brethren, which would be more virulent in his species than in humans.

And who knows? Maybe an alien army will land on our planet and try to invade us. All we have to do is expose them to our measles and they will drop like flies, having no ability to survive it nor create natural immunity as we do. Alien attack = thwarted!

WHAT YOU CAN DO

If you come down with measles tomorrow and you are not in a particularly high risk group (not pregnant, not auto-immune, not an oldie etc), then there is nothing that a doctor will do for you except advise rest and fluids, and there is nothing a hospital will do for you except give you an IV of sugar water so you don’t get dehydrated.

If your case progresses or you are in a high risk group, you may be treated to pharmaceutical antivirals and anti-inflammatories which should limit the disease. The doctors will probably not ask about or test your vitamin A levels. However here is my quick checklist for a nutritional approach to vitamin A:

  • do you take cod liver oil?
  • do you eat liver or pate at least once a week?
  • do you add generous amounts of grass-fed butter to your diet?
  • if you eat dairy, is it always high fat, grass-fed (organic) versions?
  • do you eat fish and eggs at least a couple times a week?
  • do you always add butter or natural fat to yellow and orange vegetables?
  • do you always add butter or natural fat to green leafy vegetables?

If you can honestly answer yes to most of those bullets, then you are going to coast through measles. If you are missing more than three of those bullets however, then you have probably also noticed that you get sick frequently and have trouble fighting off viruses. In addition, your long term health will suffer.

Low-fat vegetarians in particular are at risk of low levels of vitamin A. There is some dogma that suggests beta-carotene in yellow and orange vegetables, and also in green leafy vegetables, is a good enough pre-cursor to vitamin A. Part of that depends on how the vegetables are prepared (for example, steaming carrots increases the bio-availablility of beta-carotene whereas it is virtually locked up in a raw carrot), but also on whether or not they are consumed along with fat.

Vitamin A is a “fat soluble vitamin”, which means if you consume vegetables high in beta-carotene without fat you are essentially wasting them.

Now let’s say your diet checks out just fine, but now you have measles. The very first thing to do is start taking at least 200,000 IU of vitamin A for at least two days and probably for the duration of your illness. The cheapest and easiest way to administer this mega dose is with synthetic Vitamin A capsules (retinol). I would start with 20,000 IU (two pills) every hour for the first five hours and then reduce to 10,000 IU every hour for the remaining ten or so waking hours. Then I would repeat the next day and every day after that.

Mega-doses of vitamin A prevent the measles virus from replicating. (source: Pubmed) Taking vitamin D, say 6000 IU per day, will help protect you from the mega dose of vitamin A. And taking vitamin C, say another 1000mg every hour, will add antiviral power.

In addition, there were the herbs I mentioned earlier and there are some homeopathic protocols that people rave about.

But these nutritional and herbal additions are not the only interventions you are going to have to make…

QUARANTINE COURTESY

So now let’s take a moment and talk about quarantine. You may know logically that when someone in your household gets sick you are supposed to quarantine them, but chances are you have been playing fast and loose with this rule.

Do you sleep in a separate bed from your spouse when he’s sick? Do you use separate toilets? Good for you if you do, but not everyone lives in a palace with all these extra beds and toilets, so it may not be possible.

My point is that we have become super casual about sickness, as if 4 inches of space and super-high thread-count sheets is enough of a quarantine. Frankly I don’t care if you quarantine during the cold or flu – in fact I prefer if everyone goes for it and gets sick together, has intense symptoms and then recovers with the resulting stronger immune system. Again, this can be a risk if anyone in your household is less than one, pregnant, super old or already compromised. However we should at least understand the basics of quarantine in case a more serious disease emerges in our households.

Fly this Quarantine flag if you want people to leave you alone

Fly this Quarantine flag if you want people to leave you alone

The word quarantine is loosely derived from the Italian “forty days”, which is how long ships had to remain isolated before coming to shore during the various plague, yellow fever, smallpox and cholera years. Sanitation

The town of Leicester in England perfected land-based quarantine in the late 1800s with their “Leicester Method”, which they employed in lieu of mandatory smallpox vaccinations. A doctor would investigate any initial cases, get full reports on travel and whereabouts and then contact each and every potential person who had been exposed, and ask them to voluntarily quarantine.

Quarantine could take place in a hospital or in the person’s home, and it was shown that there were better results by keeping the infected people isolated in their own homes due to segregation and reduced travel.

Further elements of the Leicester Method included thoroughly sanitizing the home, maintaining civic sanitation standards, and burning exposed clothing and bedding when necessary. Quarantines for smallpox lasted 14 days.

QUARANTINE WORKS

Just last year a village of 30,000 people in China was quarantined after a 38 year-old man died of the bubonic plague. Yes, I said the freaking bubonic plague in 2014!  He caught it from an infected marmot that he cut up to feed his dog. No one else was infected, and after about a week the quarantine was lifted.

I think quarantine is an essential skill, and requires far more empathy and courtesy for others than just relying on a vaccine.

THE BC CASE: FIRST GENOTYPING TO DETERMINE MEASLES STRAIN

Consider that in the fall of 2013 in British Columbia, the MMR vaccine itself was at last shown to actually cause measles (source: Eurosurveillance). In most cases where vaccinated children acquire measles, it is assumed that they caught the wild virus and that for some reason their vaccine didn’t take.

However in this case in British Columbia, for the first time genotyping was performed to determine that the infecting measles strain was not wild but from the vaccine itself, and infected the toddler a full 5 weeks after she had been vaccinated.

Obviously this begs the question, should MMR-vaccinated children be self-quarantined for at least 5 or 6 weeks? Is there a way to tell who is and isn’t shedding the virus? Is there a way to tell who is and isn’t susceptible to vaccine-virus shedding?

Could there be more sense in requiring recently vaccinated children to stay home from school and self-quarantine than requiring unvaccinated children to do so? Is there any chance that would ever happen? Of course not.

OUR CRUDE INTERVENTIONS

Vaccines are an awesome idea – I mean there are so many wretched diseases out there that may have been prevented by this invention.

In addition to the many regular vaccinations I have received, I also did a slew of them before an extended trip around Nepal, Thailand and Laos. After all of these various shots, I had no adverse reactions and then proceeded not to catch the diseases I was vaccinated for. From my experience and point of view, vaccines have not been a problem and may have even been a lifesaver, or at least given me the convenience of traveling without catching typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis or yellow fever.

The alternative might have meant being bitten by a Laotian mosquito, catching Yellow Fever, and in the best case recovering after a few days despite a yellow cast of jaundice. Next I might have caught Japanese Encephalitis from a different mosquito living near domestic pigs or herons. In that best case I may have avoided the acute brain swelling which leads to retardation and death, and perhaps started to feel better after 5 days. Only next to catch typhoid from essentially eating bacteria-infected feces in food. This best case scenario would be roughing it out for a few weeks without antibiotics, or for about a week with antibiotics.  So even the best case scenario with catching all of these diseases would have made my trip much more expensive and uncomfortable.

The benefit, if you’ll let me call it that, would have been that then I would have developed real life-long immunity to those diseases and could thereafter travel with much more impunity. Of course, I also could have died of those diseases, which would have sucked harder.

And so because of our profound fear of dying and our nearly as profound fear of being inconvenienced, we have this wonderful invention of vaccines.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our vaccines are just a crude hack on our immune system, and an incomplete, transient and sometimes dangerous hack at that. Vaccines are viruses made benign (attenuated). They aren’t supposed to make you sick, but they are meant to stimulate the humoral immune system just enough that it will create antibodies.

The whole faith in vaccines is based on the idea that synthetically increasing antibodies confers immunity.

DOES IT?

From as long ago as 1974, it was well-documented that antibodies were in fact not required to survive the measles virus – survival was dependent on the “other arm” of the immune system, known as the cell-mediated response. In P.J. Lachmann’s paper “Immunopathology of Measles“, he writes:

“Thus, children with antibody deficiency syndromes (specific deficiencies of the B cell system) have quite unremarkable attacks of measles with the characteristic rash and normal recovery. Furthermore, they are not unduly prone to reinfection. It therefore seems that serum antibody, at any rate in any quantity, is not required for the production of measles rash; nor for the normal recovery from the disease; nor to prevent reinfection. Nevertheless, as has already been discussed, there is no doubt that antibody given passively can provide a perfectly adequate protection against measles infection. Anti-measles antibody thus provides a sufficient but not a necessary mechanism for anti-measles immunity.”

So the measles vaccine works, but it’s not in the usual way the body chooses to create immunity. It is a hack that has been adopted around the world without considering the consequences of ignoring the essential role of cell-mediated immunity, the other arm of the immune system.

This research is ongoing, though more subtly in mice. Recent studies confirm that no antibodies at all are required to confer immunity. While humoral B-cells (which produce antibodies) are essential at fighting off viral infection, it appears they can do it independently of actually producing antibodies.

In other words, maybe the source of “immunity” is further upstream and more complicated than just downstream antibodies. (source: PubMed study on mice bred with B-cells that don’t make antibodies). In addition, many people continue to suffer from diseases despite having been vaccinated for them and having created adequate antibodies against them. (source: PubMed paper on severe tetanus cases in people despite high antibodies against it).

HOW DOES NATURAL IMMUNITY WORK?

To create a lasting and legacy immunity, both arms of the immune system need to be stimulated – the humoral as well as the cell-mediated response – but the most essential one is the cell-mediated response. Cell-mediated immunity is the system of white blood cells that attack pathogens and also create the feelings of sickness inside you – from fevers to rashes to inflammations, and this also has to evolve with every pathogen.

At this point in time, a guaranteed immunity can only be generated by responding to an actual disease. Immunization is a word that specifically means you have cell-mediated immunity to a disease; it is not the same as mere vaccination or introduction of serum antibodies. However the words immunization and vaccination are frequently bandied about the by the government, the media and the CDC as if they are equally powerful actions. They are not even close.

Another day, I will get into what the possible consequences could be of filling people with viral antibodies without teaching their bodies the corresponding cell-mediated response. While the viral antibodies (vaccinations) can prevent specific diseases, they are simultaneously dumbing down the cell-mediated immune system. Now that’s an interesting conversation!

In the meantime, understand that cell-mediated immunity is the kind of immune system you want to pass on to your children, provided you can survive the diseases that teach it.

And that’s a tough lesson, but it should be your takeaway:

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 

—————————

FURTHER READING

Why is Germany So Calm About Its Measles Outbreak?” – The Atlantic, February 2015

Is There a Doctor In The House?” – The Brady Bunch episode from early 1970s where the whole family comically succumbs to the measles and is generally treated with ice cream sundaes

Roald Dahl’s moving letter to implore parents to vaccinate their children against measles as a way of preventing the complications of measles.

Vitamin A prevents the measles virus from replicating by up-regulating elements of the innate immune response in uninfected bystander cells.

Read about The Leicester Method of quarantine, which proved more effective against mortality than the early smallpox vaccine.

Bubonic plague kills man in China, and whole town is appropriately quarantined – 2014.

Case report of a 2013 B.C. measles infection caused 37 days after a toddler was given the MMR vaccination, and genotyped to show that her infection was the same strain as the vaccination, and therefore a direct result of the vaccination.

Mice bred with B-cells that don’t make antibodies survive deathly virus despite not having antibodies – are antibodies as essential as we thought?

So many cases like this, but here’s Severe Tetanus in people regardless that they were vaccinated and created strong antibodies.

And finally, please re-read my review of “An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Auto-Immune Disease” for a recap on how childhood infections with parasites, helminths and germs informs the immune system and prevents auto-immune diseases and allergies later in life.

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Ebola Big Picture

colobus

Western Red Colobus Monkey, Cote d’Ivoire

Here we go again, spending millions and millions of dollars on symptoms of a viral epidemic without bothering to look at the cause.

Let’s say we actually manage to raise enough money so that every victim of Ebola gets a quarantined bed, a chance at an antidote or at least compassionate palliative care – where does that lead? The next obvious step in the medical industrial complex is to create another vaccination that can be sold around the world and mandated so that we have global herd immunity from this deadly virus.

If this seems like the best case scenario to you, then you are firmly stuck in a world view that chases symptoms without considering cause. And your money, your effort and your worry will always be chasing the next batch of symptoms because the cause is never going to be addressed.

WHAT’S THAT NOW?

What is the biological purpose of a virus? The medical industrial complex, and the media, would have us believe that viruses are simply a form of abstract evil unleashed in the world, and that our only response is to fight their aberrant evil.

This overlooks the fact that viruses have a purpose. They are some of the oldest life forms and they are sophisticated and wise with experience of the world. All life forms contract viruses, parasites, helminths and various types of pathogens from time to time. In fact it is so necessary for us to encounter these pathogens, that if we don’t, our immune systems fail to develop properly which results in auto-immune system diseases (immature immune system attacks itself) or chronically weak immune systems, which of course leads to premature death.

As viruses are living like us (though often dormant), their plan is to reproduce and stay alive. This doesn’t work very well when their host dies. Over a very, very long timeframe, if a virus doesn’t completely kill off its host species first, it will eventually adapt and change (in response to the host’s immune system adapting and changing) so that the host can stay alive and the virus can remain in place (though again often dormant), but kept in check by antibodies that have been developed by the host.

But let me get back on track with my statement that viruses have a purpose, because it’s hard to see through the media’s frenzied terror of Ebola that it could serve a purpose.

THE ROLE OF EBOLA

The Ebola we are dealing with right now has adapted to live in some African fruit bats and Western Colobus monkeys without killing them. This immunity would have taken thousands of years to establish. In both cases, the virus offers each species a protection against excess predation.

Specifically, Ebola offers a unique benefit to the Western Colobus monkeys – as a shield against chimpanzee attacks. Chimpanzees only go after colobus monkeys to display dominance for the purpose of attracting a mate or upending hierarchies, not as a staple source of food. These displays seem to occur rarely enough that the two species can both survive alongside each other. However when the habitat of the chimpanzees and the colobus monkeys is shrunk or stressed, the chimpanzees become increasingly aggressive against the monkeys; at that point, the Ebola virus comes out to save the day (for the colobus monkeys, anyway).

In a stressed habitat, when chimpanzees over-prey on colobus monkeys, the virus makes itself active and infects the chimpanzees. This is a very elegant way for a small monkey to attack a larger primate. While the Ebola virus has little effect on the colobus monkey, it is absolutely deadly in the chimpanzees.

Upon eating infected monkey meat, a chimpanzee will recognize its illness (often before exhibiting symptoms) and isolate itself from its tribe. Usually the chimpanzee goes off into the forest by itself and curls up to die. These dead chimpanzees can be found with internal organs reduced to mush and blood. In fact this is exactly what happened in 1994 when researchers discovered that 25% of the wild chimpanzee population they had been studying in Taï National Park, Cote d’Ivoire, suddenly died or disappeared.

At that time, a human researcher also contracted Ebola from a dead chimpanzee she was autopsying. Incredibly, she was given supportive care and managed to survive. It is unknown whether she contracted a very light variant or whether she had an incredible immune system, but it is very rare to survive a viral attack like Ebola when it first jumps species. Usually neither the virus nor the immune system has the time to evolve antibodies at first jump, so she was extremely fortunate.

Eventually, with enough time, a vibrant population of wild chimpanzees would also adapt and learn to live with Ebola. But while their habitats remain intact and they only rarely cross paths with the colobus monkeys, this adaptation will not be forced. In fact there are too few chimpanzees left in the wild for this adaptation to ever be successful at this point. Rather, if chimpanzees and colobus monkeys are forced into close enough quarters with enough confrontations, the few bands of chimpanzees left will simply all succumb to Ebola.

chimpanzee

SAME SAME THROUGHOUT HISTORY

This happens with all viruses. The Black Plague was originally so destructive that it would consume its host in a matter of days; there are reports of victims going to bed healthy and never waking up because the plague acted on them so quickly (those were the lucky ones). Incidentally although the Black Plague started as a bubonic plague spread by marmots in China, it mutated into a respiratory-style Ebola-like virus, which is how it was able to spread so quickly throughout Europe.

However eventually, after some 200 million human deaths globally and over centuries of infection and adaptation, the virus that started the Black Plague evolved with its human hosts into an illness that was survivable. In fact everyone on Earth today is here because our ancestors were able to evolve their immune systems enough to create and pass on the antibodies to tolerate and live in harmony with that particular viral strain from the 1300s. Nice work, ancestors. (Actually there is a longer story here about natural selection for a gene that was immune to viral plagues, but it plays out to the same basic tune).

While one particular antibody is really only associated with one particular strain of virus, an inherited antibody can at least inform the immune system on creating and evolving new antibodies for new viruses. This is an intelligent system that needs to be challenged to evolve in every generation. In the absence of inherited antibodies, the immune system has less information to draw on. Consider that for a minute, because our whole world view of artificial immunizations does not account for what we are losing by not passing on our collective inherited antibodies.

(As a side note, artificial immunizations or vaccines stimulate the humoral immune system – the part that creates antibodies. While this is a totally brilliant biohack, that’s all it is – an artificial hack which confers temporary and transient resistance. To create a lasting and legacy immunity, both sides of the immune system need to be stimulated – the humoral as well as the cell-mediated response. Cell-mediated immunity is the system of white blood cells that attack the pathogens and also create the feelings of sickness inside you, and this also has to evolve with every pathogen. At this point in time, a total immunity can only be generated by responding to an actual disease. This is the kind of immune system intel you want to pass on to your children, provided you can survive the diseases that teach it).

GET TO THE POINT

So what is the point of a virus? A virus wants to replicate. It wants to keep its host alive and will confer benefits to the host for the opportunity (like killing predatory chimpanzees).

What is the biological purpose of Ebola? Ebola protects African fruit bats from habitat encroachment and over-predation. Ebola protects Western Colobus monkeys from over-predation by chimpanzees when their habitats become unstable. In turn, Ebola spreads from bats and chimpanzees to humans when humans encroach on their habitat. In short, the way to end Ebola is not by coming up with a vaccine. The way to end Ebola is to stop encroaching on chimpanzee habitat.

butchered

Maybe we should stop butchering chimpanzees

If you don’t think you have anything to do with this, then maybe you have never used a prescription medication in your life – tested on kidnapped chimpanzees and other primates. We may not be the ones specifically encroaching on chimpanzee habitat or stressing their populations, but everything we do in the West to ensure our comfort and continuity seems to indirectly lead there.

Ebola is not unique in this way. Responding to habitat encroachment is simply what viruses do, and there are millions of them in the world laying dormant waiting to act. The logical solution is to restore wild habitats all around the world.

However the more economically exciting solution is to keep extracting resources from habitats while simultaneously developing vaccinations for countless viruses on the horizon, and then selling them around the world and enforcing herd immunity. So of course that is what we will do, to great profit.

The big picture is that a vaccine against Ebola is really just a way of buying more time to continue with habitat destruction and resource extraction. If you want to help or raise money, the best thing you can do is direct it towards saving and restoring habitat. Any habitat will do, as viruses aren’t choosy. However the damp, wet jungle habitats seem to release the deadliest viral pathogens when disturbed.

If you are too cynical to believe that saving or restoring habitat is in the cards anymore, then you can at least prepare yourself for a future with higher incidence of viral pandemics. In the case of a viral pandemic, the last place you will want to venture is a hospital or clinic – which will always be the ground zero for viruses and their adaptations, and are also fraught with bacterial super bugs from antibiotic resistance. So in a world where you can’t get your hands on any medical drugs or care, potentially, you will need to know what foods and plants can confer some antiviral assistance to your immune system.

LET’S DO A LIST

  1. Vitamin A deficiency is linked to higher death rates from all diseases. This is precisely why children in the third world die of measles but rarely do in the first world. Vitamin A is in liver and organ meats, butter, egg yolks, cod liver oil and a slightly less bio-available form in orange and yellow vegetables and fruits. IF YOU SUDDENLY COME DOWN WITH EBOLA OR A SIMILAR DEADLY VIRUS, take at least 200,000 IU for 2 – 4 days, spaced out 10,000 IU every hour. I am basing this recommendation on World Health Organization treatment for malnourished measles sufferers; however they only did 2 days of doses at 200,000 IU in their tests. Later trials showed even more reliable results with 400,000 IU over 2 days. Synthetic vitamin A gets pretty toxic quickly, but it will do the trick in a pinch. Even better news, Vitamin A is super cheap! (Remember not to take synthetic vitamin A when pregnant – basically only take this if your alternative is dying from Ebola). Also:
  2. Super doses of Vitamin C or ascorbic acid are incredibly active against viruses. Low doses (1000mg/day) are routinely tested and shown to do nothing. High doses are similarly tested and proven useless, when administered all at once (because the excess is “peed out”). We can only metabolize about 750mg/hour. In the case of any viral illness, take 1000mg/hour for the duration. If you don’t have supplements (hello Apocolypse) and you live in the north like me – you can substitute pine needle tips, cedar tips, sumach and small herbs like sheep sorrel – though you will need a lot.
  3. Antiviral foods like coconut oil, ginger, cayenne, honey and royal jelly – and herbs like Chinese skullcap, licorice, lomatium, cordyceps, isatis, astragalus, boneset, elder, houttuynia. There are lots of others, find out what is in your specific area.
  4. I don’t really want to get into the whole vaccine debate, not at all. But certain childhood infections like measles and mumps seem to confer benefits like lower chance of ovarian cancer and lymphatic cancers, among other things. There may be a price to pay for our vaccine hack, and the price might be weakened, immature immune systems and an eroded immunization legacy to pass on to our children. It could be that after a few generations of vaccines, all our collective immune system work to evolve beyond the Black Plague is for nothing. On a more practical note:
  5. When you and your children get sick, allow yourselves to get sick. Don’t mask the symptoms as far as you are able. Those bad feelings (fever, stuffy nose, cough, congestion, runny eyes) are the result of your cell-mediated immune system firing up white blood cells to attack the invading pathogen. If you suppress the symptoms, you suppress the cell-mediated response and stifle the precious experiential learning that your immune system requires. You can boost the immune system with nutrients and herbs, but don’t suppress the symptoms. (Of course if your fever runs dangerously high, do something about it. You obviously need to live through these experiences for them to be any good to you.)
  6. Try to find some wild habitat near you and examine it. Is it really very wild? Are there very many insects, birds and animals? Are there any large predators, which are the keystone species? Cultivate a reverence for these wild spaces and you might be a little closer to understanding the big picture.

For everyone who doesn’t take the time to respect their wild habitats, there will be an #AndNowIHaveEbola hashtag at the ready. You can count on it.

FURTHER READING

Again, I only post links at the end of my write-ups because of research from the book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, which I reviewed here.

Details on the Ebola Outbreak Among Chimpanzees in Cote D’Ivoire 1994, Journal of Infectious Diseases

Detail about the surviving ethologist who contracted Ebola in 1994, Journal of Infectious Diseases

My post on a Quick and Dirty Antiviral, with links to further reading

Treating third world children with measles with inexpensive, high dose Vitamin A – from the Committee on Infectious Disease at the American Academy of Pediatrics

Why You Are Still Alive – the Immune System Explained, a great info cartoon on youtube

New research on the Plague/Black Death as an Ebola style virus, Biology of Plague: Evidence from Historical Populations by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan

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