began to flow out of Mexico in April 2009 that over 150 deaths
suspected to have been caused by a new strain of influenza commonly
referred to as swine flu. Though few cases of this influenza
were first identified in mid-April 2009 in California, it was
soon followed thereafter in Texas and Mexico. Scientists who
examined the flu announced that this was a new strain of Influenza
A (H1N1) derived partly from swine flu, partly from human
flu and partly from avian flu strains. The two bits of information
released in succession created a global panic.
This panic had three elements. The first related to the global
nature of this disease, given that flu spread easily and modern
transportation flows mean containment is impossible. Second,
there were concerns that this flu would have a high mortality
rate. And third, the panic centered on the mere fact that this
disease was the ‘flu’.
News of this new strain triggered memories of the 1918-1919
flu pandemic, sparking fears that the “Spanish flu”
that struck at the end of World War I would be repeated. In
addition, the scare over avian flu created a sense of foreboding
about influenza — a sense that a catastrophic outbreak
was imminent. Of the three pandemics that occurred in the 1900s,
two involved reassorted viruses, but none were reassortants
with swine viruses (Table 1).
Within a week, the disease was being reported
around the world. It became clear that the disease was spreading,
and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on 11th of
June 2009, a Phase 5 pandemic alert (Figure 1). A Phase 5 alert
meant that a global pandemic is imminent, and that the virus
proved capable of sustained human-to-human transmission and
infecting geographically disparate populations.
Figure 1: Phases of pandemic influenza
To the medical mind, the word “pandemic” denotes
a disease occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting
an exceptionally high proportion of the population. Thus, to
get a clear view, let us go through some general information
about influenza A viruses.
· Influenza A viruses are negative-sense single-stranded
RNA viruses and belong to the family Orthomyxoviridae and the
genus Influenza virus A.
· There are 16 different HA antigens (H1 to H16) and
nine different NA antigens (N1 to N9) for influenza A.
· Human disease historically has been caused by three
subtypes of HA (H1, H2, and H3) and two subtypes of NA (N1 and
N2). More recently, human disease has been recognized to be
caused by additional HA subtypes, including H5, H7, and H9 (all
from avian origin).
· All of these subtypes have been found in birds, and
birds are the primordial reservoir for influenza A viruses.
· Several subtypes have been found in pigs also. A recent
molecular analysis of the H1N1 virus demonstrated that the virus
possesses a distinctive evolutionary trait that may be characteristic
in pig-human interspecies transmission of influenza A.
Transmission & Incubation
· H1N1 virus is transmitted in ways similar to other
influenza viruses, including large-particle respiratory droplet
transmission; transmission via aerosols is also important.
· The estimated incubation period is unknown and could
range from 1 to 7 days, although the incubation period for most
cases will likely range from 1 to 4 days.
The recent swine flu experience raises the question of how one
would attempt to grapple with a genuine high-mortality pandemic
with major consequences. The answer divides into two parts:
how to control the spread, and how to deploy treatments.
Any time such threats are recognized, they already are beyond
containment. The virus is faster than news of the virus. The
flu virus is widely present in two species other than humans,
namely, birds and pigs. The history of the disease is the history
of its transmission within and across these three species. It
is comparatively easy for the disease to transmit from swine
to birds and from swine to humans; the bird-to-human barrier
is the most difficult to cross.
Cross-species influenza is of particular concern. In the simplest
terms, viruses are able to recombine (e.g., human flu and avian
flu can merge into a hybrid flu strain). What comes out can
be flu transmissible to humans, but with a physical form that
is distinctly avian — meaning it fails to alert human
immune systems to the intrusion. This can rob the human immune
system of the ability to quickly recognize the disease and put
up a fight.
Thus in all at least 214 countries and territories reported
H1N1 activity. The cumulative number of deaths from pandemic
H1N1 influenza reported to WHO regional offices as on Aug 1,
2010, was at least 18,449, a total WHO acknowledges significantly
understates the actual number.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that from April
2009 to March 13, 2010 in the U.S. there were between:
· 43 million and 88 million cases of 2009 H1N1
· 192,000 and 398,000 H1N1-related hospitalizations
· 8,720 and 18,050 2009 H1N1-related deaths
The CDC has maintained that actual data on hospitalizations
and deaths is grossly under-reported. Data is gained from laboratory-confirmed
outcomes and unfortunately that includes “incomplete testing,
inaccurate test results, or diagnosis that attribute hospitalizations
and deaths to other causes, for example, secondary complications
In India the cumulative figure for laboratory confirmed cases
is 33783 since April, 2009 till date out of which a total of
1624 deaths. But recently there is an increased incidence since
June 2010 in few states. During the 1st week of July 2010, there
have been 178 cases of laboratory confirmed H1N1 infection with
8 deaths alone in Kerala State alone.
At present persistent viral activity is limited to areas in
South Asia, particularly India and New Zealand, and a few areas
of tropical South and Central America.
Present Status: H1N1 in post-pandemic period
On 10th August 2010, WHO declared that the world is no longer
in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. This does not mean that
the H1N1 virus has gone away. Based on experience with past
pandemics, it is expected that the H1N1 virus will take on the
behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate
for some years to come. Based on available evidence and experience
from past pandemics, it is likely that the virus will continue
to cause serious disease in younger age groups, at least in
the immediate post-pandemic period. Groups identified during
the pandemic at higher risk of severe or fatal illness will
probably remain at heightened risk, though hopefully the number
of such cases will diminish.
Many government bodies around the world had recommended H1N1
influenza vaccine to protect against getting sick. Besides the
challenges of production, distribution and effective administration
of medications on a scale never attempted before, the main concern
rests in the statistics of developed vaccinations. By the end
of Feb. 2010, an estimated 72 – 81 million people had
been vaccinated against 2009 H1N1. Unfortunately with a population
of 300 million in the United States alone, many people are still
susceptible particularly as 2009 H1N1 is still circulating.
Experts have always generated fears about an H1N1 swine flu
mutation. This is not uncommon; viruses mutate to survive and
the H1N1 seasonal virus (not the same as the H1N1 swine flu),
has built up a resistance to Tamiflu as seen in 75 cases worldwide
reports WHO .
Many people have reservations when it comes to getting the swine
flu vaccine, and some of the big ones include whether to get
a vaccine or not and what are the side effects from getting
a swine flu vaccine. Some of the major drawbacks of Swine flu
vaccination are as follows:-
Regarding History of Flu vaccination
· The 1976 swine flu outbreak’s vaccine caused
about 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), resulting
in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people,
probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the vaccine.1
5,000 people sought benefits for vaccine injuries.
· This past June, HHS Secretary Sebelius invoked manufacturer
immunity to lawsuits resulting from any new swine flu vaccine,
removing incentive for vaccine manufacturers to take all available
safety precautions along with any civil remedy for those who
will inevitably be harmed—an alarming concern, since serious
adverse events occur with the widespread use of any vaccine.
Regarding Reliability of Vaccine
· Vaccine manufacturer Baxter recently shipped vaccines
with live avian flu virus to 18 countries, which could have
launched a global pandemic. Experts say that given the Bio-level
safety 3 protocols Baxter employs, it is virtually impossible
for the cross contamination to have been the mistake Baxter
· Peer-reviewed studies show that seasonal flu vaccines
have been of virtually no benefit to babies, children with asthma,
adults, or the elderly . Tom Jefferson, a Cochrane Collaboration
epidemiologist who “knows the flu vaccine literature better
than anyone else on the planet” says the vast majority
of flu studies favoring vaccination were deeply flawed.
Regarding reservations of authorities and experts about
the H1N1 Vaccine
· Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s flu chief, warned
about the potential dangers of the untested vaccines: “There
are certain areas where you simply do not try to make any economies.
One of the things which cannot be compromised is the safety
· Arthur Schafer, director of the University of Manitoba’s
Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, says that rushing
the H1N1 vaccine for fall is unethical, and that the public
should be informed about its uncertain safety and effectiveness.
· The Czech Republic has refused Baxter’s swine
flu vaccine over safety concerns.
· The Lancet recently stated: “Countries need to
assess carefully the risks and benefits of the rapid approval
of a human swine flu vaccine to avoid the repeat of past problems
· World Health Organization officials have warned that
H1N1 vaccines may be unsafe.
· Drug Policy Researcher Alan Cassels and Professional
Ethics Director Arthur Schafer recently questioned the safety
and effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine.
· German parliament and European Council health committee
chair Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg has warned of possible cancer and
other side effects from the H1N1 vaccines worse than the swine
Regarding questions on pandemic flu policy
· University of Ottawa Professor of Economics and Director
of the Centre for Research on Globalization makes a convincing
case that swine flu data has been deliberately manipulated to
justify the current worldwide public health emergency.
· A CBS News exclusive study of state results found that
H1N1 is not nearly as prevalent as feared—that most people
diagnosed as probably or presumed H1N1 probably did not.
Objections by public and healthcare workers to flu vaccination
· One-third of UK nurses polled say they will refuse
the vaccine over safety issues, while another third are unsure
(8-18-09). Half of Hong Kong health care workers say they’ll
refuse the swine flu vaccine (8-26-09). 65% of French healthcare
workers will refuse the swine flu vaccines over safety concerns
(9-24-09). Healthcare workers in NY obtained a restraining order
to prevent enforcement of the state health department’s
directive that health care workers be vaccinated against swine
flu and seasonal flu. Two U.S. polls reveal that a majority
of Americans do not want the swine flu vaccine; one reveals
a majority think there is no swine flu emergency, despite President
Homoeopathy: A Safer and Proven Alternative
Homoeopathy, since its discovery has been used successfully
in treating epidemic conditions like cholera, scarlet fever,
purpura miliaris, influenza, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis,
chicken pox. Hahnemann administered Belladonna during an epidemic
of scarlet fever in 1800 with very high success rate enough
to baffle the physicians of the conventional school. Hahnemann
also used Camphora, Cuprum met., and Veratrum album in the treatment
of Asiatic cholera epidemic and Cuprum met. for prevention of
Homoeopathic medicines used by homoeopathic physicians in USA
in the treatment during 1918-1919 influenza epidemics were highly
successful. In 1921, W.A. Dewey., published the positive role
of homoeopathic medicines in a paper published in the Journal
of the American Institute of Homeopathy entitled “Homeopathy
in Influenza – A Chorus of Fifty in Harmony”. In
Philadelphia 26,795 cases of influenza were treated by homeopathic
physicians and had a mortality rate of 1.05% as compared to
the mortality rate of 30 % when treated with conventional medicines.
In Connecticut, only 55 deaths (<1%) were recorded out of
the 6,602 cases treated. Dr. Wieland reported influenza in 8000
workers with only one death in a factory in Chicago. Most of
the patients were treated with Gelsemium, Arsenicum album, Phosphorus,
Several clinical studies have been conducted worldwide which
shows the effectiveness of homoeopathic medicines in epidemic
diseases like whooping cough with Pertussin 30, Leptospira nosode
200 CH in leptospirosis infection, Meningococcal disease in
Brazil with individualized homoeopathic medicines in the year
1974, Eupatorium perfoliatum 200 C in Chikungunya, homeopathically
selected medicines in dengue fever, etc. All these studies justify
the use of homoeopathic medicines both as curative and preventive.
Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, a premier research
organization for homoeopathy in India has carried out several
studies in the wake of epidemics of cholera, gastroenteritis,
conjunctivitis and viral fever, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya.
The government of India states, “Flu like illnesses may
also be prevented through homeopathy”. The Central Council
for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) has recommended Arsenicum
album, a homeopathic medicine for protection against such flu
The universal appeal of homoeopathy across time immemorial is
attributable to its firm working principles and rational approach
– treat the patient and not the disease has remained as
strong as it was from its inception. The treatment and prevention
of swine flu (unknown during Hahnemannian era) thus do not pose
any threat even 167 years after Hahnemann’s death.