My late mother told me about the 1918 Spanish Flu. “You milked the cows in the morning and you were dead that afternoon.” Millions died from this virus, the few living survivors, as well as deceased, harbor the strains of this deadly virus for researchers to isolate and learn from.
The Bird Flu, which emerged about a decade ago, has killed about 456 people. Although this may not alarm you it is a 50% kill rate for humans.
The deadly H59N1 Bird Flu virus has 500 variant strains that are weak to deadly, and the worst ones are mutating. It is the mutation that has scientists worried. To understand the mutation, a question of time, is that the virus rests in a birds respiratory system at a high temperature. If this virus could survive at a lower temperature, i.e.: human 98 degree F. than it would spread to us.
Hold on to your N95 facemasks, some of the H59N1 virus has mutated to 103 F. adaptability, and may make this change to 98.F – then we have a worst-case scenario.
Compared with the social climate of 1918, our modern packed in like sardines, re-cycled air systems and less robust people, it will be a terrible world wide pandemic.
While Bird Flu hovers in the wings (no pun intended) we might as well address where it comes from -birds. Before you run out and shoot all the wild birds the threat to North America – Alaska for certain – is the Pin Tailed duck. Virus is invading poultry through India, China, Indochina, Europe, and Africa. The immediate threat is the poultry industry being destroyed. You cannot sell sick birds.
Not all the small Asia countries are cooperating with the Center For Disease Control (CDC) and other researchers, as just about everyone has chickens and it is difficult to keep track. Also some countries are reluctant to provide tissue samples fearing the USA would make it into a bio-military grade weapon. The funding for all this research is measured in small amounts of millions of dollars. A CEO of a major defunct Investment House in New York receives more money than all the research costs and allocations for Bird Flu. Go Figure.
At this point considering eggs and baby chicks for the egg farms and little back yard chicken houses now come from outside the USA, brings to mind that if I re-start my chickens again will I possibly be incorporating H59N1 into my homestead. I will probably locate some local breeders for stock. In any event when I obtain clean stock I will go back to breeding and raising my own birds. Look for my articles on raising poultry with the Bird Flu in mind, coming soon.
Do not think we are immune from the virus. Last year we had a turkey farm infected not far from the NRV, and not much info leaked out to the media. Could it have been an infected imported hatch, or wild bird droppings? Who knows?
Egg prices are certainly going to rise, above the current $2.00 a dozen at Wally World. California Proposition #2 now forces the factory chicken egg farms to discontinue the practice of “torturing” the birds in close confinement. As feed costs go up, new egg farm laws go into effect, scarcity of clean water – well you will be getting more eggs from Mexico (Did not know that did you?) I would rather raise my own birds anyway. A farm is not a farm if you cannot hear a Rooster call at: 4 AM, when the first red sun light is visible.
It may also interest you to know that offal chicken and litter waste are often sold for dairy feed and especially pig feeds. Chicken waste boosts the nitrogen and production. In 1918 at Fort Dix New Jersey the local pig farms next to the Army base fed off of chicken waste, much as is done today, and the first Spanish Flu victim was an Army soldier. Pigs carried Spanish Flu. If Bird Flu mutates down to human temperatures, I would be cautious about bacon unless it is irritated, which is a common practice these days with most all foods.
There are reams of paper with recommendations about Bird Flu self-protection. Since there are fewer super anti-viral Tamiflu vaccines available than the public needs for treatment, at the time of the possible pandemic, you are left on your own. The proposed pandemic scenarios about infrastructure breakdown seem correct and you will be faced with – as now – food shortages, services, heat, fuel etc. interruptions or closure. The Homeland Security and local state emergency services all talk about your personal safety online. Remember Katrina; it took five days for drinking water to be delivered.
I do not have any Tamiflu vaccine. There are many advertisements for it in catalogs, but it is from Mexico and God only knows where else. This is not reliable. Also it does not keep long. My information is that we have about three million doses on hand for the military, which will have to impose martial law to run the country, and of course the elected government representatives of the people, maybe CEO’s too.
So, what worked in 1918 as a treatment? There were no antibiotics, no Tamiflu, just undertakers. What was surprising was that the Native Americans – the Plains Indians used herbs. Some herbs are antiviral and antibacterial. In all cases they BOOST the immune system to save the body. Let’s go back the beginning of this series briefly and bring you up to date.
Stress lowers the body’s immune system. Worry, anxiety, anger are all immune system stressors. This is what you have to adjust on a personal basis. I take Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) in the fall as an immune system enhancer and if I get a drip, or tickle, I boost upwards with Echinacea (Echinacea pupurea). There is also a more powerful Echinacea, available in a clinical tincture called: Echinaceamide. If there is a throat drip and bronchial irritation I use Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) drops.
Moving more upwards in the herbal formularies there is European Black Elderberry, (Sambucus nigra L.) A preparation of this is sold through www.naturesway.com under the name of Sambucol. Now the good stuff: Horizon Herbs current newsletter on line lists OSHA roots and seeds for sale. I think it is a wise decision to have a dozen planted in the greenhouse, then transplant in the spring. Be ready to make your own tinctures next year and also generate some seeds. This plant transplants easily, even with the long root.
Looking ahead to Bird Flu and the more common flu viruses that emerge at this time of the year, a more potent tincture of Osha is available: Lomitium Osha compound. Osha (Liquistcum porteri) root; Lomaatium (Lomataium dissectum) root; and Lemon Balm, Licorice, and Yarrow.
All of the herbs discussed are available on line through the herbal stores previously mentioned at fair prices. You can of course make your own tinctures/teas from the plants that you will grow, or buy bulk dried plants to make your own tinctures.
Next week we will talk about growing plants and making tinctures.
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Copyright: 2008, Back2theLand, Mark Steel