The California Flu Death Trap

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There just has to be a reason for the unusual rash of flu-related deaths in California.  Even after the peak of the flu season has passed and a steep decline in hospitalizations signaled the flu season was almost over, reports of flu-related deaths keep coming in. If public health authorities know the reason for these deaths they certainly aren’t saying anything.

California mandates all health insurance plans must go through a health exchange and that puts many of the preventive health services mandated by the Affordable Care Act into play including free flu shots — not even copayments.

But ironically the number of flu deaths in California this season has skyrocketed 17-fold, from 14 deaths last year at this time to 243 deaths, mostly among adults age 25-64 years of age.

And long past the date when hospitalization rates from the flu peaked in mid-January, flu-related deaths soared to 302 in news reports dated March 1, 2014.

By this time last year only 34 flu-related deaths had been reported among adults under age 65.  A total of 106 deaths in that under-65 age group were totaled by the end of the 2012-13 flu season.  So one wonders if the total flu-related deaths in California will rise over 1000 by the end of the flu season.

Is a so-called “hot-lot” flu vaccine to blame?  Or is the vaccine failing altogether?  Given that any revelation flu shots aren’t working or may be attributed to raising flu-related mortality, one can anticipate public health officials will be less than forthcoming.  They are the guardians of the vaccine industry.

Consider the fact a toxic flu vaccine administered under a newly announced nursing home vaccine campaign resulted in so many preventable deaths in 1993 that the life expectancy in the U.S. declined for the first and only time since the 1918 flu pandemic.  This fact remained hidden till this journalist pored through reports published in Morbidity & Mortality Reports to uncover this hidden vaccine catastrophe.   Is a repeat of the same underway?

Determination of what is going on is going to require some piecing together of scientific facts and some careful guesswork.  Here is what we know:

  • Simultaneously health authorities are avoiding announcement of an outbreak of Reye’s Syndrome in California, caused after children with the flu use a fever-reducing medicine like aspirin.  They are calling these childhood cases “mysterious” when its limb paralyzing symptoms are obvious signs of Reye’s syndrome.
  • Of the 405 reported cases of fatal or severe influenza (requiring hospitalization in an intensive care unit) influenza (Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Reports) as of Jan. 18, 21% had been vaccinated with the current vaccine at least two weeks prior to their diagnosis.
  • Underlying medical conditions (obesity, diabetes, lung problems) help to explain 93% of the mortal and severe cases.  Other studies indicate underlying medical conditions increase by 5-to-50 times the risk of death from the flu compared to the general healthy population. (Western Pacific Surveillance & Response Journal 2012)
  • Usually the very young (under 3 years of age) and the very old (over age 65) comprise most flu deaths, so the fact that 61% of hospitalizations were 18-64 years of age is of alarming concern.  Persons age 41-64 were 600% more likely to die of the flu than other age groups.
  • The very young and the very old have undeveloped and used-up immune systems.  But these presumably well-fed young to middle-aged adults don’t fit the typical mortality profile.
  • All cases for which complete records were available succumbed to the pH1N1 strain of the flu virus.
  • Only a small percentage of these mortal cases (17%) received the drug Tamiflu, which is still an unproven drug.
  • The Centers for Disease Control only reports on the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or inhaled Relenza (zanamivir), which is frankly an unproven class of drugs that somehow has become the standard of care for hospitalized flu patients.  Somewhere between 78% and 92% of the fatal cases were given this anti-flu drug.
  • There is no way to know if fever-reducing drugs (aspirin, acetaminophen) were employed or if all of the flu vaccine used originated from the same production lot.
  • Overall the CDC is saying the flu vaccine for the 2013-14 season is approximately 60% effective with 134 million doses distributed.  (Morbidity & Mortality Reports)  Usually flu vaccines are far less effective among the very young and very old.
  • While we aren’t able to get a peek at State-by-State deaths, whatever is happening is peculiar to California, as far as can be determined.

Is it adult Reye’s?

If these flu-related deaths in California can be attributed to an adult form of Reye’s syndrome, public health warnings should have been issued.  Prior warnings against the use of aspirin during a bout with the flu resulted in a remarkable disappearance of Reye’s syndrome.

Fever-reducing medicines other than aspirin (acetaminophen/Tylenol and diclofenac/Voltaren) have been linked to mortality in virus-infected animals.

The anti-fever medication of choice now that Reye’s syndrome has been blamed on the use of aspirin is acetaminophen (Tylenol).  With unusually cold weather, sales of cold and flu remedies that contain acetaminophen, such as Nyquil and Dayquil are booming this year.

A new offering from the makers of Nyquil for severe colds and flu offers 650 mg of acetaminophen.  The makers of Tylenol Cold give the impression it is OK to take 3000 milligrams/6 pills of acetaminophen a day when battling a cold or the flu.

Acetaminophen is also used in intensive care units to bring fevers under control.  In one published study (Surgical Infection 2005), one group of patients was treated aggressively when temperatures reach 38.5 degrees Celsius/101.2 Fahrenheit with 650 mg of acetaminophen every 6 hours (2600 mg/day) + cooling blankets and 7 of the 44 aggressively-treated patients died (15.9%) versus only 1 death among 38 patients (2.6%) with fevers treated with acetaminophen only when fevers reach 40 degrees Celsius/104.0 Fahrenheit + cooling blankets.

In another study (Critical Care 2012) of 1425 adult critically ill patients treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen) or acetaminophen increased mortality by 261% among patients with severe infection (sepsis).

Steroids are also employed in intensive care units, which further deplete vitamin C.

The deadly flu triad

Flu shots administered from retail pharmacies rather than at doctors’ office and clinics is a relatively new practice and it places three mortal flu factors under the same roof – acetaminophen, sugar and the flu virus itself.

What are the odds?

What are the odds that a high-risk (overweight, diabetic, asthmatic) adult with nothing more than a runny-nose cold virus (rhinovirus, adenovirus) makes tracks for a local pharmacy, picks up a bottle of Nyquil, gets talked into a flu shot, and impulsively picks up a candy bar conveniently shelved near checkout counters?  All three of these factors deplete vitamin C, the primary antidote for the deadly form of the flu.

(Vitamin C may not cure or shorten a bout with the flu, but it most certainly is the antidote against deadly forms of the flu.)

Influenza viruses increase the need for vitamin C. (Journal Nutrition 2006)   Vitamin C-deficient mice, genetically altered so they did not internally produce vitamin C as most other animals do, did not survive.  Humans are in the same predicament, having lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C endogenously many generations ago due to a common gene mutation.  While vitamin C given to these mice did not reduce virus concentration in the lungs, vitamin C did dramatically reduce lung damage among rodents inoculated with a flu virus.

Because vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient that is rapidly excreted from the body via urine flow it must be consumed at intervals throughout the day to maintain optimal blood levels.  There are many equivocal or null studies involving vitamin C for the flu.  But if vitamin C is taken at different intervals (1000 mg 3-times/day) to maintain optimal blood concentration it can reduce cold symptoms.

A high blood serum concentration of vitamin C, achieved via intravenous delivery or repeated oral dosing, produces hydrogen peroxide which destroys viral influenza cells.

Megadoses of vitamin C have been demonstrated to be beneficial in the treatment of acetaminophen induced kidney damage.

Acetaminophen is widely known as a liver toxin. A 1-gram (1000 milligram) dose of vitamin C per kilogram (2.2-lbs) of body weight administered to laboratory mice before and after acetaminophen treatment prevents development of liver damage.

It is also known that refined sugar consumption and elevated blood sugar levels literally paralyze white blood cells that keep viruses in check.  High blood sugar levels impair immunity.

With a recent push to limit the amount of acetaminophen in cold remedies the pharmaceutical industry has responded with a website called KnowYourDose.org.  They are trying to give the false impression that the problem is largely due to overdose and blame consumers.

Summary

The very idea of giving a flu shot (a little bit of the flu itself) to sick high-risk (diabetic, overweight, asthmatic) customers who arrive at pharmacies and already have evidence of weak immunity and selling them a vitamin C-depleting drug (acetaminophen) at the same time may explain the current rise in flu-related deaths among adults younger than age 65.  Once hospitalized, these very ill now flu-sickened patients are likely to receive medications (steroids, acetaminophen) that further deplete vitamin C, leading to their early demise.

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