Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Colon Cleansing and Flu Protection - yes!

There is a surefire way to protect yourself against influenza. You can read all about it at the Huffington Post website. What is the magical potion? Colon cleansing of course. Kim Evens of 'antibiotics cause cancer' fame, explains how a good washing of your colon will protect you from influenza as well as almost anything else that ails you.

Colon cleansing gets rid of the 'bad' bacteria in your colon, yet antibiotics kill the 'good' bacteria in your colon. Oh yeah, cancer is also caused by a fungal infection.

Ok, now do you want to read the skeptic take on colon cleansing? Go here or here

Orac comments on Evens, influenza, colon cleansing and other woo here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

About Influenza

Human influenza is caused by infection with influenza type A and type B viruses. These viruses consist of 8 "genes" or segments of single-stranded RNA. Two major surface antigens can be found in influenza viruses - HA (hemagglutinin) and NA (neuraminadase). The hemagglutinin protein is used by the virus to recognize, attach to, and enter a cell. This results in influenza infection. Unfortunately, both the HA and NA genes are very good at slightly changing their structure over time. The figure below shows a model of influenza virus structure taken from Hampson, AW, Med. J. Aust. 2006 Nov 20;185(10 Suppl):S39-43 which is available free online and is recommended reading.

Influenza changes its antigenic makeup via antigenic drift (small changes) and antigenic shift (large changes). Pandemic influenza (a widespread infectious disease) occurs at irregular intervals of about twice a century and usually results from antigenic shift which occurs in Influenza A. The figure below (taken from the Hampson review article) shows how genetic reassortment through antigenic shift is thought to occur.

What is key is that pigs are susceptible to both avian and human influenza A viruses. This "dual-infection" provides an opportunity for the avian and human influenza virus to share and switch (reassort) their genes. This often results in the appearance of a much more infectious and pathogenic influenza virus. But, this is not always the case.

Below is a link to the current swine flu epidemic showing where cases are occuring in worldwide.

Current swine flu cases map

Monday, April 27, 2009

To Investigate or Not to Investigate

In a Banana Republic there would be no investigation of wrongdoing. Who said:

"It's important for people to understand that in a democracy, there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth. In our country, when there's an allegation of abuse ... there will be a full investigation, and justice will be delivered. ... It's very important for people and your listeners to understand that in our country, when an issue is brought to our attention on this magnitude, we act. And we act in a way in which leaders are willing to discuss it with the media. ... In other words, people want to know the truth.

"That stands in contrast to dictatorships. A dictator wouldn't be answering questions about this. A dictator wouldn't be saying that the system will be investigated and the world will see the results of the investigation."

Ok, the bolded words give a pretty good hint. That was G.W. Bush explaining the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy. Bush things allegations of abuse (wrongdoing, law breaking) should be investigated. Maybe someone should ask him if he still feels this way.