Concerned with Bird Flu? Micronutrients Can Help
We still hold memories of the public alerts and the scare of the bird flu epidemic from 2003. Millions of infected birds were killed at that time in an effort to stop the spread of the virus to humans. Nevertheless, the bird flu virus continues to infect humans and multiple deaths have been reported since 2003. The FDA recommended antiviral flu medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza are not very effective, and the bird flu virus has developed resistance to other flu drugs like amantadine and rimantadine.
People infected with the bird flu virus can have mild to severe symptoms ranging from eye irritation (conjunctivitis) and other flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting to severe respiratory problems including serious pneumonia, and neurologic changes. The main source of infection is contact with the infected birds and their body fluids such as saliva, nasal secretions, and feces.
So far, the subtypes of bird flu virus reported in human infections are H5N1, H7N7, and H9N2. The flu virus is known for frequent changes (mutations) and can rapidly develop resistance to medications. Although some of the human infections are subclinical, the infection can quickly turn into acute respiratory distress leading to death, and the majority of the deaths occur in otherwise healthy young adults. The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is the most dangerous infection and can cause deaths in as much as 60% of the infected individuals.
We studied the effects of a specific combination of micronutrients containing vitamin C, lysine, and proline, among others, in birds infected with bird flu virus*. After challenging the birds with avian influenza virus, we observed that the group supplemented with micronutrients had significantly reduced symptoms of flu. They had better weight gain and displayed no signs of toxicity. Since micronutrients support activity of specialized white blood cells in the trachea and bronchial tree, they helped in reducing the mucus production and clearing the breathing passages and air sacs of excessive secretions. As a result, no rattling breathing sounds (rales) could be detected in the lungs merely 3 days after the infection.
In addition, we tested the effects of this micronutrient mixture on other human influenza viruses with similar observations. We have noted that this specific combination was more effective than vitamin C used alone, which further confirms the superior effects of nutrient synergy over individual components. Interestingly, micronutrients were more effective than the popular drug, Tamiflu, and without the dangers of toxicity associated with it.
Frequent mutations in all the flu viruses make them more likely to cause a deadly worldwide pandemic. Although person-to-person transmission of the bird flu virus is not very common, the first case of such transmission was recorded in 2013, making a pandemic a real possibility. In addition to basic hygiene and preventative measures, our results prove that supporting the body with appropriate micronutrients is equally essential to mount an effective defense against the bird flu virus.
*Barbour EK, et al., International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 2007; 5(1): 9-16