Saturday, November 7, 2009


For the last few months the term swine flu is on the lips of every one including children because of proclamation by the WHO that it is pandemic. During the initial stages when swine flu was first encountered in Mexico and subsequently spread to other countries, it was dreaded as a lethal infection with no immunity enjoyed by the population. Development of vaccine to preempt the spread of this infection taken up on a war footing has given hope that the H1N1 virus, the culprit responsible for the disease may not become a massive killer in the coming months.

It is interesting to look at the statistics regarding the extent of incidence of swine flu amongst various countries as it may give a clue regarding the reasons why only in certain countries the virus has taken its toll sparing many others with less virulence. If swine flu is as dangerous as being made out, countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and most of the African countries should have borne the brunt of its onslaught because of the prevalence of poverty, malnutrition and low living standards. In stead it assumed epidemic proportion mostly in countries in the Western Hemisphere. USA claimed to be the most powerful nation on earth when it comes to economic and muscle strength could do very little to stop H1N1 virus onslaught on its track and paradoxically maximum fatality was recorded in that country. According to WHO more than 5000 deaths have been attributed to swine flu out of which USA alone accounted for about 1000. In India fatality reported on this count is just 316 till last week.

One of the reasons could be the high degree of immunization conferred on Indians by the environment where they live and exposure to hundreds of varieties of bacteria, virus and other vectors could have helped them to develop immunity to a wide spectrum of such organisms. Who knows H1N1 virus might already be present in the country and this could have probably created the necessary defense against this vector when it started spreading through persons coming from western hemisphere. Another possible factor is the type of foods consumed in the country and it is known that some of the foods do have virucidal properties. Diets containing thiosulfinate rich foods like garlic and many spices do exercise virucidal properties while tea, coffee and lauric oils also have inhibitory effect on many virus species. The role of diet in protecting humans from some types of microbiological infection needs to be explored further based on the diseases status of populations consuming different foods.


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