Simultaneous Infection with MRSA and the Flu
Just in case you're a junky for disturbing news, here's something to ponder. You probably already know that it's been a bad year for the flu, with the current version of the vaccine offering minimal protection. You've probably also heard that antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise. Well, now there's a new concern. The medical community is worried about an alarming increase in the number of people simultaneously infected with both the flu and the antibiotic-resistant infection known as MRSA. For the very young, the very old, and those in weakened condition, having a combination of both conditions spells catastrophe.
Also known as "the deadly superbug," MRSA stands for "methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus" -- a highly infectious bacterial condition that doesn't respond to known antibiotic treatments. MRSA most likely developed in response to antibiotic overuse, mutating to its current hardy form. It typically starts as a skin infection, but it can spread to the lungs, causing pneumonia and other deadly diseases. Apparently, MRSA and the flu have a cooperative relationship: MRSA makes the system more vulnerable to the flu and the flu makes the system more vulnerable to MRSA-induced pneumonia.
The CDC has noted a sharp increase in the number of cases of reported deaths from simultaneous infection within the past few years, particularly among children. In 2004-2005, only one pediatric death from co-infection was reported, compared to 24 deaths this year. Although these are small numbers, they do represent a 2400-percent increase in just a few years, marking a trend some medical experts find alarming. They worry about the possibility that we could have an epidemic of more viruses such as bird flu and SARS at the same time that the incidence of MRSA continues to rise at an accelerated rate. (In fact, the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that as many as 2 million people in the US alone may be infected with methicillin-resistant staph infections, and some experts say that MRSA is already at epidemic levels.)
"This is what happened in the influenza pandemic in 1957, which was co-incident with a pandemic of multi-drug resistant staphylococcal infections," say Dr. Jerome Klein of the Boston University School of Medicine. "Not only were the elderly and immuno-compromised prone to the combination, but otherwise healthy individuals were felled with substantial morbidity and mortality."
The problem is, apparently, that once you have a compromised immune system, whether through bacterial or viral infection, you're vulnerable to attack by other diseases of all sorts. Given recent research that indicates a virus might cause prostate and other cancers, there's yet another reason that you need to keep your immune system in top shape and to prevent all sorts of infection or viruses from finding safe harbor in your body.
The solution touted by the majority of medical minds is to make sure all of us -- including our infants -- get flu vaccines. Avoid the flu, they say, and you'll not only have protection from the flu, but also, from co-infection. But given the evidence about vaccine side effects (and ineffectiveness), which I've discussed at length before, I'd recommend a different approach -- one based on destroying as many invading pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc.) as possible, and optimizing your immune system to clean up the rest.
For details about how you can boost your immunity and fight pathogens, check out my newsletter from October 2004. And remember, as I point out in the earlier posts, your immune system is intimately tied to your entire Baseline of Health. For example, you can take all the immune boosters in the world, but if your system runs rampant with Circulating Immune Complexes, your immune system will be substantially compromised. Or if your colon is packed with old fecal matter, your immune system will be undermined by self-toxicity. If you drink chlorinated water and eat antibiotic-laced meat and dairy, the bacteria in your intestinal tract will be in a state of dysbiosis and you will be missing as much as 40% of your immune function. In the end, for optimal immune function, you must optimize your entire Baseline of Health.