The Flu vs. Coronavirus: A Potential Health Emergency

There’s a virus that has become a growing threat to people of all ages. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, declared a public health emergency in the United States. But is it really? I’ll share some facts and then you can decide.

As of today (February 3), there are 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and most of the infected people were travelers who had recently visited Wuhan, China. There are two cases of transmission between spouses.

Sadly, as you read this, almost 500 people have died and over 20,000 have become infected. Not all of those people will die, however, the alarming part of this virus is that it spreads fast, much faster than it’s cousin SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which you may remember from 2002 – 2003. With SARS, only 8,098 people became sick, and with this virus, we’ve already surpassed that number! And in a much shorter time frame.

The odds of you getting sick with coronavirus are pretty low right now so I want to reassure you very quickly today. However, we all need to be smart, and when you think about the impact on your life that this virus could have, you realize you need to at least be aware of it. Realize that in just three short months, there are 151 confirmed cases in 23 other countries, and thousands of people infected.

Facebook is going to REMOVE content if they feel that an article contains false claims or theories of conspiracy, so I’m not sure all the information will get put out there.

A Few More Facts
1. Starting last Sunday (February 2), all passengers coming in to the U.S. who have been in Hubei province in China in the prior 2 weeks will be potentially quarantined for 14 days. This region of China is where Wuhan is located, and that is the epicenter of the outbreak. With that said, I do not want to breed any kind of hysteria about the Chinese people, or any other Asian-American living here or abroad. I’ve researched this article for 2 weeks now, and I can’t help but notice that some people are doing a lot of finger-pointing, especially about the eating habits.

2. China is doing their best to contain this! They have literally put an entire district in lockdown (Wuhan), and they’ve quarantined more than 50 million people (at the time of this writing) to contain the outbreak and limit fatalities. Today, February 3rd, they have put restrictions on another city called Wenzhou which is 425 miles southeast of Wuhan. Why? Because this city had 291 confirmed cases of Coronavirus which is more than any other city (other than Wuhan)! So now, they are basically in lockdown too, just like Wuhan, meaning only one person per home is allowed to leave, and the city is a ghost town (ie markets, shopping centers, grocery stores, some manufacturing areas, entertainment events and more have all been closed)!

I’ve watched a few videos by residents showing the empty ghost town streets and the hardship and fear that this situation has placed on their residents. It’s very scary. The Wuhan city is in total lockdown. This isn’t to punish anyone, but rather to prevent further spreading of the virus to their residents while they’re trying to figure out how to treat it, cure it and handle it and take care of those already in the hospitals. It’s unthinkable, and could easily happen to any other country if this spreads.

3. The WHO has deemed the virus a “global health emergency,” further advising Americans not to travel to China. So far, only a handful of Americans have fallen ill, and one to date, has been successfully treated.

4. Several large airlines have canceled flights to China. U.S. officials have warned against travel to China as the country grapples with the effects of a fast-spreading virus, with no known cure. Many countries have taken their citizens (residing in Wuhan) out of the country, as an example, on February 3, 2020, stranded Canadians were air-lifted out of Wuhan and brought home (but under quarantine).

5. Their economy is already suffering tremendously as well, with it sinking hundreds of billions of dollars after the lunar new year holiday. Commodities such as rubber, steel, copper and cotton are all down as of today.

6. There is human to human transmission. At first this was not suspected, but it has been confirmed. Humans can transmit to other humans without having been to Wuhan, and without having consumed or been near airborne coronavirus. The deadly complication is pneumonia, but it does not happen to everyone. Just like the flu, most people will eventually be okay and heal over time.

7. No one is 100 percent certain of the origin, however, there is controversy about a bat, as in a person eating a bat (or possibly eating a snake that had eaten a bat).
Whether this is true or not is debatable. The “bat” theory comes up because this new virus 2019-nCoV’s shares A LOT of DNA with a bat.

In tests, researchers have found that 2019-nCoV’s shares 96.2% of its DNA sequence with a bat, which entered a human host. Now, after two months, we have confirmed that there is in fact, human to human transmission. This is important because obviously, no one here is eating bats and furthermore, the Wuhan Seafood market where the first known infected person (Dec. 1, 2019) has since closed, thus preventing further exposure. (If you have an update about this please email me).

I read an interesting article about the genome and sequencing of the DNA of this virus which is disabling China and alarming many countries around the world. It was written by Jon Cohen (no relation to me) and I will quote him here:

When the first 2019-nCoV sequence became available, researchers placed it on a family tree of known coronaviruses—which are abundant and infect many species—and found that it was most closely related to relatives found in bats. A team led by Shi Zheng-Li, a coronavirus specialist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reported on 23 January on bioRxiv that 2019-nCoV’s sequence was 96.2% similar to a bat virus and had 79.5% similarity to the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a disease whose initial outbreak was also in China more than 15 years ago.

He wrote a very compelling article which you can READ HERE.

When and How Will You Know?
The difficulty is that the virus has the ability to infect people for an incubation period of approximately 14 days which may be completely asymptomatic. The range is actually between 2 and 14 days where you can be perfectly fine in terms of symptoms (meaning you don’t have any), and then perhaps on the 14th day, you are suddenly sick! This is a long incubation period to carry a virus and be contagious (after your own initial exposure). Just imagine where you go in 14 days, and if you were contagious, you could be exposing hundreds of people! Even more people if you happen to use public transit systems like a subway or commuter plane. This is why they quarantine people if they suspect infection. The last time that the Centers for Disease Control have issued a quarantine was in the 60’s for smallpox.

The coronavirus is a large family of pathogens that include SARS. The DNA of the virus matches that of SARS by 80%. So as a researcher looking to beat it, then consider things that helped beat SARS. It’s not necessary, but in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at antivirals and antibiotics that control zoonotic infections. The same drugs and herbals that treat animal-derived infections may very well prove to be of use here, with corona, if it is in fact determined that wild animals were the cause. I wrote an article once about zoonotic infections which you can read by CLICKING HERE.

Symptoms of Illness
People with a cold or flu commonly use analgesics, fever reducers, cough syrup and decongestants or antihistamines. I will stand behind these as being effective for palliative care!

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV are similar to the flu, or to the common cold so you might expect a fever, shortness of breath, weakness, coughing and asthma-like symptoms. Pneumonia is the  most dangerous complication.

The CDC WEBSITE is updated periodically and has more information about the virus. One hallmark is that the dyspnea progresses to pneumonia within a week or two. The symptom list they offer is HERE. There is an interesting new case study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is about a 35 y.o. man who has been successfully treated for 2019-nCoV, although treatment of this infection is very limited. CLICK HERE to see what his complete protocol was, which included two antibiotics, Vancomycin and Cefepime. Antibiotics are helpful against the secondary infections associated with cold/flu/corona due to bacterial pathogens (not viral).

Will there be a pandemic?
As 2020 pushes forward, I wonder if he World Health Organization (WHO) will declare a pandemic. Here’s the WHO WEBSITE in case you’re interested in their updates. In order for that to happen, there needs to be sustained transmission between people, on at least two different continents. It’s about to happen. The last time the WHO issued a pandemic was in 2009, for the H1N1 flu virus (swine flu).

I also predict you’ll see more masks. More and more people will be walking around the US with disposable face masks and whether or not that’s for the 2019-nCoV (coronavirus) or for the flu, or common cold or other virus… you’ll see more of that. They’re either just protecting themselves, or being polite to others.

At this time, I think the risk of contracting coronavirus in the United States or Canada is quite small. I hate to see news outlets breeding fear. There is a time and place for panic, we in the US haven’t reached it. As for China, we can’t help but notice how amazingly fast that China has prepared, by building two entire hospitals in Wuhan in just 10 days (each). They are efficient, and these hospitals were built specifically for the outbreak. If you travel via plane, or cruise ships then of course your risk goes up for this and other virulent strains of pathogens.

Speaking of cruise ships, there was a cruise ship around Italy that had quarantined roughly 6,000 people on board and did not allow them to disembark, nor did they allow anyone to get on the ship. All of this was due to the suspicion that a sick couple had contracted the coronavirus. As it turned out, their infection was NOT due to the 2019-nCoV virus, and the passengers were ultimately allowed to continue their vacation and disembark like normal. But this is scary. I used to cruise all the time when I lived in Florida. While I do understand the precautions, I still have compassion for all those who must have become very afraid during the lockdown… basically idling out at sea, confined to a little room and not allowed to get on or off their boat!

This happened again on February 4th with the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. One passenger has just been diagnosed with Coronavirus. Now local health officials have quarantined the other 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members on board. You can see pictures or learn more about this developing story HERE. So essentially about 3,700 people are on board and quarantined while the ship is idling at sea! In this area of the world, if someone sneezes too much, or coughs and the panic of potential coronavirus comes to light.

This brings to mind one important point. Mixing with a lot of people raises risk for infection. If you are truly worried about contracting the flu, the cold or coronavirus for that matter, then do your best to avoid places where a lot of people have been. I’m thinking of planes, subways and confined, crowded events like concerts, broadway shows, cruise ships, and malls. Wash your hands frequently, stay away from people who are obviously ill and spreading germs.

What if you’re sick with the flu or a cold? Please stay home and rest, and get yourself well. This is the time of year when it’s in everyone’s interest for you to stay at home if you are sick. Do not go to work and infect everyone else. That is a bad move because some people down the line who contract your illness may actually die. Children and seniors are at the greatest risk.

As for the coronavirus, the difficulty is that one can be completely asymptomatic and still infect people. This is the difficulty with the virus.

What if it’s the flu vs. the coronavirus? If I’m betting, I’ve got my money on the flu. This is a very common type of infection during the winter months. You’re more likely to get the flu than the coronavirus, by a mile! But the coronavirus is getting more attention. Either way, the strategies for avoidance are the same. The strategies for boosting your immune system are the same.

The flu is more dangerous than the 2019-nCoV in terms of it’s numbers. There are substantially more deaths attributable to influenza than the corona. Many health experts wonder if the news outlets are blowing this up or not? It’s hard to know right now, however time will tell. The numbers are alarming, no doubt. This is a rapidly spreading virus and it will no doubt harm thousands of people. But I also do not want to invoke panic either. We simply do not have enough details yet to make definitive decisions about treatment and preventative options.

Should You Get the Flue Vaccine?
The flu vaccine is promoted to protect against the flu, but it’s not intended or FDA approved for use for coronavirus. That’s because it’s not for the coronavirus. I know it’s being offered by many clinics and advertised as an option to people. Many people with immune compromise are opting in for this. Pharmaceutically speaking, the flu vaccine does not protect against the coronavirus strain – I say that based upon the genomic sequence of the new virus which may have been animal-based to begin with, and then jumped species to infect humans and cause human to human transmission. In simple terms the flu vaccine is appropriate for protection against certain strains of influenza, but it was not ‘built’ to protect against 2019-nCoV.

What about botanicals and vitamins?
Sure, if you want to. I am a holistic-thinking pharmacist and I love the use of immune-boosting supplements, vitamins and herbal teas. I love essential oils, especially those that have virus-killing action in the body. But I do not want to discuss their virtues and lead you to believe that you can skip medical attention. I need to make sure that we’re not kidding ourselves here, so if you’ve been exposed and you think you have 2019-nCoV (or you live with someone who’s been to an endemic area) then you must seek medical attention if you have symptoms of illness. There are anti-virals and antibiotics that can be used to help you. If you’d like to read about herbal antibiotics, CLICK HERE to read, Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics.

There are breathing medications and other respiratory treatments necessary for someone who has pneumonia-like symptoms or other complications of the flu, or corona. Don’t fool around.

With that warning, I don’t mind sharing my favorite immune boosting supplements because this is the time of year when people are interested in this. I’ve written on this topic many times over the past 20 something years as a health blogger, so I invite you to use my search box and type in any herb, supplement or vitamin that you’re wondering about. Also, if you see something you like, ask your doctor if it’s right for you. Off the top of my head here are some of the best things you should be considering at this time of year. The following have antioxidant power as well as strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity on the body. For example, I mention mullein below, this has a long history for use in respiratory disorders where it may be helpful with asthma, certain coughs, tuberculosis, and related breathing issues. It’s also incidentally helpful for urinary urgency! Each item below is something you can look up on your own, and consider with a practitioners help of course (because I can’t advise you on anything). I hope you find this list helpful and I will update as I learn more about the specific coronavirus and what kills it.

Useful Herbs and Mushrooms
Matcha Tea as fresh infusion/tea
Elderberry as tea or supplement
Chaga mushroom as tea or supplement
Astragalus as tea or supplement
Reishi as tea or supplement
Ginger as tea, food or essential oil
Garlic in foods, or as supplement
Beta glucan supplement
Mullein root tea or supplement
Eucalyptus essential oil – diffuse this into the air (or steam inhalation) or apply to feet
Peppermint herb and essential oil
Rosemary herb and essential oil
Melissa Officinalis as essential oil or supplement

Vitamin D supplements
Wild Mediterranean Oregano Oil

UPDATE from READERS who have emailed me:
From Kim C: Just reaching out to suggest that a mention of methylation may be important for winter and immunity in general. Methionine so critical to immunity.

From Vivian C: Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections by Stephen Harrod Buhner lists a top 7 Antiviral Herbs: Chinese skullcap, Elder, Ginger, Houttuynia, Isatis, Licorice, and Lomatium. He lists five more as “Honorable Mention” which include: Porcelain Berry, Forsythia suspensa (Honeysuckle/Lonicera japonica), Sophora flavescens, Strobilanthes cusia, Boneset, Red root.

From Pat. A: In the 1990s Dr Phil Hamilton on the BBC told us to never EVER touch our faces (eyes, nose, mouth)  unless we have first washed our hands. This is obvious and simple – and it reduced the infections I was picking up from the local supermarket by 12 infections a year.  The only thing is that most people don’t realize that they are touching their faces – it is quite automatic and so people rarely register it and will happily deny they ever do it. I found that it took me three days to really get on top of these automatic gestures but then I was fine!  Also want to mention that liposomal C can be helpful for immunity.

From Paul N from Australia: I am a very interested reader of your books and emails. I have most, if not all, of your books. Regarding your latest email, all the substances you mentioned are very good, especially adequate levels of Vitamin D, but one thing most people ignore is Vitamin C. It is not very profitable, however very safe (according to Susanne Humphries it’s LD50 is around 750 grams). But it’s half life is around 30 minutes so doses need to be half hourly to hourly. According to the book Ascorbate, The Science of Vitamin C by Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts, PhD, some doctors used it at high doses or provide it to patients intravenously. It has been used to cure most viral diseases and other problems like snake bite and spider bite. Even carbon monoxide poisoning and other toxins.

I WILL UPDATE THIS AS MORE OF YOUR COMMENTS COMMENTS LATER- SUZY *** so if you have other thoughts or comments regarding anti-viral, immune-boosting herbs or essential oils please write me at [email protected] so that I can consider updating my list above.

What else can you do?
Close the Lid.
 In Germany, there are REPORTS that digestive symptoms may also occur in some patients who returned from China, and this is brand new information. Apparently, a presenting mode of transmission may occur if the pathogen is aerosolized during a flush of the toilet. (Closing the lid is suggested.)

Wear disposable gloves sometimes.
Why not? I use these sometimes myself because I’m aware that people who are coughing and sneezing have touched the same grocery cart (or credit card reader) that I am now touching and fingering. These types of gloves are cheap and offer insurance if you touch something germy like a grocery cart, or a door handle, or the pen at the pharmacy counter! When you get home, you can throw your gloves out.

Eat at restaurants that have a sit-down meal, and avoid the buffet. Think about the serving spoons at the buffet. They’ve been touched a thousand times at lunch, by people who do not like to wash their hands, or by people who have coughed and sneezed in their hands. What about the food itself, open in bins all day long. It’s iffy for me, a self-confessed germaphobe. If you eat at restaurants where they make your food back in the kitchen, and then bring you your meal, your odds of exposure go down dramatically because it’s just the chef and his staff that have contact with your meal. You can laugh at me if you’d like, but my position is not budging on this. By eliminating buffets at this time of year (or ever), your risk goes down dramatically. That’s an indisputable fact.

Avoid sick people if it’s possible. It’s really common sense. I know it’s hard to do, and other people have feelings, but if you have someone in your household that’s at risk (like your baby), this becomes a consideration, especially if you’re going to a large event where lots of people are, that might have been exposed.

I’m not sure if there’s a clinical pearl in my video or not, but it’s quite possible. A few years ago I got sick and beat the infection fairly quickly that time around. There are certainly some ideas in here for people with immunity concerns. There are also some interesting comments under the video, especially about Tequila! You can watch my silly video by CLICKING HERE.

Was this information helpful? Share it to help someone in need:

Was this helpful? Like and Share with someone in need!