Good post. I can't take any flu shot because the vaccine is cultured in egg. The animal casein in that concentration shot directly into my blood stream makes me sicker than if I got the flu.
So I stay home a lot when these things rage, wash my hands frequently, and I use the sanitary wipes on grocery carts etc.
Also...don't touch your face (esp. eyes, nose, mouth, something that I have a really hard time with...) except right after handwashing. If you must be in close quarters with people who are sneezing (or who might--I got a terrific cold from a little girl on a city transit in Australia, who sneezed right in my face; her mother was appalled, but it was too late) and if there's flu in your town, consider a surgical mask for those trips to the grocery. Disposable ones are one-use only, and aren't perfect, but they confer some protection. Discard and immediately wash hands (the outside will be the side contaminated with other peoples' germs. And stocking up on supplies so you don't need to go to the grocery, etc. as often also helps. Fewer trips, fewer exposures.
Social isolation really works, but it's a psychological bummer...I'm wondering if our online society helps with that. (Considering how fast I went from talking on the phone with people to exchanging emails, probably it will help a lot. Until the power goes out. Boy, do I feel isolated these days if the power goes out.)
Since we have both flu season and hurricane season approaching, I'm doing my usual summer (less expensive) pantry supply runs. We could use some good heavy rains (understatement!) but the real reason for the hurricane-stocking-up is a) having grown up in a hurricane prone area, and b) experience with how crowded and sometimes understocked the area groceries are when a big hurricane sends a wave of refugees inland.
2009-07-23 02:51 pm (UTC)
...the egg washing machine I use on my farm is from a company that was bought by guys who had a laying flock used for vaccine production (talk about clean-room chickens!), and needed a machine to wash and sterilize the shells. I've seen a new version of our venerable Aqua-Magic, and outside of being build from stainless steel (sterilizing bleach being hard on anything else), it is very much like my 40-year-old "egg car wash."
I'm even going to get the pneumonia vaccine this year. I'm in the age range where it's recommended, and while it doesn't protect against viral pneumonias, I don't want to be dealing with the Old Original pneumococcal one. Last year's pneumonia convinced me...I'd planned to wait until I was 65 at least, but...no.
But yeah, this whole flu re-aggregation and shifting stuff is amazing. The relationship between host resistance and viral virulence...both host populations and virus populations thumbing through their repertoire of attacks/defenses. This current pandemic one wasn't in the U.S. a month before it had pulled "resistance to flu drugs" out of its tool kit (I read another article, maybe a month ago, on that.) Our immune defenses drive the shifts in population of the virus...it's a chameleon, but which colors/patterns survive to reproduce depend on where our defenses are open--and we (the human race, and the swine, and the birds) then shift immune response to plug that hole. Which, when plugged, ensures that a different viral gene combo will find another one.
I'll agree on the "good post" assessment. :-)
Above history summary:
First flu shot - significant, unpleasant reaction.
First flu case - significant, unpleasant reaction.
Subsequent shots and cases - milder reactions.
Alternative interpretation to milder strain hypothesis:
Better educated/trained immune system. Or some combination of both.
I don't remember all of my history and was much older at the time of my first shot, but the severity and frequency of my reactions to colds and flus has been decreasing over the years. (Also, however, my children are grown and scattered and I'm retired, but I still get out and about and to public meetings. Less contact might explain the reduced frequency, but not the reduced reaction.)
Working in public education, I've gotten the flu shot every year for the past 8. I've never had a reaction to it, and never gotten the flu, either. Not even when I was younger, or at least within the past 25 years.
Good immune system? Lucky? The same type of biological weirdness that causes "non-drowsy" sudafed to completely knock me out, caffeine to do nothing for my wakefulness, and tylenol and vicodin to have absolutely no effect on headaches or other pain?
I enjoy geeking out to your biologically related posts, they make me happy to see others like me out there. :)
We're all individuals, however inconvenient it is...Sudafed neither makes me drowsy nor keeps me awake; too much dark chocolate eaten after 10 pm will keep me awake another hour. Ibu works better on my muscle/joint pain than Execedrin, but Excedrin works better on the headaches.