Tag Archives: #TransferFactor

Say Goodbye…to Antibacterial Soaps!

Yuk!The antibacterial handwahing debate

That’s disgusting!

Wash it off!

Indeed, bacteria crawling all over the skin can seem horrible.  But, that’s how soap and cleaning products have been advertised to the general public over the past four decades.

The marketing has been so effective, unfortunately, that now; it’s considered the standard of care.

Or, is it?

Certainly, having bad bacteria crawling over places where your skin makes contact has been synonymous with public health offices, clinic and school management, and nurses everywhere appealing to wash, Wash, WASH those hands! (Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives, 2016; Meers and Yeo, 2009; Ojajärvi, 2009; Turner, Gauthier, Roby, Larson & Gauthier, 1994); Ansari, Sattar, Springthorpe, Wells and Tostowaryk, 1989).

But, is having antiseptic or antibacterial additives needed in plain soap to aggressively kill the bacteria?

Washing hands with foam soap
Courtesy FDA: Foam Soap

The debate has waged on ever since this new category of soap products launched.  And, the arguments have covered the spectrum.

On one side have been those who support the claim that having antibacterial chemicals added to plain and simple soap ensures bacteria is…dead.  After all, bacterial contamination is the root of contagious spread of disease, right?

On the other side are those who support the claim that basic, detergent soap is sufficient to loosen dirt, oils, and foreign bacteria and then dilute them away with water.  Additionally, antibacterial additives in soaps produce a negative outcome:  they kill off the body’s protective, bacterial line of defense.

Yes!  Each part of the body, from underneath the fingernails to inside the nostrils… from the surface of the eyeball to the lining of the intestines… even the surface of the skin…has unique bacteria that live, quite normally, in their own little niche.  Bacteria living alone in a protected environment are called, “normal flora.”

Unseen by the naked eye, these bacteria are harmless… when they live where they belong.  And, if they accidently invade the wrong area (like when you get a cut in your skin) they will begin to inflame and infect just as you would expect of bacteria.

But, introduce a foreign bacteria that does not belong on its “turf” and normal flora bacteria will fight to kill it FOR YOU as YOUR OWN ANTIBACTERIAL AGENT!

Take Staphylococcus aureus and several of the Streptococcus classification of bacteria as an example.  These are

Staphylococcus aureas, Gram stain: positive (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Staphylococcus aureas, Gram stain: positive (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Gram-positive bacteria that are considered normal flora teaming all over the body’s skin.  (“Gram” is just a blue dye that these bacteria love to soak up.  The stain is “positive” when seen on a microscope slide…and is represented in the attached post image…) They willingly protect and defend against invading bacteria from entering small cracks and the sweat and oil pores in your skin…even your nose!

Cellulitis (Courtesy Wikipedia)
Cellulitis (Courtesy Wikipedia)

But, underneath the skin, where the blood stream flows, they are uninvited guests and sadly become “bulls in a fine-china shop”!  These bacteria wreak havoc causing all sorts of infections from surface skin abscesses to limb-threatening cellulitis to whole-body, life-threatening bacteremia and sepsis. And, if they get in the throat they cause things like strep throat and pneumonia.

Then, there are the lowly E. coli (Escherichia coli) that live quite peacefully within the lining of the intestines.

E. coli
E. coli

They are responsible for important digestion of your food for proper absorption into the bloodstream.  E. coli contaminate food when harvesting, produce, and restaurant handlers do not wash their hands, however, and cause a variety of illnesses when introduced through the mouth into the stomach.

Unfortunately, E. coli (and other important intestinal “normal flora”) is killed when you take oral antibiotics.  This is why you frequently have diarrhea with antibiotics.  Then, you have to eat lots of yogurt or take prescription bacterial supplements to repopulate E. coli in the intestines.  In more serious cases, physicians are forced to prescribe stronger antibiotics to kill the foreign bacteria that have taken up residence in the intestines to replace the E. coli!

Clearly, the hand-washing debate issue has been whether to kill ALL bacteria that live on the skin… using antibacterial soaps or simply removing the bacteria that should not be there…using plain soap and water.

Loss of protective Staphylococcus aureus and the Streptococcus bacteria breeds overgrowth of dangerous skin bacteria that are “non-normal flora” and are resistant to many antibiotics.  Also, fungus and other non-bacterial organisms find an easier nesting site when the normal flora is missing.

One pointed example is MRSA (Methacin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  MRSA is a unique classification of skin bacteria that has seen increased prevalence since antibacterial detergents were introduced.

MRSA (Courtesy: Public Health Library)
MRSA (Courtesy: Public Health Library)

Sadly, marketers of antibacterial soaps and rubs have advertised the very opposite position stating their products are intended to reduce the MRSA risk (Hand Sanitizers Carry Unproven Claims to Prevent MRSA Infections, 2011).

Any risk for infection, however, is present only when there is direct contact from uncovered, weeping sores of a person with MRSA.  And, then, there must be a cut or open area on the skin to permit MRSA to transfer to the other person.  As long as the wound is covered there is no transmission.

This year the antibacterial handwashing debate finally reached fever pitch and recently reached its conclusion.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to collect regulatory evidence on June 29, 2016, of over 19 antiseptic additives designed to kill ALL bacteria, including the normal flora, Staphylococcus aureus and the Streptococcus bacteria (FDA requests additional information to address data gaps for consumer hand sanitizers, 2016).

The FDA, for the record, had started its research in the mid-1970’s.  FDA official recommendation has remained consistent: “wash with plain soap and water” (Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps, 2016).

But, now, the FDA was prepared to step in and provide consumer protection.  It specifically requested of each manufacturer any “scientific data to support the safety and effectiveness of certain active ingredients used in topical consumer antiseptic rubs (including hand sanitizers) marketed over-the-counter (OTC)” (FDA requests additional information to address data gaps for consumer hand sanitizers, 2016).

Alcohol sanitizer gel (Courtesy FDA)
Alcohol sanitizer gel (Courtesy FDA)

Alcohol (60% or stronger) is known for its antiseptic effectiveness when soap and water are temporarily unavailable (Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives, 2016).  Alcohol is marketed in the common forms: ethanol or ethyl alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol.

However, the other 19 commonly marketed agents such as triclosan (the antibacterial used in liquid soaps) and triclocarban (antiseptic for bar soaps) have been banned by the FDA by a regulation announced, September 2, 2016, just before Labor Day (FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps, 2016) and effective, September 6, 2016 (FDA … Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use Rule, 2016).

Why?  Quite simple.

“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections” (FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps, 2016).

The FDA did make the accommodation for two unique conditions such as health care settings and the unavailability of “plain soap and water.”  So, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipes have been exempted from the FDA final rulemaking (FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps, 2016).

The FDA has separated from the list three chemicals:  benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) to give manufacturers another year to come up with the required data to prove they are indeed safe and effective (FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps, 2016).  There is a reason for the delay.  These antiseptics are usually blended with alcohol, which when used alone has been proven effective.

Your immune system is constantly vigilant against foreign invasion.  It uses many resources to combat new viruses, unwanted bacteria, and pesky fungi.  Some people have turned to Transfer Factors (the active ingredient in mammalian mother’s colostrum) to boost their bodies’ natural immune system to support their immune system’s effectiveness… and claim to have success (What are transfer factors? 2016).

Still, washing with simple soap and lots of water is the best action you can do to support your immune system! The soap loosens anything that is bound together and water dilutes it away.

Now, you are probably asking… What is the long story, short?

Wash with “plain soap and water” (Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps, 2016).

There is an old, old public health mantra…”the solution to pollution…is dilution.”

 

REFERENCES:

Ansari, S.A., Sattar, S.A., Springthorpe, V.S., Wells, G.A. and Tostowaryk, W. (1989). In vivo protocol for testing efficacy of hand-washing agents against viruses and bacteria: experiments with rotavirus and Escherichia coli.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol.  55(12). 3113-3118. Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://aem.asm.org/content/55/12/3113.short

FDA Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use Rule, 21 CFR 310 (2016). Retrieved September 6, 2016 from https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/09/06/2016-21337/safety-and-effectiveness-of-consumer-antiseptics-topical-antimicrobial-drug-products-for

FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. (2016). FDA News Release, September 2, 2016. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm517478.htm

FDA requests additional information to address data gaps for consumer hand sanitizers. (2016). FDA News Release, June 29, 2016. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm509097.htm

Hand Sanitizers Carry Unproven Claims to Prevent MRSA Infections. (2011). FDA consumer fact sheet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm251816.htm

Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives. (2016). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC. Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

Ojajärvi, J. (2009). ‘Effectiveness of hand washing and disinfection methods in removing transient bacteria after patient nursing’, Journal of Hygiene, 85(2), pp. 193–203. Retrieved September 3, 2006 from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection/article/effectiveness-of-hand-washing-and-disinfection-methods-in-removing-transient-bacteria-after-patient-nursing/029F9D7837B3E28B473C9EF8AB893E17

Meers, P.B. and Yeo, G.A. (2009). ‘Shedding of bacteria and skin squames after handwashing’, Journal of Hygiene, 81(1), pp. 99–105. Retrieved September 3, 2006 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022172400053808

Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps. (2016). FDA information by Drug Class. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm444681.htm

Turner, J. G., Gauthier, D. K., Roby, J. R., Larson, E., & Gauthier, J. J. (1994). Use of image analysis to measure handwashing effectiveness. American journal of infection control, 22(4), 218-223. Retrieved September 3, 2016 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/019665539490071X

What are transfer factors? (2016). Retrieved September 3, 2016 from https://www.4life.com/8834499/about/science

Zika Virus proof of Biological Cause – Microcephaly meets Criteria

It’s official. Again.

Zika and Microcephaly.   

The life-threatening neurological paralysis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, was declared scientifically proven as a biological result from Zika Virus just days ago.

Zika virus has now beeKoch's Postulates - Courtesy Wikipedian scientifically linked as a biological cause to microcephaly, the underdeveloped brain syndrome found in fetuses and newborn babies (Malone et al., 2016).

Microcephaly had been challenged as a biological cause of Zika Virus.  Scientists wisely cautioned that it remain only a theoretical association.

Why?

Most noted the singular country origin, Brazil.  Also, studies were initially reported using symptoms and signs of the disease as evidence of a case rather than documenting lab tests of the disease, Zika Virus.

Then there were the findings, misinterpreted by a surprisingly high percentage of the general public (Harvey, 2016; Zika February 12-16, 2016 Survey, 2016).  Many feverishly propagated the incorrect news reports and social network messages (some for political gain) that microcephaly might be linked to genetically altered mosquitoes from a UK supplier or locally larviciding the water supply (Allen, 2016; Avila Vazquez, 2016).

Still, microcephaly has marched past the confines of Brazil into other countries, including Venezuela and Colombia.  It is now in eight countries, according to the World Health Organization (Zika situation report, 2016).  Microcephaly has followed wherever Zika Virus has left a footprint.

Researchers have now pulled together the existing evidence and wKochs postulates explainedeighed it against the scientific standard to establish biological causation, which are Koch’s postulates (Malone et al., 2016).  A disease must be present in the affected individuals who have the reaction or syndrome, according to the German professor, Robert Koch (Koch, 1876).

Thus, Zika Virus is the disease, and the syndrome is microcephaly.  Linking these could not be scientifically proven.

Until now.

In short, the researchers’ findings yielded, “The relationship between infection with Zika virus and primary microcephaly meets most accepted criteria for causality” (Malone et al., 2016).

It is interesting to note Malone’s research team published without knowledge that the Tahiti team just established a biological cause for the other associated outcome, the neurological paralysis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, also basing their findings on biological evidence of disease (Cao-Lormeau et al., 2016).  Thus, Malone’s team was forced to declare that the available evidence needed to establish causality was currently, “plausible, but analysis is complicated by regional co-endemnicity of dengue and chikungunya (viruses)” (Malone et al., 2016).

Another notable comment by the research team is the dim outlook for Zika Virus interventions… in the near future. Indeed, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, recently admitted that Zika will get worse before it gets better (Zika outbreak will worsen before it gets better, 2016).  The researchers noted, “In the absence of currently available vaccines, the likely long timeline for vaccine development, and the open questions about the basic pathogenesis of Zika virus infection, parallel development of other prophylactics and therapeutics must be explored” (Malone et al., 2016).

Globally-influential research now asserts it is prudent to consider other prophylactics (preventive measures) that strengthen an individual’s immune system and reduce the risk of negative outcomes, which now officially include microcephaly and the Guillain-Barré syndrome.  

 

REFERENCES:

Allen, G. (2016). Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Join The Fight To Stop Zika Virus. Goats and Soda. National Public Radio, 29 January 2016.  Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/26/464464459/genetically-modified-mosquitoes-join-the-fight-to-stop-zika-virus

Avila Vazquez, M. (2016). REPORT from Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed  Villages regarding Dengue-Zika, microcephaly, and mass-spraying with chemical poisons. Team REDUAS. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.reduas.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/02/Informe-Zika-de-Reduas_TRAD.pdf

Cao-Lormeau, Van-Mai et al. (2016). Guillain-Barré Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00562-6 Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736%2816%2900562-6.pdf

Harvey, C. (2016). A shocking one-third of Americans believe this Zika conspiracy theory.  The Washington Post.  February 23, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2016 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/23/a-shocking-one-third-of-americans-believe-this-zika-conspiracy-theory/

Koch, R. (1876). “Untersuchungen über Bakterien: V. Die Ätiologie der Milzbrand-Krankheit, begründet auf die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Bacillus anthracis” [Investigations into bacteria: V. The etiology of anthrax, based on the ontogenesis of Bacillus anthracis]. Cohns Beitrage zur Biologie der Pflanzen (in German) 2 (2): 277–310. Retrieved March 6, 2016 from http://edoc.rki.de/documents/rk/508-5-26/PDF/5-26.pdf

Malone RW, Homan J, Callahan MV, Glasspool-Malone J, Damodaran L, et al. (2016).  Zika Virus: Medical Countermeasure Development Challenges. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(3): e0004530. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004530 Retrieved March 6, 2016 from http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pntd.0004530

Zika February 12-16, 2016 Survey. (2016). The University of Pennsylvania-Annenberg Public Policy Center. Retrieved March 1, 2016 from  http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/ZikaWeek1Appendix.pdf

Zika situation report. (2016). Emergencies, as of 4 March 2016. World Health Organization.  Retrieved 6 March 2016 from http://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/en/ and http://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/situation-report/4-march-2016/en/

Zika outbreak will worsen before it gets better, WHO head says. (2016). Health Home: Pregnancy. Reuters. Retrieved 6 March 6, 2016 from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/24/zika-outbreak-will-worsen-before-it-gets-better-who-head-says.html

Zika Virus has a Biological Cause – It’s Now Proven

It’s official.

Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome.   Guillain-Barre Syndrome by Lynm, JAMA 2011

Yes.

Zika virus has now been scientifically linked as a biological cause for the life-threatening, neurological paralysis known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The other popular association with Zika, microcephaly in newborns, has not yet been proven to have a biological link to the virus.    More scientific research is needed to confirm or deny this presumption.

It has now been scarcely two months since North American listeners first received wide scale news reports about the fast-moving Zika Virus.  Social networks, news media, and Internet articles have responded with such fury that one in three North Americans believe the lie that Zika Virus originated from genetically modified mosquitoes manufactured by Oxitec, a U.K. company (Harvey, 2016).

Indeed, almost 100-percent of those surveyed by the University of Pennsylvania recognized that mosquitoes were the primary source of Zika Virus transmission (Zika February 12-16, 2016 Survey, 2016).  Two out of every three individuals admitted to learning about the Zika Virus mosquito risk from the news media.  Still, one-third of this same study group reached the wrong conclusion that the originating source was from Oxitec mosquitoes.

Oxitec mosquitoes (to quickly review) are genetically altered male, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.  Oxitec has demonstrated in Brazilian field tests it lowered mosquito populations by as much as 90 percent (Allen, 2016).  The introduction of these special mosquitoes to local, female Aedes aegypti mosquitos creates larvae offspring that cannot grow into mature, biting mosquitos.

None of the 1,014 USA-based individuals that were telephone interviewed by the University of Pennsylvania considered that all viruses regularly mutate or change to survive when encountering a new environment, host or geographic location (Domingo & Holland, 1997).  Such has been the ongoing challenge of HIV research and the quest to create an effective vaccine (Medina, Tsai, Hsiung & Cheng, 1994).  Zika Virus is a Group IV: positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family according to the Baltimore Classification and Taxonomy and first demonstrated mutation when it departed the African monkey host and entered humans (Faye et al., 2014).

Meanwhile, Guillain-Barré syndrome has remained an unchanging association with Zika Virus since it began its trans-Pacific Ocean travels in 2007.   Guillain-Barré syndrome (polyradiculoneuritis) is a rare, postinfectious neurological paralyzing disorder that requires hospitalized, intensive care (Asbury & Cornblath, 1990; Pluta & Lynm, 2011 – with illustration).  Polyradiculoneuritis is usually known as the extremely rare risk noted on some vaccination consent forms such as the annual influenza shot (Nelson, 2012).guillain-barre-syndrome diagnostic criteria

Guillain-Barré syndrome, however, skyrocketed when Zika Virus arrived on four islands across the Pacific Ocean (WHO Director-General, 2016; WHO to convene, 2016; Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).  French Polynesia experienced Zika Virus first-hand in 2013 from October until the following year in April.

French Polynesia was first to associate any biological risks from Zika Virus when it began to notice the once rare Guillain-Barré syndrome become a highly prevalent condition (WHO Director-General, 2016; WHO to convene, 2016).  The French Polynesia people recognized the mosquito origin, but without news reports about genetically-modified mosquitoes, there was no confounding information to confuse the local community.

The Centre Hospitalier de Polynésie Française is located in French Polynesia’s Tahiti.  Researchers there were able to collect data (case versus control) during the outbreak period, which established proof that the biological cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome was due to Zika Virus (Cao-Lormeau, Van-Mai et al., 2016).  41 of 42 cases with Guillain-Barré syndrome tested positive for Zika Virus using the anti-Zika virus IgM or IgG test.  The control group was only positive for Zika Virus in 54 (56%) of the 98 controls tested.

39 (93%) of the patients who had Guillain-Barré syndrome tested positive using the anti-Zika virus IgM test.  37 (88%) of these patients experienced a viral illness approximately six days before the neurological paralysis of Guillain-Barré syndrome began (Cao-Lormeau, Van-Mai et al., 2016).

The statistically significant link (p<0·0001) between Zika Virus illness and the quick onset of Guillain-Barré syndrome establishes Zika as the biological cause.

Zika Virus now has a proven biological link to Guillain-Barré syndrome (polyradiculoneuritis). Vaccination remains a distant hope in the future considering not everyone wants to be inoculated.  Fortunately, there exist, presently, opportunities to enhance an individual’s immune system and reduce the risk of negative outcomes like Guillain-Barré syndrome.  Transfer Factor is an orally-available option that has questionable claims that it educates your personal immune system;  it is the active ingredient in all mammalian mother’s colostrum (What are transfer factors? 2016).

 

REFERENCES:

Allen, G. (2016). Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Join The Fight To Stop Zika Virus. Goats and Soda. National Public Radio, 29 January 2016.  Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/26/464464459/genetically-modified-mosquitoes-join-the-fight-to-stop-zika-virus

Asbury, A. K., & Cornblath, D. R. (1990). Assessment of current diagnostic criteria for Guillain‐Barré syndrome. Annals of neurology, 27(S1), S21-S24.  DOI: 10.1002/ana.410270707

Cao-Lormeau, Van-Mai et al. (2016). Guillain-Barré Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study. The Lancet. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00562-6 Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736%2816%2900562-6.pdf

Domingo, E. J. J. H., & Holland, J. J. (1997). RNA virus mutations and fitness for survival. Annual Reviews in Microbiology, 51(1), 151-178. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.micro.51.1.151 Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.micro.51.1.151

Faye, O., et al. (2014). Molecular Evolution of Zika Virus during Its Emergence in the 20th Century.  PLOS: Neglected Tropical Diseases. January 9, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002636  Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0002636#abstract1

Harvey, C. (2016). A shocking one-third of Americans believe this Zika conspiracy theory.  The Washington Post.  February 23, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2016 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/23/a-shocking-one-third-of-americans-believe-this-zika-conspiracy-theory/

Medina, D. J., Tsai, C. H., Hsiung, G. D., & Cheng, Y. C. (1994). Comparison of mitochondrial morphology, mitochondrial DNA content, and cell viability in cultured cells treated with three anti-human immunodeficiency virus dideoxynucleosides. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 38(8), 1824-1828. Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://aac.asm.org/content/38/8/1824.full.pdf+html

Nelson, K.E. (2012). Invited Commentary: Influenza Vaccine and Guillain-Barré syndrome – Is There a Risk? American Journal of Epidemiology. 175:11. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kws194 Retrieved March 1, 2016 from  http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/175/11/1129.full.pdf+html

Pluta, R.M. & Lynm, C. (2011). Guillain-Barré Syndrome (with illustration). JAMA. 2011;305(3):319. doi:10.1001/jama.305.3.319 Retrieved March 1, 2016 from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=645193

What are transfer factors? (2016). Retrieved September 3, 2016 from https://www.4life.com/8834499/about/science

WHO Director-General briefs Executive Board on Zika situation. (2016). Briefing to the Executive Board on the Zika situation, Geneva, Switzerland, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2016/zika-situation/en/

WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.  (2016). WHO statement, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika/en/

Zika February 12-16, 2016 Survey. (2016). The University of Pennsylvania-Annenberg Public Policy Center. Retrieved March 1, 2016 from  http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/ZikaWeek1Appendix.pdf

Zika Virus Travel Alert. (2016). Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: Zika Virus Travel Alert, Thursday, January 28, 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0128-zika-virus-101.html

 

 

Remember Ebola? A cure has been found; it may help against Zika

Lebanon, New Hampshire.

I know it from the Lebanon Municipal Airport on the hill, which quietly services the local businesses (including the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center) at a profit to keep the town solvent. Dartmouth College in nearby Hanover also benefits from fast business transportation to Boston and White Plains, New York.

Still, what else is so special about Lebanon, New Hampshire? Other than its summer that lasts all but three weeks and snow storms that frequently exceed two feet? Nestled within the city limits is Adimab, a company that was founded in 2007. Adimab, among other things, performs research for antibody signatures and finds solutions to epidemic virus outbreaks.

As of this week, Adimab has published how it sampled blood from a survivor of the Ebola outbreak and isolated the signature that will be used for effective treatment of future Ebola events (Bornholdt, Z.A. et al., 2016). Maybe an Ebola vaccine. And, maybe a Zika vaccine, too.

The Science article reports the research team found a specific antibody signature that Ebola virus was susceptible (Bornholdt, Z.A. et al., 2016). They based this theory on their observation that the Zmapp antibodies regimen was only effective 40-percent of the time.  The Zmapp protocol was the mainstay of successful therapy for the Ebola-2014 outbreak (Jones, et al., 2005; Roddy, 2014; Marzi, et al., 2015).

To their surprise, they discovered the effective Adimab-discovered antibodies included 77-percent of the 349 antibodies of interest. The range of virus susceptibility was much larger than anticipated.

Then, the Adimab-discovered antibodies were tested on mice, which achieved 100-percent success neutralizing live Ebola virus. Such a potent response was unlike the weaker, 40-percent success rate seen with the Zmapp regimen.

The researchers of Adimab are credited with making their research findings public on the Internet without protecting their data for proprietary gain. Adamab anticipates the data will not only help produce a vaccine and more refined therapeutic options for Ebola, but also provide a knowledge base to speed research on the Zika virus.

In the interim, individual immune system resilience against new virus events remains the primary defense. Immune system enhancing options, such as Transfer Factor supplementation has been suggested by some, but is it valid? Transfer Factor is the active ingredient in mammalian mother’s colostrum and is more recently available in a questionable formulation that is patented and proprietary (What are transfer factors? 2016).

REFERENCES:

Bornholdt, Z.A. et al. (2016).  Isolation of potent neutralizing antibodies from a survivor of the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak. Science. 18 Feb 2016. DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5788. Retrieved February 20, 2016 from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/02/17/science.aad5788.full-text.pdf+html

Jones, S. M., Feldmann, H., Ströher, U., Geisbert, J. B., Fernando, L., Grolla, A., … & Daddario, K. M. (2005). Live attenuated recombinant vaccine protects nonhuman primates against Ebola and Marburg viruses. Nature medicine, 11(7), 786-790.

Marzi, A., Robertson, S. J., Haddock, E., Feldmann, F., Hanley, P. W., Scott, D. P., … & Feldmann, H. (2015). VSV-EBOV rapidly protects macaques against infection with the 2014/15 Ebola virus outbreak strain. Science, 349(6249), 739-742.  Retrieved February 20, 2016 from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6249/739.full

Roddy, P. (2014). A call to action to enhance filovirus disease outbreak preparedness and response. Viruses, 6(10), 3699-3718. Retrieved February 20, 2016 from http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/10/3699/htm

What are transfer factors? (2016). Retrieved September 3, 2016 from https://www.4life.com/8834499/about/science

Zika Virus HOAX – Why Larviciding in the Water Supply is a Good Thing!

The HOAX of the larvacide-containing “contaminated” water as the “true” source for microcephaly appears to be now put to rest.

Earlier, a HOAX was announced that microcephaly doesn’t come from Zika Virus…it comes from “the larvacide… pyroproxyfen” (correct spelling is: pyriproxyfen) placed in the drinking water at the same locations where both Zika and microcephaly occur. Argentinian and Brazilian scientists of Production Team REDUAS made this assertion on 3 February 2016 in a publication authored by Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez.   

And, it was soon discovered that larviciding is nothing new. In fact, it has been practiced as an effective, WHO-approved method for mosquito control for over 100 years.

The International Health Board (IHB) of 1915 served as current wisdom during the major eradication efforts for Yellow Fever, 100 years ago. According to Frank M. Snowden’s book (2014), “The Global Challenge of Malaria: Past Lessons and Future Prospects,” the IHB Mosquito Larvaequickly learned that mosquito larviciding was much more effective than chasing adult mosquitoes.

In fact, the IHB advised the Brazilians of that day to abandon all efforts to kill fully grown mosquitos such as fogging and spraying. It recommended, instead, that they focus on reducing the mosquito larvae population, which is much more responsive to minimal effort.

Long-term inattention to larviciding since the initial fight against Yellow Fever has permitted overgrowth of the Aedes (for Dengue and Zika and Yellow Fever) and Anopheles (for Malaria) mosquitoes along the Americas.

So, how has this put to rest the matter of larvicide as the false source for the recent uptick in microcephaly?

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that two countries, Colombia and Venezuela, are documenting similar spikes in the life-threatening paralysis, the Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) (Guillain-Barré syndrome – Colombia and Venezuela, 2016).

Colombia documents 86 new cases of GBS in the past five weeks, which is 3 times higher than normal. “Normal” was based on the past 6 years of statistics in Colombia, which is usually 242 new cases in an entire year. Each GBS case had Zika Virus symptoms.

Venezuela documents 252 new cases of GBS, just in the month of January 2016. Each registered Zika Virus symptoms. Only three (3) of the GBS cases, however, were confirmed Zika-positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

There is no vaccination option or specific anti-viral therapy currently available. 65% of the Venezuelan cases had additional complications and received variations of plasmapheresis transfusions and immunoglobulin injections (Guillain-Barré syndrome – Colombia and Venezuela, 2016).

WHO strongly urges people in affected countries to USE larvacides as part of the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES) of 2003 (Najera and Zaim, 2003). And, revised in 2006 (PESTICIDES AND THEIR APPLICATION: For the control of vectors and pests of public health importance, 2006).

Page 80 of the 2003 document “MALARIA VECTOR CONTROL,” outlines approved practices in larviciding. The WHO details petroleum (oil), polystyrene beads, low dose organophosphates and insect growth regulators (pyriproxyfen and diflubenzuron), and microbial insecticides (of the bacterium Bacillus genus) as effective larvicides.

Table 4 on page 29 of the 2006 document outlines the WHO-approved concentrations to treat mosquitoes. “Larviciding should be considered as complementary to environmental management. Page 31 states, “The toxicology of the active ingredients methoprene, pyriproxyfen and temephos and those in B. thuringiensis israelensis has been assessed by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) to determine their safety for use as mosquito larvicides in drinking-water at dosages that are effective against Aedes larvae.”

The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality of 2011 outlines, in Chapter 12.2, safe pesticide use for drinking water sources (Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 2011). Pyriproxyfen is documented on page 439-40 of Chapter 12.2 (Chemical fact sheets, 2011).

“WHO has assessed pyriproxyfen for use as a mosquito larvicide in drinking-water in containers, particularly to control dengue fever. The recommended dosage of pyriproxyfen in potable water in containers should not exceed 0.01 mg/l under WHOPES.”

 

REFERENCES:

Avila Vazquez, M. (2016). REPORT from Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed  Villages regarding Dengue-Zika, microcephaly, and mass-spraying with chemical poisons. Team REDUAS. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.reduas.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/02/Informe-Zika-de-Reduas_TRAD.pdf

Chemical fact sheets. (2011). Chapter 12, Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition. Water Sanitation Health.  World Health Organization.  Retrieved February 16, 2016 http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2011/9789241548151_ch12.pdf?ua=1

Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition. (2011). Water Sanitation Health.  World Health Organization.  Retrieved February 16, 2016 from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2011/dwq_chapters/en/

Guillain-Barré syndrome – Colombia and Venezuela. (2016). Disease Outbreak News, January 12, 2016. World Health Organization. Retrieved February 16, 2016 from http://www.who.int/csr/don/12-february-2016-gbs-colombia-venezuela/en/

Najera, J.A. and Zaim, M. (2003). MALARIA VECTOR CONTROL: DECISION MAKING CRITERIA AND PROCEDURES FOR JUDICIOUS USE OF INSECTICIDES. WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (WHOPES). Retrieved February 16, 2016 from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/67365/1/WHO_CDS_WHOPES_2002.5_Rev.1.pdf

PESTICIDES AND THEIR APPLICATION: For the control of vectors and pests of public health importance. (2006). 6th edition.  Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. WHO Pesticide evaluation scheme (WHOPES). Retrieved February 16, 2016 from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/69795/1/WHO_CDS_NTD_WHOPES_GCDPP_2006.1_eng.pdf

Snowden, F. M. and Bucala, R. (2014). The Global Challenge of Malaria : Past Lessons and Future Prospects. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company. ISBN: 978-9814405584 9814405582.

 

Zika Virus UpDate – Another bright side to the story?

Good news!

Good news? 

How can Zika be good news?

However, this time there appeared to be some good news…except it was another HOAX that had conspiracy overtones.

For over a month the news has bombarded North American listeners with fears of the Zika Virus.  Credible associations were made of two physical findings, microcephaly and the life-threatening, paralyzing, Guillain-Barré syndrome (WHO Director-General, 2016).

And yet, there still has been no established biological link of the Zika Virus “causing” these conditions.  It is, so far, a legitimate, working hypothesis (WHO Director-General, 2016; WHO to convene, 2016; Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).

Yes, Brazilian ophthalmologists just published their recent findings of retinal damage in the eyes of some of the microcephalic babies.  Their research suggested permanent vision problems (De Paula Freitas, B., et al., 2016)  But, there was no proof the research established a biological link that the Zika Virus was what “caused” this condition.  That would require a cohort (population) study following the children over time.

And, the 23 selected mothers were never tested to prove they had Zika Virus.  Instead, they were given the presumptive label as positive cases because they had demonstrated symptoms and signs.

Then there was the “good news.” Unfortunately, the following turned out to be a HOAX: microcephaly doesn’t come from Zika Virus…it comes from “the larvacide… pyroproxyfen” (correct spelling is: pyriproxyfen) placed in the drinking water at the same locations where both Zika and microcephaly occur.  Such is the 3 February 2016 assertion in a publication by Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, principle author, and the Argentinian and Brazilian scientists of Production Team REDUAS.

 

The theory stated that the Monsanto larvacide, pyriproxyfen (“pyroproxyfen” as REDUAS repeatedly misspelled it), which is routinely added to drinking water in mosquito-dense communities in many locations, just happened to coincide with the Zika Virus and the microcephaly epicenter near Recife, Brazil.  Mosquitoes in the region were found to have odd, physical changes, which normally happens when introducing a larvacide and this was thought to indicate genetic risk to newborns. 

This “confounding variable” was then thought (by Team REDUAS) to be the culprit, instead of Zika Virus.  Justification for this position was that microcephaly mysteriously appeared first in Brazil and not earlier in the Zika Virus spread chronology (Avila Vazquez, 2016).  But, somehow Team REDUAS omitted consideration of the Guillain-Barré syndrome that has also been associated with Zika Virus for the past three years (WHO Director-General, 2016; WHO to convene, 2016). 

A “confounding variable” is an epidemiological concept.  It identifies a condition that has guilt by association without sufficient deductive reasoning or collection of evidence.  The epidemiological concept, “confounding variable,” cannot be selectively applied to just one community and not to other communities or other countries.

So, let’s view Team REDUAS reasoning another way to see why it does not make sense.  Many communities that currently struggle with Zika Virus and microcephaly do not add pyriproxyfen to their water supplies.

Closer examination of the document reveals the research team is one of the principle groups promoting the theory that UK’s Oxitec genetically altered mosquitoes participate in the microcephaly problem.  The group’s mission statement is to influence policymakers to abandon all attempts to reduce mosquito populations, especially chemical.

Larvacides have been used in public drinking water since the 1970’s, according to the World Health Organization (Diflubenzuron, 2001; Diflubenzuron, 2008).  No association with biological causes has been made until this HOAX. Team REDUAS does not consider toxicology factors in its analysis.  Toxicology factors are routinely considered in water supply analysis…and antibiotic dosing (Acute Toxicity Definitions, 2016).  Toxicology was central to the Flint, Michigan lead-contaminated water analysis (Why Lead Poisoning is Feared in Flint, 2015).

Jersey City, New Jersey introduced chlorine to its water supply in 1908 (History of Drinking Water Treatment, 2012). Since then, communities around the world have benefited from public health improvements by similarly adding chlorine compounds to their water supply.  Waterborne diseases vanished.

Chlorinated water supplies have contributed, in large part, to reducing the prevalence of the once common community diseases: cholera, dysentery, TB, typhoid fever, influenza, yellow fever, and malaria.  (Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases, 1999).

Water purification is not enough to combat the now, ubiquitous, Zika Virus. Vaccination provides hope in the distant future for those interested in receiving the treatment.  Immune system enhancing opportunities now exist to reduce the risk of negative outcome.  Transfer Factor, the active ingredient in all mammalian mother’s colostrum, has been suggested as an option because it’s touted as educating your personal immune system.  It is now available in a questionable, proprietary (patented) oral formulation to limit availability and increase price.  It performs no better than placebo (What are transfer factors? 2016).

 

REFERENCES:

Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Control of Infectious Diseases. (1999). MMWR. 48(29). pp. 621-629. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4829a1.htm

Acute Toxicity Definitions. (2016). Chapter 5. International Labour Organization. United Nations.  Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.ilo.org/legacy/english/protection/safework/ghs/ghsfinal/ghsc05.pdf

Avila Vazquez, M. (2016). REPORT from Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed  Villages regarding Dengue-Zika, microcephaly, and mass-spraying with chemical poisons. Team REDUAS. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.reduas.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/02/Informe-Zika-de-Reduas_TRAD.pdf

De Paula Freitas, B., et al. (2016). Ocular Findings in Infants With Microcephaly Associated With Presumed Zika Virus Congenital Infection in Salvador, Brazil. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online February 09, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.0267 and retrieved February 09, 2016 from http://archopht.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2491896

Diflubenzuron. (2008). Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, 3rd edition including 1st and 2nd addenda. World Health Organization. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/diflubenzuronsummary_2ndadd.pdf

DIFLUBENZURON toxicological evaluations – Evaluation for acceptable daily intake. (2001). Dewhurst Pesticides Safety Directorate,York, United Kingdom. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.inchem.org/documents/jmpr/jmpmono/2001pr04.htm#2.0

History of Drinking Water Treatment. (2012). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 15, 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/history.html

What are transfer factors? (2016). Retrieved September 3, 2016 from https://www.4life.com/8834499/about/science

WHO Director-General briefs Executive Board on Zika situation. (2016). Briefing to the Executive Board on the Zika situation, Geneva, Switzerland, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2016/zika-situation/en/

WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.  (2016). WHO statement, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika/en/

Why Lead Poisoning is Feared in Flint.  (2015).  BBC World Service.   Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03ctmmy

Zika Virus Travel Alert. (2016). Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: Zika Virus Travel Alert, Thursday, January 28, 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0128-zika-virus-101.html

 

Zika Virus Fears – Is there a bright side to the story?

Zika.

That name and its association with a virus were a relative unknown just before the 2016 New Year. Today, Zika virus has been on the lips of most everyone sometime this week.

Some people may remember the fear that Rubella once carried with pregnant women until a vaccine was developed to rid society of miscarriages and stillbirths.  There was also Congenital Rubella Syndrome, which inflicted as many as 20,000 unvaccinated mothers’ babies with blindness and deafness as well as brain and heart damage (Wolfson, 2016).

aedes aegypti
aedes aegypti

Monday, 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) will have met to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus to determine if current conditions warrant “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern ” (WHO to convene, 2016).  The  Director-General of the WHO decided to increase global attention to Zika virus partly in response to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel alerts and declarations that the virus had become a globally distributed concern in a matter of days (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).  The other part, Director-General Margaret Chan considered was due to factors that make for a “perfect storm.”

In short, transmission is dependent on just two things: direct contact with the Aedes aegypti mosquito and indirect contact with a person who has been infected with Zika virus.

The CDC and the news media, like NBC’s “What is The Zika Virus?” (Fox, 2016) and NPR’s “Big Zika Virus Outbreak Unlikely In The U.S., Officials Say” (Stein, 2016) have discounted most concern for the virus by reminding people that they are enjoying wintertime conditions when the Aedes aegypti mosquito is dormant.

After all, Dengue Virus, which has a similar mode of transmission, does not seem to inflict the people of North America with the same intensity as Caribbean and Central and South American regions. Thus, transmission is not of any concern.

And, after two week’s clearance returning from a Caribbean or South American vacation without symptoms, all should be well.

Does this allay all your fears?  Should it?

Ours is a society that prefers to make informed decisions based on available and unmodified fact.  So, this review will avoid the use of any “conspiracy theory” jargon to feed fear or political innuendo to soothe a false sense of security.  With that in mind, let’s investigate Zika further.

First, a quick review of Zika and the virus is in order.

Zika is one of two, not one virus types.  The original virus was named after the Zika forest in Uganda where the first monkey was discovered to carry the virus (WHO Director-General, 2016).  That was 1947.

Zika virus was, until 2007, just a monkey virus.  In the forests of Africa.  2007 marked the time when Zika left Africa and entered one island of Micronesia in the Pacific Islands area.  Over the course of 2013 to 2014, four more islands had Zika virus (WHO Director-General, 2016).  And, there were neurological problems (complicated by coexisting Dengue virus), which may or may not have been the paralysis known as the Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The variant that has started in the Western Hemisphere is a different Zika “flavivirus” (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).   At the time of this post 23 countries and territories have already reported cases since late 2015 (WHO Director-General, 2016).

There have been rates of microcephaly (small brain size at birth) that are ten times normal in Brazil and a pronounced increase in cases of the Guillain-Barré syndrome.  Still, there remains NO established, causal or biological relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations and neurological syndromes.

The medical community is using an epidemiological construct to isolate the direct cause, but as of yet the official link is: “strongly suspected” after two autopsies of Brazilian babies who had microcephaly (WHO Director-General, 2016; WHO to convene, 2016; Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).

Why is the WHO concerned?  Why is the North America news media focused on quieting this topic?

The answer to the first is four things:  First, there is an absence of acquired immunity in any of the affected areas of the Western Hemisphere.  Second, there exist NO vaccines to combat this sudden epidemic.  Third, there are no treatments that respond to the Zika virus.  Fourth, there are no rapid diagnostic tests available to confirm Zika virus; all samples must be confirmed currently at the CDC.

The answer to the second (why the news media seems to be quieting this topic under a winter blanket of calm) may be politically motivated by an impending presidential election that requires more attention.  Additionally, it could be that the efforts of the CDC to calm and soothe demonstrate sound epidemiological wisdom using only the evidence available at this moment (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).

Meanwhile, the WHO will seek to activate global priority to develop “vaccines and new tools to control mosquito populations, as well as improving diagnostic tests” (WHO to convene, 2016).  Let’s see why the WHO is so interested in making this “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (WHO to convene, 2016).  After all, the WHO has the option to permit this virus outbreak to become part of the background noise with Dengue virus.

First, the WHO is not limited by epidemiological principle that uses only the evidence presented.  Instead, the WHO is forecasting.

WHO recognizes that North American winter season does not last all year long.  The WHO Director-General sites “conditions associated with this year’s El Nino weather pattern are expected to increase mosquito populations greatly in many areas.”

aedes albopictus
aedes albopictus

Zika virus can freely transfer from an infected person to nearby individuals once warm season returns and the Aedes aegypti mosquito is no longer dormant.  Aedes includes the entire Aedes genus such as Aedes albopictus.

One news media resource has already identified this trend and discounted the CDC theory that “everyone in North America lives in air conditioning” (Sun & Dennis, 2016).  It should be noted that the conclusion of the article retains the central theme in all U.S. news sources that North America is “unlikely” to see widespread local outbreaks.

Second, the two-week clearance after return from a Caribbean or South American vacation is not considered “safe.”  It has been reported by the CDC the mild symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes or conjunctivitis are typically associated with only one in five who test positive for Zika virus (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).

Still, Zika virus can be transmitted sexually, and not just from the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.  According to Dr. Schuchat of the CDC, live Zika virus has been found in semen after two weeks (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).

What about the solutions?

Suerie Moon of Harvard University’s Kennedy School has stated in a The New York Times “Room for Debate” that the WHO must assume leadership of the Zika virus matter (Moon, 2016).  Peter Hotez of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine emphasized at the same debate that mosquitoes must be eradicated until such a time as a vaccine becomes available (Hotez, 2016).  And, Amy Vittor of University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute implicated urban poverty as “facilitating the transmission of mosquito-borne viruses” (Vittor, 2016).

So, what is the WHO doing or trying to do as it develops “vaccines and new tools to control mosquito populations, as well as improving diagnostic tests” (WHO to convene, 2016)?

For its part, the CDC has stated that vaccines will be at least a few more years or more away.  The CDC plans to use existing grant money for the “flavivirus class” that includes Zika to launch two experiments.  One is a vaccine designed similar to a West Nile virus DNA structured because it is considered “safe and immunogenic” (Zika Virus Travel Alert, 2016).  The second is a live vaccine that is structured similarly to the Dengue virus.

Vaccines are going to be useless resources for several years.  That leaves tools to control mosquito populations and improving diagnostic tests.

The WHO has been working with Oxitec, from the UK, which has genetically altered the Aedes aegypti mosquito.  These wild male mosquitoes mate with local female Aedes aegypti mosquitos, and their offspring become larvae that never mature into mosquitos.  In field tested areas of Brazil, Oxitec has reduced the Aedes aegypti mosquito population 90 percent (Allen, 2016).

So far improvements for rapid diagnostic testing have not been announced.  The CDC, in the interim, has mandated that each U.S. state report all Zika virus cases (Muir, 2016; Pelley, 2016).  Reporting was before voluntary.

Now, given the WHO concerns and known solutions, what is the bright side to this story?

Prevention of mosquito bites and infected semen is one thing.  There are barrier protections available for these.  And, on the grander scale, there are fancy, genetically altered males to reduce the mosquito population.

But, there’s not going to be a vaccine for several years.  And, the progression of infection has advanced rapidly with over 4 million expected to have the Zika virus by the end of 2016 (Pelley, 2016). That means there will be no acquired immunity in any of these communities.

Is this a bright side to the story?

Yes! (Well, maybe…)

You can bolster your existing immune system to combat the effects of viruses like Zika before they hit.  You do that all the time by eating and exercising correctly.  Or at least, you should!

But, more recently, clinical researchers have taken the mammalian mother’s colostrum, that special milk available only during the first three days after birth, and extracted its active ingredients for certain immune deficiency and hyperactive disorders.  The “research” on Transfer Factors has been in the literature for almost 60 years, but most of it is protected from peer-review by proprietary privilege.

The sole-proprietor of Transfer Factors paid to get its product listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) for non-prescription drugs, which has been an advertising inducement to both conventional and alternative medicine physicians around the world in over 53 countries.

Unfortunately, it is only a nutraceutical, which means that it is, for all intents and purposes, a placebo.  A placebo (sugar pill) has beneficial success, statistically, over 40 percent of the time because of the hope that it will work.  Thus, it stands to reason that claims of monumental success by one-third of the users would amount to a treatment failure in the real medical and statistical professions.  And, yet, the organization, 4Life Research prints in its “Guide to Supplements and Good Health” recommendations to use its product in massive amounts for anything from eczema to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to various forms of cancer.

Is Transfer Factors the bright side of the story for Zika Virus?  Probably not.  Preventive measures are your best protection.  The soon release of the early trials of the Dengue Virus Vaccine (with the Zika Virus Vaccine, included) is most likely going to be the true bright side to the story.

REFERENCES:

Allen, G. (2016). Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Join The Fight To Stop Zika Virus. Goats and Soda. National Public Radio, 29 January 2016.  Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/01/26/464464459/genetically-modified-mosquitoes-join-the-fight-to-stop-zika-virus

Fox, M. (2016). “What Is the Zika Virus? Your Questions Answered.” NBC News. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/zika-virus-outbreak/what-zika-virus-your-questions-answered-n506126?cid=eml_nmn_20160129

Hotez, P. (2016). A Campaign to Eliminate Mosquitoes Is Needed Until a Vaccine Is Developed. The Opinion Pages, Room for Debate, 29 January 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/29/how-to-stop-the-spread-of-zika/a-campaign-to-eliminate-mosquitoes-is-needed-until-a-vaccine-is-developed

Moon, S. (2016). The World Health Organization Needs to Be in Charge of Zika. The Opinion Pages, Room for Debate, 29 January 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/29/how-to-stop-the-spread-of-zika/the-world-health-organization-needs-to-be-in-charge-of-zika

Muir. (2016). ABC World News, story 5, 2:50, January 28, 2016.

Pelley. (2016). CBS Evening News, lead story, 2:35, January 28, 2016.

Stein, R. (2016). Big Zika Virus Outbreak Unlikely In The U.S., Officials Say. Shots: Health News from the NPR. National Public Radio, 29 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/26/464459350/big-zika-virus-outbreak-unlikely-in-the-u-s-officials-say

Sun, L. & Dennis, B. (2016). Why the United States is so vulnerable to the alarming spread of Zika virus. Health & Science, 28 January 2016. The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-the-united-states-is-vulnerable-to-spread-of-zika-virus/2016/01/26/a8c6a9b4-c440-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html?tid=a_inl

Vittor, A. (2016). To Tackle the Zika Virus, Alleviate Urban Poverty. The Opinion Pages, Room for Debate, 29 January 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/01/29/how-to-stop-the-spread-of-zika/to-tackle-the-zika-virus-alleviate-urban-poverty

WHO Director-General briefs Executive Board on Zika situation. (2016). Briefing to the Executive Board on the Zika situation, Geneva, Switzerland, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2016/zika-situation/en/

WHO to convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika virus and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations.  (2016). WHO statement, 28 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika/en/

Wolfson, W. (2016). Before Zika Virus, Rubella Was A Pregnant Woman’s Nightmare. Shots: Health News from NPR. National Public Radio, 30 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/30/464899067/before-zika-virus-rubella-was-a-pregnant-womans-nightmare

Zika Virus Travel Alert. (2016). Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: Zika Virus Travel Alert, Thursday, January 28, 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016 from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0128-zika-virus-101.html

 

 

Transfer Factor and Me

You would not recognize me now if you knew that I suffered from severe migraine headaches*.  It was, for me, officially declared “attributed to Persian Gulf War exposure.”

Thirteen years I agonized without relief despite receiving good medical care first from the U.S. military and then VA neurology specialists.  Yes, I am a triple graduate-level physician from Harvard University, The Johns Hopkins University, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.  And, it is me who had to endure debilitating pain.

Migraine with Aura, Courtesy The Mayo Clinic

Still, the pain persisted.  This, in spite of my faithful dedication to continued heavy treatments, which included daily injections, pills, and nasal spray ordered by the region’s senior neurologist.

In all, I endured as many as three (3) prolonged migraine headache events.  Each resulted in absolute bed rest for a full, two (2) weeks.

Still, each disabling episode happened while submitting to the most expensive, high-quality treatment available to the developed world.

Then, I met another person who suggested that I try this nutraceutical, called Transfer Factor, as the best alternative to my prescription medications.  Why?  “It’s got a patented delivery system!”

I knew “patented” meant nothing more than proprietary, which meant expensive and I was never going to know what was really in that expensive, oral capsule.    I later discovered this patented product was Transfer Factor Plus®.

Now, I was familiar with what 4Life Research touted as clinical research over the past, half century.  The research documented what was considered to be highly successful outcomes in people with both immune compromised and hypersensitive immune systems.  But, since the research was fully proprietary, NONE of the almost 60 years of data was available for peer-review!

Initially, according to the one peer-reviewed study, the only way to get such the valuable ingredient (usually only available as colostrum from a mammalian mother’s first three days after delivery) was by blood transfusion.  That was 60 years ago.

Then, after Transfer Factors became available using the propriety, patented delivery system that uses only capsules, drinks and creams, all the data became unavailable to peer-review.  Yes, there were patents submitted but the data revealed in the patents was sketchy and inconclusive… sufficient to satisfy a patent clerk, but not a medically-educated, unbiased peer reviewer. Nonetheless, 4Life Research managed to get its product listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) for non-prescription medicines so it would be an inducement to both conventional and alternative medicine physicians in over 53 countries to use the nutraceutical.   

Well, since it was considered benign enough for that many physicians to gamble with this substance I thought I would give it a try on my migraines.  I am supposed to be intelligent.  After all, I attended two Ivy League schools and received three graduate degrees!

Then, after less than four (4) weeks using Transfer Factor Plus® I noticed the migraine headaches were gone.  By six (6) weeks, I was able to stop all the migraine prescription medications.

The migraines were gone! But, I also had another unforeseen problem.  Agranulocytosis.  

Yes, the nutraceutical seemed to have destabilized my white and red blood cell lines and I was bleeding.  Everywhere.

So, the specialist at the hospital ordered the nutraceutical, Transfer Factor by 4Life Research stopped immediately.  

Within a month I was back to normal.  

Do I still get migraines using my prescription medication?  Yes, from time to time.  

But, I would rather have the migraines than the destabilized white and red blood cell lines and all that bleeding.

You are probably asking yourself the obvious question: Can I have the same problem or will I see benefits?

Each person is different.

Still, when a placebo (sugar pill) has success, statistically, in 40 percent of the cases, doesn’t it seem suspicious when one-third of the Transfer Factor users are celebrating its benefits compared to two-thirds who experience marginal to no benefit… and some have bad experiences like me?  That is a medical failure, statistically.

This is about Transfer Factor and Me.  Your experience may be different.

Feel free to contact me with your questions about Transfer Factor as you should always make an informed decision about taking in or applying anything to your body for your own health.  Remember, a nutraceutical is NOT a benign substance!

*This is an actual case by one of the authors of AskDrCarr®.  Your results may be different.  Incidental reference to the dubious nutraceutical, Transfer Factor, and similar substances is given without intention of diagnosing or treating, but rather to provide educational value to the reader to make an informed, independent decision, recognizing the marked variations in individual experience.