Monday, October 8, 2018

Early Season Viral Infection - October 8, 2018

Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

Dear all,

In our usual habit of keeping our students, alumni, colleagues, and friends informed about current epidemics, we wanted to send a brief note.

As many of you have experienced in the clinic or in your homes, we are in the middle of an early season viral infection that is presenting in both children and adults. Here’s what we’ve seen so far:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Influenza Like Illness, Winter 2017-2018, Part 2

Influenza Like Illness, Winter 2017-2018
Part 2. January 4, 2018
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

A Country Divided

No. Not that way. I am describing the 2017-2018 viral season situation as it seems to be unfolding now. Early on, we saw many patients presenting needing Gelsemium, and then later in the season people presented with Lycopodium symptoms. And really, when looking at the end of 2017, it will be marked by a record number of patients presenting with Lycopodium symptoms and doing well with the remedy. In 36 years, I had never seen those sorts of numbers.

I will describe, briefly, where we are now. While many people are still presenting needing Lycopodium, there are a number of presentations now in different people, happening at the same time, which is where this title comes from. In North America, as well as Europe, there are several viruses happily infecting us, but also the weather is different than it was previously, and this combination has led to different presentations. And while we still follow all the rules described elsewhere on prescribing properly, including when to give the constitutional remedy as opposed to any of these listed, if the rules apply, here are remedies to think about.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Third Wave Prevention of Infectious Disease

Michael Norden MD
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

The rapid emergence of superbugs, resistant to essentially all drugs, threatens to return us to the horrors of the pre-antibiotic era, where countless people died from common infections. The answer to this crisis may eventually come from advances in biotechnology, which ironically helped create the problem to begin with, but until that day, we would like to propose an ancient approach as a potential answer. Here, I condense a 4-year conversation I have had with my friend Michael Norden MD, involving copper, which reflects part of my 40-year interest in this element. What follows are our thoughts on using copper as a passive yet potent antibacterial.

Some of the most exciting aspects of living in these times are the rapid discoveries occurring in science, related to our habitat in the natural world and especially on the cellular and subcellular level. As we are discovering more and more types of germs, we are having to come to terms with the implications of our discoveries. There are more types of germs than we ever imagined; the germs that surround us and are in us determine to a significant extent, our health. Regarding prevention, the concept of developing an individual vaccine for a specific germ soon becomes unwieldy, as it seems impractical to vaccinate ourselves against hundreds or thousands of potentially pathogenic bugs. Even the common influenza vaccine sometimes fails us. For example, this year, vaccine manufacturers predicted incorrectly and the vaccine developed appears to be only 10 to 20% effective. Regarding treatment, we have learned that we can not simply kill infectious agents, because germs adapt to become more virulent. The rapid and ubiquitous use of antimicrobials has led to superbugs threatening our therapeutic efficacy and creating dire challenges to our species. We often lose the battle with germs that perhaps we should not be fighting in the current manner in first place. Instead of active antimicrobial use, and instead of prevention solely by developing a specific vaccine for each germ, we may need to develop a third wave of thought, one focusing on passive antimicrobial coatings that do not create superbugs, which is where copper stands as one possibility. 

The EPA has now certified over 400 alloys as “antimicrobial copper.” Certification allows the claim of 99.9% of bacteria will be killed within 2 hours. Published studies show this efficacy against all types of pathologic microbes including resistant bacteria such as MRSA as well as many viruses and fungi. Microorganisms tested succumb to the copper effect.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Influenza Like Illness, Winter 2017

Influenza Like Illness, Winter 2017
Part 1. December 8, 2017
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

Here we are at the start of December. I have been treating what I believe are two separate viral infection presentations, epidemic at this time, in patients from Florida to Montreal, from Seattle to San Diego and many places in between. The first, which I am not discussing here is a simple, though severe gastroenteritis, characterized by nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea, ending with watery discharge from the bowels.

I want to focus on an unusual presentation of upper respiratory tract infections. During these URI infections, I see:

A.     Adult patients develop severe sore throats and laryngitis, with pain in the throat worse from coughing.
B.     Adult patients with sinus infections leading to ear infections and a sensation of ear stuffiness.
C.     Babies and young children with common symptoms of high fever, flushed face, listlessness, and irritability.
D.     The most unusual aspect is seen in the over 60 population. Oddly and surprisingly, numerous patients develop a URI which take an odd turn: they develop symptoms of asthma. The asthma is characterized by incessant cough, ending with in a wheeze, audible by stethoscope or even without, when severe. Others say they inhale as usual, but find it difficult to exhale properly.

These asthmatic symptoms are atypical to these patients. They have told me that these are the symptoms they recall from an asthmatic child or grandchild, but they have no history of asthma themselves.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic - Update #5

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic
September 6, 2016 Update
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

Zika Virus Disease And Targeted Vector Control ‘The Future is Already Here — Just Not Evenly Distributed’

This article addresses only one aspect of prevention of Zika virus caused disease; it is the fifth in a series. For previous writings on the subject and to contextualize this writing, please refer to my blog.

I had previously written on the vector control benefits of attempting ‘functional’ extinction of the Aedes aegypti species that likely carries Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika virus, illnesses that lead to morbidity or mortality in the many thousands every year. The arguments were many, but the main point was that Zika virus was absolutely going to impact the health of Americans via local transmission and that many would suffer needlessly. I went on to urge that the time was right for the planned ‘functional’ extinction of Aedes aegypti but at this point that approach would no longer be sufficient. As expected, we have since seen the first infant death in the U.S., due to Zika virus and have the first U.S. birth of a child with Zika virus caused microcephaly. More that 2,722 people in the U.S. have been infected, with 35 from local transmission, according to the CDC Case Counts in the U.S. Sadly, more will likely follow.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic - Update #4

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic
April 12, 2016 Update
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

The Time is NOW for Some Mosquitoes to Go

This article deals with only one aspect of prevention of Zika virus caused disease, and is the fourth of a series. For previous writings on the subject and to contextualize this writing, see:

When my older son was entering middle school, he and I attended several Bioblitz events, which are 24-hour inventories of all species in a certain area. We got into the concept, after he read a book written by E.O. Wilson, Consilience. He later met Dr. Wilson, exchanged correspondence, joined the Explorer's Club and eventually gave lectures on the concept of the bioblitz. He also had the idea of connecting the E.O. Wilson's Encyclopedia of Life ( project with the Bioblitz events that occur in the National Parks of the USA. If you want to read about how the Bioblitz concept began, please see this link: 

The reason I highlight this concept is to say that my family is and has always been very environmentally friendly. We have worked for and continue to work towards a stable, robust biodiversity, not only for trophy, keystone, or umbrella species, but for all species. Diversity is essential for our own species to survive and thrive.

That said, and as an environmentalist, I believe the time has arrived for us, as a species, to drive into functional extinction a few mosquito species or species groups. The reasons are compelling, rational, ethical, and scientific. I would like to place this topic in context.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic - Update #3

Zika virus infection 2015-16 Epidemic
March 24, 2016 Update
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Herscu Laboratory

If you have not yet read my first posting on this topic, please do so now before reading the following.
As mentioned in prior longer posts, my intention was to lay a foundation and build scaffolding so that when you see data or hear the news or learn of novel discoveries, you will have enough history and adequate context to make sense of it and have an informed opinion, making it easier for everyone to both predict what the news will be, and to anticipate government and scientific next steps. And as I finished that post, I mentioned that if I did my job well, the next posts would be short as the scaffolding would be in place and the forecasts made, only needing to be confirmed. If you have not read those posts please do so, as they will help place the discussion in context. You can find them HERE. The specific variables I chose to focus on remain the same:

1. Will Zika virus impact the USA?
2. Does Zika virus cause neurological diseases or is it some other agent?
3. Is Aedes aegypti the only vector we have to worry about?
4. How to address the intersection of economics and infections.
5. The role of Prevention.

Let’s dive in