"Give with a free hand, but give only your own."
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How to prevent Swine Flu, Pig Flu, H1N1?

I have nothing to sell you but hope, and that I give you for free.

Vitamin D supplementation may be a way to prevent catching the Pig Flu (a.k.a. Swine Flu or H1N1).  The following letters are posted on a web site called "The Vitamin D Council".  The idea is that the rise in flu and cold cases in the winter months is due to lower vitamin D levels, caused by people being indoors more, and not in the sun.

Dr. Cannell: Your recent newsletters and video about Swine flu (H1N1) prompted me to convey our recent experience with an H1N1 outbreak at Central Wisconsin Center (CWC). Unfortunately, the state epidemiologist was not interested in studying it further so I pass it on to you since I think it is noteworthy.

CWC is a long-term care facility for people with developmental disabilities, home for approx. 275 people with approx. 800 staff. Serum 25-OHD has been monitored in virtually all residents for several years and patients supplemented with vitamin D.

In June, 2009, at the time of the well-publicized Wisconsin spike in H1N1 cases, two residents developed influenza-like illness (ILI) and had positive tests for H1N1: one was a long-term resident; the other, a child, was transferred to us with what was later proven to be H1N1.

On the other hand, 60 staff members developed ILI or were documented to have H1N1: of 17 tested for ILI, eight were positive. An additional 43 staff members called in sick with ILI. (Approx. 11–12 staff developed ILI after working on the unit where the child was given care, several of whom had positive H1N1 tests.)

So, it is rather remarkable that only two residents of 275 developed ILI, one of which did not develop it here, while 103 of 800 staff members had ILI. It appears that the spread of H1N1 was not from staff-to-resident but from resident-to-staff (most obvious in the imported case) and between staff, implying that staff were susceptible and our residents protected.

Sincerely, Norris Glick, MD
Central Wisconsin Center
Madison, WI

So, I had to wonder, just how much vitamin D should one use?  The next letter on this web site answers that question:

Dr. Cannell: Thanks for your update about the hospital in Wisconsin. I have had similar anecdotal evidence from my medical practice here in Georgia. We are one of the 5 states with widespread H1N1 outbreaks.

I share an office with another family physician. I aggressively measure and replete vitamin D. He does not. He is seeing one to 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness.

In my practice— I have had zero cases. My patients are universally on 2000–5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50–80 ng/ml.

Ellie Campbell, DO
Campbell Family Medicine
3925 Johns Creek Court
Ste A
Suwannee GA 30024

I haven't checked yet to see if these people and places really exist. (Believe it or not, people do make up things they post on the Internet.)  Even so, I thought that until the vaccine is available, this seems like a pretty harmless thing to add to one's vitamin regimen, even if it does nothing to prevent Pig Flu.

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Updated: October 5, 2009
Inception: October 5, 2009