Saturday, February 21, 2009

KILLER VIRUS GRIPS BRITAIN and so does vitamin D deficiency.

The Headline in Britain’s Daily Express read, “KILLER VIRUS GRIPS BRITAIN.”[1]
For several years, Britain has experienced outbreaks of norovirus, which causes severe vomiting. Here is the way this winter’s outbreak was described prior to Christmas:

“MILLIONS face being struck down by a deadly winter vomiting bug sweeping the country. Scores of hospitals have been forced to close wards to new patients as they struggle to cope with the influx of norovirus sufferers. One of London’s leading hospitals has even had to turn away 999 emergency patients after being overwhelmed with cases of the virus, while another hospital has drafted in GPs to cover for staff hit by the bug. As the crisis deepens, health campaigners are warning that hospitals face going into “complete meltdown” over Christmas and New Year.”
“At its height last year the virus, which causes projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, mild fever and headaches, was striking down more than 200,000 a week. The illness can prove deadly for the vulnerable—children and the elderly.”

In my book, and in previous posts on this blog [], I have documented the antiviral and anti-flu effects of vitamin D. Cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that is extremely effective in breaking down the walls of viruses and bacteria, is dependent on vitamin D to stimulate its production in the immune system. Without cathelicidin, immune function is compromised. It would therefore be expected that in the winter, when vitamin D levels are lowest due to lack of sunlight, viral diseases would be prevalent. In addition to my previous post on the subject of flu, there is an excellent paper by Dr. John Cannell that thoroughly discusses it.[2]

Britain’s northern climate, cloudy weather and “sunscare program” during summer ensure that vitamin D levels in that country are critically low, especially in winter, when no vitamin D can be produced by the sun at that latitude.

A few dollars worth of vitamin D or a couple of weekly (non-burning) sessions at a tanning salon could, in my opinion, quickly put a stop to the norovirus and the misery it causes.

[1] Brown, M and Dawar, A. Killer Virus Grips Britain. Daily Express, December 15, 2008.
[2] Cannell, J. et al. Epidemic Influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect 2006;134:1129-40.

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