Nutrition & Health OnLine Magazine
Anthrax: What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
By Davey Dunn
Anthrax has quickly become a household word in America since letters containing the deadly spores started showing up at congressional offices in Washington. The ensuing media coverage has made it seem that attacks can happen to anyone and if you are exposed you are as good as dead. It is scary to think that you can die simple from opening the mail but is this really the case or has the media just exaggerated the danger? Lets take a look at the truth about Anthrax and see if there is anything that can be done to decrease the risk of death if we are exposed.
Anthrax has been around as a disease for many years. You may be able to trace it all the way back to biblical times when, as described in the book of Exodus, a great plague that started in animals and then moved to humans sounds very similar to Anthrax. That Anthrax can be deadly under the right circumstances there is no question but without the right circumstances it is a completely different matter. It is actually quite difficult to become infected by simple handling the Anthrax spore as in the case of receiving an envelope with Anthrax. The only way to become infected in such a manner is if you have a cut or a sore and the spore is able to enter your body subcutaneously.
The goal of military biological warfare with Anthrax is to infect adversaries through the lungs, which is no simple task and requires the scientific resources of an industrialized nation. An attack with inhalation Anthrax requires dissemination of huge amounts of spores since each victim will need to inhale between 10,000 and 20,000 to become infected. In order for such an attack to be successful there also needs to be an ideal set of conditions involving the right spore size, temperature, wind speed and climate. If the right circumstances do come together, however, then an attack can result in a terrible loss of life.
So what, if anything, can be done to lessen the risk of becoming infected with Anthrax? Short of moving into a cave in the wilderness for the rest of your life the most sensible plan is to try to strengthen your own immune system as much as possible. History has shown that no matter how deadly a disease may be there are always a number of people who are naturally immune to that disease. With Anthrax the fatality rate is about 80% which means that 20% of those infected will survive. While there is no evidence to prove who will be the survivors it makes sense that those with the strongest immune system will have the best chance of survival or at least have the best chance to stay alive long enough to receive medical treatment.
There are several vitamins, minerals and herbs that can boost your own immune system.
Vitamin A in the Beta-carotene form has been shown to boost the number of T cell lymphocytes which have been shown to play a critical role in immune response.
Vitamin C is one of the best bets for boosting immunity since it can increase immunity in several ways including having a similar effect on white blood cells as interferon a substance highly touted for enhancing immune function.
Vitamin E also has been researched extensive and been found to be very useful for boosting immunity. There are several mechanisms that are thought to be responsible for Vitamin E's immune enhancing effect but the two most important may be the effect if has on stimulating the action of T cell lymphocytes as well as being a potent antioxidant.
Selenium can aid immunity by working with Vitamin E to boost the functioning of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase.
Zinc can increase immunity by boosting the response of T cell lymphocytes. The effectiveness of Zinc is demonstrated by the recent popularity of Zinc lozenges.
B Vitamins like B-6, B12, B 1(Thiamine), B 2(Riboflavin) and B 5 (Pantothenic acid) can all have a positive effect by ensuring the body's immune system has enough of each to function properly.
Co Q 10 can help to boost immunity in several ways such as boosting antibody production.
L-Glutamine can increase immunity since all cell replication in the immune system requires L-Glutamine and inadequate dietary amounts can greatly impair the immune response.
Echinacea can increase the immune system in several ways and has become very popular as a treatment for the common cold.
You can use all of these supplements to boost your immunity, which can protect you from many common ailments and may give you that extra advantage if you are exposed to something as potentially deadly as Anthrax. The most important point to remember, however, when dealing with Anthrax is that even if you just suspect that you have been exposed you should IMMEDIATELY seek medical treatment. While proper nutrition can greatly enhance you own body's ability to fight such a disease you need to do everything you can to survive so it is important get proper medical care as soon as possible.

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