October 10, 2008

Bird Flu Survival Tied to Hands-on Therapy

Chances of surviving a deadly avian flu pandemic would likely increase with hands-on therapy, even without antiviral drugs, a U.S. health newsletter says.

Integrative manual therapy in the area of the spleen and liver, for instance, would help fluid, blood and lymph flow appropriately, significantly boosting people's immune systems and helping them endure the feared pandemic, The Burnham Review said.

The avian H5N1 flu -- spreading from birds to other animals and people in Asia, Europe and Africa -- has claimed at least 245 human lives, the Geneva-based World Health Organization says.

Healthy young adults are at greatest risk, the WHO says.

Epidemiologists are afraid the next time the virus mutates, it could pass from human to human, resulting in a pandemic that could kill 60 percent of the people who catch it.

The precedent that experts fear is the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed an estimated 100 million people worldwide -- often healthy young adults, The Burnham Review said.

The review said flu patients back then who received manipulative therapy had a 0.25 percent mortality rate, compared to a 6 percent U.S. average.

"The results are striking," Editor Kimberly Burnham told United Press International.

"Some gentle manipulative therapy resulted in a dramatic difference in mortality," said Burnham, who has a doctorate in integrative medicine from Westbrook University.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding calls an avian flu pandemic "the most important (health) threat that we are facing right now."