Traveling with Swine Flu - A Real-Time Health Ranger Report from Quito, Ecuador

Thursday, May 07, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: swine flu, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) I'm writing you from a quaint, colorful hotel in Quito, Ecuador, where I arrived today. Venturing through airports in the midst of an influenza outbreak was quite interesting, and I thought I'd pass along the experience to NaturalNews readers so that you know what's happening right now in the airports (and with international air travel).

On the U.S. side, swine flu doesn't seem to have many people worried in the air travel business. None of the Continental Airlines staff I saw were wearing masks (they were super nice folks, by the way. Great customer service from Continental). TSA staff weren't wearing masks, either. And glancing through the Tucson airport, I only noticed one passenger wearing a mask (a middle-aged woman).

I did, however, overhear people talking about swine flu. A couple of guys walking through the concourse commented on how dangerous it would be to cough or sneeze, as you might be quarantined from such an outburst. So there did seem to be some awareness of the issue among (some) travelers.

On the airplane itself, I didn't notice anyone coughing or sneezing. I had dosed up on oregano (www.P-73.com), vitamin C, zinc and various anti-virals (which the FDA claims don't work) just in case, so I wasn't concerned about being infected. But just to see the reaction, I strapped on my 3M N100 mask (a much more sophisticated mask than the typical N95 masks people are buying) to see what would happen. Together with my sunglasses and adventure hat, I'm sure I looked like some sort of wigged-out terrorist. Had I been wearing that get up at any other time, I'm sure I would have been escorted off the plane and held for observation under the Patriot Act.

The woman sitting to my left only seemed nervous when I took my mask off. She was squirming in her seat and glancing nervously in my direction. Apparently, she was thinking I must have put on the mask because I was sick or something, and the fact that I later took it off had her concerned. Strange.

After arriving in Houston, I transferred to my international flight to Quito. The only precautions taken during that transfer consisted of Continental Airlines employees asking me, "Have you recently visited any city in Mexico?" They checked my passport to look for Mexico entrance stamps. I told them I hadn't been in Mexico (only in Tucson, which isn't officially part of Mexico yet...). They marked my boarding pass with a highlighter and I was allowed to board.

The flight itself was uneventful. I watched "Marley & Me" on the movie screen -- it's a great film for dog lovers!

Ecuador gets serious about infectious disease

Arriving in Quito, I immediately noticed a far greater level of protection against infectious disease than was present in America. Walking off the jet way, I spotted three airline workers waiting with wheelchairs to carry physically challenged passengers off the plane. They were wearing N95 masks.

Proceeding through the terminal to Ecuadorian immigration, I immediately spotted three medical personnel standing in front of the immigration queue area (which is, by the way, far more efficient and advanced than any immigration area I've ever seen in America. Ecuador's immigration area make Miami's U.S. customs zone look like a third-world country!).

These medical personnel were wearing long white lab coats and stethoscopes. They didn't actually stop anyone, but appeared to simply be observing incoming passengers for symptoms. This was one time to definitely NOT cough or sneeze, I reminded myself. Spending a week in Ecuadorian quarantine is not my idea of a good time in South America.

The immigration document handlers were also wearing N95 masks, as well as latex gloves. This was an additional layer of protection I found interesting, but it makes good sense considering they're handling passports from lots of travelers.

After passing through immigration (which literally took less than two minutes), I claimed my bags and proceeded to the customs area, where everyone was once again wearing N95 masks (and some wearing latex gloves). The customs official noticed I hadn't written a phone number on my contact form, and he was insistent that I provide one. This immediately told me that Ecuador was quite serious about being able to contact air passengers after the fact -- a key strategy for stemming outbreaks due to infected air passengers.

I shoved my luggage through the customs X-Ray machine and exited the customs area. From there, it was business as usual: Nobody wearing any masks at all. Lots of people standing around waiting for arriving passengers, lots of taxi drivers looking for fares, etc.

We loaded up our bags and headed to the hotel, leaving behind any concern about H1N1 influenza.

Is the U.S. doing enough to stem the spread of influenza?

What I concluded from all this is that Ecuador is taking far greater precautions against swine flu than the USA (so is Taiwan, by the way), and yet they were able to do so without inconveniencing passengers (unless you sneeze, no doubt). I didn't notice any infrared cameras like I saw in Taiwan recently, but the fact that virtually all airport personnel were wearing at least some protective gear was reassuring.

Of course, as I've written here on NaturalNews, those N95 masks are virtually useless against preventing infection for the wearers (due to the fact that they don't create an air-tight seal with the face), but at least it's better than doing nothing.

I've found the United States' response to swine flu particularly lackadaisical. TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seem entirely unconcerned about swine flu, even as infections have now spread across more than 40 states (and are likely to appear in every city and state across the nation).

The reasoning behind this seems to be that H1N1 is relatively mild right now, with a low death rate. That may very well be the case at the moment, but there's an important fact about all this that seems to be ignored in the U.S.: The more people who catch H1N1 influenza, the greater the chance of a far more lethal mutation in the upcoming Fall season, when influenza resurges.

To the more informed officials at the CDC, this is the real concern: Not that H1N1, as currently configured, will be a global killer, but rather that it might recombine with other seasonal flu strains and return in the Fall or Winter months as a vicious influenza monster that could literally kill one-half of one percent of the world's population. That's the "worst-case" fear, anyway. And it's not unfounded.

Conspiracy buffs might even say the U.S. government is actually trying to set up the nation for a huge pandemic outbreak. I'm not sure I totally believe that, but the advice coming out of Washington does raise questions. What kind of government tells its people to avoid taking anti-viral herbs and superfoods in the middle of a growing pandemic? What kind of government tells schools with infected children to re-open, virtually assuring that the virus spreads to other children? Combine this with the fact that U.S. customs, immigration and TSA personnel have not been ordered to wear any protective gear whatsoever, and you get a recipe for a future pandemic in the making.

Ecuador, apparently, doesn't want to see its population infected by H1N1. Nor do other countries that are taking similar precautions. I find it fascinating that it is the developing nations who are taking greater precautions against this potential pandemic than the United States, even when the U.S. is adjacent to the country where the outbreak is thought to have originated!

Some might say this is because the poorer countries have less sophisticated health care, and they need to take great precautions because of that fact. But that's misleading.

I actually think it's quite the opposite: Poorer countries have MORE sunlight! Which means their people are far less susceptible to winter colds and flu. It is, in fact, the rich "white" nations (U.S., Canada, U.K.) living in Northern climates that are going to be the most vulnerable to a second wave of flu in the autumn. Note, for example, that the very reason influenza is "seasonal" in the United States is because the population at large becomes Vitamin D deficient every winter! Such conditions do not threaten countries like Peru or Ecuador, where vitamin D is plentiful, and the people don't wear silly sunscreen chemicals that leave them deficient in all-important vitamin D.

I think a second wave of seasonal flu in the U.S. could combine with widely-circulating H1N1 and widespread vitamin D deficiency to create "the perfect storm" for a runaway pandemic that kills millions.

And that doesn't even include the possibility of some other event multiplying the danger: Imagine a hurricane striking New Orleans in the midst of a pandemic... the lack of sanitation and the overcrowding of people under abhorrent conditions could light a fire under any infectious disease, spreading like a firestorm through the population of refugees and turning an infrastructure emergency into a public health disaster. Any CDC official can confirm the concern about such a scenario.

It doesn't have to be a hurricane, either. An outbreak of forest fires, an earthquake in California, a collapse of the U.S. currency, an act of terrorism against the U.S., a 100-year flood in the Midwest... each of these could combine with an influenza event to considerably multiply the danger factor.

We should all cross our fingers and hope that no other big disasters strike in the next 12 - 18 months, because if they do, they could play into a dangerous worsening of infectious disease.

The great denial: Nutrition and influenza

By the way, it is fascinating to me that no nation has yet admitted ANY role of nutrition in combating influenza. That's a whole different article, actually. But given that influenza is obviously a health concern, and given that health is hugely determined by nutrition, diet and supplementation, don't you find it absolutely astounding that no government, no health authority and no mainstream health journalist has yet had the courage to tell the truth about influenza and vitamin D? Or influenza and zinc? It's truly astonishing. It is the 800-pound elephant in the room that no one is acknowledging.

Perhaps I'll write more about that topic in an upcoming article.

But I can tell you this: If a global pandemic occurs, I'd much rather be stuck in Ecuador than stuck in America. We've got sunlight, year-round food and low population density. And people are used to getting by without conventional medicine. Families still remember what herbs are, and they haven't been brainwashed into thinking that everything made by Mother Nature is somehow useless.

If a pandemic really does reach out across the world in the next year or so, I have no doubt it will be the nations who have discounted or ignored the value of medicinal herbs who will suffer the most.

And, yes, I'm willing to bet my life on that statement.

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About the author: Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

In addition to being the co-star of the popular GAIAM TV series called Secrets to Health, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

In 2013, Adams created the Natural News Forensic Food Laboratory, a research lab that analyzes common foods and supplements, reporting the results to the public. He is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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