A possible connection between vitamin D and the Swine flu is the subject of a major Canadian study, which researchers say could eventually lead to the use of the vitamin as a flu preventative. Read more at Medical Information UK
The study, sponsored by the Public Health Agency of Canada, began in 2008. It originally focused on the role that the vitamin plays in severe seasonal influenza in general, but PHAC recently announced that the study will now be adapted to include the N1H1 or the Swine flu virus.
The study will build on existing research that started in the 1940s, looking for an association between vitamin Dlevels and serious seasonal influenza. Decades of early studies and a growing body of epidemiological evidence indicate that low levels of the vitamin are definitely correlated with susceptibility to flu viruses.
PHEA said the current study will probably be continued through three flu seasons in order to collect sufficient sample data. Ultimately, the goal is to see if the vitamin can be used to mitigate severe seasonal influenza, the PHEA announcement said.
The N1H1 virus, which is a substrain of a virus commonly found in pigs, is transmitted from person to person in the same way that other flu viruses are transmitted. Symptoms of the N1H1 virus are also the same as symptoms of other flu strains and include headache, coughing, chills, fever, muscle pain, weakness, and general discomfort.
In most cases the swine flu virus is relatively mild, but as with all seasonal flu strains, the very young, the very old, and people with underlying heath conditions can be very much at risk.
The global outbreak of N1H1 virus began in Mexico in April, 2009 and spread rapidly. In June the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a pandemic. The virus spread through the southern hemisphere with unprecedented speed, and at the same time cases were confirmed throughout the US and other countries.
The swine flu virus has been confirmed in every state in the US. On September 3 the CDC reported more than 9,000 people hospitalized because of the virus, and said a total of 583 deaths were attributed to the flu virus in the US.
Concerns remain that a variation of the virus will recirculate through the world during the upcoming flu season. In late August the WHO predicted a huge increase of cases worldwide throughout the remainder of 2009 and well into 2010. According to the WHO some countries could see the number of cases double every few days until the peak period of transmission has passed.