Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

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josie andrews
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Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by josie andrews » Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:48 pm

Fresh air, sunlight and improvised face masks seemed to work a century ago; and they might help us now.
by Richard Hobday


When new, virulent diseases emerge, such SARS and Covid-19, the race begins to find new vaccines and treatments for those affected. As the current crisis unfolds, governments are enforcing quarantine and isolation, and public gatherings are being discouraged.

Health officials took the same approach 100 years ago, when influenza was spreading around the world. The results were mixed. But records from the 1918 pandemic suggest one technique for dealing with influenza — little-known today — was effective. Some hard-won experience from the greatest pandemic in recorded history could help us in the weeks and months ahead.

Influenza patients getting sunlight at the Camp Brooks emergency open-air hospital in Boston. Medical staff were not supposed to remove their masks. (National Archives)

Put simply, medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients; and infections among medical staff.[1] There is scientific support for this. Research shows that outdoor air is a natural disinfectant. Fresh air can kill the flu virus and other harmful germs. Equally, sunlight is germicidal and there is now evidence it can kill the flu virus.

`Open-Air’ Treatment in 1918

During the great pandemic, two of the worst places to be were military barracks and troop-ships. Overcrowding and bad ventilation put soldiers and sailors at high risk of catching influenza and the other infections that often followed it.[2,3] As with the current Covid-19 outbreak, most of the victims of so-called `Spanish flu’ did not die from influenza: they died of pneumonia and other complications.

When the influenza pandemic reached the East coast of the United States in 1918, the city of Boston was particularly badly hit. So the State Guard set up an emergency hospital. They took in the worst cases among sailors on ships in Boston harbour. The hospital’s medical officer had noticed the most seriously ill sailors had been in badly-ventilated spaces. So he gave them as much fresh air as possible by putting them in tents.

And in good weather they were taken out of their tents and put in the sun. At this time, it was common practice to put sick soldiers outdoors. Open-air therapy, as it was known, was widely used on casualties from the Western Front. And it became the treatment of choice for another common and often deadly respiratory infection of the time; tuberculosis.

Patients were put outside in their beds to breathe fresh outdoor air. Or they were nursed in cross-ventilated wards with the windows open day and night. The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.

Doctors who had first-hand experience of open-air therapy at the hospital in Boston were convinced the regimen was effective. It was adopted elsewhere. If one report is correct, it reduced deaths among hospital patients from 40 per cent to about 13 per cent.[4] According to the Surgeon General of the Massachusetts State Guard:

`The efficacy of open air treatment has been absolutely proven, and one has only to try it to discover its value.’

Fresh Air is a Disinfectant

Patients treated outdoors were less likely to be exposed to the infectious germs that are often present in conventional hospital wards. They were breathing clean air in what must have been a largely sterile environment.

We know this because, in the 1960s, Ministry of Defence scientists proved that fresh air is a natural disinfectant.[5] Something in it, which they called the Open Air Factor, is far more harmful to airborne bacteria — and the influenza virus — than indoor air. They couldn’t identify exactly what the Open Air Factor is. But they found it was effective both at night and during the daytime.

Their research also revealed that the Open Air Factor’s disinfecting powers can be preserved in enclosures — if ventilation rates are kept high enough. Significantly, the rates they identified are the same ones that cross-ventilated hospital wards, with high ceilings and big windows, were designed for.[6] But by the time the scientists made their discoveries, antibiotic therapy had replaced open-air treatment. Since then the germicidal effects of fresh air have not featured in infection control, or hospital design. Yet harmful bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Sunlight and Influenza Infection

Putting infected patients out in the sun may have helped because it inactivates the influenza virus.[7] It also kills bacteria that cause lung and other infections in hospitals.[8] During the First World War, military surgeons routinely used sunlight to heal infected wounds.[9] They knew it was a disinfectant. What they didn’t know is that one advantage of placing patients outside in the sun is they can synthesise vitamin D in their skin if sunlight is strong enough.

This was not discovered until the 1920s. Low vitamin D levels are now linked to respiratory infections and may increase susceptibility to influenza.[10] Also, our body’s biological rhythms appear to influence how we resist infections.[11] New research suggests they can alter our inflammatory response to the flu virus.[12] As with vitamin D, at the time of the 1918 pandemic, the important part played by sunlight in synchronizing these rhythms was not known.

Face Masks Coronavirus and Flu

Surgical masks are currently in short supply in China and elsewhere. They were worn 100 years ago, during the great pandemic, to try and stop the influenza virus spreading. While surgical masks may offer some protection from infection they do not seal around the face. So they don’t filter out small airborne particles. In 1918, anyone at the emergency hospital in Boston who had contact with patients had to wear an improvised face mask.

This comprised five layers of gauze fitted to a wire frame which covered the nose and mouth. The frame was shaped to fit the face of the wearer and prevent the gauze filter touching the mouth and nostrils. The masks were replaced every two hours; properly sterilized and with fresh gauze put on.

They were a forerunner of the N95 respirators in use in hospitals today to protect medical staff against airborne infection.

Temporary Hospitals

Staff at the hospital kept up high standards of personal and environmental hygiene. No doubt this played a big part in the relatively low rates of infection and deaths reported there. The speed with which their hospital and other temporary open-air facilities were erected to cope with the surge in pneumonia patients was another factor.

Today, many countries are not prepared for a severe influenza pandemic.[13] Their health services will be overwhelmed if there is one. Vaccines and antiviral drugs might help. Antibiotics may be effective for pneumonia and other complications.

But much of the world’s population will not have access to them. If another 1918 comes, or the Covid-19 crisis gets worse, history suggests it might be prudent to have tents and pre-fabricated wards ready to deal with large numbers of seriously ill cases. Plenty of fresh air and a little sunlight might help too.

Dr. Richard Hobday is an independent researcher working in the fields of infection control, public health and building design. He is the author of `The Healing Sun’.



https://medium.com/@ra.hobday/coronavir ... 9151dc8065
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

josie andrews
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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by josie andrews » Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:49 pm

A good read with common sense thrown in 😊
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

DaveO
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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by DaveO » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:07 pm

I thought most people knew being in the sun helps with vitamin D. Lack of it in winter due to shorter days and not going out due to cold weather is an issue for some people.

As to the healing powers of fresh air and the sun. Viruses don't like heat. It's one reason why flu is seasonal. The flu virus doesn't survive well in the summer. The temperature has to be quite high though, 26C or above I think. Coronavirus is the same. So a prolonged heatwave would help stop it spreading as it would be killed off much quicker when otherwise it might still be transmittable.

So cases may naturally be fewer in summer (though if loads of people are already infected, "fewer" is all relative).

What is needed is a vaccine before next winter otherwise many of the measures being put in place now will need to carry on as the number of cases would likely increase again.

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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by jaws1 » Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:28 am

Use Army field hospitals with heaters well ventilated fitted with the sun lamps they use on football pitches overnight to grow grass.

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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by medlocke » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:35 pm

jaws1 wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 7:28 am
Use Army field hospitals with heaters well ventilated fitted with the sun lamps they use on football pitches overnight to grow grass.
As soon as it started to get a bit dodgy in Wuhan the government should have set up a quarantine camp on the Isle of Wight and bundled anyone who had travelled from infected regions straight into it, A big sun lamp city

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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by morley pie eater » Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:00 pm

As a young kid, when I had a cold my Auntie Edna told me to stand next to a "wagin" which was tarring the road and breathe in the sulphurous fumes. I'm sure it worked!

Also sea air apparently had more ozone which cleared your chest.

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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by Mike » Wed Mar 18, 2020 8:55 pm

morley pie eater wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 2:00 pm
As a young kid, when I had a cold my Auntie Edna told me to stand next to a "wagin" which was tarring the road and breathe in the sulphurous fumes. I'm sure it worked!

Also sea air apparently had more ozone which cleared your chest.
Hmm, ozone is pretty toxic stuff!

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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by josie andrews » Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:20 pm

This has good practical stuff..

From member of the Stanford hospital board. This is their feedback for now on Corona virus:


The new Coronavirus may not show sign of infection for many days. How can one know if he/she is infected? By the time they have fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, the lung is usually 50% Fibrosis and it's too late.

Taiwan experts provide a simple self-check that we can do every morning. Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection. In critical time, please self-check every morning in an environment with clean air.

Serious excellent advice by Japanese doctors treating COVID-19 cases:

Everyone should ensure your mouth & throat are moist, never dry. Take a few sips of water every 15 minutes at least. Why? Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your throat and into the stomach.

Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus. If you don't drink enough water more regularly, the virus can enter your windpipe and into the lungs. That's very dangerous.

Please send and share this with family and friends. Take care everyone and may the world recover from this Coronavirus soon.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT - CORONAVIRUS

1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold
2. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
3. This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a temperature of just 26/27 degrees. It hates the Sun.
4. If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne.
5. If it drops on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours - so if you come into contact with any metal surface - wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap.
6. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent will kill it.
7. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice.
8. Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes, but - a lot can happen during that time - you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on.
9. You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice.
10. Can't emphasis enough - drink plenty of water!

THE SYMPTOMS

1. It will first infect the throat, so you'll have a sore throat lasting 3/4 days
2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5/6 days further.
3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.
4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like you're drowning. It's imperative you then seek immediate attention.

SHARE WITH FAMILY and FRIENDS
Anyone can support a team when it is winning, that takes no courage.
But to stand behind a team, to defend a team when it is down and really needs you,
that takes a lot of courage.

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Mike
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Re: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Post by Mike » Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:20 pm

In general o wouldn't trust any information that comes with the social media tag "Share with your family and friends". It's a big red flag for fake news. The bit about warm temperatures for example, I've not seen a that in any government or health care statement in Europe or the US yet.

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