Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press has reported that this years’ flu vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain of flu. The flu hits hard especially in February. Last year the vaccine proved 9 percent effective in people greater than age 65. This is the  most vulnerable age group. Flu is spread from person to person. Avoiding the sick, washing hands, and keeping the immune system strong is more important than ever.

Just think for a moment about diseases that are spread from one vector to another. Many pathogens are spread from human to human like the flu. The Chikungunya virus originally found in Africa, Asia, and Europe has now moved to the Americas and islands in the Caribbean. This virus has flu-like symptoms and is spread by mosquitos. There is no medications or vaccines for this virus. Malaria is also spread by mosquitos. Sometimes animals spread disease: bats and ebola, rabbits and tularemia, pigs and trichinosis, chickens and salmonella, avian flu, mad cow disease, and rabies to name a few.Then there is contaminated feces and spread of diseases like Campylobacter. Thirty plus diseases are spread by animals and 48+ by bugs. The treatment is often an antibiotic or just living through the illness, but common sense tells me that avoiding the problem might be an easier and more effective solution in the long run.

Avoidance is one of the best methods to prevent disease. Quarantine is a useful measure to prevent the spread of disease. This method of disease control has been present through the ages  Now, let’s look around the world at the spread of chronic disease. Chronic disease would include diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Would staying away from the causative vector be a good idea? Could we quarantine people from the causative agent?

Avoid the chronic exposure and the risks of the problem diminish, just like staying away from sick people diminish our flu risk, mosquito repellent and long sleeve shirts diminish the risk of Chikungunya. Avoid cigarettes and lower the risk of lung cancer. Avoid fats and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Avoid processed foods and fats and lower the risks of hypertension. In many parts of the world diabetes is a problem. Limit the exposure to high fructose corn syrup and processed sugar and you lower the risk of “catching” diabetes. For chronic disease do we need vaccines or common sense?

As many countries are improving their rates of infectious disease, the rates of chronic disease are on the rise. Chronic disease is harmful to the economy, not only in treatment, but in lost productivity. We probably cannot quarantine a country from high fructose corn syrup, cigarettes, or fats, but it is a thought. We do not think twice against about avoiding infectious diseases and the vectors that cause the problem. Let’s use some common sense and avoid the vectors that are taking more lives than the Chikungunya virus or flu.