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Flu Virus is a Shape-Shifter

Posted by >>>>> on May 3, 2009






Evolutionary medicine expert and author of new

book offers invaluable advice.

With the U.S. declaring a public health emergency, and the CDC publicly expressing fears about the possible death toll should the swine flu continue to spread, we need expert advice fast. Enter William Meller, MD, an expert on evolutionary medicine and author of the new book Evolution Rx: A Practical Guide to Harnessing Our Innate Capacity for Health and Healing. Meller explains the origins of the flu virus in his book and gives invaluable advice on how to protect ourselves from its ever-evolving new strains.

Here’s just some of what he can discuss:

  • Why the flu virus is like a shape-shifter from a science fiction novel.

“…the flu virus changes its outward appearance rapidly. Shrouded in an ever-varying coat of proteins, like a shape-shifter in a science fiction novel, it cloaks itself to hide from our immune systems,” says Meller. This is why it is so good at jumping from one animal to another, from birds to pigs and from pigs to people. Meller will offer a lay person’s primer on how this helps the flu virus to outsmart our immune systems.

  • Be prepared, be safe

Flu virus spreads through the air. Coughing and sneezing are part of the virus’s evolutionary strategy to get to the next victim. We should not encourage sick people to “cough it up.” Wearing an inexpensive mask is far more effective than any medicine we have at preventing the spread of the flu. When you are exposed to someone with the flu or caring for them, washing your hands frequently with soap and water will also cut down on transmission. Also, Meller says that to be prepared we keep a few days’ worth of extra food in the house and buy face masks before the rush is on at the pharmacy.

  • Why quarantine is effective and worth the price.

“Quarantine is expensive, inconvenient, and may even deprive some people of their civil rights for a short period. But that price will be miniscule compared to the devastation of a full-blown pandemic caused by a new flu,” says Meller. He’ll discuss why he supports this controversial measure in certain situations and when he would urge it for the swine flu threat.

  • The evolution of the flu

Flu epidemics are relatively recent phenomena. Meller will offer a reveling glimpse into the past flu pandemics and share what the latest evolutionary research tells us about the history of the flu.

The first recorded one occurred in the 1500s. Flu can’t spread unless it gets into a large enough groups. Back in the Stone Age, we lived in small tribes and never lived in close contact with the kinds of herd and flock animals in which the flu evolved. Not until we lived in towns and cities could the flu survive long enough in humans to be a problem.


Dr. William Meller is a board certified internist as well as one of the nation’s leading practitioners of evolutionary medicine.

Having explored health customs and traditions in Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Myanmar, China, Mongolia, Peru, Argentina, and many other countries, Meller has discovered many connections between ancient indigenous medical practices and our evolutionary roots in the robust, nomadic tribes of the Stone Age. He has in turn integrated these discoveries with the most up to date medical research into his successful medical practice at the MedCenters of Santa Barbara (CA), a clinic with three offices and some 36,000 patient visits annually.

He is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and also served for more than a decade as a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California. He also co-teaches a pioneering course on evolutionary medicine in the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Dr. Meller received his undergraduate degree from UCSB and his M.D. from the Georgetown University School of Medicine.


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