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Sunshine and Natural Ventilation, lots of it as the cure for the flu?

An article appearing in the American Journal of Public Health describes a number of approaches to dealing pandemic flu outbreaks including the devastating global pandemic of 1918, as well as some more recent ones. It praises the approaches of placing diseased patients in “open air” environments, focusing on the benefits of exposure to plentiful fresh air and sunlight, without ignoring the importance of “scrupulous standards of hygiene” and the use of reusable face masks. As the H1N1 infection spreads now, the advice is not without relevance.

The article is available on line at

Our sources suggest that the sunlight may be important for the synthesis of Vitamin D, often lacking especially during the darker portion of the year due to a lack of sunlight exposure. Some suggest that in northern latitudes there simply is not enough sun intensity for the necessary exposure. Recently published findings are now suggesting that Vitamin D may important for proper immune system functioning and could play a role in resistance to infections such as the influenza virus.

Hobday RA and Cason JW: The Open-Air Treatment of Pandemic Influenza. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: 99;S236-S242; SUPPL. 2, 2009.

ABSTRACT: THE H1N1 "Spanish Flu" outbreak of 1918-1919 was the most devastating pandemic on record, killing between 50 million and 100 million people should the next influenza pandemic prove equally virulent, there could be more than 300 million deaths globally, the conventional view is that little could have been done to prevent the h1n1 virus from spreading or to treat those infected; however. There is evidence to the contrary. Records from an "open-air" hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, suggest that some patients and staff were spared the worst of the outbreak A combination of fresh air, sunlight, scrupulous standards of hygiene, and reusable face masks appears to have substantially reduced deaths among some patients and infections among medical staff We argue that temporary hospitals should be a priority in emergency planning Equally, other measures adopted during the 1918 pandemic melt more attention than they currently receive (Am J Public Health 2009;99:S236-S242. doi 10.2105/AJPH.2008.134627)