Prepared Citizens

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  • Previous Posts

  • Michael Osterholm Quotes:

    “What we need to be doing now is the basic planning of how we get our communities through 12 to 18 months of a pandemic.”

    “Ninety-five out of 100 will live. But with the nation in crisis, will we have food and water? Are we going to have police and security? Will people come to work at all?”

    “It's the perfect setup. Then you put air travel in and it could be around the world overnight.”

    “We can predict now 12 to 18 months of stress of watching loved ones die, of wondering if you are going to have food on the table the next day. Those are all things that are going to mean that we are going to have to plan -- unlike any other crisis that we have had in literally the last 80-some years in this country.”

  • US Health and Human Services

    Secretary Michael Leavitt

    "If there is one message on pandemic preparedness that I could leave today that you would remember, it would be this:

    Any community that fails to prepare with the expectation that the federal government or for that matter the state government will be able to step forward and come to their rescue at the final hour will be tragically wrong,

    not because government will lack a will, not because we lack a collective wallet, but because there is no way that you can respond to every hometown in America at the same time."
  • Joseph C. Napoli, MD of Resiliency LLC

    "I think a new meaning is evolving for resiliency and resilience.

    In some contexts the words are being used to mean the strength to resist being impacted by an adverse event rather than either the “capacity to rebound” or “act of rebounding” from adversity.

    Therefore, resiliency and resilience appear to be assuming the meaning of fortitude, that is, “the strength or firmness of mind that enables a person to encounter danger with coolness and courage or to bear pain or adversity without despondency” as defined in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

    If so, we are coming full circle with science accepting a religious moral virtue – fortitude – as written in the Bible’s Book of Wisdom"




  • Faith Based Resources

    John Piper
    Jonathan Edwards
    Reformation
    Pink-Saving Faith
    Pink-Christian Ethics

    "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves"
    (2 Corinthians 13:5).

    Why Faith Groups Must Care

    When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper

    Stand

    Be Not Afraid
    Overcoming the fear of Death
    by Johann Christoph Arnold







    While I am not a professional journalist, I do embrace the code of ethics put forth by the Society of Professional Journalists and the statement of purpose by the Association of Health Care Journalists and above all else I strive to "do no harm".


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  • Definitions

    from Wikipedia



    Pandemic Influenza


    An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of the influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population.

    In contrast to the regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly, with the 1918 Spanish flu the most serious pandemic in recent history.

    Pandemics can cause high levels of mortality, with the Spanish influenza being responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people.

    There have been about 3 influenza pandemics in each century for the last 300 years. The most recent ones were the Asian Flu in 1957 and the Hong Kong Flu in 1968.



    Seasonal Influenza


    Flu season is the portion of the year in which there is a regular outbreak in flu cases.

    It occurs during the cold half of the year in each hemisphere.

    Flu activity can sometimes be predicted and even tracked geographically. While the beginning of major flu activity in each season varies by location, in any specific location these minor epidemics usually take about 3 weeks to peak and another 3 weeks to significantly diminish.

    Individual cases of the flu however, usually only last a few days. In some countries such as Japan and China, infected persons sometimes wear a surgical mask out of respect for others.



    Avian (Bird) Flu
    Avian influenza,

    sometimes Avian flu, and commonly Bird flu refers to "influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds."


    "Bird flu" is a phrase similar to "Swine flu", "Dog flu", "Horse flu", or "Human flu" in that it refers to an illness caused by any of many different strains of influenza viruses that have adapted to a specific host.

    All known viruses that cause influenza in birds belong to the species: Influenza A virus.

    All subtypes (but not all strains of all subtypes) of Influenza A virus are adapted to birds, which is why for many purposes avian flu virus is the Influenza A virus (note that the "A" does not stand for "avian").
    Adaptation is non-exclusive.

    Being adapted towards a particular species does not preclude adaptations, or partial adaptations, towards infecting different species.

    In this way strains of influenza viruses are adapted to multiple species, though may be preferential towards a particular host.

    For example, viruses responsible for influenza pandemics are adapted to both humans and birds.

    Recent influenza research into the genes of the Spanish Flu virus shows it to have genes adapted to both birds and humans; with more of its genes from birds than less deadly later pandemic strains.

    H5N1 Strain


    Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1, is a subtype of the Influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species.

    A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1", is the causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu".

    It is enzootic in many bird populations, especially in Southeast Asia. One strain of HPAI A(H5N1) is spreading globally after first appearing in Asia.

    It is epizootic (an epidemic in nonhumans) and panzootic (affecting animals of many species, especially over a wide area), killing tens of millions of birds and spurring the culling of hundreds of millions of others to stem its spread.

    Most references to "bird flu" and H5N1 in the popular media refer to this strain.



    As of the July 25, 2008 FAO Avian Influenza Disease Emergency Situation Update, H5N1 pathogenicity is continuing to gradually rise in wild birds in endemic areas but the avian influenza disease situation in farmed birds is being held in check by vaccination.

    Eleven outbreaks of H5N1 were reported worldwide in June 2008 in five countries (China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam) compared to 65 outbreaks in June 2006 and 55 in June 2007.

    The "global HPAI situation can be said to have improved markedly in the first half of 2008 [but] cases of HPAI are still underestimated and underreported in many countries because of limitations in country disease surveillance systems".





    Pandemic Severity Index


    The Pandemic Severity Index (PSI) is a proposed classification scale for reporting the severity of influenza pandemics in the United States.

    The PSI was accompanied by a set of guidelines intended to help communicate appropriate actions for communities to follow in potential pandemic situations. [1]

    Released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on February 1, 2007, the PSI was designed to resemble the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale





    From the Massachusetts Health and Human Services



    Isolation


    refers to separating people who are ill from other people to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.



    Quarantine


    refers to separating and restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a communicable disease and are not yet ill.
  • Additional Information

    Creative Commons License
    Prepared Citizens by Catherine "Jackie" Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
    Based on a work at http://www.preparedcitizens.org.




    The posts on this site are subject to change. Mostly due to errors in spelling or grammar. I never said I am a professional journalist. I have new appreciation for the job that they do. Also, not all comments made by others will make it onto this site. Comments that advertise a commercial product do not get posted most of the time.


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  • standingfirm

What Has Not Changed With The Election of A New President

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 7, 2008

Eternal truths do not change, thankfully so.

We elect new presidents, new ideologies are promoted, new ideas explored, yet the Glory of God is the eternal light that illuminates the path ahead.

To be honest, this election stirred up fear deep within my soul. The outcome of the election caused me to become depressed and disillusioned – I had the opposite of hope. I had deep despair. I was brought so low by this despair especially for the unborn, so low that I could have lost sight of the much larger vision of all that is under God’s control.

Even within my despair this verse kept weighing heavily on me. For good reason. The Holy Spirit was and is continually reminding me of the right heart response.

We must do what is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Pray for All People

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Often when I find myself unable to see my way through to heart full of thanksgiving I grab Foxe’s Book of Martyrs or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings. I live in less trying times for now and searching out the wisdom and insight of others who have lived in more difficult times or under more difficult circumstances and remained true, well, there is light unto my own path.

Not knowing what is ahead – how our young president will be tested, how we all will be tested, I found this gem that spoke to me. Perhaps it will speak to you also.

“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things.

The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.

But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge.

To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.

The wise man is aware of the limited receptiveness of reality for principles; for he knows that reality is not built upon principles but that it rests upon the living and creating God.

He knows too, therefore that reality cannot be helped by even the purest of principles or even the best of wills, but only by the living God.

Principles are only the tools in God’s hand, soon to be thrown away as unserviceable.

To look in freedom at God and at reality, which rests solely upon him, this is to combine simplicity with wisdom.

There is no true simplicity without wisdom and there is no wisdom without simplicity.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So what has changed over the last 72 hours other than the realization that change is coming – for better, for worse – no man can know.

We still must be about our day, living and loving with the same intensity, the same morality, the same devotion to Christ Jesus that causes us to love our neighbor and even our enemy as well as our friend – in season and out of season.

We still must be respectful and obedient to authority, rendering unto Caesar all that is Caesar’s and unto God all that is God’s. And we still must do so being wise as serpent’s and harmless as doves.

A pandemic threat remains. And even now there is yet another death in Indonesia where H5N1 is suspected as the cause

Could this be the international crisis that tests the mettle of our new, young, president and our mettle as Americans? It could very well be. This is the simple reality that we must face. And there is wisdom in this simplicity.

Paul tells us what our response must be, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” I is health for us to desire a peaceful and quiet life in order that we may live godly and dignified. He tells us how this is accomplished – through supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings made for ALL people, for kings and all who are in high positions.

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

By heaping coals of kindness.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

~Romans 12:9-21

Our world is our mission field and we are all ambassadors of Christ Jesus. Through death, illness, pain, suffering – I pray for the strength and resilience of all.

Onward and Upwards

Posted in politics, Public Health | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Home Drug Stockpiles for Flu Pandemic

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 4, 2008

It is amazing to me that as an adult responsible for all areas of my life I cannot be allowed to be trusted with medications that may save my life and the lives of my loved ones in case of a pandemic.

It boggles my mind why, when many in government are telling us that we will “be on our own” we once again are being held back from the information or tools we will need in our arsenal to fight pandemic influenza “on our own”.

This contradiction infuriates me.

Instead we will have to rely on volunteers who may not show up to distribute these drugs during our time of need. We will have to venture out to receive these drugs at the exact time that we should not be congregating. And we will be taxing a system and people who will be needed for other things.

We are allowed to vote, to own guns, to be parents, to drive cars, to decide all manner of things that could potentially have an impact on hundreds of lives and yet…

U.S. questions home drug stockpiles for flu pandemic

Updated Thu. Oct. 30 2008 8:16 AM ET

The Associated Press

BETHESDA, Md. — Should people be allowed or even urged to buy and store in their homes flu drugs for use in an influenza pandemic? The U.S. government, which has been grappling with how to distribute antiviral drugs in the anticipated chaos of a pandemic, believes the idea bears exploring.

But discussions Wednesday of a panel of experts convened to advise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the idea showed just how many sticky issues are enmeshed in the proposal to allow pharmaceutical companies to sell "flu medkits."

Concerns were raised about whether people could be trusted to store and use the drugs appropriately and whether misuse might fuel the development of resistance to the few influenza drugs on the market. Some experts worried whether parents would be able to gauge the amount of drug their children would need and mix a solution – by breaking open capsules – based on the child’s weight.

Still others echoed the concerns raised by representatives of physician and pharmacist groups who argued against taking the responsibility for deciding when a person needs a prescription drug out of the hands of medical professionals.

please read the rest of the article here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How many parents have had to learn to inject their children with insulin? How many people have to learn inject themselves and manage their diabetes —and they do it quite well.

Basically this FDA advisory committee believes that "the hapless public is simply too ignorant to be trusted with this responsibility"

Not only should we have ready access antivirals, we will need antibiotics as well with instructions on how and when, and when not to, use these drugs. Given the opportunity people will follow the guidelines.

What we should have on hand in Home Pandemic Influenza Kits: (a partial list)

Good Home Treatment of Influenza <——free download! – book by Grattan Woodson MD

Antivirals (Tamiflu or Relenza) – currently not available to consumers for stockpiling

Antibiotics (Zithromycin or Ciprofloxin) currently not available to consumers for stockpiling

Acetaminophen

Ibuprofen

Oral Rehydration Solution (salt, sugar, no salt, water) recipes can be found here and here.

[The basic recipes is 1 quart of water, 1 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp sugar – flavored drink mix can be added to make it more palatable but watch the sugar content if this substitution is made]

Baking soda

OTC anti-diarrheal medication

OTC anti-nausea medication

Benadryl

Robitussin DM or Mucinex

Hand Sanitizers (and plenty of soap)

N-95 Masks

Thermometers (especially the disposable kind)

 

Posted in Prepare, Public Health | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Christian Ambassadors Highlighted: The Salvation Army

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 3, 2008

“Doing The Most Good”

"WE ARE CARRIERS OF HOPE. A SHOULDER TO CRY ON IN DESPERATE TIMES. WE ARE ROLE MODELS IN BUSINESS AND EVERYDAY LIFE, MAKING A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO OUR COMMUNITIES. WE ARE THOSE WHO SEEK TO BE LIVING EXAMPLES OF CHRIST’S LOVE."

For many of us the only contact that we have with the Salvation Army are the bell ringers outside of retail stores during the Christmas season.

Founded in July 1865 by William Booth, the Salvation Army began preaching the hope that is found in Jesus Christ to the destitute in the slums of London leading many to salvation in the Lord. William was unsettled by the poverty that existed around him, many of those destitute souls were unwelcome into the churches. Booth believed that church ministers should be “loosing the chains of injustice, freeing the captive and oppressed, sharing food and home, clothing the naked, and carrying out family responsibilities.”

“In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” ~ William Booth

William’s wife, Catherine, was known as the “Army Mother” and she was co-founder of the organization with her husband. No small feat at the time since the 1860’s were not known to be the most progressive of times for women. Catherine Booth became a preacher, theologian and evangelist. She believed that Christians must be passionate about their faith.

“If we are to better the future we must disturb the present” ~Catherine Booth

It was in 1860 that Catherine first realized her calling to preach when she rose to give her first sermon, quite unplanned and risking censure.

Salvation Army meetings were characterized by having altar calls to salvation, singing, music, clapping and generally a joyous time in the Lord, also quite different than the worship style of the time.

Many members of the Salvation Army were imprisoned for bucking the status quo. They argued for temperance and for better working conditions for women in phosphorus match factories. They were engaged in the battles of their time.

And as it was then, so it is now with the Salvation Army.

Our Disaster Relief Program

The Salvation Army is often among the first on the scene when disaster strikes. Officers are trained to meet all kinds of emergencies by providing food, shelter, clothing and spiritual comfort. Disaster canteens have become familiar sights to firemen, policemen and victims alike.

from their Disaster Services page

Federal law has reaffirmed The Salvation Army’s authority to provide disaster assistance with the passage of the Robert T. Stafford Emergency and Disaster Assistance Act, which also created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This Act specifically names The Salvation Army as a relief and disaster assistance organization. Several factors guide The Salvation Army’s role in responding to disasters. These guiding factors include:

  • The Salvation Army has an established right to provide disaster relief services. That right is recognized by public law and through signed Memorandums of Understanding and Agreements (MOUs) with government agencies and other voluntary organizations.
  • The Salvation Army’s disaster relief services are supported solely by donations.
  • The Salvation Army is not a first responder; rather, it supports first responders.
  • The Salvation Army is a mass-care support agency.

The Salvation Army’s Goals in Emergency Disaster Services When The Salvation Army initiates a disaster relief operation, the first aim is to meet the basic needs of those who have been affected, both survivors and first responders (such as firefighters). Even at this level, The Salvation Army’s workers are ministering in that they serve as a means of expressing God?s love. The Salvation Army’s goals are to offer:

  • Material comfort
  • Physical comfort
  • Emotional comfort
  • Spiritual comfort

The Salvation Army provides help as an outgrowth of faith and as an act of obedience to God, but no service is withheld because of a recipient’s beliefs. If disaster relief recipients ask for prayer or spiritual counseling, The Salvation Army can provide these. The Salvation Army’s service might be described as a "ministry of presence," just as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15)

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Service Activities The Salvation Army provides numerous disaster relief services. Each disaster creates its own unique circumstances. The Salvation Army’s disaster response is community based, varying from place to place based upon the community?s situation and the magnitude of the disaster. In a disaster, The Salvation Army has the ability to provide both immediate emergency assistance and long-term recovery help .

Emergency response services are activated on short notice according to an agreed-upon notification procedure, while long-term recovery is strategically planned in response to the situation, through working and partnering with many other community entities. Even with the ability to be flexible and to respond based upon the community’s situation, there are several basic services that The Salvation Army offers in most major disasters. These services, described below, form the core of The Salvation Army’s disaster services program.

Food Service

The most visible of The Salvation Army’s disaster services is the delivery of meals and drinks to disaster victims and emergency workers. Food may be prepared and served at congregate feeding sites (such as a Salvation Army corps building, camp or shelter) or from one of the Army’s mobile feeding units/canteens, which are essentially kitchens on wheels. Nourishment is provided at other types of events, such as:

  • Search and rescue operations
  • Law enforcement activities
  • School violence incidents
  • Disaster drills
  • Training exercises
  • Special Events

Hydration Service

Hydration service provides beverages which replenish electrolytes (minerals such as potassium), enhance energy and which meet general hydration requirements for those served. Hydration service is offered to affected people and service providers. Hydration service is often used to augment disaster food service. In some situations, however, hydration may be all that is required. Some situations where hydration service is provided alone include:

  • Where food is not the most immediate basic need, such as at public events where people may become victims of heat exposure.
  • When consumption of food is not safe, such as when air borne contaminants are present.
  • Where and when a local Department of Health restricts the serving of food.
  • When security management does not allow food service.

Emergency Shelter

When necessary, The Salvation Army provides shelter in a facility identified by the local emergency management personnel. These facilities include:

  • Municipal shelters, such as schools
  • Salvation Army buildings
  • Other facilities that are predetermined by authorities

Cleanup and Restoration

The Salvation Army supports people as they restore and rebuild after a disaster. Cleanup and restoration services include:

  • Distribution of cleanup supplies such as mops, brooms, buckets, shovels, detergents, and tarps.
  • Coordination of volunteer rebuilding teams.
  • Set up of warehouses to distribute reconstruction supplies such as lumber and sheetrock.

Donations Management

The Salvation Army is one of the nation’s leaders in collecting, sorting, and distributing donated goods. During a disaster, The Salvation Army may:

  • Open disaster warehouses to receive and sort donations.
  • Establish distribution centers to dispense goods directly to disaster victims.
  • Use donations to support other disaster programs, such as mass feeding and cleanup.

Spiritual and Emotional Care

The Salvation Army provides spiritual comfort and emotional support to disaster victims and emergency workers coping with the stress of a disaster. Salvation Army counselors, who are often ordained as clergy (officers), may simply offer a "ministry of presence," but often people who know about The Salvation Army as representatives of God may ask for prayer or help from the Bible. At Ground Zero following 9/11, one of the most critical ministries of The Salvation Army was counseling firefighters, police, and morgue workers who were struggling with the enormity of the tragedy. Other examples of spiritual and emotional care activities include:

  • Comforting the injured and bereaved
  • Conducting funeral and memorial services
  • Providing chaplaincy service to disaster workers and emergency management personnel

Disaster Social Services

The Salvation Army provides direct financial assistance to disaster victims through a system of trained caseworkers. This assistance is available for:

  • Essential living supplies, such as food, clothing, medicine, bedding, or baby products
  • Emergency housing needs
  • Disaster-related medical or funeral expenses

Emergency Communications (SATERN)

Through The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network ( www.SATERN.org ) and other amateur radio groups, The Salvation Army helps provide emergency communications when more traditional networks, such as telephones, are not operating. These teams:

  • Relay critical information about the disaster.
  • Transmit welfare inquiries from friends and family members who are otherwise unable to reach loved ones in the disaster area.

Administration

This service provides the support to keep the other services functioning and includes:

  • Clerical and office support
  • Purchasing and accounting
  • Statistics and reports
  • Documentation for authorities
  • Personnel, staff and trained volunteers
  • Management of spontaneous volunteers

The Salvation Army FY 2006/2007 Service Statistics

This summary represents a combining of data extracted from the Audited Financial Statements of six USA corporations. Four of these – the Central Territory, the Eastern Territory, the Southern Territory and the Western Territory – supervise 8,500 units of operation throughout the United States including Puerto Rico, Guam and the Marshall Islands. The two remaining corporations are the World Service Office and the National Corporation. Inter-corporation transactions have been eliminated for presentation purposes.

 

Centers of Operation

 

People Served

 
Corps 1,263 Basic Social Services 14,659,684
Outposts and Service Centers 175 Holiday Assistance 4,335,870
Rehabilitation Centers 156 Summer & Day Camp 204,366
Thrift Shops 1,371 Disaster Assistance 1,203,683
Community Centers, Boys/Girls Club 365 Persons Visited in Institutions 3,046,031
Child Day-Care Centers 154 Job Referrals 103,776
Adult Day-Care Centers 18 Correctional Services 502,106
Senior Citizen Centers 271 Community Centers Participants 1,114,909
Group Homes / Temp Housing 538 Persons Served in SA Institutions 1,131,581
Permanent Residences 75 Substance Abuse Rehabilitation 340,258
Medical Facilities 52 Medical Care 52,334
Service Units 2936 Transportation Provided 831,968
Camps 7 Missing Persons 148,856
Divisions 40 Day Care 166,503
Training Colleges 4 Senior Citizens 1,033,094
Other 221    
Total Centers of Operations 7,686 Total Persons Assisted 28,875,019
 

"…WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO MINISTER TO MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, NO MATTER THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES, AND IT COULD NOT HAPPEN IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT OF THE SOLDIER."

 

 

So this year, when you see the bell ringers outside of your favorite retail store please remember all the good that the Salvation Army has done, does, and will continue to do in the times ahead.

They truly are wonderful Christian Ambassadors.

 

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The Christian Manifesto – A Sunday Post

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 2, 2008

Citizenship, Allegiance, and Ambassadorship

Prepared Citizens. I like to think of myself as a prepared citizen. I may not have three months of food or medications, yet, but I still consider myself almost fully prepared for whatever comes my way. Our world is changing. Many things threaten to overtake us. Yet I am not afraid. It is wonderful to be prepared – I am prepared to face change (good or bad).

I am prepared to face economic hard times. I am prepared to face grave illness. I am prepared to face death. I am prepared to have unspeakable joy. I am prepared to have peace. I am prepared to be thankful in all circumstances, I am prepared to put my needs last, I am prepared to bring glory to God.

I am prepared.

And I am prepared to help others. Whether that be helping ill neighbors by bringing them food or information or praying with them over their ill loved ones, I am prepared to love others.

I am prepared to give a reason for the hope that is inside of me. In faith, I am prepared to love – and I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus to be prepared as well.

I have dual citizenship. Primarily I am a citizen of heaven and my allegiance is to God first. As a U.S. citizen, I must serve with integrity obeying the laws of my earthly abode unless those laws conflict with God’s law, and to that law I will always obey first fully prepared to accept the consequences of my actions and my stand if there is a conflict. The only way that there would be a conflict is if I am an ambassador in a country that is hostile to the Word of God. We have been blessed in the United States. Our laws, as many as I am aware of, have been in harmony with the Truth that we have been given. On the eve of change, I hope that this always is the case. Recognizing my own legal alien status, I have been thinking a great deal about what it means to be a Christian Ambassador in what may become a post-Christian world.

 

The Christian Ambassador

 

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. ~1 Peter 3:13-16

I am a resident ambassador, and I do try to be a good representative on behalf of Jesus Christ. As an ambassador I realize that I must be equipped to serve…

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. ~Ephesians 4:11-16

And I am willing to be recalled to my primary home at any time. As a Christian ambassador my primary message is one of hope. Yes, prepare. Yes, be ready for the day of trouble. But always remember that God our Father is in control and cares deeply for us. We prepare, and allow others to see us prepare, but we must also speak of our hope because that IS the primary message. We must be ready in season and out of season to give an explanation for the unworried hope that we do have.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  ~Matthew 6:24-34

 

The purpose of each believer, each ambassador of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven is to do all for the glory of God…

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~1 Corinthians 10:31

In order to accomplish this, we are to be like Jesus Christ. Our example, our perfect model ambassador.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.

~Philippians 2:3-18

I do not read this as stay home, stay away from the world, stay disengaged, stay out of the darkness. We are “as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life”….”in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation”.

As ambassadors our relationship with God is pre-eminent…. We are the Lord’s.

For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  ~Romans 14:7-8

Our relationships with others…we are slaves to all.

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

~1 Corinthians 9:19-22

And we are to walk our path with confidence and unafraid.

We are ministers of a new covenant.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. ~2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Why we are ambassadors

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death works in us, but life in you.

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.

For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

~2 Corinthians 4:1-18

The power of the Gospel, how does Our Lord want you, me, us, to stand in THAT day? For surely that day is now. Every life lives in that day.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

The treasure entrusted to us is the gospel of Our Lord. Are we to bury that treasure? I think not.

As ambassadors we are to be ready, ever vigilant for opportunities to represent Jesus Christ, unashamedly, unabashedly, ever-willing to seize the opportunity to live and die for His gospel. Without compromise, stepping up to each challenge that presents itself.

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. ~Galatians 1:6-10

As ambassadors we are to be patient and reasonable. Not quarrelsome, but not without courage. Respectful and gentle, reasonable but not boasting in ourselves. We are to engage others and listen to their fears and concerns and always must be ready to give the reason for our inner convictions and hope. We are to speak so that we may be understood, and not with lofty words and ego driven phrases. We are to be empathetic and understanding of the hurt and brokenness that leads people away from the gospel of Christ and the Father, understanding always that people think they way they do because there is merit in what they think.

We should never misrepresent the difficulties a Christian faces. We should always be honest and forthright, humble and meek fully aware that we do not know everything and completely understanding that we are still imperfect and fallible. We must always remember that we are dependent on God’s grace and mercy in all things and we ourselves cannot act or speak honorably of Jesus Christ apart from this grace.

There is but one path to God, and one gate that we must enter through, Jesus Christ.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead –by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”

He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." ~Acts 4:8-12

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The “All Health Hazards” Preparation and Why It IS Necessary

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 1, 2008

As mentioned before on this blog, the all-hazards approach to disaster has been a great boon to us all. Infectious diseases require their own preparation over and above the general preparation that the all-hazards approach teaches us.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is specific when encountering a health hazard as well as the treatment we provide our loved ones and community members. Also the length of time that we have to deal with the disaster is extended – weeks or months as opposed to days or weeks for hurricanes, tornadoes and fires.

Emerging (a new infection) and re-emerging diseases (those on the increase over the last 20 years) which have changed or “drifted” and are now striking us with a renewed vigor, something to pay attention to. And now there are the drug resistant forms (those that once were sensitive to antibiotics or other medicines and no longer are). Some diseases like mumps, measles and pertussis, once kept at bay through immunization, are gaining a foothold as more children are not vaccinated against them. We lose ‘herd immunity’, allowing these diseases to again kill and maim.

Borrowing heavily from “Germs Go Global

” – a Trust For Americas Health Report…

Some of the factors cited that are leading to emergence of these diseases; “Microbial adaptation, climate and weather, changing ecosystems, human demographics, international travel and commerce, breakdown of public health measures, poverty,…” Public complacency and apathy might also be added to the list. As drug companies pursue profits vaccine research and development falls by the wayside leaving us without vaccine and necessary drugs to fight infections.

Our three biggest infectious disease threats (HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria) have no effective vaccines to thwart their advance. Through education and awareness lives can be saved and disease spread held at bay until vaccines can be developed, if there is the political will to do so.

HIV/AIDS – “an emerging infectious disease that sparked a worldwide pandemic. Globally, in 2007, nearly 33 million people were reported to be living with HIV. More than 980,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the U.S. since it was first reported in this country in 1981”.

Tuberculosis (TB) – “More than one-third of the global population is infected with TB”…”In 2006, there were 14.4 million people living with active TB worldwide”. Because treatment for TB begs non-compliance due to the length of treatment, the amount of drugs required, and the discipline required in following the protocol, non-compliance is leading to the emergence of new drug resistant forms of the illness. Newly emergent forms: XDR-TB and MDR-TB have even more far reaching, grave, implications.

Malaria – Once “nearly eliminated in the U.S.”, “sporadic cases” have been reported.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) – A severe, newly emergent infectious disease caused by the coronavirus, the virus that causes the common cold. Within six weeks in 2002 the virus causes 8,000+ people to become infected and 774 of them died. Closely examining SARS, the rapid spread, and the economic impact of the illness is an indicator of what a pandemic of influenza will do in our modern societies.

H5N1 Avian Influenza – is becoming more adapted to the human respiratory tract. As it does so it becomes more easily transmissible as a sustained human to human virus.

Hepatitis C – “In 2006, there were an estimated 19,000 new hepatitis C virus infections in the U.S. and an estimated 3.2 million Americans have chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Approximately 8,000 – 10,000 people die every year from hepatitis C related liver disease”.

Lyme Disease  – First recognized in it’s current iteration in 1975 when a cluster of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme and Old Lyme, CT caught the attention of local physicians from Yale University.

Transmitted by ticks, on the East Coast the deer tick and in the West, the black-legged tick. Infection can spread to the heart, the nervous system and to joints – it is a painful and debilitating illness. Typically successfully treated by antibiotics, antibiotic resistance can and does develop in later stages of the illness.

Urbanization and deforestation is implicated in the spread of this disease as more humans live in tick infested areas.

Legionnaire’s Disease – Legionella bacteria first emerged in 1976 at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. A type of pneumonia that is usually found during the summer and fall months but can occur at any time of the year.

Mumps , Measles , and Pertussis – These childhood illnesses are in the news headlines with increasing frequency as vaccination compliance drops off. Measles is a highly infectious disease carries the weight of severe and sometimes permanent complications.

Resource: Parents Guide to Childhood Immunization

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) – Once predominately a hospital acquired infection, MRSA has become endemic in some of our community settings. MRSA infects wounds and becomes a systemic illness leading to tissue destruction and death. It is very painful and very difficult to treat. And there is evidence that the drugs used to treat the infections are losing their effectiveness.

The tropical diseases:

Dengue Fever – “A flu-like illness that can be painful and debilitating…transmitted by mosquitoes. The more severe dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndromes can be fatal”. “…public health experts believe that dengue is one of the world’s most important re-emerging diseases”. “Mosquitoes that can transmit the illness have been found in 36 U.S. states and are pf particular concern along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Puerto Rico”.

Yellow Fever – “Brazil reported it’s first outbreak of yellow fever…since the 1940’s”.

The report also cites the “potential deliberate use of pathogens as agents of bioterrorism”. From anthrax to hantavirus, we can no longer afford to ignore these possible threats. “Developing effective medical countermeasures against deliberately emerging diseases has become a national priority”.

Preparedness cannot be left up to Congress, the President, state or even local public health officials.

Trust for America’s Health includes several recommendations for detection, response, and deterrence, of these disease threats. A good start is to read this report and fully understand what we, as a nation and globally, we are up against.

In my humble opinion apathy is an enemy. As a nation we need to build up our public health infrastructure. Funding for public health in our communities must be increased in order to attract the best and brightest into the field. By bolstering and enhancing our public health response efforts we take more of the burden off of our health care practitioners enabling them to concentrate more on disease treatment while public health leaders focus on prevention and mitigation efforts. Working disease surveillance systems and further educating the public as to what they can do to stop the spread of infectious disease is crucial. The “many hands” approach is most appropriate because no single entity within our communities, our states, or our nation, can bear the brunt of the burden alone, especially in these economic times.

Infectious diseases know no borders, do not respect human divisions like race, creed, or economic status. They strike wherever they will and our efforts to curtail them must also reach across any divides that we have already in place within our healthcare, emergency service, and public health infrastructures. An open dialogue within our nation and communities is greatly needed.

 

Resource: Germs Go Global – Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are A Threat To America from Trust for America’s Health

 

 

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University of Minnesota Breaks Guinness World Record

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 1, 2008

 

11,538 total shots!

 
A video advertising their Flu Shot challenge
 
A news report of their effort
 

“The University of Minnesota broke the Guinness World Record for most flu shots in one day with a whopping 11,538 total shots”.

 

Congratulations University of Minnesota on a job well done!

 

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Preparing for an All Hazards Health Disaster

Posted by preparedcitizens on November 1, 2008

The “all-hazards” approach to disaster preparedness has served us well over recent years. As a nation we learned from the horrible disaster that was Katrina. We learned, we applied, we grew stronger. And those of us in harms way responded much better to recent hurricanes and other disasters. All would agree that over-reaction is preferable to under-reaction.

“Better safe than sorry”

Preparedness works

. It is healthy and wise to apply the lessons that we learn. Preparedness does not bring about disaster but it sure does make us able to react when there is a need to. Even when reacting is inconvenient or turns out to be unnecessary, we are much better off having learned, prepared, and drilled in our response. Preparedness is truly the “do no harm” approach.

No one knows with any certainty what each day, week, or month will bring. What trouble will be on our plate at any given time, changes. The beauty of preparedness is that the more prepared you are to weather a storm the better.

Off and on over the years we have been more physically prepared than other times. We have also had some times where we had to rely on the preparedness that we had done. Medical bills, or some other minor catastrophe made our bills threaten to overwhelm us. Having food stored up saw us through the month. But this is not something that we are used to doing, it does take a little more effort to store more in our home — but once again we are doing so.

Seeing some older women at our local grocery store preparing (I admit to eavesdropping on their conversation – it was in a public place) motivated me to continue on with our own preparedness efforts.

Do I know for certain that H5N1 will spark the next global pandemic, no. But it sure is a virus to watch. Can a pandemic arise from some other virus or other pathogen, yes. There are quite a few that are currently being tracked and monitored right now.

This is why we prepare. History tells us that pandemics come in cycles and they come from a variety of sources. We have reached that part of the cycle where we should be ready.

Pandemic preparedness also prepares us for many other health-related disasters where we would need to voluntarily quarantine ourselves for a time, or keep on keeping on with a bit more precaution and safety to our everyday lives.

There are proper and improper ways to don a mask and other personal protective equipment and when we should wear them. They need to be stocked in our homes ahead of time.

There are rehydration solution recipes that we can have in our homes. Rehydration is crucial. Dehydration is a killer and can be prevented.

Using soap and water is great but there are proper handwashing techniques (and here and here) that must be learned or our efforts are ineffective. Hand sanitizers are effective tools in the arsenal but should be purchased ahead of time and not be solely relied upon. They are an option when soap and water is not available.

Knowing when and for how long to close schools, this takes coordination within our towns. If there is no awareness of why this is necessary there will be unnecessary friction at a time that we can least afford it. Closing schools must be done proactively, hopefully prior to the first illness appearing in our town. In the case of pandemic influenza, the virus is transmissible before first symptoms appear. We will need to act and close schools as soon as there is illness elsewhere. We may not get the this right a few times. Better safe than sorry and we are all learning. Parents will need to know ahead of time what arrangements for there children must be made so there is proper supervision for their children in case businesses are not all closed proactively.

The more knowledge gained and the more preparedness realized the better off we all will be.

 

 

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Antimicrobial Resistant Serotype 19A Streptococcus Pneumoniae and our children

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 31, 2008

This is not about pandemic preparedness but it is a pointer to changes occurring in the world of microbes….and how this effects us and our children.

My children were always prone to ear infections. Watching them pull on their ears and cry was something hard to take for this mom. It is hard to stand back and watch our children suffer and I know that I wanted antibiotics and I wanted them immediately, just to stop the suffering.

But that may have been unwise and over the course of years the overuse of antibiotics may be the cause of these emergent drug resistant illnesses. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

My children were not able to be vaccinated with Prevnar, it was in use after they were grown, but now even that vaccine has some limitations. With the rise of Streptococcus Pneumoniae serotype 19A a new vaccine is needed.

Now, a promising vaccine may protect children under two against pneumococcal meningitis and pneumonia. 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-13) may offer broader protection in infants and children than the current vaccine in use, Prevnar. Touted as being as effective as Prevnar (PCV7), PCV13 may expand coverage for six additional serotypes found worldwide.

Streptococcus Pneumoniae is a bacterium that normally inhabits that respiratory tract. It can cause sinusitis and otitis media and as a secondary infection meningitis and pneumonia. It also causes osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, endocarditis, peritonitis, and less frequently cellulitis and brain abscesses. Streptococcus Pneumoniae is the leading cause of invasive bacterial disease in children and the elderly.

Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype19a is an antibiotic resistant bacteria which is not currently covered by Prevnar. Ear infections that do not respond to antibiotics are currently being tracked in the United States by public health officials. The subtype 19A does not respond to any antibiotics that have been approved for use in children. Levaquin, a powerful antibiotic which is approved to treat adults and is not recommended for children has had some anecdotal success. Otitis media can be a serious illness which can lead to permanent hearing loss.

The overuse of antibiotics is cited as a cause of the creation of superbugs, or drug resistant infections, which are on the rise. Physicians have begun to adopt a wise “wait and see” approach to ear infections in children holding off on using antibiotics to see if the ear infection lasts for an extended period of time. This is something parents may not be used to and may balk at, but it is with good reason that they are doing so.

from the New York Times:

Worrisome Infection Eludes a Leading Children’s Vaccine

By LAURA BEIL

Published: October 13, 2008

A highly drug-resistant germ has become a common cause of meningitis, pneumonia and other life-threatening conditions in young children. The culprit — a strain of strep bacteria — can conquer almost all antibiotics in pediatrics, and has dodged a vaccine otherwise credited with causing the number of serious infections in children to plummet.

Since 2000, American toddlers have been immunized against Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, an organism that preys largely on children younger than 5 and the elderly. Pneumococcal meningitis can be fatal, and survivors are often left with deafness and other lifelong neurological problems.

And by most measures, the vaccine has worked: by 2002, rates of infection from these bacteria had dropped as much as 80 percent in some places. But progress has now stalled, and infection with a particular type of pneumococcus, Serotype 19A, is steadily rising.

 

click here for the rest of the NYT Article

 

 

 

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On the Eve of the Election

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 31, 2008

…and on the eve of what is to come, no matter what that is.

So many times in my life I have gotten caught up in asking God, at times pleading with God, the question of “Why?”. Why have you allowed this or that to come into my life when I love you so. Why have you allowed this tragedy, or this pain. Why have you allowed it to go on for so long, when I love you so much?

It took years and years of asking the why’s and not having the answer to some of these events until much later to realize that even in the very bad things I found growth, and even blessing.

I was adopted into a dysfunctional family and abused as a child. Why, why why?

Why? Because this is how I learned to forgive. This is how I learned to endure and remain steadfast in my love for Jesus Christ. This is how I learned to have a heart for others suffering in similar ways. How else could a great glorious work have been done in my life unless some pain was allowed?

God does not promise health and prosperity to anyone.

He does not promise a painless existence or trouble free days.

In fact, He promises that we will have trouble. He allows these things so that even through the very bad things, very good can shine through.

So, on the eve of an historical and divisive election and more trouble in the world inevitably coming our way, I say do not give up hope.

Even when things are meant for bad or for evil purposes, God will use them for our good and in order to fulfill all that He has promised in the fulfillment of Scripture.

Do not give up hope.

Do not be troubled,

Do not fear that which will make you stronger

…or what will lead you to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Even when it seems like God is not to be found, all we need do is turn toward Him and He is there.

So, for me, I will continue to pray for all of our leaders, elected and not elected, no matter who they are. I will pray that Gods will is accomplished in and for their lives and that our nation remains strong and not adversarial towards Gods will. I will pray that each and every voter exercises their right to go to the polls and vote their conscience but that they do not hate or fear what is to come from any elected leader. If it is time for this nation to experience a time of trouble, so be it, and I hope and pray that we learn from whatever comes our way.

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, and  my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~2 Chronicles 7:13-14

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Pandemics Are Not Always Caused By Influenza Viruses

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 31, 2008

Global Pandemics throughout history have been caused by many different diseases.

From bubonic plague, hemorrhagic fever, HIV/AIDs, SARS, typhus, smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, influenza, scarlet fever, malaria, diphtheria, and poliomyelitis are some infectious diseases that have resulted in epidemic or pandemic outbreaks. today, there are the drug resistant diseases like tuberculosis and MRSA which threaten to outpace modern science as far as treatment and containment are concerned.

With all of our modern medical knowledge and modern treatment techniques, still not enough is known and/or still enough cannot be done to prevent horrible diseases from taking hold of the population. At some point it will truly come down to us meeting these plagues and pestilences as individuals and families right where we live. And we better be prepared to fight them or to perish.

Some people say that it cannot happen again. Others say that if it does happen there will be a cure and it will be delivered to them in time. This is just not so.

People trust in modern medicines and physicians when these physicians themselves say not to do this. Experts tell us to prepare, they tell us that we must know how to place barriers between ourselves and the illness. Masks, hand sanitizers, voluntary isolation and quarantine, social distancing, closing schools and businesses, we must know how and when to do this in order to safeguard ourselves and our families. And then we will need to be able to pick up the pieces of our lives and our cities, towns, states, and countries after the “storm” passes through.

Many, if not most, of these plagues and pestilences were spread by soldiers and troops returning from far away wars or wars that were being fought in the areas of origin. Soldiers were the travelers of those days. Today our travelers are businessmen and holiday goers. This change is very recent and will prove to be deadly.  Our patterns of travel today are new, certainly within this generation we have witnessed the birth of the generation that runs to and fro.

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. ~Daniel 12:4

We are the generation running to and fro. We are the generation witnessing a, if not “the”, increase in knowledge. Almost every document ever written is at our fingertips, literally. Through Google Translator tools we can speak to almost any person anywhere on the globe in their own language.

verse 10 also explains why some will not turn to God for understanding while we all endure this trial.

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand”. ~Daniel 12:10

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With all of our modern science and technology there exists no cure for bubonic plague and viral hemorrhagic fever, or other viral illnesses. There is no reason to believe that science has irradiated them and that they are not a threat to us even today. With 6 billion people on earth antibiotics and antivirals will not save us all or even many of us.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

c. 1300 BC in Akhet-Aten a plague of unknown cause forced the abandonment of the city now known as El-Amarna. This cause is unknown of this plague that spread throughout the Middle East at that time.

~~

430 BC the first known pandemic – An unknown killer spread causing symptoms of high fever, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, vomiting, violent muscle spasms, pustules and then death. Most people died after seven or eight days of suffering. Survivors were left without fingers, toes, some lost their eyesight or their memory. No one knows whether this was caused by bubonic plague or perhaps smallpox or measles, anthrax, typhus or typhoid. The mystery remains.

~~

165 – 180 AD Rome was the site of origin for this pandemic, the Antonine Plague, which spread through Africa and then on through Greece and beyond. An estimated five million people died of the also estimated 190 million people alive at that time. Scientists believe that this plague was caused by either smallpox or measles brought back by returning troops from war. Rome alone suffered 2000 deaths per day. One quarter of those infected died. Their symptoms; high fever, diarrhea, inflammation of the throat, pustular skin eruptions. Smallpox or measles may have been the cause of this pandemic.

~~

251 – 266 AD the Plague of Cyprian occurred. 5000 people a day died in Rome. Diarrhea, vomiting, conjunctivitis, severe infection from pustules which caused loss of body parts due to gangrene or severe infection, blindness. The cause was thought to be smallpox or measles. Smallpox has been eradicated except for the samples in labs. Measles we have vaccines against, they work effectively for now but there effectiveness is also determined by how many actually utilize the vaccines.

~~

527 – 565 AD the Plague of Justinian occurred. For roughly 50 years people were effected by either a viral hemorrhagic or bubonic plague. Most likely the cause was bubonic plague. in May 542, Constantinople experienced the worst of the outbreaks. People shut themselves in their homes hoping to escape the sickness. Sudden high fever, chills, vomiting, light sensitivity, buboes in the armpits and groin, or behind the ears or in the thighs caused great pain. Violent muscle spasms and then coma, and then most often death was the result. Those who survived were weakened for life, some could not speak because of the effects of the illness. It is estimated that 100 million people died, half of the worlds population at the time.

~~

639 AD the Plague of Emmaus occurred in Palestine and was of unknown cause but widely thought to be bubonic plague. 25,000 people died and it is thought to have been part of the outbreaks following the Plague of Justinian.

~~

1347 – 1351 AD the Black Death.  A bubonic plague with three variations occurred. Bubonic, where swellings or buboes appeared. Pneumonic plague was also experienced and it attacked the respiratory system. Once contracted people lived approximately two days. The septicemic variant attacked the blood system.

Because people at the time did not understand what was overtaking them they reacted in ways that were not helpful in stopping the spread of the illness within their families and countryside.

 

the list goes on…..

~~

1402 – 1404 AD the Great Plague of Iceland a black death plague. Nearly one-third of the population died.

~~

1575 AD the Hemorrhagic Plague of 1575 actually took place throughout Northern Europe between 1571 – 1576.

~~

1592 – 1594 AD the London Plague a hemorrhagic plague

~~

1629 – 1631 AD the Great Plague of Milan a hemorrhagic plague

~~

1641 – 1644 AD the plague of unknown cause that ended the Ming Dynasty occurred.

~~

1649 AD the hemorrhagic Plague of Seville occurred.

~~

1665 – 1666 AD the Great Plague of London, a hemorrhagic plague occurred.

~~

1679 – 1680s AD the Great Plague of Vienna, a hemorrhagic plague occurred.

~~

1720 – 1722 AD the Great Plague of Marseille, possibly a bubonic plague, occurred.

~~

1771 AD the Plague Riot in Moscow, possibly caused by bubonic plague, occurred.

~~

1855 – 1950s AD the Third Pandemic of bubonic plague which originated in China occurred.

~~

1918 – Called the Spanish Flu or the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, estimates of 50 million to 100 million people worldwide died.

~~

1957 a mild influenza pandemic occurred

~~

1968 a mild influenza pandemic occurred

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s negative sense RNA viruses or some other disease already common and known to man could spark a global pandemic. Intellectual honesty also demands that in this modern age we acknowledge the manipulation of these agents as a possible trigger to a pandemic, but as seen from these pandemics of history, nature can be quite cruel on its own. But to think that today we are limited in threat only to the H5N1 influenza virus is a mistake.

Within the family of viruses there are others specific ones which are on the watch list. Arenaviruses, the Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, Filoviruses, ebola virus are all cited in various places as possible causes of the next pandemic. Even dengue, and chikungunya and malaria, typically tropical diseases, are changing in their scope and reach. So what are we, in the general population, to do?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is a common denominator to how to deal with this, preparedness. We don’t need to focus on one or even all of these diseases – simply focusing on how to prevent their spread by practicing good hygiene and knowing what to do when there is an epidemic in our area is enough for right now. Knowing how to build up our resiliency is crucial in a world of six billion people. We must also focus on how we will recover as families and communities, how we will pick up the pieces of our lives in order to go on.

As for me and mine, we keep these diseases in the back of my mind  but we do not get caught up in focusing on each and every specific threat. To do so would keep us from thinking about what I must do to protect my family. The “all pandemic hazards” approach works for us because what we must do is the same for any cause.

1. Prepare our home for a length of time where we must shelter in place. Three to four months of supplies is the prudent approach.

2. Know how to isolate an ill family member while being able to still care for them safely and with love and caring.

3. Know how to help others who are not yet aware of what to do when the time comes. Know how we as community members can safely help each other.

4. Make use of any vaccines and preventative measures that we have today that may help us in the battle against an influenza pandemic. Seasonal flu vaccines may help us fight off pandemic influenza. Today’s vaccines are safe for virtually everyone and while we are not compelled to take them it is wise to do so.

5. One of the most important things that we can do, in my assessment, is to be prepared on all levels of our lives. Spiritually, mentally and physically prepare for what is ahead. Know the reason for your hope and speak about your hope to others.

We are alone and yet together in this battle against a common enemy – disease.

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So What Are You Doing

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 30, 2008

What if we use this flu season as a drill, as our own personal exercises in preparedness. Let’s learn about non-pharmaceutical techniques like hand washing and covering our coughs and sneezes in the proper way in order to not spread illnesses. What if our employers truly send those who are ill home and trust employees to not “milk the situation” for a few extra days off.

As a hedge against catastrophe via pandemics, bio-attack, nukes, illness, hurricanes, meteors, and things that go bump in the night….what are you doing to make life just a little bit easier when the other shoe drops?

I can tell you what I am doing, what my family is doing.

We listen, we study, we read, we keep current, we pay attention, we are vigilant and constantly preparing in whatever way that we can. We look for information and we dissect it so that we understand about flu and viruses.

Each shopping trip we stock up a little bit more. There will be days ahead when we may not be able to afford what we can afford now. So we forgo the little extras for more basic items. No movies, bowling or skiing outings or paperback books – just sugar, coffee, tea, and canned goods. Boring, yes, for the short term life. But I know that what I stock up on now will not go to waste (as long as I rotate what I buy).

I remember what my parents said about the depression. No sugar, no butter, they had very little. And when they did have these “luxuries” they were so appreciative.

Imagine appreciating sugar and butter so much that you told stories about it 20 and 30 years later. That tells me something. We have no idea today what it is like to not have all these things that we take for granted today.

We are temporarily living in a bubble. One that is allowing us to prepare. And many are squandering this opportunity. They refuse to open their eyes and see all of the evidence stacking up.

But so many more ARE paying attention. So many ARE preparing. I overheard a conversation today among two older women at the grocery store. They we talking about PREPARING.

Sorry, but I couldn’t help myself, I had to pay attention. They were talking about a pandemic – “a very bad flu”! They were talking about the economy. They WERE TALKING TOGETHER and they were older, about in their mid seventies. They were talking about the importance of their gardens and how they are going to keep on gardening until they can’t. They were concerned, very concerned, and I could hear it in their voices. And they have lived through so many world crises already….they know.

Two older women, in my little town, talking about preparing. This is significant. VERY SIGNIFICANT.

…and it did my heart good.

 

 

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Pneumococcal vaccine could prevent numerous deaths…

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 29, 2008

source: Avian Influenza Daily Digest

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AI Research

Pneumococcal vaccine could prevent numerous deaths, save costs during a flu pandemic, model predicts

10/29/08 Eureka Alert–A new predictive model shows that vaccinating infants with 7 valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7)–the current recommendation–not only saves lives and money during a normal flu season by preventing related bacterial infections; it also would prevent more than 357,000 deaths during an influenza pandemic, while saving $7 billion in costs.

Keith P. Klugman, PhD, professor of global health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, will present results of the research using the predictive model at the joint ICAAC/IDSA meeting in Washington, DC, Oct. 25-28. (Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy/Infectious Disease Society of America.

Bacterial infections, particularly pneumococcal disease, can follow a viral illness such as flu and cause secondary infections that worsen flu symptoms and increase influenza-related risk. Bacterial infections may have been the cause of nearly half of the deaths of young soldiers during the 1918 flu pandemic.

"We’ve known for years that bacterial infections can develop after influenza," says Klugman. "Unlike the 1918 flu pandemic, which preceded the antibiotic era, we now have vaccines that can prevent these types of pneumococcal infections. This model shows what a dramatically different outcome we could expect with standard PCV vaccination."

Klugman and colleagues at Harvard University, i3 Innovus in Medford, Ma. and Wyeth Research constructed a model to estimate the public health and economic impact of current pneumococcal vaccination practices in the context of an influenza pandemic.

Since 2000 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) has been recommending PCV vaccinations for infants and children.

The new predictive model was used to compare the results of no PCV vaccination to the current routine vaccination of infants less than two years old. The researchers assessed the effect of vaccination policies under both normal and pandemic influenza conditions. They included both direct vaccination effects in vaccinated individuals and indirect vaccination effects (called herd immunity) in the unvaccinated. For manifestations of pneumococcal disease, they included invasive pneumococcal disease (meningitis or bacteremia), all-cause pneumonia and all-cause acute otitis media (ear infections). The model’s estimates were based on the 1918 pandemic.

The new model predicted that current pneumococcal vaccination practices reduce costs in a typical flu season by $1.4 billion and would reduce costs by $7 billion in a pandemic. In a pandemic, they would prevent 1.24 million cases of pneumonia and 357,000 pneumococcal-related deaths.

"Our research shows that routine pneumococcal vaccination is a proactive approach that can greatly reduce the effects of a future flu pandemic," says Klugman. Countries that have not yet implemented a pneumococcal vaccination program may want to consider this as part of their pandemic flu preparedness."

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Pandemic Influenza Course FOR FREE to the Public

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 29, 2008

[I have not taken this course and I am not connected in any way to this organization. I am merely pointing to a wonderful resource being made freely available to all. What a generous offer!

Kudos to the folks at Bird Flu Manual!]

 

Bird Flu Preparedness eCourse

Certification Program Opens to Public

2008-10-29 14:44:31 – Bird Flu Manual Online, the world’s foremost online reference and resource mine designed specifically to help businesses prepare for a pandemic outbreak of Bird Flu, has recently made freely available to the public their Pandemic Preparedness eCourse Certification Program.

Bird Flu Manual Online (www.birdflu-manual.com ), the world’s foremost online reference and resource mine designed specifically to help businesses prepare for a pandemic outbreak of Bird Flu, has recently made freely available to the public their Pandemic Preparedness eCourse Certification Program.

The ‘eCourse’, an email based tutorial program, was originally introduced as a paid for service to further assist business managers with preparing their businesses for an influenza pandemic.

In order to make the eCourse more accessible to all, Bird Flu Manual has recently suspended the enrollment fees and opened it to anyone with responsibility for the operational continuity or pandemic preparedness of their respective businesses. This includes, but is not limited to business owners, general managers, human resources managers, departmental managers and existing crisis managers.

The eCourse takes the form of a series of emails (16 in all) sent every few days, in a logical progressive order, each covering a different preparedness topic. They provide recipients with a step-by-step "staircase approach" to getting their business to a state of readiness for the coming influenza pandemic.

Each email explains its topic in great detail using instructions, images, tools and templates, and gives an assignment for the recipient to do at the end of each one.
The idea is that by the end of the eCourse, provided recipients have completed the tasks and assignments given to them in each email, they will have at least the basics covered in their pandemic readiness plans.

The eCourse has proven itself to be extremely popular, with thousands of business managers having enrolled themselves and completed their preparedness plans already.

At the end of the eCourse, after the last ‘lesson’, recipients are eligible for a ‘Certificate of Completion’ which can be shown to customers, clients, staff and shareholders to prove a company’s commitment to its operational continuity.

Furthermore, in order to assist with the assignments, Bird Flu Manual gives recipients, without charge, many of the tools and templates ‘normal’ visitors buy from them either directly, or from the Bird Flu Manual Online website, plus free access to its online contents.

The complimentary ‘tools’ include their Risk Assessment Templates, Pandemic Status Table Template, Flu vs Cold Differences Factsheet and Hand Hygiene Awareness Poster Templates, plus much much more.

In addition to the first two emails covering the ‘eCourse Introduction’ and ‘eCourse Outline’, here’s a summary of the actual eCourse lesson topics covered …

Lesson 1 – The Risk Assessment
In the first lesson, they explain in the simplest terms possible, what risk assessments are about, how to do one, and they show recipients how to put together a simple risk assessment template of their own. This will help recipients to identify their business’s strengths and weaknesses in the four principal areas on which all businesses are reliant namely, people, processes, suppliers and the utilities they use.

Lesson 2 – Pandemic Response Phases
In the next lesson, sent a few days after the first, recipients see how and why they should align their own company’s pandemic response phases to their country’s and the World Health Organization’s pandemic response alert phases. They learn about the Pandemic Response Status Table and how to put one together for their business.
Lesson 3 – The Influenza Manager
Next they take a look at who this individual (or individuals) is, what it is this individual will need to do before and during the pandemic, and what type of character would be best suited to the job.

Lesson 4 – Office Access Control
This lesson covers the increasing office access control arrangements managers will need to impose with the increasing threat alert levels. Keeping infected visitors, delivery personnel and even staff from unwittingly bringing the virus into the office and contaminating the workplace will play an important role in a manager’s goal of making work the safest place for staff to be outside of the home.

Lesson 5 – Social Distancing
In Lesson 5 they cover what Social Distancing is (the definition according to the World Health Organization) and what kind of Social Distancing Policies recipients can implement to help minimize the chance of staff exposing themselves to the virus un-necessarily.

Lesson 6 – Sickness Response Procedures
Having an efficient and quick response to dealing with sickness in the workplace will mean the difference between resuming operations promptly, and having to lock up an office for days. This lesson looks at formulating the actual sickness at work response procedures a business will be using, which can be officially documented and lodged.

Lesson 7 – Staff Awareness
People need constant reminders. In this lesson they cover the methods managers can use to increase pandemic preparedness awareness amongst staff, getting them to start taking it more seriously and have them play a more an active role in the company preparedness activities.

Lesson 8 – Supply Shortages
Next they go through why there will be shortages of certain products and which types of supplies critical to recipients’ business operations are at greater risk of being effected by disruption than others.

Lesson 9 – Pandemic Stockpiling
Special office provisions and equipment that are required during the pandemic such as face masks, hand antiseptics etc. will be in even more short supply than regular office products. Without them it will be difficult, if not impossible to get staff to come to work. In this lesson they look at how to estimate how many, and of what types of equipment managers will need to buy ahead of time, to last them through the initial pandemic ‘wave’.

Lesson 10 – Minimizing False Alarms
When the pandemic hits, managers will have panicked staff who think they have caught it when they suffer just about any ailment, such as the common cold or a headache. These sorts of false alarms could raise absenteeism rates considerably. In this lesson they introduce recipients to two great tools they can use to help alleviate that kind of anxiety and reduce the chances of false alarms from employees.

Lesson 11 – Staff Training
Once recipients have put together their pandemic preparedness and response plans they will need to communicate them properly to employees. Staff will appreciate the efforts managers are going to on their behalf and their education and understanding will reduce their panic considerably when the time comes. In Lesson 11 they also touch on getting ‘buy in’ from the other managers in the company.

Lesson 12 – Lists and Forms
As in any emergency managers should have at the ready, all the lists and forms they’ll need. The last thing managers will want to be doing when the time comes is creating multiple copies of multiple forms. In this lesson they run through what kind of lists and forms are needed to complete the pandemic preparedness arrangements, and show recipients how to create them.

Lesson 13 – Report of Recommendations
Finally, once recipients have completed their pandemic preparedness assessment they will need main board approval, budget and other resources in order to take the company through to a point of readiness. Even if approval is not needed, managers will need to consolidate their plans into one simple to follow working document.

Final email – The eCourse Certificate
Once recipients have completed the eCourse they get a ‘Pandemic Preparedness Certificate of Completion’ with their name on it. This certificate can be shown to clients, customers, shareholders and staff to give confidence to them that when the pandemic comes, the company will have the best chance of all to be able to continue its business operations.

To enroll yourself in the Bird Flu Manual Online Pandemic Preparedness eCourse Program, simply go to their website Bird Flu Manual Online ( www.birdflu-manual.com ) and give your first name and email address at one of the subscriber sign up forms. They will take it from there.

Move ahead quickly with your sign up though, as there’s no telling when they will be going back to charging for it again.

Alternatively, you should consider their complete pandemic preparedness package, the ‘Bird Flu D-I-Y eManual for Business Preparedness and Survival’ ( www.birdflu-manual.com/bird-flu-emanual/bird-flu-emanual-prw.htm ) for all of your pandemic preparedness needs.

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Door Knobs, Curtains, Sheets and Things That We Touch

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 28, 2008

I remember family stories about my great grandmother, who lived through the 1918 pandemic where people said that she would be right behind people washing door knobs after people touched them. She had this thing about spreading germs. Many old family members did.

Two articles today stand out as things that we should be thinking about with foresight.

We can’t afford to learn the hard way.

Doorknobs and TV remotes are germ hotbeds

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Someone in your house have the sniffles? Watch out for the refrigerator door handle. The TV remote, too. A new study finds that cold sufferers often leave their germs there, where they can live for two days or longer.

Scientists at the University of Virginia, long known for its virology research, tested surfaces in the homes of people with colds and reported the results Tuesday at the nation’s premier conference on infectious diseases.

Doctors don’t know how often people catch colds from touching germy surfaces as opposed to, say, shaking a sick person’s hand, said Dr. Birgit Winther, an ear, nose and throat specialist who helped conduct the study.

Two years ago, she and other doctors showed that germs survived in hotel rooms a day after guests left, waiting to be picked up by the next person checking in.

Read more here

 

Privacy curtains in hospitals could be aiding transmission of bacteria: study

7 hours ago

TORONTO — The curtains that hang between patient beds in hospitals can become contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria and may be playing a role in the spread of these germs in hospitals, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, showed that C. difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – also known as MRSA – and vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE can be found on hospital privacy curtains.

Even more importantly, they found that the bugs transfer onto the hands of people who handle the contaminated curtains – suggesting that health-care workers who pull curtains closed and then touch patients may be spreading bacteria.

"I think that the demonstration that you can acquire them on hands … relatively easily would suggest that curtains would have the potential to contribute to transmission," said Dr. Curtis Donskey, director of infection control with the hospital and the senior author on the study.

Read more here.

 

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Hunting Season and Migratory Birds and the Movement of Avian Influenza Viruses

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 28, 2008

Massachusetts Migratory Birds 2008-2009 Season Has Begun

It is important to note that of 500 samples collected since April 2008 – highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has not been detected in any of them.

Hunters and hikers can be our best eyes and ears on the ground.

Guidelines for Reporting Sick or Dying Birds

When three (3) or more sick, dying, or recently dead waterfowl (duck and geese), shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers), or other waterbirds (herons) are found at any single location they should be reported to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife’s Westboro Field Headquarters at 508/389-6300 or the USDA/APHIS-Wildlife Services MA/CT/RI Program at 413/253-2403. Agency staff will evaluate the situation and make arrangements for collecting the birds. Events involving other types of dead birds can be reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Information Line at 1-866-MASS-WNV.

More information and an FAQ publication on Avian Influenza (181 K, PDF) may be found at the Mass. Department of Public Health’s avian flu website.

Sportsmens Clubs — Order (or download) a poster "Help Find Avian Influenza" to post at your club facilities! This poster is target to the hunting community as part of a state and national monitoring and surveillance program. More information at the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services Website.

Resources: Massachusetts Migratory Game Bird Laws and Regulations

Massachusetts Hunting Season Dates

The USGS offers this guidance for reporting dead birds. From the report:

Guidance for Public Reporting of Wild Bird Die-offs
When contacted by the general public about finding dead birds, we suggest instructing them not to touch the carcass with their bare hands. If the animal must be moved for submission or disposal, the individual should use disposable gloves or an inverted plastic bag to pick up the dead animal, and wash their hands thoroughly afterwards. If the carcass is not being submitted for evaluation, we recommend that it be double-bagged and placed in a secure trash receptacle for routine garbage pickup. We also stress the importance of avoiding exposure of dead animals to children, pets, and other wildlife.

We recommend mentioning to the public that there are many causes of death for wild birds, that mortality events happen every year, and that there have been no documented cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in North America to date. The HPAI H5N1 virus does not easily infect people; nevertheless, all dead carcasses should be treated with care.

In determining whether or not to retrieve or accept carcasses, we recommend that you take into consideration the location of the event, species of birds involved, size of the event, and condition of the carcasses. When a decision is made not to accept or retrieve carcasses, thank the individual for their information and explain that the information is very useful to our monitoring effort, but that we are unable to collect and test all wild bird mortalities.

More Recommendations:
Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water (or with alcohol-based hand products if the hands are not visibly soiled) is a very effective method for inactivating influenza viruses, including HPAI. These viruses are also inactivated with many common disinfectants such as detergents, 10% household bleach, alcohol or other commercial disinfectants. The virus is more difficult to inactivate in organic material such as feces or soil.

The General Public should, as a general rule, observe wildlife, including wild birds, from a distance. This protects you from possible exposure to pathogens and minimizes disturbance to the animal.

  • Avoid touching wildlife. If there is contact with wildlife do not rub eyes, eat, drink, or smoke before washing hands with soap and water as described above.
  • Do not pick up diseased or dead wildlife. Contact your state, tribal or federal natural resource agency if a sick or dead animal is found.

Hunters should follow routine precautions when handling game.

  • Do not handle or eat sick game.
  • Wear rubber or disposable latex gloves while handling and cleaning game, wash hands as described above, and thoroughly clean knives, equipment and surfaces that come in contact with game.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling animals.
  • All game should be thoroughly cooked (well done or 160o F).  Additional information can be found here.

Genetics Provide Evidence for the Movement of Avian Influenza Viruses from Asia to North America via Migratory Birds

Released: 10/27/2008 11:49:09 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192

Catherine Puckett – Phone: 352-264-3532
Dirk Derksen – Phone: 907-786-7061
John Pearce – Phone: 907-786-7094

Wild migratory birds may be more important carriers of avian influenza viruses from continent to continent than previously thought, according to new scientific research that has important implications for highly pathogenic avian influenza virus surveillance in North America.

As part of a multi-pronged research effort to understand the role of migratory birds in the transfer of avian influenza viruses between Asia and North America, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska and the University of Tokyo, have found genetic evidence for the movement of Asian forms of avian influenza to Alaska by northern pintail ducks.

In an article published this week in Molecular Ecology, USGS scientists observed that nearly half of the low pathogenic avian influenza viruses found in wild northern pintail ducks in Alaska contained at least one (of eight) gene segments that were more closely related to Asian than to North American strains of avian influenza.  

It was a highly pathogenic form of the H5N1 avian influenza virus that spread across Asia to Europe and Africa over the past decade, causing the deaths of 245 people and raising concerns of a possible human pandemic.  The role of migratory birds in moving the highly pathogenic virus to other geographic areas has been a subject of debate among scientists.  Disagreement has focused on how likely it is for H5N1 to disperse among continents via wild birds.

"Although some previous research has led to speculation that intercontinental transfer of avian influenza viruses from Asia to North America via wild birds is rare, this study challenges that," said Chris Franson, a research wildlife biologist with the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and co-author of the study.  Franson added that most of the previous studies examined bird species that are not transcontinental migrants or were from mid-latitude locales in North America, regions far removed from sources of Asian strains of avian influenza.

Scientists with the USGS, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, and Alaska native communities, obtained samples from more than 1,400 northern pintails from locations throughout Alaska.  Samples containing viruses were then analyzed and compared to virus samples taken from other birds in North America and Eastern Asia where northern pintails are known to winter.  Researchers chose northern pintails as the focus of the study because they are fairly common in North America and Asia, they are frequently infected by low pathogenic avian influenza, and they are known to migrate between North America and Asia.  None of the samples were found to contain completely Asian-origin viruses and none were highly pathogenic.

"This kind of genetic analysis – using the low pathogenic strains of avian influenza virus commonly found in wild birds – can answer questions not only about the migratory movements of wild birds, but the degree of virus exchange that takes place between continents, provided the right species and geographic locations are sampled," said John Pearce, a research wildlife biologist with the USGS Alaska Science Center and co-author of the study. "Furthermore, this research validates our current surveillance sampling process for highly pathogenic avian influenza in Alaska and demonstrates that genetic analysis can be used as an effective tool to further refine surveillance plans across North America, Pearce added.

Website for USGS northern pintail avian influenza research:

http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/avian_influenza/pintail_movements.html

Implications of the Research:

  • Migratory bird species, including many waterfowl and shorebirds, that frequently carry low pathogenic avian influenza and migrate between continents may carry Asian strains of the virus along their migratory pathways to North America.
  • USGS researchers found that nearly half of influenza viruses isolated from northern pintail ducks in Alaska contained at least one of eight virus genes that were more closely related to Asian than North American strains.  None of the samples contained completely Asian-origin viruses and none were highly pathogenic forms that have caused deaths of domestic poultry and humans.
  • The central location of Alaska in relation to Asian and North American migratory flyways may explain the higher frequency of Asian lineages observed in this study in comparison to more southerly locations in North America.  Thus, continued surveillance for highly pathogenic viruses via sampling of wild birds in Alaska is warranted.

Future surveillance for avian influenza in wild birds should include the type of genetic analyses used in this study to better understand patterns of migratory connectivity between Asia and North America and virus ecology.

click for larger image; see caption for details

A male Northern Pintail duck in Japan.

Photo courtesy of the USGS

click for larger image; see caption for details

Dr. Hiroyoshi Higuchi (left), Mr. Ken-ichi Tokita (right), and other cooperators from the University of Tokyo, work with USGS scientists to attach a satellite transmitter to the backs of Northern Pintail Ducks on wintering areas of Northern Honshu, Japan. Transmitters are used to evaluate their movements, migration, and areas of overlap with North American Northern Pintails.

Photo courtesy of USGS

click for larger image; see caption for details

A flock of wintering northern pintail ducks takes flight in Northern Honshu, Japan. Photo courtesy of USGS

click for larger image; see caption for details

A flock of wintering northern pintail ducks in Northern Honshu, Japan.

Photo courtesy of USGS

click for larger image; see caption for details

A resident of Iwate Prefecture feeds a wintering flock of northern pintail ducks and Whooper Swans in Northern Honshu, Japan. In spring of 2008, both of these species occurred on wetlands in Japan where the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza was detected and several swans died from exposure to the virus.

Photo courtesy of USGS

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Masks, hand washing, prevent spread of flu-like symptoms by up to 50 percent

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 28, 2008

Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan

 

27-Oct-2008

 

View Podcast: http://www.ns.umich.edu/podcast/audio.php?id=470

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Wearing masks and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers may prevent the spread of flu symptoms by as much as 50 percent, a landmark new study suggests.

In a first-of-its-kind look at the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions in controlling the spread of the flu virus in a community setting, researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health studied more than 1,000 student subjects from seven U-M residence halls during last year’s flu season.

"The first-year results (2006-2007) indicate that mask use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer help reduce influenza- like illness rates, ranging from 10 to 50 percent over the study period," said Allison Aiello, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M SPH. Dr. Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology, is also a principal investigator of the study.

Aiello stressed the first year of the two-year project, called M-Flu, was a very mild flu season and only a few cases were positive for flu, so results should be interpreted cautiously. Ongoing studies will test for other viruses that may be responsible for the influenza-like illness symptoms observed, she said.

"Nevertheless, these initial results are encouraging since masks and hand hygiene may be effective for preventing a range of respiratory illnesses," Aiello said.

The findings, "Mask Use Reduces Seasonal Influenza-like Illness In The Community Setting," was presented Sunday at The Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

At the start of flu season in the last two years, participants were randomly assigned to six weeks of wearing a standard medical procedure mask alone, mask use and hand sanitizer use, or a control group with no intervention. Researchers followed students for incidence of influenza like illness symptoms, defined as cough with at least one other characteristic symptom such as fever, chills or body aches, Monto said.

From the third week on, both the mask only and mask/hand sanitizer interventions showed a significant or nearly significant reduction in the rate of influenza-like illness symptoms in comparison to the control group. The observed reduction in rate of flu-like symptoms remained even after adjusting for gender, race/ethnicity, hand washing practices, sleep quality, and flu vaccination.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as hand washing and masks—especially in a pandemic flu outbreak—are critical to study because pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccinations and antivirals may not be available in sufficient quantity for preventing and controlling pandemic influenza outbreaks.

In February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with other federal agencies, education, businesses, healthcare and private sectors developed an interim planning guide on the use of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to mitigate an influenza pandemic.

The measures include voluntary home quarantine, isolation and treatment of cases, social distancing, personal protection such as face masks and hand hygiene, and school dismissal.

"Although a few of these measures can be evaluated during seasonal influenza outbreaks, many are difficult or impossible to evaluate in advance of a pandemic," Monto said. "However, use of face masks and hand hygiene interventions can be evaluated now, during seasonal influenza outbreaks, which can provide concrete evidence for decision makers."

Further studies are needed to confirm whether mask use may be an effective means of reducing influenza in shared living settings. Since it was not possible to blind subjects, knowledge of the intervention may have influenced influenza-like symptom reporting and therefore the results of this study should be interpreted with caution, Aiello said.

"During year two of the study (2007-2008) a major outbreak of influenza took place," Aiello said. "Forthcoming studies will examine whether results observed during this more severe outbreak mirror those observed during the milder year one influenza season. Influenza virus identification will also be examined as an additional outcome."

_______________________________

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been working to promote health and prevent disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the top five public health schools in the nation. Faculty and students in the school’s five academic departments and dozens of collaborative centers and initiatives are forging new solutions to the complex health challenges of today, including chronic disease, health care quality and finance, emerging genetic technologies, climate change, socioeconomic inequalities and their impact on health, infectious disease, and the globalization of health.

_______________________________

The M-Flu study is a collaboration between SPH, U-M Housing, and University of Michigan Heath Services. The study was funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Co-authors include: Genevra Murray, PhD; Rebecca Coulborn, BS; Anne-Michelle Noone, all of the U-M SPH Department of Epidemiology.

For information about M-Flu, including video, news clips, FAQs, visit: http://www.sph.umich.edu/mflu/

For information about the U-M SPH: http://www.sph.umich.edu/

For information about Aiello: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1071

For information about Monto: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=545

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What Do You Cling To

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 28, 2008

What matters most in your life, what you cling to the most.

Is it your car, your home, your lifestyle, your check book, the luxuries in your life….what is it that you would hate to lose?

That is where your heart is.

Loving friends and family, these are different. We should love others and desire to love them more than our own selves (but not more than God Himself)

But loving the things of this world, that is what used to trip me up — over and over again.

I can go days without food and without much to drink. It is an exercise that I do to strengthen myself and my resolve. It also re-prioritizes my life in other ways.

Part of preparedness should be going without the things that we cling to that will disappear during a pandemic. Know what it is like now to go without. Turn off the computer for a few days, walk to local places, wear the same clothes for three or so days, don’t take a shower but try to stay clean, turn off the t.v. and the lights and don’t go out of the home for a weekend, you will quickly discover things about your heart and your life and the priorities that you have.

One of the best disciplines that I have learned in my life is to take something that I really, really, enjoy and cherish and give it away, not sell it, give it away to someone who also would enjoy having it. I have even thrown things away that I enjoy. I learned quickly not to place my happiness in things.

Take this thought a step further — people that we love die, they leave us and we grieve. We hold onto and cherish their memory but they are gone.

It is a blessing to know that they believed and are sleeping, just waiting for the Lord’s return where we will one day meet again. But they are gone from our lives, and sometimes for all eternity. That they did not believe before death, this is a pain that is almost unbearable, yet I believe these will be some of the tears that will be wiped dry. (Oh to have friend and foe alike back for even a few moments so that I can tell them the Good News just one more time, just  in case they may believe and find everlasting life – yet I still find myself cowardly face to face). Prepare for this, prepare them for what is ahead so that you know that you have told them the Truth.

We come into this world naked and alone and we leave this world the same way. We cannot take anything with us except our faith – or lack of it.

And this IS what I know that I must cherish. It is all that remains of us and our world and the treasure that we try to amass – when all is said and done faith is what remains.

So I prepare.

I go without. I do without for a time. I give time and treasure away in order that I may grow — and so that others may be blessed. I do it because I love the One who gave away all. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Know what you cherish and where your heart is now for things may soon change.

 

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Faith, Health, These, That and Those

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 25, 2008

I speak about my faith every single day. I think and live my faith every waking minute of my day. I cannot separate me from my faith. It simply cannot be divided out of me and I cannot leave it at the door like some used cloak checked in a coatroom.

Whether I am speaking about my faith, or not, my expression of faith remains the same. It is my heart where my expression comes from. I have a new heart, you see. It is not mine anymore. Mine is dead and gone.

Do my words alone express my faith?

Even when I reassure others that I am not trying to convince them of anything. That they are free to believe as they will, and even express all of their beliefs to me as it pleases them, I still offend.

I have not hated one person because of their lack of faith in what I believe. And I have only walked away when others malign my God. He does not NEED me to defend Him. He is quite capable of defending Himself. And I cannot convince a hater to not hate.

If I spent the rest of my days in silence…

…but wore a cross or a habit or some other visual representation of my faith, would that have the same power to offend? I think not

It is all about THAT name and THOSE words.

If I spend the rest of my days in silence…

…but have a smile on my face and love in my heart that I freely give to anyone I come in contact with, would that offend?

I would be the same person, with the same beliefs, with the same expression of my beliefs, and the same lack of desire to impose my beliefs on anyone.

There is something about THAT name.

There is something about THOSE verses.

There is a power there that deeply offends so many.

The power isn’t mine.

These are Living Words and that is what offends. They are God breathed and if you are at odds with God these Living Words will offend you. You will bristle at the sound of them.

At times expressions of my faith are welcomed. Especially by those on the receiving end of some service or benefit that I can provide. I do not resent this. It is such an unspeakable joy to be able to serve others.

Yet, I must speak THAT name and THOSE words. They are my life, inseparable from who and what I am.

So, most times I am free to go where I want and do as I please as long as I don’t say THOSE words or THAT name.

But see now “THAT” and “THOSE” are now offensive because by inference you know what I mean when I say THAT and THOSE. So if THESE people want help but help comes from THOSE people speaking THOSE words about THAT man, and THAT man is the reason why they do amazing things that they have been gifted to do in helping THESE people, why are you offended when THOSE people are not telling you to believe THOSE words they are simply showing you the power of THOSE words by living THEIR lives?

Doesn’t this sound like silliness?

Faith and Health

“In 2006 the World Health Organization estimated that there was a global shortfall of 4.3 million trained health workers”.

If 4.3 million trained health care workers came forth but were speaking THAT name and THOSE words, would the world say NO to their help?

So, it is ok to help just as long as we don’t say THAT name or THOSE words.

And, respectfully and very meekly I add this, we are called hypocrites.

 

Posted in Public Health | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

HHS PlanFirst Webinar October 29, 2008

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 25, 2008

October Webcast

On October 29, 2008, at 1:00 pm ET, we will have a special edition of PlanFirst, featuring HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and special guests Dr. Bill Raub, Science Advisor to Secretary Leavitt; Dr. Mike Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota; and Maggie Fox, Reuters.

Secretary Leavitt will provide formal remarks regarding the Nation’s pandemic planning effort. He will then join a roundtable discussion with our special guests to discuss the Nation’s level of pandemic preparedness and related issues.

As always, our guests, including Secretary Leavitt, will take questions from our viewing audience.

No registration is required. Email your questions for the Webcast panelists before and/or during the program to hhsstudio@hhs.gov.

Please include your first name, state and town. 

The pandemic influenza PlanFirst Webcasts are brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Living Through A Pandemic 2008, 2009, 2010

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 22, 2008

Martial Law

Suspended search and seizure laws

Dr. Grattan Woodson wrote this piece and posted it on FluWiki. I post it here in full because of my obvious political views after this article. My thanks to Dr. Woodson for posting this and all of the other comments and material that he has presented to us over the years.

Civil Rights During and After the Pandemic

by: The Doctor

Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 22:13:53 PM EST

During the pandemic, conditions are likely to result in a loss of the civil rights Americans are accustomed to.  While this will probably be a necessary sacrifice during the emergency, there is a risk that the encumbrances on our freedoms could be inappropriately prolonged after the end of the pandemic. 

It is my opinion that during the pandemic many areas on the US will be governed under martial Law.  The US Congress will invalidate the Posse Comitatus Act that will permit US Armed Forces to be used within the US to enforce quarantines and quell civil disorder.  The citizens living within areas governed under Marshal Law will not have resort to the civil rights provided for in the US Constitution.  This abrogation of rights will be necessary to maintain civil order but will be accompanied by many instances of abuse of power.  While unfortunate, this is the price we will need to pay to prevent the senseless destruction of our nation during the pandemic emergency. 

While I see and support the necessity of these extraordinary changes in civil rights during the emergency, what concerns me is the possibility that after the conclusion of the emergency those in leadership positions could delay the restoration of our civil rights.  Students of history will recall the travails of the Roman Republic when it periodically handed over power to a dictator in order to address a specific threat to the empire.  This strategy was successful in some cases but in the end led to the loss of the Republic. The US is no Rome but our founding fathers were students of history and shaped the country upon the foundation laid by the Roman Republic.  As historians are wont to point out “history repeats itself”.  There is little doubt of the truth of this aphorism. 

Americans have are less free today than ever before.  We have been trading security in exchange for personal freedom for the past 50 years.  In my view, US citizens have gotten very little security but much less freedom in the bargain.  The US Patriot Act is a case in point.  It was to be a temporary abrogation of civil rights demanded by the need to fight terrorism in the wake of the 911 events but has now, with some amendments, become permanent. 

What is important in my opinion is that at the conclusion of the pandemic emergency, citizens must insist upon the restoration of our rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.  Unless we do this, there is a possibility the American experiment with republican democracy could end as happened in Rome 2000 years ago.

Grattan Woodson

To be fair to Dr. Woodson, I do not know his political point of view and am not attempting to put words in his mouth or align him in any way with what I am saying. I am merely pointing to what he is saying and adding my own thoughts to his.

On my standing firm blog I have posted why I have concerns about this upcoming election by quoting another "voice", that of Mr. Huntley Brown, who speaks without holding back any of his concerns.

We should all be so bold. WE SHOULD ALL RESPECTFULLY BE SO BOLD.

I am one citizen, in one little town, who does not want to see the citizens here or anywhere, born or unborn,

trampled by a government or a leader who does not value human life.

Barak Obama clearly does not value all of human life. He supports abortion rights. He supports partial birth abortion. To me that tells me something about the man. But respectfully and with meekness I say…

He does not value human life.

Now, if you will, read Dr. Woodson’s article again thinking that Barak Obama does not value human life according to his own policy statements.

Can it be any clearer than this?

Your own search of “pandemic martial law” may be fruitful. Here is our national strategy. Which we have all been given an opportunity to weigh in on. There have been public hearings on this and other related matters.

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

full .pdf document is here.

President’s Letter

My fellow Americans,

Once again, nature has presented us with a daunting challenge: the possibility of an influenza pandemic.

Most of us are accustomed to seasonal influenza, or "the flu," a viral infection that continues to be a significant public health challenge. From time to time, changes in the influenza virus result in a new strain to which people have never been exposed. These new strains have the potential to sweep the globe, causing millions of illnesses, in what is called a pandemic.

A new strain of influenza virus has been found in birds in Asia, and has shown that it can infect humans. If this virus undergoes further change, it could very well result in the next human pandemic.

We have an opportunity to prepare ourselves, our Nation, and our world to fight this potentially devastating outbreak of infectious disease.

The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza presents our approach to address the threat of pandemic influenza, whether it results from the strain currently in birds in Asia or another influenza virus. It outlines how we intend to prepare, detect, and respond to a pandemic. It also outlines the important roles to be played not only by the Federal government, but also by State and local governments, private industry, our international partners, and most importantly individual citizens, including you and your families.

While your government will do much to prepare for a pandemic, individual action and individual responsibility are necessary for the success of any measures. Not only should you take action to protect yourself and your families, you should also take action to prevent the spread of influenza if you or anyone in your family becomes ill.

Together we will confront this emerging threat and together, as Americans, we will be prepared to protect our families, our communities, this great Nation, and our world.

GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE
November 1, 2005

Introduction

Although remarkable advances have been made in science and medicine during the past century, we are constantly reminded that we live in a universe of microbes – viruses, bacteria, protozoa and fungi that are forever changing and adapting themselves to the human host and the defenses that humans create.

Influenza viruses are notable for their resilience and adaptability. While science has been able to develop highly effective vaccines and treatments for many infectious diseases that threaten public health, acquiring these tools is an ongoing challenge with the influenza virus. Changes in the genetic makeup of the virus require us to develop new vaccines on an annual basis and forecast which strains are likely to predominate.

As a result, and despite annual vaccinations, the U.S. faces a burden of influenza that results in approximately 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. In addition to this human toll, influenza is annually responsible for a total cost of over $10 billion in the U.S.

A pandemic, or worldwide outbreak of a new influenza virus, could dwarf this impact by overwhelming our health and medical capabilities, potentially resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of hospitalizations, and hundreds of billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs. This Strategy will guide our preparedness and response activities to mitigate that impact.

The Pandemic Threat

Pandemics happen when a novel influenza virus emerges that infects and can be efficiently transmitted between humans. Animals are the most likely reservoir for these emerging viruses; avian viruses played a role in the last three influenza pandemics. Two of these pandemic-causing viruses remain in circulation and are responsible for the majority of influenza cases each year.

Pandemics have occurred intermittently over centuries. The last three pandemics, in 1918, 1957 and 1968, killed approximately 40 million, 2 million and 1 million people worldwide, respectively. Although the timing cannot be predicted, history and science suggest that we will face one or more pandemics in this century.

The current pandemic threat stems from an unprecedented outbreak of avian influenza in Asia and Europe, caused by the H5N1 strain of the Influenza A virus. To date, the virus has infected birds in 16 countries and has resulted in the deaths, through illness and culling, of approximately 200 million birds across Asia. While traditional control measures have been attempted, the virus is now endemic in Southeast Asia, present in long-range migratory birds, and unlikely to be eradicated soon.

A notable and worrisome feature of the H5N1 virus is its ability to infect a wide range of hosts, including birds and humans. As of the date of this document, the virus is known to have infected 121 people in four countries, resulting in 62 deaths over the past two years. Although the virus has not yet shown an ability to transmit efficiently between humans, as is seen with the annual influenza virus, there is concern that it will acquire this capability through genetic mutation or exchange of genetic material with a human influenza virus.

It is impossible to know whether the currently circulating H5N1 virus will cause a human pandemic. The widespread nature of H5N1 in birds and the likelihood of mutations over time raise our concerns that the virus will become transmissible between humans, with potentially catastrophic consequences. If this does not happen with the current H5N1 strain, history suggests that a different influenza virus will emerge and result in the next pandemic.

The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

Preparing for a pandemic requires the leveraging of all instruments of national power, and coordinated action by all segments of government and society. Influenza viruses do not respect the distinctions of race, sex, age, profession or nationality, and are not constrained by geographic boundaries. The next pandemic is likely to come in waves, each lasting months, and pass through communities of all size across the nation and world. While a pandemic will not damage power lines, banks or computer networks, it will ultimately threaten all critical infrastructure by removing essential personnel from the workplace for weeks or months.

This makes a pandemic a unique circumstance necessitating a strategy that extends well beyond health and medical boundaries, to include the sustainment of critical infrastructure, private-sector activities, the movement of goods and services across the nation and the globe, and economic and security considerations. The uncertainties associated with influenza viruses require that our Strategy be versatile, to ensure that we are prepared for any virus with pandemic potential, as well as the annual burden of influenza that we know we will face.

The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza guides our preparedness and response to an influenza pandemic, with the intent of (1) stopping, slowing or otherwise limiting the spread of a pandemic to the United States; (2) limiting the domestic spread of a pandemic, and mitigating disease, suffering and death; and (3) sustaining infrastructure and mitigating impact to the economy and the functioning of society.

The Strategy will provide a framework for future U.S. Government planning efforts that is consistent with The National Security Strategy and the National Strategy for Homeland Security. It recognizes that preparing for and responding to a pandemic cannot be viewed as a purely federal responsibility, and that the nation must have a system of plans at all levels of government and in all sectors outside of government that can be integrated to address the pandemic threat. It is guided by the following principles:

  • The federal government will use all instruments of national power to address the pandemic threat.
  • States and communities should have credible pandemic preparedness plans to respond to an outbreak within their jurisdictions.
  • The private sector should play an integral role in preparedness before a pandemic begins, and should be part of the national response.
  • Individual citizens should be prepared for an influenza pandemic, and be educated about individual responsibility to limit the spread of infection if they or their family members become ill.
  • Global partnerships will be leveraged to address the pandemic threat.

Pillars of the National Strategy

Our Strategy addresses the full spectrum of events that link a farmyard overseas to a living room in America. While the circumstances that connect these environments are very different, our strategic principles remain relevant. The pillars of our Strategy are:

  • Preparedness and Communication: Activities that should be undertaken before a pandemic to ensure preparedness, and the communication of roles and responsibilities to all levels of government, segments of society and individuals.
  • Surveillance and Detection: Domestic and international systems that provide continuous “situational awareness,” to ensure the earliest warning possible to protect the population.
  • Response and Containment: Actions to limit the spread of the outbreak and to mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of a pandemic.

Implementation of the National Strategy

This Strategy reflects the federal government’s approach to the pandemic threat. While it provides strategic direction for the Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government, it does not attempt to catalogue and assign all federal responsibilities. The implementation of this Strategy and specific responsibilities will be described separately.

Pillar One: Preparedness and Communication

Preparedness is the underpinning of the entire spectrum of activities, including surveillance, detection, containment and response efforts. We will support pandemic planning efforts, and clearly communicate expectations to individuals, communities and governments, whether overseas or in the United States, recognizing that all share the responsibility to limit the spread of infection in order to protect populations beyond their borders.

Planning for a Pandemic

To enhance preparedness, we will:

  • Develop federal implementation plans to support this Strategy, to include all components of the U.S. government and to address the full range of consequences of a pandemic, including human and animal health, security, transportation, economic, trade and infrastructure considerations.
  • Work through multilateral health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and regional organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, as well as through bilateral and multilateral contacts to:
    • Support the development and exercising of avian and pandemic response plans;
    • Expand in-country medical, veterinary and scientific capacity to respond to an outbreak; and
    • Educate populations at home and abroad about high-risk practices that increase the likelihood of virus transmission between species.
  • Continue to work with states and localities to:
    • Establish and exercise pandemic response plans;
    • Develop medical and veterinary surge capacity plans; and
    • Integrate non-health sectors, including the private sector and critical infrastructure entities, in these planning efforts.
  • Build upon existing domestic mechanisms to rapidly recruit and deploy large numbers of health, medical and veterinary providers within or across jurisdictions to match medical requirements with capabilities.

Communicating Expectations and Responsibilities

A critical element of pandemic planning is ensuring that people and entities not accustomed to responding to health crises understand the actions and priorities required to prepare for and respond to a pandemic. Those groups include political leadership at all levels of government, non-health components of government and members of the private sector. Essential planning also includes the coordination of efforts between human and animal health authorities. In order to accomplish this, we will:

  • Work to ensure clear, effective and coordinated risk communication, domestically and internationally, before and during a pandemic. This includes identifying credible spokespersons at all levels of government to effectively coordinate and communicate helpful, informative messages in a timely manner.
  • Provide guidance to the private sector and critical infrastructure entities on their role in the pandemic response, and considerations necessary to maintain essential services and operations despite significant and sustained worker absenteeism.
  • Provide guidance to individuals on infection control behaviors they should adopt pre-pandemic, and the specific actions they will need to take during a severe influenza season or pandemic, such as self-isolation and protection of others if they themselves contract influenza.
  • Provide guidance and support to poultry, swine and related industries on their role in responding to an outbreak of avian influenza, including ensuring the protection of animal workers and initiating or strengthening public education campaigns to minimize the risks of infection from animal products.

Producing and Stockpiling Vaccines, Antivirals and Medical Material

In combination with traditional public health measures, vaccines and antiviral drugs form the foundation of our infection control strategy. Vaccination is the most important element of this strategy, but we acknowledge that a two-pronged strategy incorporating both vaccines and antivirals is essential. To establish production capacity and stockpiles in support of our containment and response strategies, we will:

  • Encourage nations to develop production capacity and stockpiles to support their response needs, to include pooling of efforts to create regional capacity.
  • Encourage and subsidize the development of state-based antiviral stockpiles to support response activities.
  • Ensure that our national stockpile and stockpiles based in states and communities are properly configured to respond to the diversity of medical requirements presented by a pandemic, including personal protective equipment, antibiotics and general supplies.
  • Establish domestic production capacity and stockpiles of countermeasures to ensure:
    • Sufficient vaccine to vaccinate front-line personnel and at-risk populations, including military personnel;
    • Sufficient vaccine to vaccinate the entire U.S. population within six months of the emergence of a virus with pandemic potential; and
    • Antiviral treatment for those who contract a pandemic strain of influenza.
  • Facilitate appropriate coordination of efforts across the vaccine manufacturing sector.
  • Address regulatory and other legal barriers to the expansion of our domestic vaccine production capacity.
  • Expand the public health recommendations for domestic seasonal influenza vaccination and encourage the same practice internationally.
  • Expand the domestic supply of avian influenza vaccine to control a domestic outbreak of avian influenza in bird populations.

Establishing Distribution Plans for Vaccines and Antivirals

It is essential that we prioritize the allocation of countermeasures (vaccines and antivirals) that are in limited supply and define effective distribution modalities during a pandemic. We will:

  • Develop credible countermeasure distribution mechanisms for vaccine and antiviral agents prior to and during a pandemic.
  • Prioritize countermeasure allocation before an outbreak, and update this prioritization immediately after the outbreak begins based on the at-risk populations, available supplies and the characteristics of the virus.

Advancing Scientific Knowledge and Accelerating Development

Research and development of vaccines, antivirals, adjuvants and diagnostics represents our best defense against a pandemic. To realize our goal of next-generation countermeasures against influenza, we must make significant and targeted investments in promising technologies. We will:

  • Ensure that there is maximal sharing of scientific information about influenza viruses between governments, scientific entities and the private sector.
  • Work with our international partners to ensure that we are all leveraging the most advanced technological approaches available for vaccine production.
  • Accelerate the development of cell culture technology for influenza vaccine production and establish a domestic production base to support vaccination demands.
  • Use novel investment strategies to advance the development of next-generation influenza diagnostics and countermeasures, including new antivirals, vaccines, adjuvant technologies, and countermeasures that provide protection across multiple strains and seasons of the influenza virus.

Pillar Two: Surveillance and Detection

Early warning of a pandemic and our ability to closely track the spread of avian influenza outbreak is critical to being able to rapidly employ resources to contain the spread of the virus. An effective surveillance and detection system will save lives by allowing us to activate our response plans before the arrival of a pandemic virus to the U.S., activate additional surveillance systems and initiate vaccine production and administration.

Ensuring Rapid Reporting of Outbreaks

To support our need for “situational awareness,” both domestically and internationally, we will:

  • Work through the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, as well as through other political and diplomatic channels such as the United Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, to ensure transparency, scientific cooperation and rapid reporting of avian and human influenza cases.
  • Support the development of the proper scientific and epidemiologic expertise in affected regions to ensure early recognition of changes in the pattern of avian or human outbreaks.
  • Support the development and sustainment of sufficient U.S. and host nation laboratory capacity and diagnostic reagents in affected regions and domestically, to provide rapid confirmation of cases in animals or humans.
  • Advance mechanisms for “real-time” clinical surveillance in domestic acute care settings such as emergency departments, intensive care units and laboratories to provide local, state and federal public health officials with continuous awareness of the profile of illness in communities, and leverage all federal medical capabilities, both domestic and international, in support of this objective.
  • Develop and deploy rapid diagnostics with greater sensitivity and reproducibility to allow onsite diagnosis of pandemic strains of influenza at home and abroad, in animals and humans, to facilitate early warning, outbreak control and targeting of antiviral therapy.
  • Expand our domestic livestock and wildlife surveillance activities to ensure early warning of the spread of an outbreak to our shores.

Using Surveillance to Limit Spread

Although influenza does not respect geographic or political borders, entry to and egress from affected areas represent opportunities to control or at the very least slow the spread of infection. In parallel to our containment measures, we will:

  • Develop mechanisms to rapidly share information on travelers who may be carrying or may have been exposed to a pandemic strain of influenza, for the purposes of contact tracing and outbreak investigation.
  • Develop and exercise mechanisms to provide active and passive surveillance during an outbreak, both within and beyond our borders.
  • Expand and enhance mechanisms for screening and monitoring animals that may harbor viruses with pandemic potential.
  • Develop screening and monitoring mechanisms and agreements to appropriately control travel and shipping of potentially infected products to and from affected regions if necessary, and to protect unaffected populations.

Pillar Three: Response and Containment

We recognize that a virus with pandemic potential anywhere represents a risk to populations everywhere. Once health authorities have signaled sustained and efficient human-to-human spread of the virus has occurred, a cascade of response mechanisms will be initiated, from the site of the documented transmission to locations around the globe.

Containing Outbreaks

The most effective way to protect the American population is to contain an outbreak beyond the borders of the U.S. While we work to prevent a pandemic from reaching our shores, we recognize that slowing or limiting the spread of the outbreak is a more realistic outcome and can save many lives. In support of our containment strategy, we will:

  • Work through the International Partnership to develop a coalition of strong partners to coordinate actions to limit the spread of a virus with pandemic potential beyond the location where it is first recognized in order to protect U.S. interests abroad.
  • Where appropriate, offer and coordinate assistance from the United States and other members of the International Partnership.
  • Encourage all levels of government, domestically and globally, to take appropriate and lawful action to contain an outbreak within the borders of their community, province, state or nation.
  • Where appropriate, use governmental authorities to limit non-essential movement of people, goods and services into and out of areas where an outbreak occurs.
  • Provide guidance to all levels of government on the range of options for infection-control and containment, including those circumstances where social distancing measures, limitations on gatherings, or quarantine authority may be an appropriate public health intervention.
  • Emphasize the roles and responsibilities of the individual in preventing the spread of an outbreak, and the risk to others if infection-control practices are not followed.
  • Provide guidance for states, localities and industry on best practices to prevent the spread of avian influenza in commercial, domestic and wild birds, and other animals.

Leveraging National Medical and Public Health Surge Capacity

Rather than generating a focal point of casualties, the medical burden of a pandemic is likely to be distributed in communities across the nation for an extended period of time. In order to save lives and limit suffering, we will:

  • Implement state and local public health and medical surge plans, and leverage all federal medical facilities, personnel and response capabilities to support the national surge requirement.
  • Activate plans to distribute medical countermeasures, including non-medical equipment and other material, from the Strategic National Stockpile and other distribution centers to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Address barriers to the flow of public health, medical and veterinary personnel across state and local jurisdictions to meet local shortfalls in public health, medical and veterinary capacity.
  • Determine the spectrum of public health, medical and veterinary surge capacity activities that the U.S. military and other government entities may be able to support during a pandemic, contingent upon primary mission requirements, and develop mechanisms to activate them.

Sustaining Infrastructure, Essential Services and the Economy

Movement of essential personnel, goods and services, and maintenance of critical infrastructure are necessary during an event that spans months in any given community. The private sector and critical infrastructure entities must respond in a manner that allows them to maintain the essential elements of their operations for a prolonged period of time, in order to prevent severe disruption of life in our communities. To ensure this, we will:

  • Encourage the development of coordination mechanisms across American industries to support the above activities during a pandemic.
  • Provide guidance to activate contingency plans to ensure that personnel are protected, that the delivery of essential goods and services is maintained, and that sectors remain functional despite significant and sustained worker absenteeism.
  • Determine the spectrum of infrastructure-sustainment activities that the U.S. military and other government entities may be able to support during a pandemic, contingent upon primary mission requirements, and develop mechanisms to activate them.

Ensuring Effective Risk Communication

Effective risk communication is essential to inform the public and mitigate panic. We will:

  • Ensure that timely, clear, coordinated messages are delivered to the American public from trained spokespersons at all levels of government and assist the governments of affected nations to do the same.
  • Work with state and local governments to develop guidelines to assure the public of the safety of the food supply and mitigate the risk of exposure from wildlife.

Roles and Responsibilities

Because of its unique nature, responsibility for preparedness and response to a pandemic extends across all levels of government and all segments of society. No single entity alone can prevent or mitigate the impact of a pandemic.

The Federal Government

While the Federal government plays a critical role in elements of preparedness and response to a pandemic, the success of these measures is predicated on actions taken at the individual level and in states and communities. Federal responsibilities include the following:

  • Advancing international preparedness, surveillance, response and containment activities.
  • Supporting the establishment of countermeasure stockpiles and production capacity by:
    • Facilitating the development of sufficient domestic production capacity for vaccines, antivirals, diagnostics and personal protective equipment to support domestic needs, and encouraging the development of production capacity around the world;
    • Advancing the science necessary to produce effective vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; and
    • Stockpiling and coordinating the distribution of necessary countermeasures, in concert with states and other entities.
  • Ensuring that federal departments and agencies, including federal health care systems, have developed and exercised preparedness and response plans that take into account the potential impact of a pandemic on the federal workforce, and are configured to support state, local and private sector efforts as appropriate.
  • Facilitating state and local planning through funding and guidance.
  • Providing guidance to the private sector and public on preparedness and response planning, in conjunction with states and communities.

Lead departments have been identified for the medical response (Department of Health and Human Services), veterinary response (Department of Agriculture), international activities (Department of State) and the overall domestic incident management and Federal coordination (Department of Homeland Security). Each department is responsible for coordination of all efforts within its authorized mission, and departments are responsible for developing plans to implement this Strategy.

States and Localities

Our communities are on the front lines of a pandemic and will face many challenges in maintaining continuity of society in the face of widespread illness and increased demand on most essential government services. State and local responsibilities include the following:

  • Ensuring that all reasonable measures are taken to limit the spread of an outbreak within and beyond the community’s borders.
  • Establishing comprehensive and credible preparedness and response plans that are exercised on a regular basis.
  • Integrating non-health entities in the planning for a pandemic, including law enforcement, utilities, city services and political leadership.
  • Establishing state and community-based stockpiles and distribution systems to support a comprehensive pandemic response.
  • Identifying key spokespersons for the community, ensuring that they are educated in risk communication, and have coordinated crisis communications plans.
  • Providing public education campaigns on pandemic influenza and public and private interventions.

The Private Sector and Critical Infrastructure Entities

The private sector represents an essential pillar of our society because of the essential goods and services that it provides. Moreover, it touches the majority of our population on a daily basis, through an employer-employee or vendor-customer relationship. For these reasons, it is essential that the U.S. private sector be engaged in all preparedness and response activities for a pandemic.

Critical infrastructure entities also must be engaged in planning for a pandemic because of our society’s dependence upon their services. Both the private sector and critical infrastructure entities represent essential underpinnings for the functioning of American society. Responsibilities of the U.S. private sector and critical infrastructure entities include the following:

  • Establishing an ethic of infection control in the workplace that is reinforced during the annual influenza season, to include, if possible, options for working offsite while ill, systems to reduce infection transmission, and worker education.
  • Establishing contingency systems to maintain delivery of essential goods and services during times of significant and sustained worker absenteeism.
  • Where possible, establishing mechanisms to allow workers to provide services from home if public health officials advise against non-essential travel outside the home.
  • Establishing partnerships with other members of the sector to provide mutual support and maintenance of essential services during a pandemic.

Individuals and Families

The critical role of individuals and families in controlling a pandemic cannot be overstated. Modeling of the transmission of influenza vividly illustrates the impact of one individual’s behavior on the spread of disease, by showing that an infection carried by one person can be transmitted to tens or hundreds of others. For this reason, individual action is perhaps the most important element of pandemic preparedness and response.

Education on pandemic preparedness for the population should begin before a pandemic, should be provided by all levels of government and the private sector, and should occur in the context of preventing the transmission of any infection, such as the annual influenza or the common cold. Responsibilities of the individual and families include:

  • Taking precautions to prevent the spread of infection to others if an individual or a family member has symptoms of influenza.
  • Being prepared to follow public health guidance that may include limitation of attendance at public gatherings and non-essential travel for several days or weeks.
  • Keeping supplies of materials at home, as recommended by authorities, to support essential needs of the household for several days if necessary.

International Partners

We rely upon our international partnerships, with the United Nations, international organizations and private non-profit organizations, to amplify our efforts, and will engage them on a multilateral and bilateral basis. Our international effort to contain and mitigate the effects of an outbreak of pandemic influenza is a central component of our overall strategy. In many ways, the character and quality of the U.S. response and that of our international partners may play a determining role in the severity of a pandemic.

The International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza stands in support of multinational organizations. Members of the Partnership have agreed that the following 10 principles will guide their efforts:

  1. International cooperation to protect the lives and health of our people;
  2. Timely and sustained high-level global political leadership to combat avian and pandemic influenza;
  3. Transparency in reporting of influenza cases in humans and in animals caused by virus strains that have pandemic potential, to increase understanding and preparedness and especially to ensure rapid and timely response to potential outbreaks;
  4. Immediate sharing of epidemiological data and samples with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international community to detect and characterize the nature and evolution of any outbreaks as quickly as possible, by utilizing, where appropriate, existing networks and mechanisms;
  5. Rapid reaction to address the first signs of accelerated transmission of H5N1 and other highly pathogenic influenza strains so that appropriate international and national resources can be brought to bear;
  6. Prevent and contain an incipient epidemic through capacity building and in-country collaboration with international partners;
  7. Work in a manner complementary to and supportive of expanded cooperation with and appropriate support of key multilateral organizations (including the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organization and World Organization for Animal Health);
  8. Timely coordination of bilateral and multilateral resource allocations; dedication of domestic resources (human and financial); improvements in public awareness; and development of economic and trade contingency plans;
  9. Increased coordination and harmonization of preparedness, prevention, response and containment activities among nations, complementing domestic and regional preparedness initiatives, and encouraging where appropriate the development of strategic regional initiatives; and
  10. Actions based on the best available science.

Through the Partnership and other bilateral and multilateral initiatives, we will promote these principles and support the development of an international capacity to prepare, detect and respond to an influenza pandemic.

 

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Tools in our arsenal: A Symptom Checker, ABC News Cold and Flu Center and so much more!

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 20, 2008

Look at what ABC News is up to….Kudos to them!

Sick Kids: Keep Them Home? Or Are They Faking?

Doctors Give Quick Tips to Help You Decide When to Keep Junior Home

By JOSEPH BROWNSTEIN
ABC News Medical Unit

Oct. 2, 2008

The morning begins, and you slowly pull yourself out of bed, getting ready for a day at the office, when you hear the familiar refrain, “Mommy, Daddy, I don’t feel good.”

And soon, you will have to evaluate, how sick is she? Is he really sick, or just trying to get out of school? And why don’t schools teach them that the proper grammar is to say that they don’t “feel well” anymore?

There may be no way to know if your child is really sick — even after seeing a doctor — but pediatricians have several suggestions to help you make the right call on taking your child in to the doctor, keeping them home or sending them in to school for the day.

read the rest of this story here.

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It’s a Cold. It’s the Flu. No, It’s Much Worse

Signs That Your Cold or Flu Is More Serious Than You Think

By RADHA CHITALE
ABC News Medical Unit

Oct. 17, 2008

Fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, fatigue — just another run of the mill cold or flu virus, right?

Perhaps, but sometimes these rather nonspecific symptoms are harbingers of something else. A number of illnesses, particularly viral infections, can begin with symptoms that are similar to a cold or the flu but, upon closer inspection or further progression, can prove far more serious than a flu bug.

Part of the reason many infections can be mistaken for a cold or a flu is because their symptoms are fairly non-specific. And they like to infect similar areas of the body.

read the rest of the story here.

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Here is a link to the symptom checker where you can tell if you have a cold or the flu. What a great idea!

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Here is a cold and flu center complete with videos and message boards where you can ask your the experts your own questions.

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Go to ABC News/Health for so much more….

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NIH Statement: Early Pandemic Flu Wave May Protect Against Worse One Later

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 20, 2008

[We won’t know if this pandemic will be at all like the 1918 pandemic. We won’t know if there will be “waves”. Travel and transportation has changed. Blending us together with more efficiency…maybe making waves a distinction of the past. If there are waves of illness, we won’t know the severity until they begin. We cannot know without statistics.]

Early Pandemic Flu Wave May Protect Against Worse One Later

Evidence Shows Spring Outbreak in 1918 May Have Immunized Against Deadlier Second Wave

New evidence about the worldwide influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 indicates that getting the flu early protected many people against a second deadlier wave, an article co-authored by an NIH epidemiologist concludes.

American soldiers, British sailors and a group of British civilians who were afflicted by the first mild wave of influenza in early 1918 apparently were more immune than others to the severe clinical effects of a more virulent strain later in the year, according to the paper published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseasesby medical historian John Barry, staff scientist Cécile Viboud, Ph.D., of the NIH’s Fogarty International Center and epidemiologist Lone Simonson, Ph.D., of The George Washington University.

“If a mild first wave is documented, the benefits of cross-protection during future waves should be considered before implementing public health interventions designed to limit exposure,” the authors suggested.

Mark Miller, M.D., director of the Fogarty Center’s Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies, said the finding could have implications for future pandemics. “If a 1918-like pandemic were to repeat itself, the early circulation of less pathogenic pandemic viruses could provide some level of population immunity that would limit the full onslaught from the second wave.

“Together with historical data recently uncovered from Denmark and New York City, this study gives us a different look at the process of adaptation of novel pandemic influenza viruses to humans and the evolution of virulence,” Viboud said.

The researchers pored over medical data from U.S. Army bases, the British fleet and several British civilian communities, applying modern mathematical models to study the pandemic. They determined that in the spring of 1918, influenza occurred at different levels of severity throughout the United States, and was not always recognized as a pandemic. By the fall, however, the rate of illness among soldiers was 3.4 times higher among those who had not previously had the flu, and the rate of death per case was about five times as high.

The disparity was not as great for the British sailors and civilians whose records were studied.

For people who were infected in the first wave, the risk of illness in the second wave was reduced by between 35 percent to 94 percent, about the same protection as for modern vaccines — 70 percent to 90 percent. The risk of death was reduced between 56 percent to 89 percent.

The authors found that while there were variations in overall influenza cases among the 37 U.S. Army bases in the spring of 1918, soldiers who had been sick in the spring experienced lower rates of illness and death during the more lethal pandemic outbreak in the fall. At one base, a regiment that had transferred in from Hawaii where soldiers were exposed to the spring wave had a 6.6 percent incidence in the fall compared to 48.5 percent in a regiment transferring in from Alaska, where soldiers had not been exposed.

The study suggests two possible reasons for the difference in incidence and lethality between the first two waves: a relatively weak virus mutating into a stronger one or a respiratory bug in the fall making flu patients sicker.

The 1918-1919 pandemic killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide and was unusually deadly in young adults, including soldiers.

Fogarty, the international component of the NIH, addresses global health challenges through innovative and collaborative research and training programs and supports and advances the NIH mission through international partnerships. For more information, visit: www.fic.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

 

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Prepare,

and then help those who will have a difficult time doing so to prepare as well.

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One idea is to utilize the transportation systems that we have now to our advantage.

Meals on Wheels can help the elderly to begin to stockpile.

Vans and buses that bring the elderly to stores can remind them to prioritize their shopping.

Health and physical education classes can teach children basic hygiene techniques and how to help out at home.

ReadyMoms Alliance and Get Pandemic Ready passouts can be printed by PTA and PTSAs and distributed through the schools in order to assist parents.

We already have these systems in place and citizens serving who can get this information into the hands of the people who will need it in the times ahead.

Our churches with open pantry ministries may need to increase their storeroom capacity and their ability to deliver to those in need safely during an outbreak of infectious disease. Families will need to be checked on if the entire or a majority of the family becomes ill.

There are so many ways to be a blessing in others lives.

And don’t forget that seasonal flu shot!

Flu season has already begun.

 

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Prepare While Prices Are Low

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 20, 2008

I paid $4.29 for a gallon of milk the other day!

Next year I expect that the price of milk will make milk unaffordable to us.

Can you imagine that?

My husband has worked for the same company for 34 years. When we add in factors such as rising cost of living costs, little to no raise, and a few other factors, his and our standard of living is the worst it has been in 34 years. And right now he is doing the job of three key people within his store, he is disabled and he is not complaining. He recognizes the blessing of being able to work.

Neither of us are complaining, not at all. We are so very blessed.

I am attempting to illustrate a point that is probably already obvious to most people. We are in the midst of the biggest economic downturn of our generation, and perhaps longer.

Time will tell.

We must not fail to recognize the warning we have been given.

I am old enough to know what my parents and grandparents went through during the Great Depression and World War II. Were there people who warned them of what was coming, what would soon overtake them?

Some back then had the dust bowl to add to their miseries. Today we will have a global pandemic added into this mix.

The wise prepare…

….and even then we will not be able to physically prepare enough I suspect.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. Corrie Ten Boom

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie Ten Boom

 

Scenes from the Great Depression from the Library of Congress archives

03054r

History has a way of repeating itself in spirals. Labor pains are like that too.

fdrl_27-0682a 

They didn’t have much, but my parents told me how people helped each other.

8a16199r

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Heroes During the Great Depression and Beyond

Tragedy and difficult times are the breeding ground of heroes. There were so many heroes then. So many stumbling blocks to be cleared from the path.

There were issues of that time, and we have issues to deal with today. Time marches on but sometimes the song remains the same.

Jesse Holman Jones

Success is measured by the service you render and the character of citizen you make rather than by the amount of money you amass.

Jesse H. Jones

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They were children during the Great Depression but Jesse Owens and Joe Louis taught us that we can endure, we can succeed, we can be that spark that is a beacon of hope to others.

They taught us the lessons that athletes are so able to do.

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Joe Louis

I made the most of my ability and I did my best with my title. — Joe Louis

Joe Louis, an American success story. He proved to us that those born just before the depression could endure and rise to great heights despite the roadblocks to their success.

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Jesse Owens

The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.  — Jesse Owens

The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness. — Jesse Owens

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Marion Anderson

Taught us how to stand up to oppression while singing her song.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Did not allow his disabilities to hide his gifts and talents during adverse times. He led this nation with dignity.

One of my favorite quotes, being a conservative myself is…

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. –Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR’s D-Day Prayer

A call to national prayer.

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Lillian Thrasher

Live is such a way as to pass something tangible to a new generation.      — Lillian Thrasher

Lillian Trasher was born in Georgia in America on September 27, 1887.

Even at an early age she was prepared to dedicate her life to God. Later on she worked at an orphanage. Little did Lillian know that this is where she would get her training for her missionary work.

Lillian attended a bible school, pastored a church, did evangelical work then returned to the orphanage. She became engaged to be married but ten days before her wedding she heard a talk given by a missionary from India. She was deeply moved. She cancelled the wedding knowing that God had called her to Africa and that she must obey.

Read the rest of this story here.

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Corrie Ten Boom, the young Dutch woman who with her entire family risked their own lives to save the oppressed and hunted.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. –Corrie Ten Boom

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The American People were heroes too. They are stories of great deeds done in faith and courage. The American people were heroes.

Those

who helped others and did not buckle under adversity.

They stood firm then.

They did not lose focus.

They knew what we have forgotten,

what we have misplaced,

what we have so willingly cast aside.

                           Will we stand firm now?

What will be our legacy?

 

Faith is acting in the face of contrary evidence. The senses declare, “It cannot be,” but Faith shouts above the turmoil, “It is!” — E. W. Kenyon

Prepare Spiritually, Mentally, Physically

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Successful Free Flu Shot Clinics

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 19, 2008

Flu drill deemed a success

By MANASEE WAGH
Bucks County Courier Times

More than 4,500 people received free flu shots Saturday at Bucks County’s third annual Pandemic Flu Drill.

As people arrived in a steady stream at Lower Makefield’s William Penn Middle School, one of five inoculation sites across the county, they filled out a brief form to check their eligibility for a shot.

Within minutes, one of several volunteer nurses or doctors called them to sit down in the gymnasium. Seconds later, it was all over and they were walking out the door.

The rest of the story is here.

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More kids getting flu shots

More children getting vaccinated against the flu

By MARIAN GAIL BROWN
Staff writer

Pediatricians can always count on being swamped in early fall with an office full of sneezing, sniffling patients in one corner and well youngsters and athletes needing the annual physical to play sports in another. What’s different now, however, is the increased volume of children arriving for flu vaccines.

“We’ve got a flu [vaccine] clinic going on right now and we’re totally booked solid. We’re seeing upwards of three to five patients every 15 minutes,” says Janet Tuominen, a receptionist at Trumbull Pediatrics. “Parents have been calling making appointments for the vaccine for a while now. We’ve got kids scheduled into November already.”

The rest of the story is here.

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Plenty of chances to get free flu shots at local clinics

October 18, 2008

Need to get a flu shot? You’re in the right place. A variety of local and regional clinics are offering free flu shots, and a sizable list of local businesses are offering the shots for a fee.

Information on area flu-shot clinics through Oct. 31 is listed below, according to the American Lung Association’s Flu Clinic Locator. For more information, visit www.flucliniclocator.org.

The rest of the story is here.

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many more successful examples are available.

What are we waiting for?

Any community that fails to prepare with the expectation that the federal government or for that matter the state government will be able to step forward and come to their rescue at the final hour will be tragically wrong, not because government will lack a will, not because we lack a collective wallet, but because there is no way that you can respond to every hometown in America at the same time.”

 

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Flu Season Has Begun

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 19, 2008

Seasonal flu is making it’s way through areas around the country. According to Lara Salahi of ABC News California, Connecticut, Idaho, New York, Alaska and Wyoming “all have reported early flu outbreaks”. Please read the rest of the story here.

There is plenty of flu vaccine available. Once onboard in our system, each day adds antibodies which will make it easier to fight off the flu if you come in contact with it.

Vaccines are made with dead viruses. You cannot get the flu from flu vaccine. The ABC news story also brings up the very good point that vaccines help us to help others.

When we are vaccinated we do not spread influenza.

Gotta get my flu shot!

I will post it here as soon as I do.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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ReadyMoms Alliance

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 19, 2008

“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.” ~Sonia Johnson

 

ReadyMoms Alliance is made up of parents who have set out to change the course of history. This devoted group of individuals have put countless hours into presenting information that is freely given to all so that they may be prepared for a pandemic and also to help others to prepare.

More information about the groups can be found on their pages at the

Fluwiki Forum/ReadyMoms.

The ReadyMoms Toolkit contains awareness posters, tabletop signs, handouts and links to in-depth guidance and there is more coming soon.

 

Never underestimate all that a sincere group of individuals can accomplish, and ReadyMoms Alliance IS accomplishing a lot.

 

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Mandatory Flu Vaccines For Children

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 17, 2008

Mandatory vaccination, a touchy subject if there ever was one. The idea of the state forcing anything on our children makes us bristle. Yet, the “state” does compel some of our parenting decisions, more often than we care to admit. There are times that it is necessary for the state to step in an enforce what we as parents sometimes fail to do. The mandatory use of car seats is a good example of this.

Public and private school attendance requires proof of vaccination for a variety of illnesses from tetanus and diphtheria to mumps and rubella has been on the books for more years than I can remember. Parents could opt out but few did. Sports teams and camps require physicals to be done – they don’t just take our word as parents that we are looking after the health of our children. For a variety of good reasons, proof is required and if we want our children to be able to participate, we comply.

My parents knew the value and worth of vaccines. They could remember the days when there were few to be had. They could remember when polio devastated lives, and diseases like diphtheria and German measles were common place and devastating. When vaccines against these traditional childhood illnesses were first introduced they were like miracles to the parents who knew what life was like living in fear of paralytic polio. Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner were the modern day conquistadors of infectious disease and their names invoked a special awe and deep gratitude among the vaccinated masses.

Not so today. The pendulum has swung backward for some parents.

It is hard for parents today to fully comprehend the real threat behind diseases like diphtheria, mumps and hepatitis B. Herd immunity and vaccination keep these diseases at bay so we have no experience to relate to them wreaking havoc in a community.

Herd immunity is the type of immunity that occurs when the vaccinated population breaks the chain of transmission or at least slows down the spread of infectious diseases allowing those who remain unvaccinated in a population to also be protected. If the numbers of unvaccinated people in a given population becomes too large then this “firebreak” is lost.

from wikipedia:

Estimated Herd Immunity thresholds for vaccine preventable diseases

Disease Transmission R0 Herd Immunity Threshold
Diphtheria Saliva 6-7 85%
Measles Airborne 12-18 83-94%
Mumps Airborne Droplet 4-7 75-86%
Pertussis Airborne Droplet 12-17 92-94%
Polio Fecal-Oral Route 5-7 80-86%
Rubella Airborne Droplet 5-7 80-85%
Smallpox Social Contact 6-7 83-85%

[R0 is the basic reproduction number, or the average number of secondary infectious cases that are produced by a single index case in completely susceptible population]

Table of Vaccines

and the date of their first introduction for use in humans

1798

Smallpox
1885 Rabies
1897 Plague
1923 Diphtheria
1926 Pertussis
1927 Tuberculosis (BCG)
1927 Tetanus
1935 Yellow Fever
1955 Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV)
1962 Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)
1964 Measles
1967 Mumps
1970 Rubella
1981 Hepatitis B

When these vaccines were first introduced it was the “at risk” population and the affluent who most benefited from them. The poor, who could not afford vaccine, continued to be devastated by these illnesses.

The national vaccine campaign was born.

Vaccines target for use in a national immunization program

Smallpox
BCG
Diphtheria Toxoid
Tetanus Toxoid
Pertussis
IPV the OPV
Measles
These were not mandatory vaccines but with real world experience with the diseases themselves people embraced vaccines with open arms.
In 1956 the world united to attempt to eradicate smallpox. Through this effort it was realized that through the combination of containment and vaccination a dreaded disease could be eradicated. And they succeeded.
smallpox
Onto the eradication of polio
As local campaigns to eradicate polio were realizing limited success the World Health Assembly set their sights on eradicating it from the world. By 1995, 146 countries were polio free due to containment and vaccination.
Vaccination and containment work and to this day remain the protocol that we rely on to eliminate the disease that once held us firmly in their grips.
Most people do not question the use of vaccines in children because they know the benefits outweigh the risks. Adverse reactions are rare but when they do happen they attract headlines. Even though the vast majority of studies, and the experience of most parents and children worldwide speak to the safety of vaccines, the tragic cases of a view, which may not even be attributable to the use of vaccines, leave some with a seed of doubt.
Conflicting studies sponsored by groups with agendas both pro and con have muddied the waters leaving a few parents fearful of both vaccinating and not vaccinating and leaving state officials and public health departments nationwide with few choices but to demand vaccination. If the threshold for herd immunity is not being met, diseases are allowed to run unchecked through communities. The public health must be safeguarded.
There are some children who cannot be vaccinated. With a low herd immunity they will be exposed and become ill. So it becomes a matter of whose rights should be protected, the individual or society as a whole.
This is then weighed against the possibility of the rare occurrence of side effects from the adjuvants within the vaccines themselves.
from Wikipedia: Adjuvants are pharmaceutical or immunological agents that enhance the efficacy of vaccines while having few direct side effects when given by themselves.
Resources:
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health – Thimerosal Content in Some US Licensed Vaccines
These documents point out that these are trace amounts of ingredients. (I am sure that I have ingested a trace ingredient or two eating fish and probably in much heavier doses.)
So what is a parent to do?

How do we sort through myth, fact, the common good, the welfare of our children, and agendas on both sides of the issue….prayerfully and with diligence.

Because of attention devoted to the issue of vaccine safety by different parent groups and individuals, parents rightfully began to question the safety of vaccines. No fault can be found with becoming educated and asking questions.

But with no experiential memory of the severity of the diseases that we vaccinate against the pendulum is allowed to swing back and some are choosing to not vaccinate their children as an over-reaction, putting the general public health at risk.

Because voluntary vaccination with informed consent became the standard approach we had reached that balance where we have herd immunity. Now public opinion is being swayed once again. Unfortunately, many parents do not take the time to educate themselves about the pros and cons to vaccination. Along with herd immunity there is a herd mentality, and that does not have the same benefits. More education and awareness if the deadliness of the diseases themselves is needed.

There is an imbalance of power when those whom parents trust to give us good advice, doctors and government officials in particular, fail to educate and be transparent about the issues that effect us most, especially when these issues involve our children.

Yes, there is an agenda to eradicate diseases, childhood illnesses and HIV/AIDS in particular. Agendas are not always bad. It is a noble ideal to reduce pain and suffering. But failure to educate and inform our consent as parents leads to suspicion and the very situation that we have today where parents cannot properly weigh all of the pros and cons of vaccination. When given proper guidance and education forced vaccination would not be necessary. Parents themselves would see and understand the merit of vaccination. Forcing vaccination leads to more mistrust. More mistrust leads to non-compliance in other areas of public health and safety – all for the want of some information and a balanced approach to the guidance that parents receive.

As a parent I vaccinated my children and they did not suffer any side effects at all. One child had one reaction to pertussis vaccine and the vaccination protocol for that one particular infectious disease was abandoned. In her early teen years she became ill with pertussis and was very ill for a long time. She contracted pertussis from a non-vaccinated individual. I saw first hand how devastating these diseases can truly be and she at least had some immunity from the one vaccination attempt. To be honest, rightly or wrongly, I was a bit angry, perhaps misguidedly, at the unknown parent who chose not to vaccinate their child.

As parents we do a disservice to our children and to society when we choose to not vaccinate because of our fears alone. We must balance genetics and the likelihood of adverse reactions with the threat of these illnesses themselves and the benefit to society. No man is an island, what we do and don’t do has an impact on others.

However, in my very humble opinion, compelling vaccination must be reserved for dire threats to the health of the population as a whole. And we must be made aware of ALL if the adjuvants and ingredients in vaccines with the utmost transparency and candor. Which leads me to reason for this post.

It is worthwhile to read the following well written article in its entirety for other points which further elucidate the problem.

NJ flu-shot mandate for preschoolers draws outcry

Oct 16, 4:34 PM (ET)
By DAVID CRARY

As flu season approaches, many New Jersey parents are furious over a first-in-the-nation requirement that children get a flu shot in order to attend preschools and day-care centers. The decision should be the parents’, not the state’s, they contend.

Hundreds of parents and other activists rallied outside the New Jersey Statehouse on Thursday, decrying the policy and voicing support for a bill that would allow parents to opt out of mandatory vaccinations for their children.

<snip>

The argument for:

“Vaccines not only protect the child being vaccinated but also the general community and the most vulnerable individuals within the community,” New Jersey’s Health Department said in a statement. It has depicted young children as “particularly efficient” in transmitting the flu to others.

The argument against:

“The right to informed consent is so basic,” she said in an interview. “Parents have a right to decide for their own children what is injected in their bodies.”

And the mis-education causing the problem:

“The flu is not a deadly disease,” said Barbara Majeski of Princeton, N.J., who does not want her two preschooler sons to get the vaccination.

<snip>

“Mother Nature designed our bodies to be able to fight off infections through natural means – you need to be exposed and develop immunity,” Majeski said. “We’ve just gotten a little too overprotective with our children.”

Influenza is a deadly disease. The viral world is an ever-changing one. True seasonal influenza, and not the stomach bug that some mislabel as flu, can be and very often is deadly. The bacterial pneumonia that causes a secondary infection also is deadly and a direct result of influenza. This is especially true for the very young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Pandemic Influenza, conversely, strikes those with robust immune systems – our children and the young adults in our population. The bacterial pneumonia that frequent occurs is also a deadly threat.

see: Seasonal flu vaccine may help in fight against H5N1

Admittedly this protection may be small or even non-existent because there may not be a pandemic vaccine for a very long time. But priming the immune system may help us when a pandemic vaccine is developed.

Seasonal influenza vaccine is effective and this years choice is a good match to fight H3N2 and H1N1, which have also changed into deadlier forms, as viruses do in order to survive.

Vaccination against the prevailing Influenza B virus is also included in the vaccine. Influenza B viruses are nothing to overlook. They cause widespread outbreaks causing attendance problems at school and work.

As for H5N1, the virus thought to be the prime candidate to cause the next pandemic, I would take any and all protective measures that I could get my hands on (with a thorough awareness of what is in the vaccine).

H5N1 is becoming more adapted to the human respiratory tract and this could be the year that a pandemic begins, although no one can know what the timetable of a virus is. It truly is impossible to know, although the changes may be tracked over time. We move closer and closer to the brink and many experts are quite worried. This year, next year or the next, a pandemic is coming. And there are other viruses out there that could cause a pandemic.

So what’s a parent to do?

What are public health officials to do?

When balancing the rights of the individual against the rights of society as a whole who wins out?

Or do we all win when herd immunity is achieved?

If one community is forcing vaccination and the neighboring community, state, country, is not, what has been achieved?

These are all questions which will become critical in the days ahead. Much more education is needed, not the strong arm of the government demanding compliance. Honest and transparent public debate that informs consent, and that will encourage compliance is what is needed. Assuming the public will panic at hard facts and information is selling the citizens short, selling parents short. Keeping the issues at hand from the public eye will encourage mistrust, something that will work against us during a pandemic.

I understand the heart of the public officials who are forcing vaccination in New Jersey. They truly seem to desire to reduce illness and to protect those who they are pledged to safeguard. Not an easy decision to make, I am sure.

Forcing vaccination of children rather than workers in the workplace, does not seem prudent and it certainly should not have been a first step. Massive education campaigns would have been the right approach. Allowing the public to reach its own conclusion about the necessity of vaccination and the positive effects would have been a positive and productive way to urge compliance.

There truly seems to be little difference between how children spread influenza and how adults out in public spread the disease. I have witnessed some pretty horrendous hygienic techniques among adults even as receptionists at doctors offices and in hospitals themselves.

More education and public debate is needed.

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Vaccine Distribution and Administration – The Time to Get This Right is Now

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 16, 2008

In many states administering flu shots is hampered by regulations meant to protect health but may be having the opposite effect by restricting access to flu vaccine to the general public.

In Massachusetts we are fortunate to have a forward thinking department of public health which has enabled many pharmacies to freely administer flu shots to the general population. No prescription is necessary in Massachusetts in order to receive a flu shot. This is not the case in one state and in many states pharmacists themselves may not administer vaccines.

Pharmacists are trusted members of our health communities. We rely on them for distributing other life saving pharmaceuticals. Perhaps we should be relying on them for administering our vaccines as well – in all of our states. Now that there is enough vaccine to go around, there are too few health professionals to administer them. Adding additional numbers to the ranks of those who can administer the vaccines just makes good sense.

Anyone who has had influenza knows that it can be a serious illness that can take a long time to recover from. In the United States alone influenza kills approximately 36,000 people every year. In the past there have not been enough vaccines to go around. This is not the case anymore. Yet, many people opt out from taking these life saving vaccines. The reasons for this vary. There is a lack of understanding that flu vaccine takes about 2 weeks to become effective. If you have been exposed to influenza in the mean time, you may become ill. Many blame the illness on the vaccine, this just isn’t the case. If you have been immunized and still come down with seasonal influenza you may not become as ill as you would have if you had not been immunized.

Flu Clinics

Flu clinics take the strain off of our our medical providers by reducing “well” office visits and exposure to those in waiting rooms who are already ill. Many flu clinics are “drive through”, making it even easier for us to receive these vaccines.

An ABC News article stated today that that according to the CDC “licensed manufacturers in the United States have created 146 million doses” of vaccine for this flu season. The article went on to say that according to Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, Department of Infectious Diseases, “two-thirds of the population already falls into the CDC recommendations for the flu vaccine”. The article also states that as many as 20 million or more vaccines will be discarded because they are not administered.

Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent seasonal flu. But it doesn’t work if it is not administered. In this economy wasting life saving resources is unconscionable.

According to one dated document from CT.gov pharmacists in the state of Massachusetts are allowed to “offer and distribute flu vaccine to consumers on-site”. A quick call to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Division of Epidemiology confirmed the fact that both local boards of health and pharmacists in the state of Massachusetts may administer vaccines.

For citizens in states which do not allow pharmacists and local health boards to administer vaccines, there is nothing like public outcry to change policy. Call or email your local and state boards and your state representatives. Let them know that your needs are being under-served. If and when it comes time to administer pandemic vaccines we do not want to have to wait for laws to catch up with our needs. How seasonal flu vaccine is administered right now is a good indication of how any pandemic vaccine we may have will be administered. Let’s get this right, NOW.

Flu Shots Save Lives

Local Flu Shot Clinics:

Rite Aid Pharmacy 88 West Stafford Road
Stafford Springs, CT 06076 – Phone: (860) 684-9555

  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008. – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2008 – 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

CVS Pharmacy – Palmer MA

  • Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 – 02:00 PM – 06:00 PM
  • Friday, November 14th, 2008 – 10:00 AM – 02:00 PM
  • You must be 18 years of age to receive a flu shot at this clinic.

FREE FLU SHOTS – Monson Senior Center – For Seniors 60 years and up

Call for an appointment (413) 267-4121

Watch for notices in the newspapers and on MPACT to sign up right away.  If you received a flu shot at the Senior Center last fall, you will receive a telephone call to sign up this year.  Remember, flu shots are by appointment only – no walk ins.  Why wait in line when, with a appointment, you can be in and out in 5 minutes.

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Because we must revisited

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 14, 2008

King County to lay off up to 255 more workers

By Keith Ervin

Seattle Times staff reporter

Financially ailing King County will send layoff notices to as many as 255 employees today, on top of 150 jobs already eliminated.

<snip>

Without help from Olympia, the “lifeboat” programs would be halted and 135 more jobs eliminated June 30, according to the county budget office. Lifeboat programs include the Northshore public-health clinic; the White Center family-planning clinic; winter shelter for the homeless; vaccinations; and efforts to control tuberculosis, pandemic flu and sexually transmitted diseases.

the article, in it’s entirety, is located here

Imagine that. Wow! What a blow.

Seattle and King County had taken the lead as a pandemic preparedness planners. From comic books to DVDs, under the leadership of director, David Fleming, Seattle and King County led the charge.

Their website contains is a treasure chest of preparedness information.

If these types of budget cuts can happen there – they will happen here. There really is only one answer and only one response.

Citizens have to rise up to the occasion simply because we must. Our health, the health of our families, the health of members of our communities who are at risk is at stake.

The cost of reinventing the wheel – In today’s economy maybe the wheel would not have been invented.

I am not complaining about money, not in the least. In my very humble opinion, money isn’t going to be the end all and be all in the answer to pandemic preparedness. Once again, we have to rethink how we have traditionally solved our problems.

We have absolutely NO MONEY. We have had $17 dollars in our savings account for about a year now and after bills are paid $0 in checking <b>yet we go on</b>. We eat, we sleep, and we volunteer. No funds coming in but we do what we can. Perhaps if we had had money I wouldn’t be doing what I try to do, increase awareness. If money was available I may have been busy feathering our retirement nest instead. Doing what you love to do with whatever resources that you may have is a wonderful challenge.

My husbands employer forgot to pay him this week (an oversight, which will be corrected, from going from disability to front line pay). The mortgage and car insurance won’t get paid for a few weeks while this is corrected. I mention this not as a complaint – not at all. We slept well last night. When things are beyond your control, you work on them but you don’t let them order your day.

We go on because we must. We help others because we must. We volunteer because we must. There simply will be no other way to knock over this huge wall that is pandemic preparedness awareness.

When the wall finally does topple we will all realize a much brighter day as long as we do not allow the things that are challenges to our success, the bricks falling on us in the process, to knock us out of the process.

Onward and upward

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So what do it do if I am just realizing that I need to prepare

Posted by preparedcitizens on October 13, 2008

First off, congratulations! You have just taken the very first step toward preparedness.

And it wasn’t a small one.

I remember all too well those first feelings of awareness. It was scary. I felt as though a virus lurked on every surface and I remember feeling very uncomfortable around people who were coughing or sneezing and it wasn’t even seasonal flu season. All in all, not a bad thing, but we don’t need to jump the gun quite yet. Actually the fear is a good thing and I hear it’s a pretty normal reaction.

I remember purchasing a whole lot of hand sanitizers, vitamins, over the counter medicines like acetaminophen. I practically drove my family batty reminding them to use their hand sanitizers before they ate, before they touched their faces —-and there was no actual threat of a pandemic yet.

It is good to start to change behaviors soon, especially with small children. I am 48 years old and I learned a lot from watching videos about proper handwashing techniques :blush:. But take it from me, pacing yourself is a wise thing to do.

Education is our number one tool.

Antiviral medicines and vaccines will not be available to us so becoming familiar with some of the resources that we have available literally at our fingertips is the best thing that we can do. Sharing this information with family members is also important, especially those who are not yet aware of what is coming.

Do not be surprised if friends and family are resistant to the information at first. It is a lot to take in initially. If they are connected to the internet, point them in the direction of the new resources that you yourself have discovered.

Word of mouth is the best way to share that there is a need to be aware but the internet seems to be the best educational tool that we have for now.

The federal government has also done a good job of creating opportunities for us to become better prepared for pandemics and other disasters.

The key thing to remember is – you are not alone in your new awareness. Many people are already preparing their homes and their families for what is ahead. Start slowly and build up your basic supplies. Anything that you would normally need every day is what you will need during a pandemic, just larger quantities.

It is also a good idea to make sure that dental care is up to date. An abscessed tooth due to decaying teeth may be harder to have addressed during a pandemic, other preventative measures should also be addressed now.

Social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family in order to reduce the feelings of isolation when we are sheltering in our homes. And it is also a great way to discuss our preparedness activities friend to friend.

Hope to see you on Facebook!

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