The Altons at Doom and Bloom medical have a short article up on what is a coronavirus and basic prophylaxis. The article was published on Jan. 22nd, so the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths have risen.
Last week, we reported on a mysterious ailment first reported Dec. 8th, 2019, in Wuhan, China. Wuhan is the seventh most populous city in China with 11 million people. The previously unknown disease is now identified as a type of coronavirus. Medical officials are currently classifying it as a “class B” disease, which puts it in the same category as HIV/AIDS and Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The rapidity and spread of the disease is impressive: When I began writing this article earlier in the day, there were 440 cases and 9 deaths, up from 200 cases last week. Later in the day, 555 cases and 17 deaths have been verified and other provinces in China are beginning to report cases.
(Note: I first reported on Ebola in early 2014, when 86 cases were reported. The epidemic eventually reached a total of 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.)
Chinese authorities have taken the drastic measure of placing the entire city of Wuhan under quarantine, including the suspension of train and airline service, a step that suggests that many more cases are still unreported.
(1/23 update: Several U.S. airports are now conducting health screenings)
Although little is known at this point about the virus, it is certain that the disease is respiratory in nature and that human-to-human transmission (including medical personnel) is likely. For most respiratory infections, contagion is usually by airborne particles.
The first U.S. case has just been identified in a 30-year-old man from the state of Washington who recently arrived from China. Similar coronavirus victims have been found in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea, almost all traced to an origin in Wuhan.
The Wuhan virus is from the same family of coronaviruses as SARS, which killed over 800 people worldwide in an outbreak toward the end of 2002. It is also similar to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), another epidemic disease. Although not officially named, the new virus is designated 2019-nCOV.
Coronaviruses are viruses made from RNA genetic material. One of the larger RNA viruses, coronavirus is so named from the Latin “corona” (crown or halo), from projections on the virus which give the appearance of a crown.
Coronaviruses are thought to be responsible for a large number of common colds in humans. Coronavirus colds seem to be associated with more major symptoms like fever or sore throat than colds caused by rhinoviruses, another common cause. 2019-nCOV seems to cause even worse respiratory symptoms than the typical coronavirus. Coronaviruses can also lead to pneumonia, either directly or through a secondary bacterial infection due to a weakened immune system.
ABILITY TO CONTAIN THE VIRUS
Chinese officials are probably wise to enact quarantine orders, as there is only one lab (called a Biosafety Level 4 lab or BSL-4) in their entire country with the capability of handling severe outbreaks. Luckily for them, it is located in Wuhan. The facility can care for victims of highly contagious diseases like SARS, Ebola, etc.
Personnel in a BSL-4 lab are subject to the strictest protocols: They must change their clothing on entering and shower upon exiting. Full-body hazmat suits must be worn while working in the lab and decontaminated afterwards. The facility is required to be a separate building or a wing properly isolated with separate air filtration systems.
The chances of spread of the new coronavirus is increased by the upcoming Chinese New Year, when it is thought that millions of Chinese citizens will be traveling throughout the world.
(1/22 Update: China has just issued a travel ban for the city of Wuhan; public transportation in the city is also suspended)
Having learned lessons from our experience with Ebola, the United States is better prepared to deal with highly contagious outbreaks of infection.
HISTORY OF RECENT VIRAL OUTBREAKS IN CHINA
The presence of any biosafety 4 lab (BSL-4) inside China at all is due to the 2003 viral SARS outbreak. SARS reached epidemic proportions quickly, with 8000 cases leading to 750 deaths worldwide. Chinese authorities hope to have 7 such units built by 2025, but only the Wuhan lab is operational.
Although the use of face masks is common (and wise) in China, Wuhan has declared their use manadatory while in crowded locations. This requirement is causing a shortage of masks in the area, which could eventually lead to the same worldwide.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT CORONAVIRUS AND OTHER VIRUS OUTBREAKS
As of yet, no cure nor vaccine is available to combat coronavirus. Treatment at present focuses on treating symptoms and supporting a victim through the infection, while protecting the healthy from the disease.
Contagious illnesses like coronavirus, however, may morph into epidemics, or is widely distributed enough, pandemics. If you are preparedness-minded, you might consider a personal protection “pandemic kit” (or several) and plan out how you would care for a person with a contagious disease if the hospitals were full. Have you thought about what goes into putting together an effective epidemic sick room?
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have an article up on Blunt Trauma. This first part is an overview of the trauma itself and a later post will discuss treatment.
Blunt trauma is damage caused to the body by a blunt object, such as a club or baseball bat. Blunt trauma can cause bruising, scrapes, fractures, or organ ruptures. It can, in some circumstances, break the skin although a projectile that enters the body and stays there or passes through is considered “penetrating trauma”.
How does blunt trauma cause injury? According to the excellent textbook “Trauma” by Mattox, Moore, and Feliciano: The strain on an area due to trauma is related to the amount of deformation caused, factored with the amount (length) of tissue involved.
Types of Strain in Blunt Trauma
Let’s put “Strain” in four categories: Tensile strain, Shear strain, Compressive strain, and Overpressure.
Tensile Strain: Tensile strain occurs as opposing forces are applied to the same point, something like pulling apart a wishbone at Thanksgiving or, perhaps, a tug of war.
Shear Strain: Shear strain also involves two forces applied to a structure, but not at the same point. Think of a circus strong man tearing apart a telephone book.
Compressive Strain: Compressive strain is directly related to the deformation of an area of impact, similar to what would happen if I struck you in the ribs with a baseball bat or the jack collapsed while you were working under your car.
Overpressure: Overpressure is not unlike compressive strain, but applied to a fluid or gas-filled organ, crushing and, perhaps, rupturing it. An example might be sitting down abruptly on a balloon…
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical report that a previously unknown viral pneumonia has broken out in China, hospitalizing dozens there. They discuss what pneumonia is, treatment and prevention.
Health authorities in China are reporting 60 cases or more of a previously unknown viral pneumonia that has put dozens in the hospital. Officials note that victims exhibit fever up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, difficulty breathing, and abnormal findings on chest X-rays.
Nothing gets my attention like a mysterious, probably viral, pneumonia showing up in some foreign land. In the last decade or so, killers like Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have entered the scene. The current infection doesn’t seem to be either of these, and lab studies have already eliminated influenza, avian flu, most bacteria, and other possible culprits. A number of victims were found to have attended a seafood market in the area.
The word “pneumonia” is defined as a lung inflammation usually caused by bacterial or viral infection. Occasionally, fungi or parasites may give rise to it. It’s a very general term and doesn’t identify the specific microbe that’s causing the problem.
It’s important to know that inflammation of the lungs may occur as a result of reasons other than infection, such as inhaling food, drink, or vomit into the lungs. This is called “aspiration pneumonia” and can be life-threatening.
Although pneumonia kills about 50,000 people annually in the United States, most of these cases are in the elderly, the very young, or those with poor immune systems. One infection that is clearly passed from one human to another is influenza. This year’s flu season is becoming one of the worst in recent memory, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last serious viral influenza outbreak in the U.S. was 2017…
News outlets are reporting another attack on a place of worship, this time at a church in White Settlement, Texas, near Fort Worth. In this instance, two congregants were killed before the threat was abolished by armed volunteer members of the church’s security team.
As time goes on, more heinous acts of violence are occurring in what should be sanctuaries for the faithful. There is no place where crowds gather that is immune to the bad intentions of a disgruntled, deranged, or politically-motivated individual.
In the case of the shooting at White Settlement, Texas, a security detail of volunteers was able to end the incident quickly. This was because the folks in the Texas town of 17,000 realized the importance of instilling a culture of situational awareness in our citizenry.
(Aside: Originally put forth by a fighter pilot as a strategy in aerial dogfights, situational awareness has real practical significance in staying safe in uncertain times)
Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat or a need to act. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify suspicious individuals and save lives. It certainly did in the recent incident.
Unlike the church in Texas, not all congregations prioritize church safety at the level needed in this toxic climate. The premise that a ministry is based on peace fails to take into account that there are those who consider places of worship to be “soft”targets. In this era of active shooters and anti-Christian feeling (or anti-religious feeling in general), pastors must make sure their flock is safe, just like any shepherd. In the New Normal, it’s has become part of the job description.
In my role as medical preparedness writer, it’s my mission to help the average citizen promote the well-being of loved ones in disasters. I’ve written about hurricanes and earthquakes, but shooter events like the one in White Settlement are also instances where mass casualties can occur. As in the recent shooting, these casualties could be minimized with a plan of action.
Large churches may choose to hire security professionals and install video surveillance technology. Smaller and less affluent churches, however, might benefit by establishing what I call a “safety ministry“. This group should be comprised of parishioners who have some security experience, such as active and former law enforcement, military veterans, and carefully selected others. Members should evaluate the layout of the church and grounds for weak spots and organize a plan of action for calling 911 and other measures when needed…
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have another good article up, this one on stab wounds. There are pictures with stab wounds on the page, so that’s a warning if you have a light stomach.
Any disaster puts your people at risk for injury. Wounds caused by sharp objects can be life-threatening, depending on the organs and blood vessels damaged.
Stab wounds are a type of penetrating trauma, which is further divided into perforating and non-perforating injuries. A perforating wound is one in which the object causing the damage goes into one side of the body and then exits through the other side. A wound from .223 or NATO .556 would, commonly, be an example of perforating trauma.
Bullets and other high-speed projectiles cause damage not only from the act of penetration, but also the shock wave produced as the bullet passes through the body. Luckily, low speed projectiles such as knives will not do this. Your concerns are related specifically to the area of entry and the structures located directly in the path of the offending instrument.
Stab wounds are an example of a non-perforating wound: the projectile causing the damage enters the body and either stays there or exits where it entered. Some sharp instruments could possibly do this, say a crossbow bolt or a spearhead, but let’s assume that you’ll be unlikely to see these.
With stab wounds, blood loss and failure of damaged organs will be the major issue. A little about blood: Blood carries oxygen to the tissues and organs and removes waste products. It is made up of several components, including:
Red blood cells: These cells carry oxygen to body tissues.
White blood cells: These cells work to, among other things, fight infection and disease.
Platelets and other clotting factors: These allow blood to coagulate and lessen blood loss.
Plasma: A yellowish liquid in which the above are suspended.
Your immediate action upon encountering a victim of a wound with a sharp instrument may save their life. The heart takes less than one minute to pump blood to the entire body; if the circulatory system is breached, blood loss becomes life-threatening very quickly.
180 lb. (about 70 kg.) adult males have approximately 9-10 pints (about 5 liters) of blood in their body. Athletes and those living at very high altitudes may have more. You can’t afford to lose more than 40% of total blood volume without needing major resuscitation. To get an idea of how much blood this is, empty a 2 liter bottle of fruit punch or cranberry juice on the floor. You’ll be surprised at how much fluid that represents…
If a disaster knocks you off the grid for long enough, the medicines eventually run out no matter how well you’ve prepared. This is especially true for drugs which you can only stockpile in limited quantities, simply because they’re too expensive. One item that isn’t too expensive is fish oil, commonly available in supplements or in FDA-approved prescription items. The scientific data shows that they can reduce triglycerides in your blood, a factor in coronary artery disease, and perhaps help in other ways.
First, what is fish oil? Fish oil is the fat or oil that’s extracted from fish tissue. Squeeze a fish, get some oil. Most of it comes from “oily” fish, such as herring, tuna, anchovies, salmon, and mackerel. It’s sometimes produced from the livers of other fish, an example being the time-honored cod liver oil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t recommend fish oil supplements, but it does recommend eating 1–2 portions of fish per week. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are thought to provide many health benefits, including a level of protection against a number of diseases. The FDA has approved fish oil products like Lovaza and Vascepa as a good way to fight high triglycerides and total cholesterol levels, especially in those who don’t incorporate fish in their diet.
Back to that in a minute. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about triglycerides and cholesterol, so let’s take a moment to discuss them…
We’ve all heard about bad cholesterol, but cholesterol is made by all animal cells and is an essential structural component of cell membranes. It is also a prerequisite for all steroid hormones, bile, and even vitamin D. That means you can’t produce them without cholesterol as a building block. Cholesterol was first discovered in gallstones in the 18th century, we called it “cholesterine” then…
Bottom line about fish oil in survival scenarios? Instead of squeezing fish to get oil, you’re probably a lot better off just cooking and eating them. Believe me, you could do worse than incorporating fish into your diet. By the way, you can also get your omega-3s from other natural sources, especially ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil. Alternate sources of omega-3s also include chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, and soy oil. If you’re off the grid, though, and can’t access any other source of omega-3s, fish oil supplements might be useful if you could store them appropriately.
In any situation where modern medicine is not available, there will be a number of deaths that occur from injury and infection. These may occur as a result of contact with hostile neighbors or from epidemic diseases, but many will happen simply from the performance of activities related to survival. Many minor wounds will become contaminated, leading to infections that could easily have been treated with antibiotics.
In a major disaster, this and many other deaths might be avoided if antibiotics were available. You may be reluctant to treat yourself or family members with these potent drugs. This is understandable: Antibiotics aren’t candy and are best utilized by qualified medical professionals. If there are no trained personnel, however, a layman with a working knowledge of bacterial diseases and their treatments may have no choice but to use antibacterials to save a life.
There are many antibiotics, but which antibiotics accessible to the average person would be good additions to your medical storage? When do you use a particular drug? The wrong antibiotic at the wrong time can be as bad as doing nothing at all. You should have both quantity and variety to be effective as a medic in long-term survival settings.
Today we’ll take the example of a drug that is used in the aquarium industry that is identical to a medication used in humans: Clindamycin, aka “Fish-Cin”. It is also known as “Cleocin”.
Clindamycin is part of the Lincosamide family of drugs. It works by preventing the production of bacterial proteins necessary for growth. This particular medication has been used to treat everything from acne to anthrax.
Clindamycin works best on bacteria that are anaerobic, which means that they don’t require oxygen to multiply. A deep puncture wound like, for example, a cat bite would give rise to favorable environments for anaerobes. Clindamycin is versatile enough to treat or prevent certain bacterial or protozoal causes of:
Soft tissue Infections (skin, etc.)
Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdomen seen in appendicitis and other medical issues)
Some pneumonias and lung abscesses
Uterine infections (such as after miscarriage or childbirth)
It should be noted that although a certain antibiotic may be effective against a certain infection, that it may not always be the most effective. The drug most in favor at the moment is called the “drug of choice”. The drug of choice may change as new antibiotics are developed or new research becomes available about existing medicines…
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have started a series on Chemical and Biological emergencies. In this article, they discuss various chemical agents and what to do.
In today’s modern world, it’s difficult to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. Chemical weapons are largely prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a treaty that outlaws their production and use. Although almost all nations have signed this treaty, the risk of chemical attacks by terror organizations and industrial accidents still exist…
WHAT TO DO IN CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES
Chemical accidents or attacks, such as an overturned tanker truck or a terror event, may render an area dangerous. Common sense dictates evacuation as the wisest course of action. This is not only to prevent physical contact but also to avoid noxious fumes that may be carried by the winds. Given the wide range of chemicals, be sure to seek and rapidly act upon the advice of local emergency departments for the specific event.
Evacuation may involve going to an emergency shelter. If so, notify others of your plan of action and take additional supplies and medications that the municipality may not have in sufficient quantities. Know what their policy is regarding pets. The schools your children attend will have their own plan of action for chemical emergencies; be aware of their disaster protocols. It may be more dangerous to try to bring them home.
SHELTER IN PLACE?
Some chemical emergencies could make going outdoors risky. Leaving might put you in harm’s way. Sheltering in place is a way to protect yourself until help arrives. Sheltering in a vehicle, however, is a last resort, as vehicles aren’t airtight enough to protect you from noxious fumes.
If you can’t evacuate the area, choose a room with as few windows and doors as possible. A room with a water supply (a connecting bathroom, perhaps) is best. Some gases sink to the floor, so a second-story room is preferable. Notice how different this strategy is from most natural disaster plans, where a basement might be the safest area in the home.
Shut all outside doors and windows as soon as you are aware of the emergency. Locking and taping them will make a better seal against the chemical. Turn off air conditioners, fans, and heaters. Close the fireplace damper, vents, and any place that air can enter from outside.
Go into the designated safe room and shut the door. Turn on the radio and keep a cell phone available. If it is necessary to drink water, drink safely-stored water, not water from the tap. If you run out of water, you can drink from a toilet tank (but not from the bowl)…
A fractured femur or a gunshot wound to the chest are major injuries that affect your chances of survival in disaster settings, but not all injuries are so extreme. “Minor” injuries can also impact the efficiency of a group member off the grid. Of these, nailbed injuries are some you’ll commonly see.
You can imagine that nailbed injuries will be more common when untrained (and perhaps careless) people perform tasks to which they’re not accustomed. The failure to use work gloves and boots may also increase the risk of mishaps.
Your fingernails and toenails are made up of protein and a tough substance called keratin. They are very similar to the claws of animals. Any issue relating to nails is referred to as “ungual” ” (from the latin word for claw: unguis).
The nail consists of several parts:
The nail plate: this is the hard covering of the end of your finger or toe; what you normally consider to be the nail.
The nailbed: the skin directly under the nail plate. Made up of dermis and epidermis just like the rest of your skin, the superficial epidermis moves along with the nail plate as it grows. Vertical grooves attach the superficial epidermis to the deep dermis. In old folks like me, the nail plate thins out and you can see the grooves if you look closely. Like all skin, blood vessels and nerves run through the nailbed.
The nail (germinal) matrix: the portion or root at the base of the nail under the cuticle (the cuticle is also called the eponychium) that produces new cells for the nail plate. You can see a portion of the matrix in the light half-moon (the “lunula”) visible at the base of the nail plate. This is the germinal matrix (actively makes new nail cells) and determines the shape and thickness of the nail; a curved matrix produces a curved nail, a flat one produces a flat nail.
TYPES OF NAIL INJURIES
There are various types of nail injuries. Amputations and fractures may occur due to trauma, but more commonly you’ll see…
Some folks in the preparedness community consider themselves ready for any disaster if they have some food, water, and a means of personal defense. Being prepared, however, is more than that. You have to be able to treat medical issues. And not just that: Attention to hygiene is equally important in preventing some of those issues.
Those concerned about a long-term event should know that the expenditure of various supplies over time will be a major problem. What will you do when you run out of one item or another? You have to find substitutes that can serve double (and triple) duty. The more versatile the item, the more useful it is to store.
Baking soda is one item you should have in quantity. Yes, baking soda. Many years ago, one of our readers wrote an excellent article on baking soda in survival settings. He opened our eyes to its many uses.
WHAT IS BAKING SODA?
Baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda) is a popular and inexpensive household product. You can actually mine deposits of it if you live in parts of California, Colorado, and Mexico (as well as Botswana). It has been historically used as a leavening agent for baking bread and does a fine job absorbing odors in your refrigerator.
Baking soda is not the same as baking powder. Baking powder contains baking soda, but it also contains an acidifying agent and starch. Both produce carbon dioxide which causes baked goods to rise and, indeed, you can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (usually, you’ll need three times more baking powder), but you can’t use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder.
MEDICAL USES FOR BAKING SODA
Are there medical uses for baking soda? The answer is yes. So many, in fact, that you might want some around even in normal times.
You can treat insect bites and itchy skin with it. Some find it effective for poison ivy. Make a paste out of baking soda and water, and apply like a balm onto the irritated area. You could shake some baking soda into your hand and rub it onto wet skin.
Baking soda can help unblock nasal congestion by adding a teaspoon to some hot water and inhaling the vapors.
For those who suffer from acid reflux (heartburn), eventually the Tums and Rolaids will run out. Baking soda was what they used before these products came into being. Just add a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water after meals.
Recent medical studies, including one published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, suggest that sodium bicarbonate tablets may help slow progression in those with chronic kidney disease. The researchers concluded, “This study demonstrates that bicarbonate supplementation slows the rate of progression of renal failure to ESRD and improves nutritional status among patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).”
Baking soda has mild antiseptic and drying properties, and helps keep a wound clean. When a wound is healing, repeated cleaning of the area can result in dry skin and a hard, itchy scab. Baking soda can help soften and remove the scab once the wound is no longer painful or draining. One treatment regimen uses 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda with a half cup of water. Leave the paste on the wound for 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly (be aware that it might burn a little).
You’re not medically prepared until you’re dentally prepared. In long-term events, the family medic will have to deal with a number of dental problems that crop up. Baking soda can be a replacement for toothpaste. Add a little 3% hydrogen peroxide to it and use it as a rinse for bad breath…
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have an article up on the skill of wound debridement – the removal of necrotic tissue and foreign objects from a wound which may impede healing. There are some wound photos, so be warned.
Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and paramedics and the high-tech equipment they work with are the heart of advanced medical care. When highly-trained personnel are unavailable, it becomes the responsibility of the average citizen to obtain medical education and supplies. Lack of knowledge and materials will cost lives in any situation where modern care is not an option.
In today’s medicine, few providers care for every medical issue experienced by a patient. Even generalists send their patients to specialists for specific problems. In a survival setting, this is no longer possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand wound healing and the procedures that help a victim make a full recovery. One of these procedures is debridement.
Debridement speeds the healing process in various ways. Dead tissue inhibits the development of healthy new cells and makes the area susceptible to infection. It can also hide the signs of bacterial invasion.
Debridement is rarely taught in standard first aid courses. Even high-level education meant to deal with emergency trauma can get your victim to the hospital, but little for days or weeks down the road. I would guess that a volunteer stint with Doctors Without Borders might be closest, short of a surgical residency.
A variety of techniques are used to accomplish debridement and more than one type may be used on the same patient…
Poor dental health, however, can cause issues that affect the work efficiency of members of your group in survival settings. When your people are not at 100% effectiveness, your chances for survival decrease. Anyone who has experienced a toothache knows how it affects work performance.
When modern dental technology is not an option, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This strategy is especially important when it comes to your teeth. By maintaining good dental hygiene, you will save your loved ones a lot of pain (and yourself a few headaches).
Let’s discuss some procedures that both you and I know are best performed by someone with experience. Unfortunately, you’re probably don’t have a dentist in the family. The information here will at least give you a basis of knowledge that may help you deal with some basic issues.
The prepared medic will have included dental supplies in their storage, but what exactly would make sense in austere settings? You would want the kit to be portable, so dentist chairs and other heavy equipment wouldn’t be practical.
In the past, we’ve mentioned that gloves for medical and dental purposes are one item that you should always have in quantity. Avoid sticking your bare hands in someone’s mouth. Hypoallergenic nitrile gloves are, in my opinion, superior to latex. For additional protection, masks should also be stored and worn by the medic. The simple “earloop” versions will do for dental exams.
Other items that are useful to the off-grid “dentist” include:
Dental scrapers/scalers to remove plaque and probe questionable areas
Spoon excavators. These instruments have a flat circular tip that is used to “excavate” decayed material from a tooth. A powered dental drill would be a much better choice, but not likely to be an option off the grid.
Elevators. These are thin but solid chisel-like instruments that help with extractions by separating ligaments that hold teeth in their sockets. #301 or #12B are good choices. In a pinch, some parts of a Swiss army knife might work.
Extraction forceps. These are like pliers with curved ends. They come in versions specific to upper and lower teeth and, sometimes, left and right.
Three headlines about Dengue Fever this year? No, actually they’re all headlines just from one day: Aug 1st, 2019. Dengue fever is a true pandemic, with community wide outbreaks in various regions throughout the world. Indeed, rates of Dengue infection are thought to have increased greatly since 1960 due to encroaching civilization and population growth in warmer regions. As a resident of South Florida, I believe that the development of residential air conditioning around that time may have precipitated the explosion in potential victims.
What is Dengue fever? It’s an infection caused by a virus that’s transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. If you live between latitude 35 degrees north and 35 degrees south, and lower than 3000 feet elevation, you’re in Dengue territory.
And you’re not alone. An estimated 400 million people get infected with the Dengue virus every year. Luckily for the grand majority, they don’t even know they have it. 96 million cases, however, aren’t so fortunate and develop sickness.
The mosquito in question is the Aedes Aegypti, but other species may possibly spread it. A mosquito bites a human with the Dengue virus and becomes infected. It doesn’t get sick, but the virus is now in its saliva for life. The mosquito passes Dengue onto the next human through its next bite.
There are actually four different but related viruses that cause dengue fever, but the symptoms are similar. If you’re in the unlucky minority that gets sick, you can expect to see signs about four to seven days after the infectious bite…
The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have an article up — Heat Wave Safety — on the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Once on an early morning march during AIT at Ft. Benning, I saw a young soldier collapse from heat stroke. He was rushed off in the back of a truck with a drill sergeant performing CPR. I wish that I or someone else would have noticed the signs before it became so serious.
Summer is here and the Midwest and East is experiencing record high temperatures in a major heat wave. Officials predicted a high-risk situation as the heat index surpasses heat indexes in 90s and 100s, and in some case, the 110s. Close to 200 million people might be affected in 32 states, according to the U.S. weather service.
The “heat index”, by the way, is a measure of the effects of air temperature combined with high humidity. Above 60% relative humidity, loss of heat by perspiration is impaired exposure to full sun increases the reported heat index by as much as 10-15 degrees F. All this increases the chances of heat-related illness.
We can expect the power grid to be challenged by tens of millions of air conditioning units set on “high”, and we can expect to see some major health issues if the electricity goes out and people have to fight the heat with hand fans, like they did in the “good old days”.
You might not consider a heat wave to be a natural disaster, but it most certainly is. Heat waves can cause mass casualties, as it did in Europe when tens of thousands died of exposure (not in the Middle Ages, but in 2003). They’ve already experienced one bad one this year and are predicted to have another in the near future. India, Pakistan, and other underdeveloped tropical countries experience thousands of heat-related deaths yearly.
So how exactly does heat kill a person? Your body core regulates its temperature for optimal organ function. When core body temperature rises excessively (known as “hyperthermia”), toxins leak, inflammation occurs, and cells die. Fatalities can occur very quickly without intervention, even in those who are physically fit. Even in modern times, hyperthermia carries a 10% death rate, mostly in the elderly and infirm.