disease

Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis A Growing Health Threat

There’s a nasty strain of tuberculosis (TB) going around out there you might want to keep an eye on (hat tip Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy @ DoomAndBloom.net):

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB

A little background about TB, from the World Health Organization (WHO) website:

Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.

In healthy people, infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis often causes no symptoms, since the person’s immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria. The symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.

However, even in 2012, tuberculosis kills more than a million people each year. Some estimates go as high as 3 million.

We’ve had plenty of warnings about the rise of drug-resistant strains of diseases. And now TB has gone that route. Plus tax, as Elvis would say. Malathy Iyer reported in The Times of India on June 3:

MUMBAI: A 13-year-old girl from Ghatkopar lost her battle against extra-extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XXDR-TB), at times loosely termed as totally drug-resistant TB (TDR-TB), a couple of weeks ago, said civic officials.

The teenager was one of the 12 patients identified with the severe form of TB. They were initially labelled as TDR-TB cases by Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, triggering the biggest public health debate in the country in January this year. A central team had flown down to Mumbai thereafter and ruled that the patients had XXDR-TB and not TDR-TB.

Three of the 12 patients died in January…

On June 6, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study about TB. Kate Kelland reported on the Chicago Tribune website that day:

It found that one in 10 Chinese patients newly diagnosed or recently treated for TB had a drug-resistant strain of the highly contagious lung disease.

Around 0.5 percent of new cases – equating to 5,000 people a year – were diagnosed with extensively drug-resistant TB, which experts say is almost incurable.

The survey of more than 4,000 Chinese patients, conducted in 2007, follows a warning from the World Health Organisation last year that multi drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms of TB are also spreading at an alarming rate in Europe.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Almost-incurable TB in India, China, and across the pond in Europe? Not good.

If any doubts remain as to the gravity of this situation, on June 11, Rachel Pomerance wrote on the U.S. News & World Report website:

The World Health Organization has reported that 440,000 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, a form of TB resistant to two key drug treatments, develop each year and cause at least 150,000 deaths. A rarer and more resistant TB strain, called extensively drug-resistant TB, has been found in 64 countries, according to the WHO, which notes the capacity of bugs to spread across the globe.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So what does all this mean for us here in America?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 57 cases of extensively drug-resistant TB have been reported in the United States between 1993 and 2010. The CDC states:

The risk of acquiring XDR TB in the United States appears to be low because XDR TB is uncommon in the U.S. However, TB can spread easily. As long as XDR TB exists, the risk to people in the United States is not zero, and the U.S. public health system must address the threat.

More information about extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis can be found on the CDC website here.

Sources:

Iyer, Malathy. “13-year-old Mumbai girl loses battle against drug-resistant tuberculosis.” The Times of India. 3 June 2012. (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-03/mumbai/32005298_1_tdr-tb-xxdr-tuberculosis). 25 June 2012.

Kelland, Kate. “TB survey in China finds drug resistance rife.” Reuters. 6 June 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-06/lifestyle/sns-rt-us-tuberculosis-china-resistancebre8551cb-20120606_1_drug-resistant-tb-richard-chaisson). 25 June 2012.

Pomerance, Rachel. “Beyond Gonorrhea: Drug-Resistant Bugs Pose Growing Danger.” U.S. News & World Report. 11 June 2012. (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/06/11/beyond-gonorrhea-drug-resistant-bugs-pose-growing-danger). 26 June 2012.

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On TV: Doomsday Preppers, Episode 7

This past weekend I finally got the chance to watch episode number 7 of the National Geographic Channel TV series Doomsday Preppers.

The show focused on three prepper groups last Tuesday. In order of appearance:

Doug Huffman, Northern California
“I’m preparing for the Second Worldwide Great Depression”

Dianne (and Greg) Rogers, Alberta, Canada
“I’m passionate about prepping because I’m haunted.”

Ed (and Dianna) Peden, west of Topeka, Kansas
“I am preparing to survive and thrive underground.”

Here are my thoughts about episode 7 of Doomsday Preppers, broken down by prepper group:

Doug Huffman

Doug is a retired defense contractor who has a 240-acre ranch in Northern California. He thinks another economic depression is fast-approaching:

We’re $15.2 trillion in debt. No one’s doing anything to address the problems. We cannot continue to keep spending money in this country. At some point, this is all going to collapse. And there’s going to be a massive, massive reset in the United States. You’re going to have a shortage of food. There’s going to be food lines again, gas lines again…

In the first 9 months of this type of economic collapse- no food, no water, and amazingly simple sanitation. Without soap and water- boom, disease everywhere, unstoppable. Simulations have been done- up to an 80 percent loss of our population. The government’s not going to be able to help you. You are going to be on your own, and that is the reality.

As a result, Huffman has transformed his ranch into a self-reliant village. He explained:

Well the whole purpose of me “building” my self-reliant village is, if something should happen, you are only going to survive in a communal group.

Availability of food during an economic collapse is a major concern for the California resident, and the show revealed that Huffman has implemented a 4-stage post-apocalyptic food plan to deal with such a disruption:

1. Hunt local game
2. Breed fish in his lake
3. Grow food in 2,500-square-foot greenhouse
4. Raise a variety of farm animals

In perhaps the funniest/disturbing (depends on the person) scene of episode 7, Doug showed how he’s raising rabbits for food and introduced a couple of his baby bunnies to viewers- “Stir Fry,” “Crock Pot,” “Blackened,” and “Cajun.” He tells the incredibly-cute Stir Fry:

Yeah, you’re going to be surrounded in vegetables.

Awww.

The episode also revealed that the rest of the California prepper’s food is preserved and hidden in 3 secret locations, including a root cellar. According to the show:

Root cellars are controlled storage environments, buried under earth or in a basement. They were widely-used to store fruit and vegetables during the winter months before refrigerators became available.

With his “self-reliant village” containing all this food, Huffman knows the ranch would be a likely target in a SHTF event. How does he plan on defending the place? From the show:

And while civil unrest is a common prepper concern, Doug has no intention in investing in prepping staples like high fences, security cameras, and motion detectors designed to keep marauders out. His plan is to draw them in.

He explained:

My plan for self-defense might be a little bit different. I’m not so concerned about holding the ranch. I’m perfectly willing to give it up. The most effective survival system is to disappear during the chaos, and reappear to just take back what you’ve lost.

Huffman plans on achieving this through the use of camouflage and hidden foxholes. It’s revealed that Doug is a master in the art of camouflage:

Doug has 30 home-made camo suits designed for every possible environment and season.

Huffman pointed out:

You have to have the different colors to fit your environment in fall, winter, spring, summer. The grasses change, the snow- everything changes. Appropriate camouflage is the difference between life and death.

Helpful advice. In addition, Doug has several hidden shelters around the ranch where he can live in temporarily. He showed off what’s called a “spider hole” to his friend and fellow prepper Brian. From the episode:

A spider hole is a combat term widely-used in the Vietnam War. It’s a camouflaged one-man foxhole, about 3 feet deep and 7 feet long. Doug plans to use them to hide in plain sight for 3 to 7 days at a time.

The show revealed that Huffman has a half-dozen spider holes over two hundred miles up to 9,000 feet. Doug told viewers:

My plan is to retreat, ride it out, and live to fight another day. That’s what the spider hole is for.

And at night, he plans to return to the ranch and “reclaim” his property. Huffman explained:

I own the night. It’s been a way of life for me for 25 years. I would return back at night- doing my recon, looking through the windows, getting my numbers. And it’s very, very important psychologically that I just start dropping people within 24 hours. I’ll just start taking you out day, after day, after day.

Huffman wouldn’t be alone at the self-reliant village if things go south. He is training a team of 32 young preppers between the ages of 10 and 19 to rebuild a safe post-apocalyptic community on his ranch. Huffman said:

Twice a week, I got teach a youth group called the “Junior Rangers.” My whole goal is to train people in an apocalyptic event. And that’s what it’s going to take- groups of people that build communities and can defend and protect that community.

The Rangers are trained in survival, foraging, camouflaging techniques, weapons and defense tactics.

Dang. Where was this type of instruction when I was growing up?

Huffman said something earlier in the show that really stuck in my mind:

You had better be prepared. Because it is coming. And the fact that so many people put their head in the sand- that’s a huge mistake. Based upon my law of natural selection, they’re the first ones to die.

In the “Expert Assessment” portion of this segment- conducted by Practical Preppers LLC- the following was said on the show:

In addition, when you retreat underground, it is likely that your supplies will be looted while unattended.

Huffman replied:

I look at that as a foolish answer. Alright? I am your worst nightmare. Maybe he doesn’t understand that.

I don’t think for a second Practical Preppers underestimates Huffman’s capabilities for “reclaiming” his ranch. But I wonder if the company founded by “original doomsday preppers” Scott Hunt and David Kobler recognizes the possibility that the “marauders” may not choose to stick around at the ranch once they take it. If they have the means (adequate transportation), the ability (traversable terrain), and the desire to remove Doug’s supplies from the ranch and continue on as soon as possible- rather than kick back and enjoy the spoils- they might try and do so. Huffman said it’s important for him to start “dropping people” within 24 hours. He might have to start and possibly finish doing that should the marauders intend to push on.

One other thought about this segment. Huffman mentioned that he thought the Second Great Depression would take place in 2012. It’s certainly possible. But recent activity in Washington and at the Federal Reserve have primed the pump, so to speak, and economic news looks to be on track for being rather good all the way until the November election- with the next major bout of economic pain not felt until 2013-2014- according to the same smart people who saw the 2008 global financial crisis coming.

Dianne (and Greg) Rogers

Greg and Dianne Rogers reside in Alberta, Canada, with their 7-year-old daughter Sara(h?). Dianne is a stay-at-home mom, and is prepping because of some reoccurring nightmare:

I’m passionate about prepping because I’m haunted. When I was in college, I had this dream- a disaster dream of some kind in that it was something that happened environmentally. It continues to this day. I’m trying to escape. Greg is getting our bags ready. I’m putting things away- trying to get to a colder place because it’s going to get hot. The temperature is rising. The dream happens all the time. For 20 years I haven’t been able to get away from it.

From the show:

Dianne is convinced her dream has a connection to the real world. A warning from the future that cannot be ignored.

She explained:

My greatest fear is that something catastrophic does happen environmentally and it sets off a chain reaction.

As a result, Greg and Dianne are prepping for all potential disasters (very smart).

Dianne’s husband is just as committed to prepping as she is. From the show:

Greg’s day job is as a granite fabricator. But at night, and on the weekends, he’s training as a security tech, a thief, and even an amateur chemist- all in the service of being prepared.

Greg explained:

In an unpredictable situation you never know what skills you’re going to need to pull yourself out of that situation and ensure your own safety and the safety of the family. I’m learning how to steal a car, for the same reason I’m learning how to pick a lock. I’m learning make gunpowder. Information is easy to carry.

In a SHTF event, the Rogers family plans on bugging-in. It’s revealed they have 12 months of supplies socked away.

Dianne and Greg share information about prepping with their daughter. Every night before bed, they have a “family prepping talk.” And in the show, Sara(h) goes with Mom and Dad to a gun store where the couple looks to purchase handguns. Greg revealed:

I’m not a big gun enthusiast myself, but I realize the importance, and it’s another tool in the tool chest.

Dianne said:

Sara(h) knows there might come a time when Mom and Dad need to use those weapons for things. She’s okay with that. And I would prefer that she’s comfortable around them.”

To successfully bug-in, the Rogers family transformed a portion of their basement into a makeshift bunker. They have food, water supplies, a propane stove, a medical/surgical kit, and a port-a-potty, among other things.

Dianne Rogers left viewers with this thought:

I think prepping has become such a big movement because there is so much more uncertainty in the world than there ever used to be. We know so much more now than we ever used to. Maybe it was easier when we didn’t know.

In the “Expert Assessment” portion of this segment, Practical Preppers LLC said:

You live in close proximity to others- which could be a disadvantage in a disaster. However, you could turn this to your advantage by establishing a network within your community for survival and disaster planning.

Dianne responded with:

There seems to be a bit of hesitation among other people. They just don’t want to think about it.

I’ve noticed on the Internet that websites exist where preppers can go to link up with other preppers. PrepperGroups.com is perhaps the most well-known one. In addition, there’s Meetup.com, which bills itself as the world’s largest network of local groups. For example, doing a search on this site for preppers around Chicago brought up two preparedness groups in nearby Oak Brook and Wilmette. Even though Dianne and Greg live in Canada, I saw some Canadian-based preppers on PrepperGroups.com. If the family is serious about establishing a network within their community for survival and disaster planning, they might want to explore this route.

Going back to that part of the show where the Rogers family visited the gun store, it was noted how Glock handguns are used by many law enforcement agencies across the country, and as such, the availability of ammunition might be better during TEOTWAWKI. I’ve heard this claim before and the one that says firearms chambered for “common” caliber cartridges like 9mm Luger, .45 ACP, .223 Remington, .30-30 Winchester, .308 Winchester, etcetera might also be easier finding ammo for when TSHTF. However, I suspect that beyond the initial stage of the crisis, pretty much all rimfire and centerfire ammunition will disappear off the shelves- to be used as barter by enterprising individuals if anything. Furthermore, in most instances I doubt the police/military will be sharing ammunition with John Q. Public should things go to hell. In fact, some argue they’ll be replenishing their depleted ammo supply from you if needed. Gun owners are probably better off acquiring all the ammo they’ll need before the brown stuff hits the fan.

Ed (and Dianna) Peden

Ed and Dianna Peden live in a decommissioned Atlas missile site west of Topeka, Kansas. Ed, a retired teacher, first became interested in the complex back in the eighties when the specter of nuclear war hovered over the world. He explained:

The economy is certainly in trouble. In some ways the economy has already collapsed. And everybody thought the economy was going to bounce back- it was just a little recession. Well, that hasn’t happened. It’s not happening. There’s going to be desperation and there’s going to be potential violence. And those that can make adjustments to the changes in optimal ways will thrive, while many others are going to suffer.

Ed believes there’s no time to lose in his prepping, as he feels an economic doomsday is already underway. He claimed:

We are at a critical moment. The banking institutions are troubled. The stock market is reflecting these things. The politicians have no answers. And we’re not finished with these trends.

According to the show, the missile base cost $4 million to build in 1960. Ed bought it in the eighties for $40,000. Like the Rogers family, Dianna and Ed plan on bugging-in, closing their 20-inch-thick blast-proof front door to the outside. Stocked with 12 months of food and supplies, the Peden’s renovated 20,000 square-foot bunker is very secure with its 18-inch-thick walls, an 8-foot tall steel and barbed-wire perimeter fence, a recently-installed automatic gate, and a new 360-degree security camera system.

When it comes to using firearms for self-defense, the show revealed that Dianna is committed to non-violence. But Ed is not. He warned viewers:

I don’t show them, but I’m well-trained in them, and that’s all I would care to discuss about it.

Dianna and Ed don’t plan on going at it alone during TEOTWAWKI. From the show:

If Ed and Dianna Peden’s predictions come to pass, and economic catastrophe and societal breakdown occur, they are aware that the two of them do not possess all the skills they will need to survive. So they have selected a group of people to allow into their fortified bunker.

When preppers assemble survival teams, commonly sought after professions are emergency-room doctors, mechanics, and professional soldiers. But for their team, the Peden’s have selected a “living food chef,” an intuitive healer, and a spiritualist.

Ed left viewers with this thought:

If difficult times do come, and I think that’s most likely, it’s going to be so important who you are around, who you have on the bus with you, so to speak.

During the “Expert Assessment” portion of the segment, Practical Preppers advised:

We recommend you train consistently with whatever firearms you store inside the silo. And consider investing in bulletproof vests in case your home comes under siege.

The Kansas prepper replied with:

I’ll choose my own way with that. His consciousness is at a different place than ours.

Perhaps that’s what the intuitive healer is for? I thought the recommendation about “bulletproof” vests was a good one. To tweak something actor John Wayne allegedly once said:

Life during societal collapse is hard. It’s even harder when you’re perforated.

I wish these preppers success in their endeavors.

New episodes of Doomsday Preppers air on the National Geographic Channel Tuesday nights at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific Time. For more information, go to the Nat Geo Channel website here.

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Drug-Resistant TB ‘Spreading Quickly’ Across Europe

We’ll have to keep an eye on this one. From the Chicago Tribune Travel section yesterday, under “World watch:”

Europe

With about 50 new cases every hour, a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is spreading quickly across Europe. Reports of the disease tripled there in 2009 from 2008. The six countries with the highest rates of this deadly form of the disease are in Europe, the World Health Organization reports. London’s Brent borough, home to Wembley Stadium, leads Europe in infection rates. Other European countries with high infection rates are Bulgaria, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Ukraine. Tuberculosis is contracted by inhaling the bacteria, most often spread when an infected person coughs.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

“TB” is short for tuberculosis. TB disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

For more information about TB, you can visit the CDC’s web page for the disease here.

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Monday, September 26th, 2011 Europe, Health No Comments


Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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