One Infectious Disease That Could Comback and Seriously Ruin Your Day!

Mycobacterium_tuberculosisI was reading this article titled The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine from the New England Journal of Medicine the other day–don’t worry, I rarely read such nerdy medical stuff–and viewed the interactive graph when it became happily apparent that a once leading cause of death (100 years ago) has seemingly vanished in today’s society, that disease being Tuberculosis (TB).

If you’re unaware, tuberculosis “…is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis.[1] Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit respiratory fluids through the air.[2] Most infections are asymptomatic and latent, but about one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of those so infected.”

Sadly, the disease hasn’t completely disappeared since there are still millions of estimated cases each year, most of which occur in developing countries. A bit more research indicates that TB is still around here in the U.S. with thousands of cases reported each year but, overall, it’s been on a decline year after year.

The problem for me is that it’s precisely these types of infectious, relatively deadly, declining diseases that could make a devastating comeback in our society and seriously threaten your life! Why? Because, as you likely know, diseases are becoming more drug-resistant and TB is no exception. Dr. Alton of explains:

“There are now reports of some strains of the TB bacteria popping up in India that do not respond to any of the known antibiotic therapies. These cases are being diagnosed in diverse regions of the country; as such, there is concern about further spread. This new strain (known as Totally Drug Resistant or TDR Tuberculosis – how’s that for a scary name?) seems to affect the poor and malnourished most. With overcrowding and nutritional deficiencies rampant in the country, physicians in India are concerned about a possible epidemic. If TDR TB makes it out of the impoverished classes in India, it won’t be long before Indian businessmen or tourists take it to the rest of the world. Imagine, a mobile disease with absolutely no treatment.”

Now, imagine if something like TDR Tuberculosis spread here (which is certainly possible, maybe even unavoidable) AND we’re in a long term grid-down or economic collapse situation (both probable in our future)? Now, we’re in a situation where:

  • medical help may not be available (doctors or hospitals are not functioning or not regularly)
  • the antibiotics either won’t be affordable (too costly due to hyper-inflation) or just won’t exist (nobody has invented them yet!)
  • people are even less healthy than they are now (due to malnutrition) giving rise to higher infection rates
  • TB spreads because people fail to take appropriate steps for sanitation, hygiene, prevention (e.g., face masks or avoidance)
  • TB spreads even easier that that because people are simply in such close proximity to each other in major cities

What can you do about it? Besides good face masks (N-95 at minimum but N-100 are probably more appropriate), gloves, protocols to treat potential TB cases (including family members), and a general avoidance/seclusion strategy, there’s probably not much else you can do. Stockpiling the currently approved antibiotics treatments in the required amounts (you need several months of treatment at minimum for a single person) might be all but impossible for non-medical people like me. And, besides, this just seems to put the disease into remission.

Beyond that, Dr. Alton poses a few questions for you to consider:

“Where would you put a possibly contagious individual in your home or retreat? What protection against the spread of disease have you provided to the other members of your family/survival community? What would you do with a chronically ill member of your family when highly specialized drugs are no longer available?”

These are tough questions to consider. Ultimately, I’m not saying such an outbreak WILL happen. I have no idea but I would suggest that it certainly can happen. And it’s precisely situations where times are tough and help isn’t readily available when nasty infections and deadly diseases like Tuberculoses raise their ugly head. Best to be prepared!

Top Infectious Disease Epidemics Chart

For some reason I happened upon the following Wikipedia list of epidemics, scrolled through it, and noticed quite a few repeats and began to wonder what epidemics really repeated over and over again throughout history. So, I did the only thing I knew how to do and tallied it all up in Excel (see the chart below).

A few things to know:

  1. I have no idea if the list I tallied from is even remotely complete or not, so take the data only at face value.
  2. The epidemics list ran from essentially 165 AD to present but did include a few data points well before that time so I included them as well because the list did.
  3. I did NOT include any epidemics that were only listed one time in the chart below. There were several notables, including diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, Mumps, Polio, and more.
  4. There’s probably something to be said for diseases that were more recent in history, so you should review the original list and take note of diseases that were more recent because–I would think–these are more likely to show up again anytime soon.

Here’s the chart (note that I color-coded them to stand out):


A few things stand out to me looking at the above chart:

  1. The plague, cholera, and smallpox seemed to be the top-tier diseases, if you will, that repeat over and over again. In fact, each one individually has doubled up any other lower-tiered disease. Perhaps these are the most critical to pay attention to?
  2. While I’m ignorant of disease history, I was surprised to see that the pluague and smallpox repeated so often. I thought these were one-time things? Guess not.
  3. I also would have imagined that influenza would top the charts by a large margin considering that the flu returns every years. After all, we have a flu season! …must be criteria for being an epidemic.

Fortunately, cholera should be manageable because it’s a disease that stems from unsanitary practices. I’m not sure what to do about the plague or smallpox other than isolation quick and early. As for the other, lower-tier diseases, it’s mostly the same protocol: ISOLATION! That’s why prepping is so critical. If you can afford to isolate your family for a few months without much trouble then you’re better off than 99% of the population who coldn’t do so.

CONTEST POST: Why You Should Always Put Together Your Own First Aid Kit by F.N.

first-aid-kitEverything in life is balance: work and family, work and play, stockpiling and thrift, wariness and a realistic perspective, protein and carbs, whatever. For instance, I’m not the sort of guy who foresees some kind of calamitous, total societal collapse in the near future, particularly in the United States (and comparably developed nations). I am, however, a believer in being prepared for any eventuality- especially more mundane ones like power outages, violent storms, etc. However, if life has taught me one thing it’s that change (and the surprise it brings) is life’s lone constant. Prepping for the unknown should absolutely include balancing the gathering of the bulk of medical supplies you may need but not such a variety of them your first aid kit becomes immobile.

In that spirit of pragmatic preparedness, I should iterate that it’s always a good idea, essential even, to have a first aid kit that you’ve stocked yourself. Prepackaged kits can be useful as a guide for your own kit but they’re far too one-size-fits-all for my taste. Individual people have individual problems, sensitivities, physical quirks, etc. Furthermore, if you happen to get a bad burn and don’t have access to professional medical help you may find yourself with one or two little packets of topical anesthetic, a few little packets of topical antibiotic lotion, 4 aspirin and a whole lot of nothing much else that helps.

At the risk of inspiring hypochondriac-dread in readers and breeching the indelicate, you might be surprised by the variety of health complications that can be totally debilitating: take your bathroom functions for instance. If you’ve ever been backed up with a really bad case of constipation you have an idea how painful, distracting and sometimes even disabling that can be. While constipation’s dehydrating opposite counterpart can be equally debilitating (as anyone who’s been hit by any number of gastrointestinal illnesses can attest). Not to mention how quickly diarrhea can turn deadly. In fact, diarrhea is widely believed to kill more people than any other single symptom on the planet.

Those are the sorts of things you should keep in mind when preparing your med kit as part of your a comprehensive kit-prep motto and mantra: “What do/will I need?” And, if you have a family, “What do/will they need?” Are you and/or members of your family prone to constipation, diarrhea, allergies, upset stomach, aches and pains, a painful or otherwise troublesome menstrual cycle, trouble sleeping, dry or cracked lips (get lip balm), rashes or other skin complaints, head colds, asthma, whatever.

Always have a good supply of loperamide (Immodium) on hand as an anti-diarrheal; stock both a stool softener and laxative, and as is the case with everything here- go with the brand or style you like the best; stock stomach ailment meds like chewable antacid tablets and pink bismuth liquid for more immediate relief and famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), omeprazole (Prilosec) or ranitidine (Zantac) for more long term acid-reflux/heartburn/sensitive stomach issues. I prefer omeprazole personally, but that is just my own preference. Certainly follow your own.

Allergies are a big one to pay attention to. Every good kit should have a supply of several allergy aids for moderate and severe reactions and prevention. It’s a good idea to always stock at least one epinephrine autoinjector (commonly known as an “EpiPen”)- should you or a member of your family have a severe anaphylactic allergic shock reaction the EpiPen that saves their life will prove perhaps the best purchase you ever made.

For less life-threatening but incredibly obnoxious allergy issues definitely stock diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and if the allergy/hay fever sufferer has been bothered by allergies long they should have a good idea if loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) work better. If you’re not sure, consider stocking up on both. And definitely opt for the behind-the-counter pseudoephedrine as your decongestant. In my opinion at least (and a good chunk of the medical community), it’s far better than the phenylephrine commonly used in its place.

Make sure to have plenty of over the counter pain meds available.

Personally, I’m a proponent of buying those industrial sized, 100/200/500 pill count bottles of acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin and ibuprofen. Aspirin is great for older folks interested in aspirin’s blood-thinning, anticoagulant and coronary disease mitigation properties. Acetaminophen works well for a variety of minor to moderate aches and pains but can be tough on your liver, so watch dosage carefully. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, you can take a good deal of- 800 mgs every 6-8 hours (although I’ve had docs tell me off the record that they’re comfortable taking more). That’s if your stomach can handle it- ibuprofen is harder on the gut than acetaminophen. (If you like naproxen {Aleve}, obviously throw some of that in there too.)

Be sure to have at least one an instant cold compress on hand. Get a good quantity of the following: aloe vera gel for skin-soothing (or a big aloe plant- that works too); a big tube or two of triple antibiotic lotion; a tube of hydrocortisone cream for itching; meclizine (Dramamine) as an anti-nausea aid, sleep aid and even anti-anxiety assist if necessary (diphenhydramine also works well as a sleeping and possible anti-anxiety supplement) and a good supply of multivitamins, consider chewy ones for the kids.

Stock alcohol and or hydrogen peroxide; bandages and or unscented female napkins/Maxi Pads (great for absorption- in my opinion, perhaps the best bandage-like product available); sterile water for irrigation and needleless syringes for doing the irrigating; a blood-clotting powder or solution; a hefty supply of hand sanitizer; alcohol prep pads; latex gloves; burn gel; etc.

I imagine you’ve got the picture at this point- do a cataloguing of your own and your family’s medical needs and stock accordingly. For more general supplies, gather your preferential brand or style of the items commonly found in any first aid kit. Check with medical supply store outlets (brick and mortar or online) for… discounted medical supplies, and bulk stores like Costco for… bulk supplies. I’ll provide a couple sites below that offer good online first aid kit supply lists. And always be prepared. Good luck and good life!

Author Bio

Frank Nielson is a retired medical researcher who now spends his days writing. Through this writing, he is keen on helping consumers find the best medical supplies at an affordable price. When not stationed behind his well-worn keyboard, Frank loves spending time with his grandchildren and vows that someday he will tie the perfect fly.

This guest post contest is officially over! Be ready to vote on your favorites next week. In the mean time…

Please visit these fine sponsors and learn more about the prizes below…

Fortunately, we have some very gracious sponsors who are willing to sponsor this fun contest. Please visit their sites and review the products being donating as they are certainly good people doing good things for our community. Here’s the prizes…

nano-striker-fire-starter is donating an Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter in Olive Drab.The description says “We created an evolutionary derivative of the original nanoSTRIKER with a larger rod and striker handle. It utilizes the same innovative design as the original, but with just enough extra size and heft to improve its ease of use without making it too big or bulky for key chain carry. The striker handle is 46% bigger, making it easier to grip. The XL version also sports a 33% larger ferrocerium rod, which improves the durability and lifespan of the rod even beyond that of the original nanoSTIKERs. Slowly scrape shavings off the rod into a small pile. Use these shavings on top of your tinder bundle for even better sparks! Use the nanoSTRIKER? to light gas stoves, alcohol stoves, fuel tablets, BBQ grills, etc.”
guardian-first-aid-pack is donating an The Guardian First Aid Fanny Pack. Contents include: 1 – Fanny Pack, 1 – Eye Wash, 2 – Instant Ice Packs, 1 – 3″ ACE Bandage, 1 – Bandage Scissors, 1 – First Aid Guide, 1 – CPR Mouthpiece, 3 – Iodine Prep Pads, 6 – Pair Nitrile Gloves, 3 – 2 x 2 Gauze Pads, 4 – 4 x 4 Gauze Pads 1 – Tissue Pack, 6 – Alcohol Prep Pads, 2 – Water Gels, 1 – 1 x10 yds Adhesive Tape, 1 – Bio-Hazard Waste Bag, 1 – Box 3/4 x 3 Bandages, 1 – Tweezers1 – 4 ounce Hand Sanitizer, 2 – Eye Pads, 6 – Wet Naps, 1 – Hydrogen Peroxide, 1 – 5 x 9 Combine Dressing Bandages
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I figured my sponsors shouldn’t do all the work, so I’m throwing in a McNett Tactical Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter:
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15 Survival Medical Supplies You May Have Missed

medical-suppliesWe’re all well aware that medical supplies, equipment, and especially qualified assistance will be tough to get hold of after most any disaster, especially longer term situations. With that in mind, I thought I would be a good idea to list several items that would prove useful to you and yours that you might not have considered stockpiling. I’m not talking about things like bandages, gauze, antiseptic ointments, or even Tylenol and Ibuprofen. It’s the “other” things that you should have but might not. Understand that none of the following is meant to be medical advice whatsoever. With that in mind, here’s my list, add your own as you see fit…

  1. Elastic bandages (ACE bandages in 3″ or 4″ widths) – useful for so many things, including sore muscles, strains, sprains, holding gauze in place, and plenty more. I suggest you have at least a few stockpiled.
  2. Motion sickness pills – not just for those who take frequent cruises, motion sickness pills can be used for times where a person is feeling generally nauseated or otherwise dizzy, including for inner ear problems.
  3. SAM splints – easily moldable splints for everything from your forearms to fingers. Yes, you can tape two twigs together to hold a broken finger in place but a comfortable SAM split will be so much more appreciated even a few days in. 😉
  4. CPR masks (w/one way valve) – even if it’s family and friends you’re treating, diseases can still be spread. With this in mind, consider a CPR mask that includes a one way valve in order to minimize such problems.
  5. Crutches / walker – People with broken feet/legs need to be as mobile as they can be and crutches (or a walker) allow them to do that.
  6. Israeli Bandage a “special” type of bandage that is used to put pressure on a very badly bleeding wound.
  7. Clotting Powders (Quikclot) – in most cases, an Israeli bandage should do the trick, but if for some reason it doesn’t then this may be your next best option to stop the bleeding. I hear that some of the older Quikclot had problems so be sure you buy newer stock.
  8. Tourniquet – if the above don’t work (the Israeli bandage and clotting powders) then a tourniquet IS the last resort. On the other hand, I hear it’s a first resort for many field medics these days.
  9. TempTooth – dental problems are among the more likely of medical concerns for most of us; a broken tooth or loose crown WILL be a huge problem. While something like DenTemp is ok, TempTooth may be a better option for longer term situations.
  10. Ear Oil – anything that can be used to soothe an earache, especially useful for young children.
  11. Benadryl – most of us recognize that Benadryl is used for general allergy concerns. You might not be aware, however, that is can be used for more than allergies, including more severe allergic reactions. Besides an Epipen, about the best that most of us can do is to stock Benadryl to deal with allergies from things like bee stings in a SHTF situation. That said, Benadryl is NOT sufficient to treat acute anaphylaxis (a person needs proper medical treatment). So, if you can seek medical attention then by all means do so.
  12. Oral Airways – among other reasons, oral airways can be used to ensure a person’s airway doesn’t close while waiting for Benadryl to take effect.
  13. Gas X (or similar) – anything that can be used to reduce gas and bloating or other indigestion problems. Remember, you may have a very significant change in your diet that could cause a variety of intestinal problems.
  14. Laxative (or other constipation medications) – again, even a relatively minor change in your diet may cause unwanted side-effects in your bowels. This is equally true in children, even young children. For toddlers and infants consider a suppository instead.
  15. Vaseline – so many uses, look it up!

Let me reiterate, just because you may now purchase and therefore have on-hand any of the aforementioned supplies doesn’t mean that you should use it! For example, if you don’t know when and how to use a clotting powder then you shouldn’t do so. Of course, it behooves you to get proper training with these supplies–and anything else you choose to stock–so that you do no harm.

Now, what would you add?

Dealing With Chronic Pain in SHTF and WROL by Irish-7, Editor-at-Large

Dealing With Chronic Pain in SHTF and WROLThe video posted by Patriot Nurse on March 27, 2013 “Pain Control In Disaster Scenarios” was excellent! [Editor note: here’s the referenced video.] I am grateful that she shared her experience and input. Although I have no formal medical education, I do have some thoughts on this subject. I suffer from chronic, painful spinal conditions from parachute landings early in my career in the military. I take several anti-inflammatory and pain medications every single day. Any long term crisis, disaster, SHTF/WROL situation where these pills become unavailable, will have an adverse effect on me. My mobility will be severely decreased without my medicine.

Of the many items we put aside while preparing for potential crisis or long term disaster, narcotic medicines will be very difficult to stock. The illegal market for pain pills is enormous. I recently watched a television program that stated abuse of prescription medication is the largest area of drug violation in the United States, more than all other controlled substances combined. One county in Florida issued a few million Percocet in a single month! Consequently, medical professionals and law enforcement will be very leery of anyone’s attempt to obtain or stock large quantities of these pills. I am NOT a doctor or a lawyer. I am in no position to give medical or legal advice. I am not recommending or advising anyone to follow any methods or measures listed in this article. I am merely making some suggestions to those Preppers who realize that a long term crisis or disaster situation will prevent them from obtaining medications that they use frequently right now.

The first step would be to speak with your physician. Tell him or her that you are preparing for long term crisis. Dr Cynthia Koelker wrote an excellent article on her website about developing a good relationship with your physician. Anyway, ask your doctor the steps to titrate to a lower dose in event your medication becomes available (like Patriot Nurse explained with skipping doses or skipping days). If you have good rapport with your doctor, he/she may write a prescription for several months of medication. Some insurance companies want you to do this. The military health system, Tricare, advertises this program frequently. The only drawback is, you must use the mail order pharmacy through Express Scripts. But, depending on the date of the crisis or disaster starts, you could have several months of medication already in your possession.

If you are on an extended or sustained release medication (dissolves slowly over a period of hours), but still receive an immediate release pill for “breakthrough pain”, try to save a few of the immediate release pills from each prescription. Now, I am NOT recommending that you suffer with extreme pain. If your medicine stretches exactly from RX to RX, then you won’t be able to do this. There are ways to skip a dose of the immediate release medicines. For example, lay down and take a nap (if time permits), or go to bed early. Perhaps stretch a dose from 4 to 6 hours. You will know what you can get away with. Any of these methods may net you a few pills for your emergency stock.

Those folks that take Schedule III medications (Hydrocodone or Codeine based), that get refills on their prescription, can try to reorder a day or two early. Ask the pharmacist what the drug store and the insurance company allow. Don’t abuse this method! If the pharmacy and insurance company allow you to refill your RX 4 days before it is due, perhaps go in at 2 days. Be honest with the pharmacist. Tell them what you are up to. I went to my pharmacy 2 years ago with a checklist of essential medical supplies to stock. I spent several hundred dollars on bandages and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. When I checked out, I forgot my clipboard that held the checklist. Now, everyone that works there knows I’m a Prepper. However, I take Schedule II medicines, which cannot be refilled. So, I cannot get my pills any earlier than the due date.

If you are unfortunate that a disaster or crisis scenario catches you off guard, and you run out of the narcotic medicine that you take daily for chronic pain, many of Patriot Nurse’s recommendations may bring you some relief. OTC drugs like aspirin or Tylenol, NSAIDS (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Naproxen), essential oils such as lavender and wintergreen, all have analgesic properties. If you are lucky to have a chiropractor nearby, or a physical or massage therapist, they can bring relief, too. Alcohol is one of the oldest pain killers known to man. You may want to stock some whiskey with your medical supplies. Booze makes for great bartering material. Patriot Nurse was reluctant to mention some things for legality reasons. I am not. Medicinal marijuana is one of the largest growing businesses in the United States. Thousands, maybe millions of people are smoking or eating pot to relieve their aches and pains. The areas where this activity is sanctioned (legal by state laws, still illegal by federal regulations) are mainly out west. Again, I am NOT recommending that anyone violate current laws! If you live in one of the states where marijuana is allowed, you may want to look into this method. I certainly cannot vouch for the pain relieving properties of pot. I am a retired military man and won’t explore any illegal methods of pain relief. My family is preparing for economic collapse. If the nation falls into a Without Rule Of Law (WROL) situation, I don’t believe that we’ll have law enforcement chasing murderers, yet alone arresting pot growers and smokers. Until then, I will obey all local laws. That’s just my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.

Before closing, I want to extend a few warnings. Some folks split their pills to spread them out in order to save money.  NEVER, EVER, CUT, BREAK OR SPLIT EXTENDED OR SUSTAINED RELEASE MEDICINES for any reason! This includes medicines like Oxycontin, Opana, Oramorph or MS Contin. These pills have a coating on them that dissolves over a period of time. Altering the medication will remove this slow release feature and give you all the narcotic at one time. THIS CAN BE FATAL! Some medications such as Avinza and Kadian (morphine sulphate), allow you to open the capsules and sprinkle the contents (beads) on applesauce. AGAIN, DO NOT CRUSH THE BEADS! Talk to your pharmacist. Read the literature that comes with the prescription. Another bit of life saving advice: If you do put aside some narcotic medication, DON’T TELL ANYONE! Your neighbors may laugh at you knowing that you are buying freeze dried food preparing for the Apocalypse. But, if word gets out that you are holding opiates, YOU MAY ATTRACT A RATHER UNSAVORY, CRIMINAL ELEMENT! Although I personally fail to understand what drug abusers like about these pills, I am completely aware of their dangers. People will kill for them. Take precautionary measures when you pick up your medicine at the pharmacy. Good Luck!