All About Urinary Tract Infections

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Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Anatomy

Medics in survival scenarios have to deal with major injuries and serious infections, Sometimes, infections aren’t serious to begin with, but worsen if not treated. Some of these infections involve the urinary tract.

Urine directly from the bladder is generally sterile, but most women have experienced a urinary tract infection (UTI) at one point or another.  The areas most commonly contaminated are the bladder, which holds the urine, and the urethra, the tube that drains the bladder.  Although men can also get bladder infections (called “cystitis”), their urethra is much longer and bacteria are much less likely to reach the bladder.

If untreated, bladder infections may ascend to the kidneys via tubes called ureters, causing an infection known as “pyelonephritis”.  Once in the kidneys, it can make its way to the bloodstream and lead to shock or worse.

Symptoms of UTIs

 

Each type of UTI manifests in more or less specific signs and symptoms, depending on which part of the urinary tract is infected.

Inflammation of the urethra (urethritis) may be caused by E.Coli, Gonorrhea, Herpes, and other bacteria and viruses. Sufferers will feel a burning sensation with urination; males may also have a urethral discharge, while women with certain sexually transmitted infections may notice a foul discharge from the vagina.

Bladder infections are characterized by pelvic pressure, lower abdominal pain, and frequency of urination. Some people may feel an urgent need to go without warning (urgency) but notice that the stream of urine is slow to start (hesitancy). The urine itself may be cloudy or red-tinged with blood and have a strong smell.

Kidney Infections signs include one-sided flank pain with fever

Once the infection reaches the kidney (pyelonephritis), other signs and symptoms will become apparent.  Fever and chills are common, with pain on the flank (the side of your back). Normally, it will be noticeable only on one side by tapping the flank lightly at the level of the lowest rib with the side of a closed first. This will elicit no response in a healthy patient, but someone with an infection will grimace and flinch. Kidney stones may be mistaken for a kidney infection, as they also cause tenderness in this region. They are, however, less likely to cause fever.

Treating a UTI

Treatment revolves around the vigorous administration of fluids.  Lots of water will help flush out the infection by decreasing the concentration of bacteria in the affected organs.  Some feel relief with a heating pad or compress in the area of discomfort.

various antibiotics work to treat UTIs

Antibiotics are another standard of therapy. The following are commonly used for UTIs (brand names and veterinary equivalents in parenthesis):

  • Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra, Bird-Sulfa, Fish-Sulfa)
  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Fish-Mox)
  • Ampicillin (Fish-Cillin)
  • Cephalexin (Keflex, Fish-Flex)
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax, Z-Pak, Aquatic Azithromycin)
  • Doxycycline (Vibramycin, Bird-Biotic)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Fish-Flox)

For dosages, days taken, side-effects, and warnings, use the search engine on this website for the particular antibiotic.

To eliminate the pain that occurs with urination in UTIs, stockpile over-the-counter medications like Phenazopyridine (also known as Pyridium, Uristat, Azo, etc.).  Don’t be alarmed if your patient’s urine turns a reddish-orange color; it is an effect of the drug and is only temporary.

Natural Remedies for UTIs

There are a number of natural remedies to treat someone with a urinary infection. Vitamin C supplements, for example, are thought to reduce the concentration of bacteria in the urine.

Others include:

  • Garlic or garlic oil (preferably in capsules).
  • Echinacea extract or tea.
  • Goldenrod tea with vinegar (1 to 2 tablespoons),
  • Uva Ursi (1 tablet).
  • Cranberry tablets (1 to 3 pills).

Take any one of the above remedies three times per day.

Another home remedy is to take one Alka-Seltzer tablet and dissolve it in 2 ounces of warm water. Pour directly over the urethral area.

One more alternative that may be helpful is to perform an external massage over the bladder area with 5 drops of lavender essential oil (mixed with castor oil) for a few minutes. Then, apply a gentle heat source over the area; repeat this 3 to 4 times daily. The combination of lavender/castor oil and warmth may help decrease bladder spasms and pain.

I’m sure you have a tried-and-true strategy of your own. As with many home remedies, however, your experience may vary. In normal times, consult your physician.

Preventing UTIs 

Preventative medicine plays a large role in decreasing the likelihood of urinary tract infections.  Basic hygienic method, such as wiping from front to back after urinating, is important for women.  Also, emptying the bladder right after an episode of sexual intercourse is a wise choice.

Wear cotton undergarments to allow better air circulation in areas that might otherwise encourage bacterial or fungal growth. Adequate fluid intake, especially cranberry juice if available, is also a key to flushing out bacteria and other organisms.  Lastly, never postpone urinating when you feel a strong urge to go.

Off-grid medics may have to deal with gunfights at the OK corral, but it’s how well they handle everyday problems like UTIs that gauges their day-to-day contributions to their community.

Joe Alton, MD

Joe Alton MD

Learn about UTIs and 150 other medical topics in the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

Survival Medicine Hour: Wound Debridement, Shock Treatment, More

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THE SURVIVAL MEDICINE HOUR #345

Wound Debridement

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, discuss the Wilderness Medical Society’s special edition on combat casualty care guidelines applied to survival settings, where they coincide and where they diverge. Also, some basics on an important part of wound care, wound debridement, the removal of dead skin from a healing open wound. Studies show that antibiotics are important to prevent and treat wound infections, but debriding dead tissue from a wound is important to aid recovery as well.

People in shock lose heat quickly

Also, more on the different types of shock, and what to do if you have to treat someone deteriorating rapidly from some of the various types. All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD, and Amy Alton ARNP!

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/07/07/survival-medicine-hour-shock-wound-debridement-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones

Hey, fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did. And don’t forget, the 700 page third edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way is the most comprehensive book you’ll find written on medical care in times of trouble!

Survival Medicine Hour: Dakin’s Sol’n, Shock, HPV, Garlic

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Survival Medicine Hour #344

Direct Pressure on Bleeding Wound

Bleeding wounds need long-term care. Are you ready?

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, tackles a number of tough topics like, what can you put in an open wound to prevent and treat infection if a disaster happens and all you have is household items? Here’s how to use bleach and baking soda to make Dakin’s solution, used for over 100 years to prevent death from infected wounds.

Also, Nurse Amy discusses the uses of garlic, it’s not just for cooking! It’s got great antibiotic properties and more…

garlic

Plus, there are a variety of types of shock, and we’re not talking about the emotional kinds. Dr. Bones discusses hypovolemic, hemorrhagic, and cardiogenic shock in this ongoing series about dealing with a life-threatening event.

Finally, Joe Alton MD answers a question for the Survival Podcast’s expert council about whether the HPV exam is worthwhile to give to preteens. Find out more about this virus and the controversy surrounding it.

All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/06/29/survival-medicine-hour-dakins-solution-garlic-shock-hpv-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

The Altons

Hey, fill those holes in your medical storage by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did!

Video: Dental Abscesses

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dental abscess

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses the importance of dental preparedness in long-term survival settings. Perhaps you don’t need a dental kit when the power’s out for a few days, but when you’re stuck in primitive conditions and not likely to get out anytime soon, dental supplies are an important part of being an effective medic.

Let’s face it, pain in your mouth can make you miserable, so miserable that your work efficiency suffers as much as you do. One cause of dental discomfort may be a tooth abscess, which is a serious issue that can turn life-threatening. But what if there is no dentist? Learn what a tooth abscess may look and feel like, plus some possible emergency treatment methods during long-term disasters where there is no dental care available. Hosted by Joe Alton, MD of https://www.doomandbloom.net/

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Dental Abscess, Local Anesthetic, Pathogens

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Survival Medicine Hour #243

Dental Abscess

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton discuss the alternative to lidocaine for local anesthesia: injectable Benadryl (diphenhydramine). The pros and cons and its potential use in survival scenarios are explored. Also, dental issues will be a major problem for the medic in any long-term event; Dr. Bones talks about tooth abscesses and how they might be life-threatening if ignored in off-grid settings.

Injectable Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

Lastly, a discussion of the different pathogens that cause disease with Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones. All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton!

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad!

Joe and Amy Alton

Joe and Amy Alton

follow us on twitter @preppershow

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The Tooth Abscess in Austere Settings

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Tooth Abscess in Austere Settings

dental extractor

Many readers of our Survival Medicine Handbook are surprised to find entire chapters devoted to the treatment of dental problems. Visitors to our store are likewise surprised to find dental supplies in some of our medical kits. Why is it important for the survival medic to be “dentally” prepared as well as medically prepared?

A standard first aid kit will usually suffice for most short-term disasters. When you’re talking about a long-term survival setting, however, you’ll need a more varied set of supplies. Dental issues probably won’t be of major concern if the power’s out for a few days; if you’re off the grid for a few months or longer, though, dental care will become an important part of your role as survival medic.

The effects of dental disease can be severe, and, at the very least, impacts negatively on work efficiency. Have you ever gone to work with a toothache? It’s fair to say you probably weren’t at 100% efficiency, which is where you need your people to be if you’re off the grid long-term.

tooth abscess

 

There are many dental problems, but today we’ll talk about a potentially life-threatening one: Tooth abscesses. In long-term survival, problems maintaining good dental hygiene will make tooth abscesses a challenge for every medic.

A tooth abscess is a collection of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection. Pus is comprised of dead and live bacteria, white blood cells, and debris.

Most abscesses are related to tooth decay, poor hygiene, dental trauma, gingivitis (gum infections) or problems related to previous dental work. The abscess can occur in different areas, either at the tip of the root (periapical), or in the gum next to a tooth root (periodontal). Periapical abscesses are more common, although both can occur together.

An abscess first forms when bacteria enter through a defect in enamel, the tooth’s armor; a cavity or a chipped tooth is usually where it begins. The bacteria spread all the way down to the root, causing damage to the nerve, which causes pain. Once the nerve is dead, pain in the tooth might cease, but significant painful swelling, inflammation, and accumulation of pus can develop at the base of the root or in nearby gums, soft tissue, and even bone. Left untreated, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening infection called “septicemia“.

tooth abscess (wiki)

It’s important for the medic to be able to recognize an abscess when it forms. It is commonly seen as a swelling in the tissue at the base of the tooth. It may have a pimple-like head. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Severe throbbing toothache, sometimes spreading to the jaw or ear
  • Sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold
  • Sensitivity when biting down on food or gnashing teeth together
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling on the side of the diseased gum/tooth
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck
  • Foul smelling breath

Without modern diagnostic imaging, it may be difficult to tell the difference between a periapical abscess and a periodontal abscess. There are, however, low tech ways to tell the difference: In periodontal abscesses, the swelling usually comes before the pain; in periapical abscesses, the pain often comes before the swelling.

Tapping on the tooth may also give you a hint: If you tap vertically on the tooth and elicit pain, it’s probably periapical. If you tap laterally and get pain, it’s generally periodontal. If the tooth has no obvious crack or decay, it’s probably periodontal. Sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold may point to a periapical abscess.

The differences between the types of abscesses matter in modern dentistry: An abscess mainly in the gum, for example, might have a relatively healthy tooth nearby which could be saved via root canal surgery or other modern procedures. In survival, however, this is not an option, so extraction of the tooth to eliminate the pain and infection is likely to be the end result. Extraction will be the answer, in my opinion, for the majority of dental emergencies in grid-down scenarios.

Although drainage usually occurs via the tooth socket after an extraction, an incision with a sterile scalpel may be needed to drain the entirety of the abscess. This procedure is called “incision and drainage“ or “I & D“. Thorough flushing of the area with warm salt water or hydrogen peroxide (called “irrigation“) afterwards is helpful. Give pain meds and apply warm moist compresses.

antibiotics are useful to prevent infection

Although extraction, drainage, and irrigation may be all that’s required, it is prudent to begin a course of antibiotics, especially for those with fevers or facial swelling. Options include penicillin (Fish-Pen), amoxicillin (Fish-Mox), clindamycin (Fish-Cin) and/or metronidazole (Fish-Zole). A course of treatment should last 5-7 days. Dosing for each of the above antibiotics can be found in various articles at doomandbloom.net.

Medical preparedness for long-term events involves having dental supplies and some knowledge of dental anatomy. If you believe a major event is coming, consider a good dental kit to go along with the rest of your medical storage.

Some of the supplies in our dental kit

Joe Alton

 

 

Video: Azithromycin as Survival Antibiotic

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veterinary equivalents for Azithromycin

One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics is Azithromycin, known in the U.S. as Z-Pak, is now in a new veterinary version known as Bird-Zithro. In survival situations where you’re off grid and there no modern medical care for the foreseeable future, the medic for the family must stockpile medical supplies, and this includes antibiotics.

See how Azithromycin in the form of “Bird-Zithro” might fit into you survival plans to treat your, well, sick birds. Uses, dosages, precautions, and more are more are discussed in this video by medical preparedness writer Joe Alton, MD.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton MD aka “Dr. Bones”

Joe Alton MD

 

Hey, learn more about Azithromycin, survival antibiotics, and 150 other medical issues in the Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available on this website and at Amazon.com. Also, check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did.

An “UpTick” in Lyme Disease

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Deer Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

deer blacklegged tick

Blacklegged or Deer Tick

Whether you’re a hiker, camper, or survivalist, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the Great Outdoors.  During your off-grid adventures, you’ll be exposed to all sorts of critters that want a piece of you (watch an episode of “Naked and Afraid” to see what I mean). One of these is the lowly tick.

Ticks are eight-legged spider-like “arachnids” that exist in various species throughout the United States. They latch onto the skin of a host for a meal of blood and transmit various disease-causing microbes (“pathogens”) to humans and animals through infected saliva.

These diseases include:

  • Lyme Disease (also called “Lyme Borreliosis”)
  • Babesiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Tularemia
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Ehrlichosis
  • Relapsing Fever

In this article, we’ll concentrate on Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi, commonly transmitted by the tiny blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick.

borrelia bacteria

Borrelia Burgdorferi

Experts are expecting more cases of Lyme Disease due to recent mild winters and bumper acorn crops, which have increased the populations of animals that ticks like to feed upon. These include mice, a favorite of baby ticks, and deer, popular targets for adults. Because of the abundance of host animals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are estimating 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease this year, which is three times the number reported 20 years ago.

In case you’re wondering, Lyme disease has nothing to do with limes. It was first diagnosed in the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. Since then, Lyme has become the most common tick-borne illness in the Northern Hemisphere.

tick stages

Deep Ticks in various stages of development

HOW TICKS SPREAD LYME DISEASE

Ticks have a life cycle that can last two-three years and includes egg, larva, juvenile (also called “nymph”), and adult stages. For a larva to develop into a nymph or for a nymph to develop into an adult, a blood meal in needed. It appears that the nymphs cause the most cases of Lyme. The CDC estimates that about 30% carry the disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

To pass along Borrelia burgdorferi to an animal or human, ticks must first find their hosts. They do this in a number of ways: By detecting smells, sensing body heat, or feeling vibrations with movement. Usually, they hang on grasses and bushes, holding on with their back pairs of legs and latching onto passersby with their front pair(s). When the tick finds a favorable place to feed, its mouth parts pierce the skin and start extracting blood.

how to remove a tick

Tick Removal

A thorough examination of the entire body for ticks is warranted within two hours of returning after a day outdoors. This is most easily accomplished during a shower. Look behind the knees, in armpits, behind the ears, even the belly button.

If the tick is found, it may be possible to just brush it off. If that doesn’t work, a number of commercial products are available to remove it. It is reasonable, however, to simply use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin’s surface as possible, and pull straight upward in an even manner. Twisting or jerking as you pull may cause the mouth parts to remain in the skin.

Thoroughly clean the wound area with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and apply antibiotic ointment. Wash hands afterwards. As an added precaution, launder clothing in hot water and dry in high heat. If all this is done soon after the bite occurs, infection is highly unlikely.

DETECTION OF EARLY LYME DISEASE

Sometimes, however, the bite goes unnoticed. Once bacteria are passed to the host by the tick (a process that often requires 24-48 hours), symptoms can become apparent anywhere from 3 days to a month afterwards. You will usually see the following: :

  • Rash
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
ticklymerash

Tick feeding

In 70 per cent of patients, the rash occurs before the fever and starts as redness in the area of the bite. It often then develops into a red circular “bull’s-eye” that feels warm to the touch. Usually, very little pain or itching is associated. This pattern, which spreads over time, is called “erythema migrans” and may be enough to confirm the diagnosis. Lyme Disease, however, may be missed or misdiagnosed if symptoms are mild or, especially, if the tick bite was missed by the examiner.

 

erythema migrans bulls eye pattern

erythema migrans

 

When a bite from a blacklegged tick is newly identified, preventative antibiotics may prevent Lyme Disease. A single dose of two 100 mg. doxycycline (Bird-Biotic) may suffice.

For early infection, as evidenced by the presence of erythema migrans, rapid treatment usually results in a cure. Symptoms, however, may last for a time after treatment.

Doxycycline (veterinary equivalent; Bird-Biotic) 100 mg. twice a day for 14-28 days is indicated, or in children (must be over 8 years old) 4mg/kg twice a day for 14-28 days (max of 100 mg.) Avoid doxycycline in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Alternatively, Amoxicillin (veterinary equivalent: Fish-Mox) can be used in pregnant or breastfeeding women at dosages of 500 mg 3x/day for 14-28 days. 50 mg/kg is the dose for children younger than eight years of age (maximum 500mg 3x/day). Azithromycin (Bird Zithro) has been mentioned as a second alternative and can be used in those allergic to Penicillin-family drugs.

LATE STAGE OR CHRONIC LYME DISEASE

Late stage infections with Borrelia burgdorferi result in a more diverse set of Lyme symptoms, some quite different from those seen early. These may occur months after the tick bite and include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Severe headaches
  • Multiple rashes away from the site of the bite
  • Joint pain and swelling in knees and other large joints
  • Bell’s palsy (nerve damage that causes drooping on one side of the face)
  • Heart problems such as irregular heartbeats
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord (called “meningitis”)
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands, feet, or face
  • Memory loss

Many of the above symptoms may persist for long periods. As of yet, there is not a proven cure for chronic or late stage Lyme disease, but a vaccine is now in development. We’ll discuss  some strategies are to deal with this debilitating condition in a future article.

Boots1

Don’t forget the high-tops!

PREVENTING LYME DISEASE

An ounce of prevention is, they say, worth a pound of cure, and this old saying is particularly relevant when it comes to infections caused by tick bites. For prevention, consider:

  • Long pants and sleeves on the trail
  • Thick socks and high-top boots (tuck your pants into them)
  • Walking in the center of trails
  • Using insect repellants like DEET (20% or greater) on skin (oil of citronella or lemon eucalyptus are natural alternatives)
  • Applying Permethrin 0.5% insecticide to clothing, hats, shoes, and camping gear 24-48 hours before using (proper application will even withstand laundering)
  • Thorough exams after a day outdoors; pay special attention to children and dogs
permethrin clothing

0.5% Permethrin for clothing

Paying close attention to the little things, especially ticks, will make sure that your outdoor activities are healthy and memorable (in a good way).

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Dr. Alton

Survival Medicine Hour: Black Scout, Pt. 2, Azithromycin, Sick Room Set-Ups

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TentMEDIUM

Setting up a sick room

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP (aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy), we welcome back Jack of Black Scout Survival’s popular YouTube channel, who discusses a wide range of topics in part 2 of his interview with Amy.

Plus, Joe Alton, MD examines Azithromycin as a survival antibiotic. Thomas Labs has released a new bird drug, Bird-Zithro. Is Bird-Zithro a possible candidate for treating sick birds in your aviary after a disaster? Find out all you need to know about this important drug.

bird zithro 30 count azithromycin

Azithromycin for sick birds

Lastly, when an infectious disease epidemic comes to your town, would you be able to set up an effective sick room that will help the infected recover while keeping the healthy from getting sick? Joe and Amy go over what factors will make for an effective area to deal with infectious disease off the grid.

All this and more on The Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy. To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/04/21/survival-medicine-hour-black-scout-pt-2-azithromycin-sick-rooms

Follow us on Twitter @preppershow                YouTube: DrBones NurseAmy Channel                  Facebook: Doom and Bloom

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Don’t forget to get a copy of the new 700 page third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The essential guide for when medical help is not on the way, available at Amazon or at www.doomandbloom.net

Video: Sulfa Drugs in Survival

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shutterstock_89589424

Add medicines to your medical kit

Without antibiotics in your medical kit, there will be deaths in survival scenarios that could have been prevented. Using certain veterinary equivalents may be an answer as to how to obtain them. This video discusses the family of antibiotics known as “Sulfonamides”: How they work, What they’re good for, How to use them wisely, and more. Remember that antibiotics aren’t candy, and should be used only when absolutely necessary. We’re in the midst of an epidemic of antibiotic resistance in this country (mostly due to their use in livestock!). Companion video to a recent article.

 

To watch the video, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyLabcoatSMALL300x300

The Altons

Hey, get supplies for your medical kit, plus a copy of the latest edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook (also available at amazon), at Nurse Amy’s store on this website!

 

(slider image for this article courtesy of pixabay.com)

Survival Medicine Hour: Sulfa Drugs, Uva Ursi, Quicklime, More

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sulfa Drugs

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD (Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, ARNP (Nurse Amy) examine Sulfa drug antibiotics as an option in survival settings. One of the first antibiotics, sulfa has been credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands in WWII, including Winston Churchill himself, and still has applications today in good or bad times.

Also, the herb Uva Ursi may have some use in urinary tract infections, one of the medical issues that sulfa drugs are effective for. Find out more about this herb in Nurse Amy’s segment on natural remedies.

Uva ursi

Uva Ursi

Plus, Dr. Bones discusses what disasters are most responsible for the most deaths in the U.S. over the last 40 years. The answers will definitely surprise you! Plus, some guidelines on disposal of dead bodies in post-apocalyptic times.

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton!

To Listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/04/07/survival-medicine-hour-sulfa-drugs-uva-ursi-quicklime-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

The Altons

Please follow us on Twitter @ Preppershow, and don’t forget to check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits at store.doomandbloom.net!

Sulfa as a Survival Antibiotic

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Fish Sulfa Forte = Bactrim/Septra

In survival settings, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be performing activities that aren’t part of your routine in normal times, like, say, chopping wood for fuel. When you’re doing chores to which you’re not accustomed, injuries can occur. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Using protective eyewear, gloves, and boots may prevent an injury that could become life-threatening off the grid.

It might be difficult to envision that a simple cut could turn lethal, but in survival, many of these wounds are “dirty”; that is, they’re contaminated with bacteria or other microbes. Today, the use of drugs called antibiotics can nip infections in the bud. in any situation where modern medicine isn’t available, however, these wounds can become problematic. If an infection enters the bloodstream (a condition called “septicemia”), things can go downhill quickly.  

A while ago, I did a series of articles and videos on antibiotics, and talked about popular drugs like amoxicillin, doxycycline, Cipro and others that you can find in aquarium and avian versions. Available in capsules and tablets that are essentially identical to those provided for human use (even down to identification numbers), the wise medic should have some of these tools in the medical woodshed for when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Quick disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that you should be using them in normal times. Remember that it’s illegal and punishable by law to practice medicine without a license. If modern medical professionals exist, seek them out.

Today we’ll talk about a family of antibiotic called sulfonamides, or sulfa drugs. Sulfonamides act to inhibit an enzyme involved in folate synthesis, an important part of the production of bacterial DNA. Sulfonamides are bacteriostatic, which means that they don’t directly kill bacteria. They do, however, significantly inhibit growth and multiplication, which leads to eventual elimination of bacteria from the body.

Sulfonamides were available even before Penicillin, and are credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands during WWII, including that of Winston Churchill. Soldier’s first aid kits even came with sulfa pills or powder.

bird sulfa

Bird Sulfa

A specific version, Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprim 80mg (veterinary equivalent: Bird- Sulfa or Fish-Sulfa) is a combination of two medications in the Sulfa family. This drug is well-known in the U.S. by its brand names Bactrim and Septra. Our British friends may recognize it by the name Co-Trimoxazole. The two antibiotics work synergistically, which means that, together, they are stronger in their effect than alone.

Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim is effective in the treatment of the following:

·        Some upper and lower respiratory infections (chronic bronchitis and pneumonia)

·        Kidney and bladder infections

·        Ear infections in children

·        Cholera

·        Intestinal infections caused by E. coli and Shigella bacteria (a cause of dysentery)

·        Skin and wound infections, including MRSA

·        Traveler’s diarrhea

·        Acne

The usual dosage in adults is sulfamethoxazole 800-mg/Trimethoprim 160mg twice a day for most of the above conditions for 10 days (5 days in traveler’s diarrhea).

The recommended dose for pediatric patients with urinary tract infections or acute otitis media (ear infection) is  40 mg/ kg sulfamethoxazole and 8mg/kg trimethoprim per 24 hours, given in two divided doses every 12 hours, for 10 days. 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. This medication should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.

In rat studies, the use of this drug was seen to cause birth defects; therefore, it is not used during pregnancy.

silvadene

Silvadene cream

Another sulfa drug, Sulfadiazine, is combined with Silver to make Silvadene, a cream useful for aiding the healing process in skin wounds and burns. Cover completely twice a day.

Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim and other Sulfonamides are well known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals. These reactions to sulfa drugs are almost as common as Penicillin allergies, and usually manifest as rashes, hives, and/or nausea and vomiting. Worse reactions, however, can cause blood disorders as well as severe skin, liver, and pancreatic damage. Those with conditions relating to these organs should avoid the drug.

Although an allergy to Sulfa drugs may be common, it is not the same allergy as to Penicillin. Those allergic to Penicillin can take Sulfa drugs, although it’s possible to be allergic to both.

It’s important to understand that antibiotics aren’t candy: they must be used wisely and only when absolutely necessary. The overuse of antibiotics (mostly in livestock) is responsible for an epidemic of antibiotic resistance. Having them in your medical storage, however, can prevent the medic from experiencing headaches, and heartaches, if things go South.

Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones

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Joe Alton, MD

Learn more about antibiotics and 150 other medical topics related to survival by checking out a copy of our 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook 2016 Third Edition

Survival Medicine Hour: Disaster Deaths, Antibiotics, XStat, More

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ebola1

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, discuss an antibiotic called Clavamox that’s used in dogs and cats as a possible survival med. Also know as Augmentin, is it exactly the same as the human drug, as  Dr. Alton found was the case years ago with certain fish and bird antibiotics? You might be surprised.

Also, the military may be getting taken for a ride with the expensive prescription product XSTAT, a syringe of hemostatic sponges used for severe hemorrhages. Sounds good, but does it work and what’s behind the recommendations for the government to add this item to military supplies? And does it have any application for survival medics?

Xstat-300x225

XSTAT hemostatic syringe

Plus, do dead bodies from natural disasters cause epidemics? Amy and Joe explore this possibility and compare it to Ebola in 2014 and other events. Lastly, a young man wants to take his 6 month old son and wife to Belize, currently under a Zika warning from the CDC. What is Dr. Bones’ opinion?

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/03/31/survival-medicine-hour-antibiotics-dead-bodies-and-disasters-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Video: All About Dysentery

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Shigella boydii

Shigella bacteria

In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones of DoomandBloom.net, discusses the issue of infectious diseases as the main causes of avoidable deaths in survival scenarios. In particular, he talks about dysentery, a disease that is transmitted by bacteria in contaminated food and water. Here’s all you need to know about this killer in past and future times of trouble. Companion video to a previous article on the same topic.

To watch, just click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary3

Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about dysentery and 150 more medical issues in the latest 700 page edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: THE Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at store.doomandbloom.net or Amazon.com!

 

Dysentery in Survival Settings

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bacteria

dysentery may be caused by bacteria or parasites

 

In survival scenarios, many believe that trauma from gunfights at the OK corral will cause the most deaths. The truth, however, is that many avoidable losses will occur due to more basic issues, such as dehydration from infectious diarrheal diseases. These most often occur from failure to assure the sterilization of water, proper preparation of food, and safe disposal of human waste. One of the many duties of the medic in austere settings is to supervise these activities.

 

I’ve written about some of these diseases before, such as Cholera, but I haven’t discussed dysentery in much detail. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines dysentery as diarrhea in which blood is present in loose, watery bowel movements. Unlike Cholera, dysentery is a diarrheal disease that can be caused by several different organisms. It can be spread from human to human or, less commonly, from animals to humans.

 

Most cases of diarrhea are mild and easily treated with fluids and avoidance of certain food products, like dairy. Dysentery, however, is a more serious form where inflammation of the large intestine causes watery stools mixed with blood, pus, and mucus.

 

There are two types of dysentery:

 

Bacillary: Most often caused by several variants of the bacteria family Shigella, but E. Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter may also be involved.

 

Amoebic: A parasite, Entamoeba Histolytica, is more commonly seen in tropical and subtropical climates.

 

Dysentery was the cause of death of many soldiers in the Civil War. In total, infectious diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, and others killed more men than bullets or shrapnel.

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DYSENTERY

cholera 1

Nausea and vomiting can be seen in dysentery and other diarrheal diseases

 

About 2-10 days after infection, the patient will begin to show symptoms. Some will experience mild effects but others will progress to more severe disease. Beside frequent watery stools mixed with blood and mucus (sometimes 20-30 times a day!), you may see:

 

·        high fevers

·        abdominal pain and bloating

·        Excessive gas

·        Loss of appetite

·        Weakness and fatigue

·        Urgent need to evacuate

·        Vomiting

 

All of the above leads to significant dehydration, which is complicated in severe bacillary dysentery by erosion of the lining of the gut, leading to ulcers that cause bleeding from the rectum. Combined with the effect of bacterial toxins, death may occur quickly without antibiotic therapy and IV fluids. Amoebic dysentery may follow a similar course or be more prolonged in nature, leading to a weakened system and the formation of pockets of pus in the liver.  

 

TREATING DYSENTERY

oralrehydrationpack

oral rehydration salts

 

As you can imagine, any form of this disease will greatly decrease the chance for survival off the grid. As the well-prepared medic can intervene early with certain medicines, a high index of suspicion will decrease avoidable deaths.

 

For bacillary dysentery like that caused by Shigella, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Fish-Flox) or azithromycin (Aquatic Azithromycin) are used as treatment.  Amoebic dysentery can be treated with an anti-parasitic drug such as metronidazole (Fish-Zole). Dosing can be found in our book “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way” or in various articles at doomandbloom.net. Loperamide (Imodium) and Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate) are additional items that will be useful tools in the medical woodshed.

 

Of course, it’s especially important to rehydrate victims aggressively. Oral rehydration salts contain electrolytes that will more effectively aid recovery. These can be purchased commercially or improvised using the following formula:

 

To one liter of water (2 liters for children), add:

·        6-8 teaspoons of sugar

·        ½-3/4 teaspoons of salt

·        ¼-1/2 teaspoons of salt substitute (used by people who can’t use regular salt. This item has potassium, an important electrolyte, and can be found wherever regular salt is found.)

·        A pinch of baking soda for bicarbonate

 

PREVENTION

 

vegetables wash

prevent infectious disease with thorough washing

Prevention of dysentery requires understanding of how it’s spread. Transmission often occurs by infected individuals who handle food without washing first or use unsterilized water. Some people may carry the organisms and show no symptoms, at least for a time. As contamination with human feces is a big factor, the medic has to closely supervise the building and use of latrines and other facilities.

 

Dysentery is just one of the issues that can cause headaches and heartaches for the survival medic. With some knowledge and supplies, you’ll have a better chance to keep your family safe in times of trouble.

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary3

Joe Alton, MD

Fill those holes in your medical storage by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of often-imitated, never-equaled kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net!

Video: Storing Medications

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medicines

Storing Meds

In good times or bad times, having a strategy for the proper storage of medicines will help preserve their potency for when they’re needed. Here’s a video by Joe Alton, MD about the factors to consider when putting away those needed medications for later use. Companion video to a recent article.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

 

 

JoeAltonLibrary4

You’ll need more than just medicine to get you through a disaster, so check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical supplies at her store at https://store.doomandbloom.net/    You’ll be glad you did!

Storing Medications

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medicines

Storing Medications

Being prepared for disasters means storing food, but it also means putting together a stockpile of medical supplies. While bandages and instruments may keep acceptably in a variety of environments, medications are another story.

How medicines are stored can affect their potency over time. To maintain the effectiveness of the drugs, there are several factors that deserve your attention:

Heat: Most medications are meant to be stored at room temperature. Insulin and some antibiotic elixirs are an exception, and should be stored in the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is that, unless the bottle contains labeling that says otherwise, it’s unnecessary (and in many cases, harmful) to freeze or otherwise diverge from the advice given by the manufacturer.

Excessive heat is another factor in losing drug potency. Given the choice, somewhat cooler is probably better than hotter. It’s thought that drug effectiveness fades twice as quickly if stored at 90 degrees Fahrenheit than if stored at 50 degrees.

Moisture: Most folks store medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet, but you might be surprised to know that the moisture from showers and baths can degrade the drug significantly. Instead, consider a high shelf in a closet or a dedicated storage box.

Light: Much like excessive exposure to the sun could damage skin, light sometimes could have an ill effect on certain drugs. These meds are commonly stored in brownish-colored bottles. Keep all medicines in their original containers. It might be a good idea, however, to remove the cotton ball commonly placed with the drug as it could pull moisture into the container.

Many times, it might be hard to tell if a drug has been affected negatively, but some others are pretty obvious. Aspirin pills, for example, can develop a vinegar-like smell (even before the expiration date). Besides smell, a change in color or consistency may signal that a medication has degraded. If pills or capsules are harder or softer than normal or stick together, be wary.

Some people get their meds through the mail. If so, choose overnight shipping whenever possible to avoid prolonged travel time. ABC news reported recently that a 1995 FDA study found that a standard black mailbox can reach 136 degrees in the summer heat. Excessive time in the hot sun or extreme cold for a long period of time causes drug deterioration. A better alternative may be to send them to where you can take possession personally and immediately. For many, this might be their workplace as opposed to their home.

One of the questions I’m often asked is whether drugs will benefit from vacuum sealing. Although you’ll find opinions everywhere, there doesn’t seem to be any hard data on the issue. I would expect that more drugs would be vacuum packed by the manufacturer if it was that important to maintain potency. Having said that, pharmaceutical companies want you to discard older meds so they might not be motivated to do so.

Vacuum packing would affect moisture but wouldn’t affect important preservation aspects like temperature or light. As meds do best in their original containers, it seems that, with the possible exception of powder packets, it wouldn’t be an essential storage method.

So, consider storing all meds in cool, dark, dry conditions. It’s especially important to be sure that all medications are kept out of the reach of children. Childproof lids are meant to help you achieve this goal, but consider a storage box with a lock as well.

The wise family will keep a good medical kit and a supply of over-the-counter and needed prescription medicines stored safely in their home. In a disaster, attention to proper storage methods might just save a life.

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

Besides medicine, you’ll need a variety of medical supplies to deal with medical issues in times of trouble. Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits at store.doomandbloom.net.

Video: Fish Antibiotic Update

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Mount LeConte at sunrise, Great Smokies

In this video, Joe Alton, MD addresses the concerns of those in the preparedness community who store veterinary equivalents of human antibiotics for use in post-apocalyptic scenarios. The FDA’s upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive has cast the availability of these items in doubt for 2017. As the first physician to write, years ago, about the utility of these products to save lives in long-term survival, Dr. Alton has evaluated the FDA’s action and knows their goals. He discusses how this affects, if at all, the future of fish/bird antibiotics’ availability for your survival medicine cabinet. Companion video to a recent article on the same topic.

This video has as its backdrop Mt. LeConte, highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyLabcoatSMALL300x300

Joe Alton MD/Amy Alton ARNP

Find out more about antibiotics, infectious disease, and many other medical issues in disaster settings by getting a copy of our 700 page (!) Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available on this website and also at Amazon.

 

The Future of Fish Antibiotics in Survival?

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Betta-Fish-Nurse-Amy

Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens)

As the first physician to write, years ago, about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a survival tool, I’ve long realized their utility in preventing unnecessary deaths in true survival scenarios (in normal times, seek modern and standard medical care). Lately, I’ve received a lot of mail asking about the upcoming FDA Veterinary Feed Directive. Does it mean the end of the availability of fish and bird meds for placement in disaster medical storage?

To understand what the Veterinary Feed Directive is and what it means for the preparedness community, we should first describe the problem that the Directive aims to correct: Antibiotic resistance. There is an epidemic of antibiotic resistance in this country, and it exists, not because of pet bird or fish antibiotic use, not because “preppers” might put them in a disaster medical kit, nor even primarily from the overuse by physicians. It is due to the excessive use of antibiotics on livestock. About 80% of antibiotics used in the United States are given to food-producing animals.

antibioticslivestock

The definition of a “Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) drug”, according to section 504 of the FD&C Act (21 USC 354) states that it is “[a] drug intended for use in or on animal feed. The CDC’s goal #1 of decreasing the emergence of antibiotic resistance and preventing the spread of resistant infections has three objectives (see page 33):

1       -“Implement public health programs and reporting policies that advance antibiotic resistance prevention and foster antibiotic stewardship in healthcare settings and the community. “

2       -“Eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals and bring other in-feed uses of antibiotics, for treatment and disease control and prevention of disease, under veterinary oversight. “

3       –“Identify and implement measures to foster stewardship of antibiotics in animals.”

As you can see, 2 of 3 of the above relate specifically to animals. Why are so many antibiotics given to livestock? It’s not, primarily, to treat infections that they may have. It’s actually because, for reasons that aren’t completely clear, it seems to speed their growth and gets them to market sooner. In other words, the profit motive. This is standard practice here in the U.S., but some countries, like Denmark, have banned the use of antibiotics on livestock unless they need them to treat disease.

The FDA and CDC are concerned about the excessive use of antibiotics in general and, in particular, on the animals that produce our food. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden mentioned some months ago that an increased “stewardship” (in other words, control) of these meds was indicated to decrease the development of antibiotic resistance. The Veterinary Feed Directive is part of that response.

What are the drugs affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive? Here they are:

Established drug name Examples of proprietary drug name(s)
chlortetracycline Aureomycin, Aureomycyn, Chlora-Cycline, Chloronex, Chlortetracycline, Chlortetracycline Bisulfate, Chlortet-Soluble-O, CTC, Fermycin, Pennchlor
erythromycin Gallimycin
gentamicin Garacin, Gen-Gard, GentaMed, Gentocin, Gentoral
lincomycin Linco, Lincomed, Lincomix, Lincomycin, Lincomycin Hydrochloride, Lincosol, Linxmed-SP
lincomycin/spectinomycin  Lincomycin S, Lincomycin-Spectinomycin, L-S, SpecLinx
neomycin Biosol Liquid, Neo, Neomed, Neomix, Neomycin, Neomycin Liquid, Neomycin Sulfate, Neo-Sol, Neosol, Neosol-Oral, Neovet
oxytetracycline Agrimycin, Citratet, Medamycin, Oxymarine, Oxymycin, Oxy-Sol, Oxytet, Oxytetracycline, Oxytetracycline HCL, Oxy WS, Pennox, Terramycin, Terra-Vet, Tetravet-CA, Tetroxy, Tetroxy Aquatic, Tetroxy HCA
penicillin Han-Pen, Penaqua Sol-G, Penicillin G Potassium, R-Pen, Solu-Pen
spectinomycin Spectam
sulfadimethoxine Agribon, Albon, Di-Methox, SDM, Sulfabiotic, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfadived, Sulfamed-G, Sulforal, Sulfasol
sulfamethazine SMZ-Med, Sulfa, Sulmet
sulfaquinoxaline S.Q. Solution, Sulfa-Nox, Sulfaquinoxaline Sodium, Sulfaquinoxaline Solubilized, Sul-Q-Nox, Sulquin
tetracycline Duramycin, Polyotic, Solu/Tet, Solu-Tet, Supercycline, Terra-Vet, Tet, Tetra-Bac, Tetracycline, Tetracycline Hydrochloride, Tetramed, Tetra-Sal, Tetrasol, Tet-Sol, TC Vet

“Note: apramycin, carbomycin/oxytetracycline*, chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine*, streptomycin, sulfachloropyrazine, sulfachlorpyridazine, and sulfamerazine/sulfamethazine/sulfaquinoxaline* are expected to transition to Rx status, but are not marketed at this time. If they return to the market after January 1, 2017, they will require a prescription from a veterinarian.”

If you look at the list above, you’ll see no mention of the common aquarium/avian antibiotics used in the pet industry. Fish-Mox (Amoxicillin) is not included in the list. Neither is doxycycline, metronidazole, nor others that I’ve recommended for disaster storage. Some first-generation drugs, like Penicillin and Tetracycline, are mentioned but not any of the proprietary names related to the ornamental trade. That doesn’t mean that they might not include them at some point. As the earliest antibiotics, they have been subject to significant resistance, and might not be the best choices for survival storage in any case.

At present, Thomas Labs, one of the largest distributors of fish and bird antibiotics for the pet trade, has not visibly changed any of its policies regarding sale of these products. Their labeling clearly states “Not for Human Use”, and many sites that sell their products  include this statement:

“…Thomas Labs sources it’s (sic) antibiotics from the same USP grade manufacturing as antibiotics used for humans, but we and Thomas Labs are not doctors and do not deal in human health problems, or prescription medications.  Only a doctor can correctly prescribe antibiotics for specific need in humans.  We strongly discourage anyone who wants to take Fish Antibiotics for themselves…”

It seems clear that the Veterinary Feed Directive considers livestock and not hobby fish and birds to be the highest priority targets. If they did,  the pet trade might cease to exist.

The Veterinary Feed Directive may, indeed, decrease the incidence of bacterial resistance in the U.S. So will the wise use of antibiotics by the nation’s physicians. Hopefully, one day food livestock will be raised antibiotic-free; some companies are already taking this step.

From a preparedness standpoint, I still believe that having antibiotics in your medical kit will save lives in a long-term disaster or survival setting. The ones I have written about over the years are still available, at least for the time being; those medically responsible in times of trouble will find them to be useful tools in the medical woodshed.

 

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD is a physician, author, and medical preparedness writer for disaster and long-term survival scenarios where medical help is not available for the foreseeable future. For more information on these and other topics, see the Altons’ #1 Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way“.

7 Sensible Ways To Get Your Kids Dirty (and Healthy)

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mud-play

image by publicdomainpictures.net

I have, on many occasions, written about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation on the chances of a family or survival group succeeding, even when everything else fails. That’s all well and good, but what can be done before a disaster to impart a resistance to infection in the next generation?

In modern times we have, as a matter of “good parenting”, made every effort to keep our children with their noses wiped and their hands clean. Indeed, these are the basics of respiratory hygiene to prevent things like colds and flus. However, are our kids too clean? In our never-ending battle to keep them shiny and bright, have we, instead, made them more prone to the very microbes from which we want to protect then?

Many scientists and physicians think so. In 1989, researcher Dr. David Strachan suggested the hypothesis that the failure of children to be exposed to infectious bugs and parasites may be responsible for the epidemic of allergies and allergic conditions like asthma. This was called the “Hygiene Hypothesis” and the lack of exposure to microbes was, later, more broadly applied to other diseases ranging from hay fever to diabetes to multiple sclerosis.

The theory is based on the thought that avoidance of common germs suppresses the development of a normal immune system. In addition to microbe-avoiding practices like staying inside and not getting dirty, just the fact that modern families are smaller than those 100 years ago results in less passing-around of common infections. This, in turn, leads to the failure to develop immunity against them or the

tolerance that would prevent allergic reactions.

Later studies suggest that some of the skin, gut, and respiratory germs we try so hard to avoid are actually “old friends” that have been with us since ancient times, and lack of exposure to them doesn’t allow our immune systems to develop nor function appropriately. Researchers like Dr. Graham Rook compared the immature immune system to a computer; it has many programs, but needs “data” in the form of diverse germ exposures to allow the “program” to identify those that are harmful. The fetus receives some of this data even as it passes through the vaginal canal during birth.

pixabay-old-farm

old farm via pixabay images

When most of us lived on farms or in less-than-pristine cities, we were exposed to plenty of germs from a young age due to time spent outside with animals or with lots of other people. Now, unless they’re playing Pokemon Go, the majority of kids aren’t motivated to go outside or, certainly, get dirty. In the final analysis, never getting dirty as a child may be hazardous to your future health.

Having said all this, most parents will have trouble throwing their kids in the nearest pig sty or making mud pies with Rover’s, um, poo. There are still disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites out there that you’d like to avoid. Is there a middle ground?

Here are some things you might consider:

Avoid antibiotics: The medical profession may have been remiss in over-prescribing antibiotics, but there are antibiotics in food as well. Indeed, 70-80% of antibiotics are given to livestock, not to treat infection, but to make they grow faster and get them to market sooner. Stick with antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and meats.

Avoid anti-bacterial soaps: Triclosan, the active antibiotic ingredient in many brands, has recently been banned by the FDA due to the risk of antibiotic resistance and the lack of evidence of any medical benefit. Use regular soap and water for washing.

Tailor Handwashing Strategies to the Situation:  If you’re in a city where open sewers run through the streets and people are tossing buckets of excrement out the window, have your kids wash their hands conscientiously. In clean environments where there isn’t a raging epidemic, however, don’t freak out over dirty hands.

Don’t Bathe Every Day: Not only should your kids be exposed to dirt to develop their immune system, but bathing too often might do more harm than good. Daily showers removes protective skin oils and causes drying and irritation. You’re also washing away the good bacteria that lives on your skin.

dog-and-kid-pixabay

image by pixabay.com

Get Your Kid a Pet: Not every kid has the good fortune of living on a farm, but they’ll benefit from a furry pet. Dogs seem to give more resistance to colds and allergic skin conditions like eczema than cats, but early cat exposure might give more protection against asthma. Why not have both?

Be Sensible About Animal Droppings:  Yes, I know that you can’t avoid trace amounts of animal excrement in your kids’ environment, but don’t let them play in the cat litter and you should remove pet and wild animal excrement from play areas.

Get your kids outside when they’re young: In these days where we have legitimate concerns about children’s safety, you might be reluctant to let your kids go outside by themselves. Here’s an idea: Go out with them, to parks, wilderness areas, and other places where both adults and kids can reap real benefits.

The more you encourage outdoor activities early, the more they become part of the next generation’s culture; let the kids get a little dirty, and you might give them a healthier future.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kit and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net!

The Formula For Penicillin

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madscientist

The Penicillin Formula

As you might know, I write mostly about how to deal with medical issues in situations where modern medical facilities and care don’t exist. Accumulating medications for disaster settings may be simple when it comes to finding aspirin and other non-prescription drugs, but prescription drugs will be hard to get for those who can’t write their own prescriptions or don’t have a relationship with an understanding physician.  Antibiotics are a case in point.

I consider this a major issue because there will be a much larger incidence of infections when people have to fend for themselves. In a long-term survival setting, they will perform activities to which they are not accustomed and injuries are likely.  Simple cuts and scratches from, say, chopping wood can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat, and swelling, within a relatively short time.

The History Channel, some years ago, aired a special called “After Armageddon”, where a family gets out of Dodge after a collapse-level catastrophe and eventually makes their way to a village of survivors. Integrating into the community, the father (a paramedic) takes to gardening and other survival-type activities. He suffers a cut which quickly becomes infected. Unfortunately, no antibiotics are available and he slowly succumbs to the infection despite knowing exactly what’s happening to him.

Treatment of infections at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists would most likely ignore the problem until it gets worse. This is unwise, as an infection can become life threatening if not treated. Having antibiotics readily available would allow them to deal with the issue until medical help (if available at all) arrives.

ANTIBIOTIC OPTIONS IN SURVIVAL SETTINGS

Years ago, I wrote the first physician article about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a way to stockpile medications for the uncertain future.  Since the only ingredient in certain of these medications is the antibiotic itself, it’s a reasonable alternative. There are some veterinary antibiotics, like Fish-Mox, that are only produced in human dosages and appear identical to human pharmaceuticals, down to the identification numbers on the capsules. For more information, see my series of articles on the subject.

This is not to say you should treat yourself in normal times. When modern medical care is available, seek it out. The practice of medicine without a license is illegal and punishable by law.

Once in a while, I get someone who wants to know how to make penicillin (isn’t it just bread mold?).  It’s true that penicillin is a by-product of a fungus known as penicillium, which, indeed, grows on bread and fruit.  It was originally discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929. In 1942, a moldy cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois was found to have a strong version of it.  Most of the world’s supply of penicillin in the 1940s came from cultures of the fungus on that cantaloupe.

There is a formula for making penicillin at home. It’s next to impossible, honestly, to get all the chemicals needed to produce it safely. Besides the legal issues, home laboratories are dicey at best (just ask a local Meth dealer). To illustrate a point, however, here it is:

THE FORMULA FOR PENICILLIN

penicillin mold

Penicillium Notatum mold

Penicillin is a by-product of the Penicillium fungus, but the thing is, it’s a by-product of a Penicillium fungus that’s under stress.  So you have to grow the fungus, and then expose it to stresses that will make it produce Penicillin.

First you need to produce a “culture” of the penicillium fungus. – A microbiological culture is a method of multiplying microscopic organisms by letting them reproduce in a certain environment under controlled conditions.

One of the most important things to know is that it is easy for other microbes to contaminate your penicillium culture, so use sterile techniques at all times or you will likely wind up with something entirely different (and, possibly, harmful).

NIH penicillin process

general penicillin production process (from NIH)

STEP 1

Expose a slice of bread or citrus peel or a cantaloupe rind to the air in a dark place at 70 deg. F until a bluish-green mold develops.

Cut two fresh slices of whole wheat bread into ½ inch cubes and place in a 750ml Erlenmeyer flask with a non-absorbent plug. One thing you might not know is that a lot of bakeries put a substance called a mold inhibitor on bread.  This suppresses fungal growth so you should probably use bread that you baked yourself.

Sterilize the flask and contents in a pressure cooker for at least 15 minutes at 15 psi. An alternate method is to place in an oven at 315 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

In a sterile fashion, transfer the fungus from the bread or fruit peel into the flask containing the bread cubes. Allow the cubes to sit in the dark at 70 degrees for 5 days. This is called incubation.  That’s the easy part.

STEP 2 

This is where it gets complicated. Prepare one liter of the following solution:

Lactose Monohydrate                    44.0 gm

Corn Starch                                      25.0 gm

Sodium Nitrate                                3.0 gm

Magnesium Sulfate                         0.25 gm

Potassium MonoPhosphate          0.50 gm

Glucose Monohydrate                   2.75 gm

Zinc Sulfate                                      0.044 gm

Manganese Sulfate                        0.044 gm

You’ll obviously need a scale that measures very small amounts. These are called gram scales and you can find them online.  The above ingredients can be found at chemical supply houses, but you’ll have to buy a significant amount.

Dissolve the ingredients in the order listed in 500ml of cold tap water and then add more cold water to complete a liter (1000 ml).

Adjust the pH to 5.0-5.5 using HCL (hydrochloric acid). You’ll need a pH test kit like those found at pet shops and garden supply stores. Fill glass containers with a quantity of this solution. Only use enough so that when the container is placed on its side the liquid will not touch the plug.

Sterilize the containers and solution in a pressure cooker or stove just like you did before. When it cools, scrape up about a tablespoon of the fungus from the bread cubes and throw it into the solution.

Allow the containers to incubate on their sides at 70 degrees for seven days. It’s important that they are not moved around.  If you did it correctly, you’ll have Penicillin in the liquid portion of the media. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter or something similar, plug the bottles, and refrigerate immediately.

STEP 3

To extract the penicillin from the solution:

Adjust the cold solution to pH 2.2 using (.01 %) HCL. Mix it with cold ethyl acetate in a “separatory funnel” (that’s a funnel with a stopcock; you can find all these items at chemistry glass suppliers) and shake well for 30 seconds or so.

Drain the ethyl acetate (which should be on the bottom) into a beaker which has been placed in an ice bath and repeat the process. Add 1% potassium acetate and mix. You want the ethyl acetate to evaporate off. This can be induced by a constant flow of air over the top of the beaker, say from a fan.  When it dries, the remaining crystals are a mixture of potassium penicillin and potassium acetate.

There you have it, you have put together a laboratory and made Penicillin!  You are now officially a mad scientist.

REALITY

It’s clear that making penicillin at home is beyond the ability of non-chemists.  However, it does make a point.   If there’s a major long-term disaster, there isn’t a way that anyone will be able to produce reliably safe and effective antibiotics at home. You might read about producing penicillin teas, but the issue is that you might have contamination by other molds that could be hazardous to your health.

If you are concerned about a collapse-level event, it may be wise to consider stockpiling some veterinary equivalents. At present, no prescription is necessary nor is there a limit to quantities purchased. This may eventually change as the CDC has declared that an increased “stewardship” of animal antibiotics will be necessary to combat the issue of antibiotic resistance. This is a reasonable concern, but restrictions will probably involve drugs for food animals first.

You can find lists of useful antibiotics, their veterinary equivalents, and much more in The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now in its 700 page Third Edition. The book is available on Amazon or at DoomandBloom.net.

If you don’t want to buy fish medicine, at least grow plants that might have some antibacterial action. Garlic, for example, has scientifically proven antibacterial properties, as do some other herbs.  Honey, in its raw and unprocessed state, is also consider to be antibacterial. More on various herbal options in a future article.

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Expert Charley Hogwood, Cinnamon, Antibiotics, Alligators

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Charley Hogwood, Survival Group expert

In this topic-packed episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, survival group expert and author Charley Hogwood joins us to talk about survival group dynamics as well a number of other issues that may affect your chances for survival in the uncertain future. Also, Nurse Amy talks about one of her favorite herbs, Cinnamon, and its medical uses and Dr. Alton discusses an unusual subject, driven by recent news: Alligator attacks, what to do and some common-sense prevention strategies. He also brings you up to date with the Zika epidemic ramping up in Puerto Rico, and the 3 infants born with Zika-related deformities in the United States. Finally, Dr. Alton discusses antibiotics while answering a question from a listener of the popular Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko. Dr. Alton serves as the medical expert on Jack’s Expert Council.

alligator above water

image by pixabay.com

Plus, doctors say 1 in 5 trauma victims’ death are preventable. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss why and what could be done to increase your chances of surviving a mass casualty incident.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/06/20/survival-medicine-hour-expert-charley-hogwood-cinnamon-antibiotcs-alligators

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

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Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Food Contamination

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We’ve talked a lot about sterilizing water to make it safe for drinking, but a few things in the news lately got me thinking about food safety, another responsibility for the survival medic. Let’s start with some news of the weird:

Two supermarkets in Great Britain were closed by police after a man allegedly sprayed foul-smelling “urine” on the produce. The motive for this act is unknown, but if it’s a terror event, he certainly gets credit for creativity. In any case, authorities claim little if any risk to public safety (unless you shop at those markets, I guess).

While the above is a rare case of food contamination, outbreaks of bacteria found on food seem  to be becoming more frequent. Besides highly publicized problems at restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Market, a number of food companies have announced recalls of a wide variety of products. CRF frozen foods, who products are carried at Safeway, Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s, and prepper favorite COSTCO, is recalling a total of 358 different items sold under 42 brands(!).

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These items were found to contain a bacteria known as Listeria, and at least seven people were hospitalized with 2 deaths. Organic and non-organic versions of carrots, broccoli, squash, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are among the many and varied products involved. All affected items have sell by dates between 4/26/16 and 4/26/18.  The US FDA website has a list of every brand.

So what’s listeria? Listeria monocytogenes is a member of a family of bacteria named after a founding father of modern sterile surgery, Joseph Lister; his name is also on various types of surgical instruments. It causes a relatively rare bacterial disease called listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria. The disease especially affects pregnant women, newborns and toddlers, adults with weakened immune systems, and the elderly. In these folks, the death rate from sepsis and a nervous system infection, meningitis, is about 20%.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and other intestinal symptoms. Listeria starts in the GI tract, but frequently invades different organ systems, often varying from patient to patient.

Pregnant women infected with Listeria can expect a higher incidence of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and neonatal (newborn) infections. Others, such as the very young and the very old, may experience confusion, stiff necks, loss of coordination and balance, and seizures.

Although there are some differences in opinion, the antibiotic Ampicillin is generally thought to be a drug of choice. Other penicillins are considered acceptable by many. If allergic to Penicillins, other antibiotics like Sulfa drugs may be an option, although no specific alternative is officially recommended.

So how do you prevent infections with Listeria, and really, any bacteria that causes food poisoning? The below recommendations come from the Food and Drug Administration:

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first. If you touch the peel, and then the peeled fruit or vegetable, it can get contaminated with bacteria.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.

It’s important to consider food storage and preparation surfaces. The FDA recommends:

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
  • Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
  • Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.

Without thoroughly cooking meats, you put yourself at risk for infection. You should be sure that food is cooked evenly. It is thought that Ebola may have started in West Africa from partially-cooked bat meat. Each type of meat has its own recommended temperature to eliminate pathogens (disease-causing organisms). To see these, click the link below:

http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html

You might wonder how long meats are safe to eat even if stored in the refrigerator? The USDA has firm opinions on this:

  • Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
    • Hot Dogs – store opened package no longer than 1 week and unopened package no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
    • Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened package no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

In a survival scenario, it may be difficult to avoid bacterial contamination unless you closely monitor food preparation. In normal times, it’s easier, but only if you pay attention to good practice of food hygiene.

 

Joe Alton, MD

How To “Lance” A Boil

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shutterstock_92894677

 

A “boil” is an abscess that involves the skin. Although boils (also called “furuncles“) refer to skin and subcutaneous tissues, you can get an abscess in just about any organ. I have seen abscesses in abdominal organs like the ovary or liver, or even in other places like gums. Wherever you find them, they are essentially a walled-off pocket of pus.  Pus is the debris left over from your body’s attempt to eliminate an infection; it consists of white and red blood cells, inflammatory fluid, and live and dead microbes (in boils, usually Staph species).

 

If the abscess was not caused by an infected wound or diseased tooth, it is possible that it originated in a “cyst”, which is a hollow structure filled with fluid.  There are various types of cysts that can become infected and form abscesses:

 

  • Sebaceous: skin glands often associated with hair follicles, they are concentrated on the face and trunk.  These cysts produce oily material known as “sebum”.
  • Inclusion:  These occur when skin lining is trapped in deeper layers as a result of trauma.  They continue to produce skin cells and grow.
  • Pilonidal:  These cysts are located over the area of the tailbone, and are due to a malformation during fetal development.  They easily become infected and require intervention.

 

To deal with an abscess, a route must be forged to evacuate the pus.  The easiest way to do this is to place warm moist compresses over the area, also known as “ripening the abscess”. Apply the compress over the area  for 15 minutes or so every couple of hours during the day. This will help bring the infection to the surface of the skin, where it will form a “head” and, hopefully, drain spontaneously. The abscess will go from firm to soft as it ripens; it’ll develop a “whitehead” pimple at the likely point of exit.

 

You’ll be tempted to squeeze the boil in an effort to relieve the pressure discomfort. Doing this, however, may make the infection worse. Patience is important for a few days to give the abscess a chance to resolve on its own.

 

If a few days go by without spontaneous drainage, it may become clear that a boil or abscess will not respond to lesser treatment and needs surgical intervention. This is called “lancing a boil” and is otherwise referred to as “incision and drainage” in medical-ese. Always wash your hands and put on gloves before attempting this or, really, any other medical procedure.

 

#11 blade

#11 scalpel blade

Clean the area with an antiseptic and apply a numbing agent (even ice will do). You’ll need a sharp sterile instrument such as a scalpel (a  #11 blade is best). If you don’t have a sterile instrument, you can put a thin blade over a fire until it becomes red hot, then let cool.

 

 

Using the tip of the scalpel, pierce the skin over the abscess perpendicular to the surface of the skin. The pus should drain freely, and your patient will probably experience immediate relief from the release of pressure. Sometimes a small Kelly clamp is useful to break up little compartments in the abscess called “loculations“,  Have some extra gauze handy, as a large boil can be messy to treat.

loculations on ultrasound

abcesses might sometimes have multiple compartments

Irrigate the wound with lots of saline solution or clean water. A thin gauze moistened with Betadine is then placed in the abscess cavity, commercially available as “iodoform packing”. Finally, apply an antibiotic ointment like Bactroban or raw, unprocessed honey to the skin surrounding the incision and cover with a clean bandage. Change the packing twice daily until the abscess cavity fills in. If the abscess returns, the walls may need removal in a more extensive procedure.

 

fishmox

Oral antibiotics are a useful additional tool to treat boils, whether or not you decide to lance them. Amoxicillin, Cephalexin, or Erythromycin are options that are available in veterinary equivalents (Fish-Mox, Fish-Flex, and Fish-Mycin, respectively).

 

 

Incision and drainage may be helpful for dental abscesses as well, but may not save nearby teeth. Check our articles on this website under “dental” to see what should be in a kit to handle these problems. Of course, in normal times, seek modern medical and dental care whenever and wherever it is available.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Check out Joe and Amy Alton’s new show, American Survival Radio, in collaboration with Genesis Communications! Also, listen to their long-standing survival medicine show, The Survival Medicine Hour, at blogtalkradio.com.

Survival Medicine Hour: Active Shooters, SWAT-T, Superbugs

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hemorrhage

Would you know the right plan of action if you were caught in an active shooter situation? Having a plan of action in advance may mean the difference between life and death? Joe Alton, MD gives his take on what to do in a mass casualty incident. Also, Dr. Alton discusses antibiotic-resistant superbug CRE, as well as Dr. Brock Blankenship’s SWAT-T, a tourniquet that might be a good addition to many workplace and schools’ first aid kits.

medic-in-action

To listen in, click below:

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2015/12/06/survival-medicine-hour-active-shooters-swat-t-new-superbug

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or  bad,

 

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP

 

Video: Keflex in Survival

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Keflex is called Fish-Flex in aquarium versions

After a disaster, daily activities of survival will put people at risk for all sorts of injuries, including cuts that could become infected. Without antibiotics, some of these infections could go into the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening situation. In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses the antibiotic Cephalexin (Keflex, Fish-Flex) for its potential as a medical tool in survival scenarios.

infected-cut

infected cut

To watch, click below:

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

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cellulitismoderate

The wise medic will store antibiotics to deal with infections in survival scenarios, but what happens when a bacteria becomes resistant to them? In other words, a “Superbug”?

In the U.S., 2 million people are infected annually with bacteria resistant to standard antibiotic treatment. At least 23,000 of these will die as a result. In an increasingly overburdened health system, resistant microbes are responsible for a huge increase in the cost of caring for the sick.

This article will discuss antibiotics and the epidemic of resistance that has spawned a growing number of superbugs.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines that kill micro-organisms in the body. Amazingly, the first antibiotic, Penicillin, was discovered entirely by accident in 1928 when Alexander Fleming returned to his lab from a vacation. He noticed that a lab dish with a bacterial culture had developed a mold known then as Penicillin Notatum. Around the mold, an area had developed that was clear of bacteria. Further study proved the potent germicidal effect of the compound processed from the mold.

By the 1940s, penicillin was in general use and credited with saving many lives during WWII. Since then, more than 100 different antibiotics have been identified and developed into medicines.

Antibiotic Overuse

The huge success that antibiotics had in eliminating bacterial infections caused them to be used excessively. Liberal employment of antibiotics is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • Overuse fosters the spread of resistant bacteria.
  • Allergic reactions can occur, sometimes severe.
  • Antibiotics given before a diagnosis is confirmed may mask some symptoms and make identifying the illness more difficult.

Antibiotics will kill many bacteria, but they will not be effective against viruses, such as those that cause influenza or the common cold. They are also not meant as anti-fungal agents.

 

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Viruses are largely unaffected by antibiotics

 

Most will be surprised to hear that almost 80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. don’t go to people, but to livestock. This is not to treat sick livestock but to make healthy livestock grow faster and get to market sooner. No one knows for sure why antibiotics have this effect, but the gross overuse on food animals is a big reason for the epidemic of resistance seen today.

The Superbug List Grows Longer

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of close to 20 bacteria that have shown a tendency towards antibiotic resistance. They include various organisms that cause severe diarrheal disease, respiratory issues, wound infections, and even sexually transmitted disease.

The CDC’s list:

  • Clostridium difficile
  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
  • Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
  • Drug-resistant Campylobacter
  • Fluconazole-resistant Candida
  • Extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLs)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Drug-resistant Non-typhoidal Salmonella
  • Drug-resistant Salmonella Typhi
  • Drug-resistant Shigella
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis
  • Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)
  • Erythromycin-resistant Group A Streptococcus
  • Clindamycin-resistant Group B Streptococcus

 

There have been no effective treatments identified for some of the above microbes, as in the case of multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis. MRSA, Methicillin-Resistant Staph. Aureus, was responsible for more deaths than AIDS in recent years.

 

Although this is the CDC’s list of superbugs that affect the United States, they aren’t the only ones. A new type of Malaria, a very common parasitic disease of warmer climates, is turning up that is resistant to the standard drugs.

 

Viruses are “resistant” to antibiotics by nature (in other words, they are unaffected by them) and include Influenza A, Swine Flu, Ebola, Bird Flu, SARS, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These will be discussed in detail in a future article.

 

An Effective Strategy

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Strategy #1

 

Many believe that antibiotic-resistant Superbugs listed are exotic diseases that could never affect their community. With the ease of commercial air travel, however, cases of antibiotic-resistant diseases from afar can easily arrive on our shores.

 

Recently, a case of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis was identified and then isolated at the high level isolation unit at the National Institute of Health in Maryland. Although we have increased our capacity for handling this type of patient significantly since the arrival of Ebola in the U.S. last year, it wouldn’t take much to overwhelm our facilities.

 

 

Therefore, the medic must have a plan to decrease the chances for antibiotic-resistant infections. The main strategy is to hold off on dispensing that precious supply of antibiotics until absolutely necessary, but other strategies include:

 

  • Establishing good hygiene practices: Everyone should be diligent about washing hands with soap and hot water or hand sanitizers. Good respiratory hygiene includes coughing or sneezing into tissues or the upper arm, but never the bare hands.
  • Supervising sterilization of water, preparation of food, and disposal of human waste and trash. Contaminated water and food will lead to many avoidable deaths in survival scenarios. Make sure that food preparation surfaces (counter tops, etc.) are disinfected frequently.
  • Dedicating personal items: Personal items like towels, linens, utensils, and clothing may be best kept to one person in an epidemic setting.
  • Cleaning all wounds thoroughly and covering with a dressing. Skin is the body’s armor, and any chink in it will expose a person to infection.
  • Social distancing: When a community outbreak has occurred, limiting contact with those outside the family or survival group may be necessary to stay healthy.
  • Keeping a strong immune system: Getting enough rest, eating healthily, and avoiding stress will improve a person’s defenses against disease. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to achieve these goals in times of trouble.
  • Going natural: Allicin, a compound present in garlic, is a natural antibiotic that is thought to have an effect against some resistant bacteria like MRSA. Crush a clove and eat it.

 

 

Preventing the spread of infections, especially antibiotic-resistant ones, is important to maintain the viability of a survival community. If you’re the medic, have antibiotics in your storage but use them wisely. If you do, you’ll help prevent not only resistance, but a lot of heartache if things go South.

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Video: Metronidazole as a Survival Antibiotic

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Antibiotics will be a key but scarce commodity that could be a major weapon in the survival medic’s arsenal. In this part of our continuing series on antibiotics, Joe Alton, MD,aka Dr. Bones, explores the potential of  Metronidazole (Flagyl, Fish-Zole) for use in austere settings. To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Fill those holes in YOUR medical storage by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net.

Survival Medicine Hour: Metronidazole, Prepper Stores, Interviews, More

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What antibiotics should you have in your medical storage in case of disaster? In their continuing series, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, talk about Metronidazole (Flagyl, Fish-Zole) and its potential for use in survival settings. Dr. Bones talks about Hurricane Patricia, the latest floods in Texas, and more, plus a visit to Carolina Readiness Supply, an actual brick-and-mortar Prepper Store in Waynesville, NC, and interview owner Jan Sterrett. Plus, Nurse Amy talks about freeze-dried foods and a couple of short interviews with famed prepper author Jim Cobb of survivalweekly.com and Aroundthecabin.com founder Rich Beresford, the first videocast channel for preppers.

 

carolina readiness

Carolina Readiness Supply

 

To listen in, click below:

 

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2015/10/25/survival-medicine-hour-metronidazole-prepper-stores-interviews-more

 

jim cobb photo

 

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad…

 

 

Joe and Amy Alton

LabCoatsBonesAmy1Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits at store.doomandbloom.net.

 

Metronidazole as a Survival Antibiotic

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Antibiotics

Antibiotics are an important part of any medical arsenal in tough times. Many infections easily treated today would possibly be life-threatening in an off-grid survival setting. Indeed, if such a thing occurred, you can bet that these drugs would no longer be produced. There would be a lot of otherwise avoidable deaths due to simple cuts that become infected or dehydration from diarrheal disease. We only have to look at mortality statistics from pre-antibiotic times like the Civil War to know that this is true. More soldiers died then from infectious disease that from bullets or shrapnel.

 

 

This article is part of a series on antibiotics and their use in survival settings. Today we’ll talk about an antibiotic that would be useful to deal with some organisms that can cause a number of major problems. Metronidazole (aquatic equivalent: Fish-Zole) 250mg is an antibiotic in the Nitroimidazole family that is used primarily to treat infections caused by anaerobic bacteria and protozoa.

 
“Anaerobes” are bacteria that do not depend on oxygen to live. “Protozoa” have been defined as single-cell organisms with animal-like behavior. Many can propel themselves randomly from place to place by the means of a “flagellum”; a tail-like “hair” they whip around that allows them to move.

 

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Giardia (Protozoal Parasite)

 
The antibiotic Metronidazole works by blocking some of the functions within bacteria and protozoa, thus resulting in their death. It is better known by the U.S. brand name Flagyl and usually comes in 250mg and 500mg tablets. Metronidazole (Fish-Zole) is used in the treatment of these bacterial diseases:

 

 

• Diverticulitis (an intestinal infection seen in older individuals)
• Peritonitis (an inflammation of the abdominal lining due to a ruptured appendix, ruptured cysts, and other causes)
• Certain pneumonias (lung infections)
• Diabetic foot ulcer infections
• Meningitis ( an infection of the spinal cord and brain lining)
• Bone and joint infections
• Colitis due to a bacterial species known as Clostridia (sometimes caused by taking Clindamycin!)
• Endocarditis (a heart infection)
• Bacterial vaginosis (a very common vaginal infection)
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection in women which can lead to abscesses, often in combination with other antibiotics)
• Uterine infections (especially after childbirth and miscarriage)
• Dental infections (sometimes in combination with amoxicillin)
• H. pylori infections (a bacteria that causes peptic ulcers)
• Some skin infections

 
And those are just the bacterial infections that metronidazole can deal with. It also works with these protozoal infections:

 
• Amoebiasis: dysentery caused by Entamoeba species (contaminated water/food)
• Giardiasis: infection of the small intestine caused by Giardia Species (contaminated water/food)
• Trichomoniasis: vaginal infection caused by parasite which can be sexually transmitted

 
Amoebiasis and Giardiasis can be caught from drinking what appears to be the purest mountain stream water, and these infections are seen right here in the Great Smoky Mountains and elsewhere. Never fail to sterilize all water, regardless of the source, before drinking it.

 
Metronidazole is used in different dosages to treat different illnesses. You’ll find detailed information in our book “The Survival Medicine Handbook” and in other standard medical references such as the Physician’s Desk Reference. You’ll also find this information at drugs.com or rxlist.com.

 
Here are the dosages and frequency of administration for several common indications:

 
• Amoebic dysentery: 750 mg orally 3 times daily for 5-10 days. For children, give 35 to 50 mg/kg/day orally in 3 divided doses for 10 days (no more than adult dosage, of course, regardless of weight).

 
• Anaerobic infections (various): 7.5 mg/kg orally every 6 hours not to exceed 4 grams daily.

 
• Clostridia infections: 250-500 mg orally 4 times daily or 500-750 orally 3 times daily.

 
• Giardia: 250 mg orally three times daily for 5 days. For children give 15 mg/kg/day orally in 3 divided doses (no more than adult dosage regardless of weight).

 
• Helicobacter pylori (ulcer disease): 500-750mg twice daily for several days in combination with other drugs like Prilosec (Omeprazole).

 
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): 500 mg orally twice daily for 14 days in combination with other drugs, perhaps doxycycline or azithromycin.

 
• Bacterial Vaginosis: 500mg twice daily for 7 days.

 
• Vaginal Trichomoniasis: 2 g single dose (4 500mg tablets at once) or 1 g twice total.

 
All drugs have the potential for side effects, also known as adverse reactions. These are different from allergies, where your body actually mounts an immune response to a drug, such as in a penicillin allergy.

 
One particular side effect has to do with alcohol: drinking alcohol while on Metronidazole will very likely make you vomit.

 

Metronidazole should not be used in pregnancy. but can be used in those allergic to Penicillin.

 
Having antibiotics will give you an additional tool in the medical woodshed that just might, one day, save a life. They’re not toys, however, and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

 

Joe Alton, MD

joe bleachLearn more about antibiotics and their use in survival settings in our book “The Survival Medicine Handbook“, with over 250 5-star reviews on Amazon.