Video: Rodent-Proofing A Shelter

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heckuva rodent infestation

Sanitation is an important factor in staying healthy in rural homesteads and survival scenarios, and one formidable obstacle for the survival medic is the presence of rodents like rats and mice. When these animals are introduced into new areas, they cause a significant amount of environmental and economic damage. Whether in good times or bad, It makes sense to take measures to prevent rodent infestation in the home and to eliminate those already there.   In this video, Joe Alton, MD discusses rodents and how to prevent them from being unwanted guests in your home, shelter, or retreat.

To watch, click below:

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


Joe and Amy Alton



Joe Alton MD        Amy Alton ARNP


Find out more about rodents, the disease they cause, and 150 other medical topics in grid-down settings by checking out our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at Amazon. Also, fill those holes in your medical supplies with Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and individual items at You’ll be glad you did.

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

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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:

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


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

Video: Sulfa Drugs in Survival

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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


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

Setting Up A Survival Sick Room

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A hospital tent

In normal times, we have the luxury of modern medical facilities that can isolate a sick patient from healthy people. In a survival scenario, however, most organized medical care will no longer exist, placing the average citizen into the position of medic for his/her family or community.  

Although we may be thrown back to the 19th century medically by a disaster, we have the benefit of knowing about infections and hygiene.  The knowledge of how contagious diseases are spread and how to sterilize supplies give us a major advantage over medical personnel of bygone eras.

Using this knowledge, it should be possible for a medically prepared person to put together a “sick room” or “hospital tent” that will minimize the chance of infectious disease running rampant through the community. The cornerstone of care is to deal effectively and humanely with the sick while keeping the healthy from becoming infected.

In the face of a looming catastrophe, you must first make the decision to either stay in place or get out of Dodge. If you’re staying in place, choose a room where the sick will be cared for. That room should be separate from common areas, like the kitchen. It must have good ventilation and light, and preferably, a door or other physical barrier to the rest of the retreat.

If the wiser choice is to leave the area, shelter is an issue that may be addressed with, for example, tents. Choose a tent as the sick room and place it on the periphery of the camp. Again, good ventilation is important to allow air circulation.

With sick rooms in a retreat or camp, it is important to designate them before a disaster occurs. For groups where a number of people are living together, procrastinating will cause someone to lose their room or tent for “the greater good”. This invariably breeds resentment at a time when everyone needs to pull together.

Sometimes, you may find that there isn’t a spare room or tent to assign as a sick room. If you only have a common area to work with, raise a makeshift barrier, such as a sheet of plastic, to separate the sick from the healthy. Even if you have a dedicated sick room, keep group members with injuries separate from those with infectious diseases such as influenza. Although wounds will sometimes become infected, they won’t likely be as contagious as epidemic illnesses.

tent joe's kids

The injured should be separate from the infected, if possible

A sick room in a retreat with air conditioning won’t qualify as decent ventilation when the power’s down. In this case, air ducts are actually more a danger than a benefit. Microbes passing through the air ducts in the sick room to other areas may present a risk for transmission of disease. Cover with duct tape. Keep windows or tent flaps open, however, except in particularly bad weather. Screening may be necessary in areas with lots of insects, or netting provided over the beds.

Furnishings should be minimal, with a work surface, an exam area, and bed spaces. In mild weather, some of these bed space can be outside, as long as shade is provided via a canopy or other means. Hard surfaces are preferable to fabric upholstery, as cloth can harbor disease-causing organisms. Even bedding might best be covered in plastic. The more areas that can be disinfected easily, the better.

It’s important to have a way to eliminate waste products of bedridden patients, even if it’s just a 5-gallon bucket and some bleach. Containers with lids should be made available to put used sick room items that need cleaning.


Keep a basin with soap and water at the entrance to the sick room

A station should be set up near the entrance of the sick room or hospital tent for caregivers’ masks, gloves, gowns, aprons, and other personal protection items (have a good supply of these items). You’ll should also have a basin with water, soap, or other disinfectant. Thermometers should be dipped in alcohol.

Many consider medical supplies to consist of gauze, tourniquets, and battle dressings, but you must also dedicate sets of sheets, towels, pillows, and other items to be used in the sick room. Keep these items separate from the bedding, bathing, and eating materials of the healthy members of your family or group.

Having a lot of these may seem like overkill to you, but there can never be enough dedicated medical supplies. Expect to care for more people that you’ve planned for. There will always be additions that weren’t planned, and medical items will be expended much faster than you’d expect.

Cleaning supplies should also be considered medical preparedness items. You’ll want to clean the sick room thoroughly on a daily basis. Hard surfaces should be regularly cleaned with soap and water, or use other disinfectants such as a 1:10 bleach solution. Don’t forget to disinfect the doorknobs, tables, sinks, toilets, counters, and even toys.

Wash bed sheets and towels frequently; boil them if you have no other way to clean them. As these items may carry disease-causing organisms, wash your hands after use. The same goes for plates, cups, etc. Any equipment brought into the sick room should stay there.

One additional item that will be important to your sick room patients: Give them a whistle or other noisemaker that will allow them to alert you when they need help. This will decrease anxiety and give them confidence that you will know when they are in distress.

The duties of a medic involve more than how to control bleeding or splint an orthopedic injury. Medical problems involving infectious disease may take a heavy toll on your people if the sick aren’t isolated from the healthy. Knowing how to put together an effective sick room will go a long way towards helping the sick get healthy and the healthy stay that way.


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton MD

Find out more about dealing with infectious disease in times of trouble in our 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 on this website.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook 2017 Third Edition

Foot Fungus Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

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Tinea Pedis

The medic in austere settings may have to deal with major medical issues; there are minor issues, however, that don’t threaten your patients’ lives, but can seriously affect their quality of life or work efficiency.  In times of trouble, you’ll need your people at 110%, and many issues, such as toothaches or foot infections, can become a nuisance or worse.

One problem that is very common (and will be more so off the grid) is foot and toenail fungus, also called “Athlete’s Foot”.  When your dogs (by that, I mean your feet) are howling because you aren’t able to change socks often, Athlete’s Foot might be the cause.  Expect this to be particularly relevant in scenarios where you’re constantly on the move.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot (also known as “tinea pedis”) is an infection of the skin caused by a type of fungus known as Trychophyton. A fungus is a microscopic organism that likes dark and humid conditions.

This condition may be a chronic issue, lasting for years if not treated. Neglect can lead to its spread from between the toes to hands and groin.

It’s important to know that fungal infections are likely to be contagious. They can be passed by sharing shoes or socks and even from wet surfaces such as shower floors.  Those affected by Athlete’s Foot may also find themselves with other fungal conditions like Ringworm or Jock Itch (“Tinea Cruris”).

What Are Risk Factors For Athlete’s Foot?


Any fungal infection is made worse by moist conditions. People who are prone to Athlete’s foot commonly:

  • Spend long hours in closed shoes
  • Keep their feet wet for prolonged periods
  • Have had a tendency to get cuts on feet and hands
  • Perspire a lot
  • Are male
  • Are older or have chronic medical conditions like diabetes

What Does Foot Fungus Look Like?


typical appearance of tinea pedis

To make a diagnosis, look for whitish flaky skin between the toes or fingers., which often appear red and raw. The nails may be yellowed, thickened, and “crumbly”.  Toenails may even separate from the underlying nail bed. Itching and burning in the affected areas is common and sometimes becomes severe. If the skin has been traumatized by scratching, you might see some fluid drainage.  Often, the damage caused by scratching is worse than the infection itself, leading to secondary bacterial infections like cellulitis.

Although toenails will appear yellowish in Athlete’s Foot, dark spots (brown, blue, or black) under the nail may be just debris or could be related to other issues. After an injury, a collection of blood under the nail (called a “hematoma”) will be dark and, often, painful. Less often, a tumor such as a cancer called “melanoma”, may first present with a dark or mottled appearance.

Treatment of Foot Fungus

If the condition is mild, keeping your feet clean and dry may be enough to allow slow improvement of the condition. Oftentimes, however, topical antifungal ointments or powders such as miconazole or clotrimazole are required for relief.  In the worst cases, oral prescription antifungals such as fluconazole (Diflucan) or terbinafine (Lamisil) are needed.

Although creams and ointments cover the skin between the toes more thoroughly, don’t use them too often; excessive moisture may delay healing.

In the worse cases, an infected nail may require removal. If so, it may take a year to grow back.

Patience is a virtue when monitoring the healing process, which may take more than a month for a significant case of Athlete’s Foot to resolve. In the meantime, disinfect shoes with antifungal powders on at least a weekly basis.

Home Remedies


cloudy vinegar useful for relief

A favorite home remedy for Athlete’s Foot involves placing Tea Tree Oil liberally to a foot bath and soaking for 20 minutes or so.  Dry the feet well and then apply a few drops onto the affected area. Repeat this process twice daily. Try to keep the area as dry as possible otherwise. For prevention of future outbreaks of Athlete’s Foot, apply tea tree oil once a week before putting on socks and shoes.

5% Apple cider vinegar foot soaks (2-4 cups) may work as well. The acid will kill the fungus, as well as soften and break down the skin changes it causes. Use a washcloth to gently scrub the infected areas. If you notice irritation from the bath, dilute with water.

Others recommend soaks with other items, such as black tea, cinnamon, betadine, or Epsom salts.

Long-term therapy with Snakeroot extract may help. Apply every third day for the first month, and once a week thereafter for two to three months. Alternatively, dip a cotton ball in the vinegar and hold to affected areas for several minutes.

Vicks Vap-o-Rub, applied with a swab, shows partial important in more than half of cases.

One method that doesn’t work is urinating on your feet in the shower. Although there is ammonia in urine that might kill germs, it’s not strong enough to kill the Athlete’s foot fungus.

You might have your own home remedy for foot fungus. If so, feel free to post it in the comments section.


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about foot fungus and other minor and major medical issues related to survival, check out a copy of our Third Edition (700 pages) of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at and here at

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 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


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

Video: All About Dysentery

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Shigella boydii

Shigella bacteria

In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones of, 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


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 or!


Dysentery in Survival Settings

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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.



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.  




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 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




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


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!

How to Control Rodents as Disease Vectors

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Brown rats may reach 16 inches in length, including tail


in survival settings, it’s been said that rats will do a better job of surviving than humans. Rats, mice, and other rodents are well-known causes of “zoonotic” infections.  A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans.  The animal in question may not have symptoms of the disease itself, but may serve as a “vector”; that is, it carries the disease to a human target.

Rats and mice belong to the order Rodentia, from the latin word rodere (“to gnaw”).  This order contains various families, including beavers, porcupines, squirrels, and gophers.  As you are unlikely to have an infestation of beavers in your home, we’ll concentrate on rats and mice. Ai pair of rats could produce 1,500 offspring in one year if they all reproduced. Most rats and mice that cause issues for humans come from the “Old World”.  These include:

Brown rats (rattus norvegicus): Also called Norway rats, although they didn’t originate there (Norway has no more rat issues than other countries). Brown rats may reach 16 inches (including the tail) and are good swimmers; the term “sewer rat” was coined for them.

Black rats (rattus rattus): Thought to have introduced the Plague to Europe through their fleas. The black rat, also called the “roof rat”, is slightly smaller than its brown cousin and is an excellent climber.

House mice (Mus musculus): Used to living in close quarters with humans, mice are “nibblers” and can contaminate an entire pantry by taking a few bites out of multiple food items. Mice and other rodents can also chew through electrical wiring, thereby constituting a fire hazard.

Rats and mice are some of the world’s most invasive species. Every year, a percentage of the world’s food supply is contaminated by their droppings, urine, and hair. These items, known as “fomites”, may contain disease-carrying organisms and, as such, render food unfit for human consumption.

hooded rats

Long-Evans hooded rats I worked with in labs help further medical research

Before I go further, let me tell our readers who have rats and mice as pets that they (the pets, not necessarily the owners) are generally clean, intelligent creatures.  I have had the privilege of working with them in university laboratories as a student.  Despite this, it is indisputable that the diseases they may carry are cause for concern.


From a medical perspective, what diseases might one contract from a rodent or its droppings?  These include:

Plague:  The Plague is caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia Pestis. It is carried by fleas. The black rat’s arrival in Europe in the Middle Ages (and with it, its fleas) caused pandemics of the disease that wiped out a third of the population. Even today, Plague exists in developing countries and, there have been hundreds of cases in the U.S. over the past three decades.

Hantavirus: Hantavirus, transmitted by mice in urine, droppings or saliva, causes a serious lung disease that may become fatal without the availability of intensive care.

Leptospirosis: Caused by consuming food contaminated by rat urine, Leptospirosis causes a flu-like syndrome that progresses to kidney and liver failure if untreated.  This disease can also be carried by certain livestock.

Lymphocytic Chorio-Meningitis Virus (LCMV): LCMV may be contracted from mice urine or droppings or from pets in contact with mice, such as hamsters.   It causes a flu-like syndrome that occasionally causes complications in the nervous system, especially in people with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.  LCMV may cause miscarriage or birth defects.

Salmonellosis: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella may occur as a result of handling of pet rats or mice, especially if they have had diarrhea.  It causes severe diarrheal disease in humans, and is one good reason for owners of rats and mice to wash their hands after handling.

Rat Bite Fever: Infection with the bacterium Strebtobacillus occurs from rat bites and scratches or from ingesting food or water contaminated with rat droppings. Abrupt onset of fevers, rashes, vomiting, and headaches are noted at first, with general deterioration afterwards. If untreated, there is a 10% death rate.




It’s simply common sense to take measures to prevent rodent infestation in the home and to eliminate those already there. Once an infestation has occurred, much more effort is required to dislodge these unwanted guests. Rodent-proofing a home requires careful evaluation for points of entry from the level of the foundation to the roofline.  This includes sewer lines, bathroom vents, pipes and gutters, doors and windows, and vegetation near concrete slabs.

Some rodent-proofing techniques for homes include:

  • Sealing cracks in building foundations, walls, siding, and roof joints with, for example, mesh hardware cloth or concrete patching. Rodents only need ¼ inch of opening to gnaw their way into your home. Metal mesh scouring pads or galvanized window screening (not steel wool, which quickly deteriorates) may be stuffed into crevices as a temporary solution.
  • Installing vent guards in bathroom or washer/dryer vents.
  • Placing barriers to prevent climbing rodents from going up pipes or gutters.
  • Trimming trees so that branches don’t come close to the roof.
  • Contacting the utility company for strategies to prevent rats from traveling along power lines to your house.
  • Preventing rodents, especially rats, from tunneling under the foundation by placing flat concrete pavers or gravel for the first 3 feet from the base of the house.

Rodent control also involves careful attention to both indoor and outdoor sanitation.  Here are some suggestions for the wise homeowner:

  • Never leave food or water out overnight. Keep your countertops clean and disinfected.
  • Breadboxes may seem old-fashioned, but they are there for a reason: To keep the bread away from rats and mice.
  • Never leave pet food outside, clean all bowls daily, whether they are used inside or out. Rodents love to eat dog and cat food.
  • Clean under kitchen appliances. Even a few crumbs will make a meal for a mouse or rat.
  • Keep garbage disposals and sinks clean with a cup of bleach once a month.
  • Never flush grease down the sink drain.
  • Keep toilet lids down until needed.
  • Store dry foods, even pet foods, in sealed containers at least 18 inches off the floor.
  • Construct barriers around birdhouses and bird-feeders to prevent seed from being accessible to rodents.
  • Remove any fruits or vegetables from your garden that you won’t use.
  • Keep garbage can lids tightly closed.
  • Keep the side and back yards free of debris that might serve as shelters.
  • Deny access to water by fixing leaky faucets.
  • Avoid putting animal products in your compost bin.


Rodent droppings

rodent droppings (source: city of Berkeley, CA)

If you’re not sure that your home is currently rodent-free, you might consider:

  • Looking for any partially eaten food, gnawed containers, or nesting material.
  • Inspecting your home’s interior at night with a flashlight; look especially closely at the bases of walls, as rats and mice prefer to travel along them. Little used areas of the home should be especially targeted.
  • Looking for rodent droppings. Mice and rat defecate 50 times a day; if they are in your home, you should be able to find their feces along floorboards, in attic crawl spaces, and in basements.
  • Setting out a thin layer of flour or talcum powder by areas through which rats and mice might enter your home. Place some, as well, along floorboards; rodents prefer to travel along walls. The rodents will leave tracks which will prove their presence.
  • Having cats and dogs as “mousers”. They may or may not be efficient, but they usually will alert you when a rodent is near.
  • Listening for squeaking and scrabbling noises inside walls at night.
  • Check for unusual smells. If there are a lot of rats in your home, you may notice an odor from their urine.


rats as food

A method of rodent control not discussed in this article

Once you have made the determination that you have rats or mice in your home, it’s time to reduce the population.  It should be noted that long-term control will be difficult if you haven’t followed my earlier suggestions for indoor and outdoor sanitation.

There are myriad mouse and rat-traps on the market and a number of poisons available to kill rodent invaders. It makes more sense to use traps, in my opinion, as poisons may leave you with a bunch of dead, rotting animals inside your walls. The stench may last a month or more, and sometimes deodorizer is needed to be inserted through a hole drilled in the wall.

If you have a lot of rats in your yard, you shouldn’t use poisons, as they may be ingested by neighborhood pets or even children. You should, however, consider trapping boxes. These can be snap traps, electronic “zappers”, glue traps or even catch and release versions. Both rats and mice will readily go for a small amount of fresh peanut butter as bait. Advice to the soft-hearted: Brown rats, black rats, and house mice are not native wildlife; besides other damage, some will cause casualties among endangered songbird eggs and young if released.

Glue traps are popular but controversial.  They are better weapons against mice than rats. Unfortunately, they usually leave you with a live animal to kill.  If you must use them, euthanize the rodent by throwing the trap and animal into a bucket of water or by striking it with a stick several times just behind the head. Another disadvantage of the glue trap is that it loses effectiveness in dusty areas or in extreme temperatures.

Snap traps should always be placed in perpendicular fashion, with the bait side against the wall.  Never use just one trap: Place a number of them several feet apart in the rodent’s usual path. Traps can be fastened to pipes with wire or thick rubber bands.

When cleaning out a building that has been infested with rats or mice, specific safety precautions should be followed to avoid infection. First and foremost, remember that you should never handle a wild rodent, alive or dead, without disposable gloves. Masks should be worn when cleaning. Other steps to follow:

  • Open windows and doors before cleaning to allow it to air out, then leave for an hour.
  • Avoid raising dust if at all possible.
  • Steam-clean all carpeting and upholstery.
  • Clean all surfaces with a diluted bleach solution or other household disinfectant, soaking areas that held dead animals, nests, or droppings.
  • Wash all bedding linens, pillows, etc. and use the high heat setting on your dryer.
  • Eliminate any insulation material contaminated by rodent urine, feces, or nesting material
  • As ultraviolet light can kill viruses, place contaminated items that cannot be thrown away (such as important documents), outside in the sun for several hours. If this isn’t possible, “quarantine” the items for a week in a rodent-free area.  This should give enough time for viruses to be inactived.
  • Dispose of any contaminated items or dead rodents in a plastic bag, and then place them in an exterior garbage can.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after cleaning. Consider showering with soap and hot water.

We share our world with many other creatures. Some of these creatures invade our homes and can damage our possessions and, more importantly, our health. With careful attention to sanitation and the occasional surgical strike, we can eliminate unwanted guests and make our homes safe environments for our families.

Joe Alton, MD


Dr. Alton

Learn more about animal-borne diseases and 150 other medical topics in the Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available at






Parasites Dealing with Infection in a Down-Grid Scenario

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Parasites Dealing with Infection in a Down-Grid Scenario Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! This show is all about parasites, both internal and external. Be sure to listen and learn how to respond to these kinds of infections when there isn’t a doctor or a pharmacy available. A caller to the show … Continue reading Parasites Dealing with Infection in a Down-Grid Scenario

The post Parasites Dealing with Infection in a Down-Grid Scenario appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Survival Medicine Hour: Anaphylaxis, Ear Infections, Hemorrhage

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Ear Anatomy

The Survival Medicine Hour, hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy of brings you a few topics, including ear infections, bleeding control and the final part 3 of the allergy series: anaphylaxis. Monday, February 20, 2017 is President’s Day, but do you know about the pre-George Washington “Presidents”? Do you also know who held the presidential office twice, but not with consecutive terms?


signs/symptoms of anaphylaxis

Severe allergic reactions may cause body-wide reactions called anaphylaxis that can be life-threatening. Although few die from simple allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is much more severe and, without quick intervention, the victim can die from respiratory or cardiac arrest. Having an epi-pen handy is advisable, although you can learn how to dose with epinephrine solution from a sterile vial.


Ear infections are fairly common in babies and children, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep your ear canal as dry as possible during and after swimming. Feed babies in a head-up position, to prevent formula or milk from entering the passages into the ear. Beware of early warning signs before the ear infection becomes severe, such as: pain and itching, drainage from the ear canal and redness and swelling in the ear canal. babies may tug at their ear.


Plus, an introduction to hemorrhage and its effects on the human body.


To listen in, click below:


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


Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

joe and amy radio

The Altons

Video: Cold Prevention Myths and Facts

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In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses some common misconceptions about colds and how to prevent them. Companion video to a recent article.

To watch, click below…


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


Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy




Video: Norovirus, the Stomach Flu

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In this video, Joe Alton, MD discusses a recent experience with the stomach flu on a trip to New York. Norovirus is the most common cause of the “stomach flu”, a debilitating and dehydrating intestinal illness that affects millions every year throughout the world. Often caused by contaminated food on cruises, 800 students at a high school in Illinois were recently affected, presumably due to cafeteria issues. Learn more about the norovirus and what to do if you or a loved one comes down with it.


To watch, click below:

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


Joe Alton, MD


Survival Medicine Hour: Norovirus, Cold Myths, Man Flu?

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Norovirus: The Stomach Flu

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, a bout of acute gastroenteritis, also called “stomach flu” caused by Norovirus sends Nurse Amy to urgent care. Find out about the microbe that sends two million victims to their doctors every year in the U.S., how to prevent it and some other important advice to stay healthy this winter.


Also, top ten myths people believe will prevent a cold. We know there’s one or two in there you think are true! Also, why do men seem to have worse symptoms than women when they get the flu or other viruses? Is there such a thing as the Man Flu?

All this and more on the latest episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton, ARNP. To listen in, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad, and Merry Christmas!

Joe and Amy Alton


Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

The “Stomach Flu” Virus

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Oysters may harbor norovirus

We often write about disaster situations that we personally experience. We’ve been through hurricanes, tornadoes, and epidemics, just to mention a few. Recently, our home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee was threatened by the wildfires there, which killed 14 and wiped out more than 1700 buildings and over 100 on the mountain where the house is located.


We’ve written about a number of medical issues that we’ve experienced as well. For example, I converted to positive for Tuberculosis during my work with Cuban refugees during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. I still carry a small walled-off nodule on X-ray, even after months of multi-drug therapy.


On a recent trip to New York City to visit our daughter, we both experienced a medical issue so common that it surprised us that we haven’t yet written about it: acute gastroenteritis, or the “Stomach Flu”. When this infection hits you, it makes even the healthiest individual miserable. Nurse Amy required an urgent care visit, no small issue in a strange and heavily-populated city. She was just one of nearly 2 million outpatient visits caused by norovirus in the U.S. every year.


Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans. It was originally called “Norwalk Virus”, after the area where it was first identified in the 1960s. Since then, it’s been blamed for 50% of all gastroenteritis in the U.S. Worldwide, there are more than 200 million cases of norovirus infection a year. It affects people of all ages, but it’s particularly dangerous in the elderly, the very young, and those with weakened immune systems. Winter is the most common time for outbreaks.


Norovirus is very contagious (just 5-20 viral particles can cause illness) and is easily transmitted through contaminated food or water, close personal contact, and by air droplets from vomit, contaminated food counters, and even toilet flushes. Infection can be passed from person to person for a time even after apparent recovery.


Here’s how contagious the norovirus is: In one outbreak reported in 1998, 126 people were dining at a restaurant when one person vomited onto the floor. Despite a rapid cleanup, 52 fell ill within three days. More than 90% of the people who later dined at the same table reported symptoms. More than 70% of the diners at a nearby table got sick; at a table on the other side of the restaurant, the rate was still 25%.


Norovirus is a hardy microbe, and is known to survive for long periods outside a human host. It can live for weeks on countertops and up to twelve days on clothes. It can survive for months in still water. Disinfectants containing chlorine, however, like bleach will quickly eliminate it, as will sufficient heat.


The symptoms of the stomach flu include nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea, and (sometimes severe) abdominal pain, usually within 12 to 48 hours of exposure. Along with this, muscle aches, headache, and fever may be seen. Luckily, life-threatening illness is rare, with dehydration being the main danger in those infected with the virus.


Unlike some viruses, immunity to norovirus is only temporary, maybe six months, after recovery.


Outbreaks of norovirus infection often occur in closed spaces such as cruise ships, nursing homes, schools, camps, and prisons. Shellfish, such as oysters, and salad ingredients are the foods most often implicated in norovirus outbreaks. In our case, it might have been a kiosk advertising “the World’s Best Hot Dogs”.hot-dog-stand

As is the case with most viruses, there is no cure for norovirus infection. Antibiotics will not be effective, as they are meant to kill bacteria, not viruses. Treatment involves staying well-hydrated. Dehydration can be noted by these symptoms:


  • ·        Dry mouth

  • ·        Decrease in quantity or dark color of urine

  • ·        Dizziness when standing up

  • ·        Decreased elasticity of skin (it “tents” when pulled)

  • ·        No tears when crying or unusual irritability in infants

Using antidiarrheal meds like loperamide (Imodium) and anti-vomiting drugs like Ondansetron (Zofran) may also help.


A cure may not be available but prevention is another issue. To decrease the chance of norovirus infection:


·        Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (norovirus is relatively resistant to alcohol), especially after using the restroom or handling food. Be especially sure to do this for 2 weeks after becoming infected (yes, you can be contagious for that long).

·        Wash food before cooking; cook shellfish thoroughly

·        Frequently disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach solution (the EPA recommends 5-25 drops of bleach per gallon)

·        Keep sick individuals away from food preparation areas

·        Avoid close contact with others when you are sick, and don’t share utensils or other items

·        Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items

·        Immediately remove and wash clothes that may be contaminated with vomit or feces. Machine dry if possible.


It may be difficult to completely eliminate the risk of norovirus infection, but careful attention to hand and food hygiene will go a long way towards avoiding the stomach flu.


Joe Alton, MD


 Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and individual supplies at her store at


Zika Defects More Common Than Previously Thought

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microcephalic infant

A recent U.S. study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that 6% of 400 babies infected with Zika virus born here had one or more related birth defects. The study pales in comparison, however, to a Brazilian study of 125 women just reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. In that study, 46% of babies had abnormalities or did not survive the pregnancy. Previous studies had shown a risk of defects of 1 to 13 per cent.

Troubling evidence has now emerged that suggests that babies may still develop issues even as they approach their first birthday. Previously, it was thought that all damage occurred while still in the womb. Now scientists are asserting that the virus may continue to destroy nervous tissue for a time after birth.

The timing of the infection seemed to have an impact, with 11% of U.S. pregnancies diagnosed with Zika in the first trimester yielding babies with birth defects, less in mid- or late-pregnancy. Although Zika virus lasts only a short time in the blood, it appears to possibly last for months in brain tissue. The overall incidence of 6% in the U.S. was the same for women who experienced symptoms of Zika illness and those who were asymptomatic.

Most cases in the continental United States were diagnosed in women who had traveled to the epidemic zone, although an epidemic of more than 30,000 locally transmitted cases was seen in Puerto Rico and a local outbreak of more than 200 cases was noted in South Florida. More recently, a case of local transmission was reported in the Brownsville area of Texas.

Zika virus is known to cause increased numbers of newborns with microcephaly, an abnormality of growth in the brain and fetal head normally seen in less than 1% of all births. In the lab, Zika has been shown to kill brain cells. Other defects in sight, hearing, joints, and elsewhere have also been detected, according to Margaret Honein, lead author of the U.S. study and head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Another troubling aspect is that the Zika virus is completely asymptomatic in 80% of those infected. This means that the actual number of cases may be five times the recorded numbers. Additionally, it is unknown what developmental milestones may be delayed over the first few years of life, and whether school performance may be affected.


The best way to prevent Zika virus is still to prevent mosquito bites by wearing appropriate clothing and using repellent when in at-risk areas (or avoid travel there altogether), Pregnancies should be delayed for 8 weeks in women who have had the virus or traveled to the epidemic zone. Men shouldn’t attempt to impregnate their partner for at least 6 months.


Joe Alton, MD


Get 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”, available on this website and also at

It’s not too late to get a copy of the premiere board game of the preparedness community “Doom and Bloom’s SURVIVAL!” as a Christmas gift! Find out all about it at


Doom and Bloom’s Survival, now with free miniatures


Survival Medicine Hour: Pneumonia, Natural Remedies

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survival medicine

The Survival Medicine Hour, with Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, bring you a tremendous amount of information today. Are you going to be the medic or caretaker in a disaster or survival situation?  Our mission is to help put a medically prepared person in every family for any disaster.

Pneumonia is an infection affecting the aprt of the lungs that absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere. Pneumonia may be viral, bacterial or fungal infection. The infection usually starts by affecting a portion of one lung (a “lobe”) before spreading to the entire organ. If enough fluid clogs the air clogs the air sacs (alveoli), it’s possible, while listening to lung sounds, you actually won’t hear any sounds at all.

Natural remedies are available for help with respiratory infections to reduce symptoms and build a person’s immunity. Antioxidants, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E and other antioxidants taken regularly are supposed to decrease the frequency and severity of respiratory infections.

Some of the best essential oils for symptoms are Lavender, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Peppermint and Geranium. Herbal teas such as Stinging Nettle, Licorice Root, Peppermint, Anise Sage and Dandelion are all made better with a bit of raw, unprocessed honey and fresh squeezed lemon.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton MD

Survival Medicine Hour: Respiratory Infections, Part 2, Effects of Stress, More

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This week on the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD aka as Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, November 19, 2016, discuss some tips to help “survive” the possibly stressful Christmas shopping experience. Ebay did a study that found 88% of shoppers had elevated heartbeats similar to an athlete running a marathon. What are the effects of a rapid heart rate on the body, and learn why you feel so exhausted after an anxiety attack.

The latest update on Zika theories about why some countries are experiencing a higher rate of birth defects than others. What is going on with the progress of a Zika vaccine and a breakthrough medication to limit the ill effects of the virus on unborn babies.

Respiratory infections affect millions of people each year. Knowing how to tell the difference between different types will help you, as the survival medic, determine the best treatment plan. Colds vs flus, how to tell the difference, and more…

To listen in, click below:

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


Joe and Amy Alton aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy


The Altons


Why The Disparity In Zika Affected Newborns?

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zika virus

Zika Virus under the microscope

Zika virus hasn’t been on the front page much lately, but case numbers continue to rise in many countries. The World Health Organization stated recently that Zika infection has been documented in 75 countries throughout the globe.

One of the many unusual aspects of Zika virus is that Brazil has, far and away, the most cases of babies born with birth defects. The most prominent of these is microcephaly, a condition where the brain fails to grow normally, causing a striking appearance where the head is much smaller than normal. Brazil has about 2000 cases of this abnormality, while Colombia has the second highest with only 57; the U.S. is third with 31 cases, including miscarriages. Within Brazil itself, the Northeastern part of the country has the highest number of infants affected by the debilitating effects of the virus.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine, in its annual meeting in Atlanta, discussed this disparity, which has fueled a hotbed of speculation about the disparity.

A  Brazilian health official, Pedro Fernando da Costa Vasconcelos, suggests that vaccination against  Yellow Fever, a virus in the same family as Zika, may be a factor. In Northeastern Brazil, few receive this vaccine compared to other parts of the country. It’s possible, he says, that the vaccine may give some cross-protection against Zika.

A number of other theories exist, including effects on humans by certain pesticides used in the epidemic zone and, perhaps, contaminated lots of vaccines. However, no hard data has, as yet, implicated these and other possibilities as part of the equation.

Another factor may be the growing tendency of women to terminate their pregnancies in the face of a diagnosis of Zika infection. Still another, according to Albert Ko, a Yale professor, relates to the difficulty tracking numbers of abortions for this reason and the fact that many never know they had the infection at all. Zika has no symptoms whatsoever in 80% of patients. The rest experience fever, joint aches, rashes, and eye redness.


Microcephalic Infant

What is obvious, however, is that there are wide variations in the percentage of Zika infections to birth defects. Puerto Rico recently reported its first case of microcephaly in a newborn, but has catalogued  more than 30,000 people infected with Zika.

Professor Ko says that a new large-scale study will follow thousands of pregnant women with Zika diagnoses. Genetics, prior viral infections, and even the mosquitoes that transmit the virus will be evaluated. It’s possible that, with this information, a more definitive picture of factor involved in Zika-related birth abnormalities will emerge.

An issue not commonly considered is what effect Zika infection may have long-term in apparently unaffected infants. Will they reach normal milestones like walking and talking at the appropriate time? Down the road, will they perform adequately in school? It will take years to find out.

Meanwhile, cases continue to accumulate, mostly travel related. A total of close to 36,000 cases have been documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. New cases are still being reported in Florida by the Department of Health, which says that 1,165 total cases (153 in pregnant women) exist in the state as of November 11, 2016. Of these, 225 were transmitted by local mosquitoes.

Some good news: A vaccine called Zika Purified Inactivated Virus, or ZPIV, seems to be showing promise in research conducted, and human trials have begun at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. In addition, Dr. Michael Diamond of the University of Washington has identified an antibody that might protect the unborn fetus against the effects of the Zika virus on nervous tissue. Research is ongoing on these and other fronts in the battle against what has become a worldwide epidemic.

Joe Alton, MD


Dr. Alton

 Find out more about the Zika Virus in Joe Alton, MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available at



Video: Fish Antibiotic Update

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2015 Birdhouse Inn Mountain Paradise View!

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


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.


Survival Medicine Hour: Giardia, Bear Safety and more

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black bear

American Black Bear

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP discuss the hazards of trail blazing in Gatlinburg Tennessee, such as Bear Safety. Walking with a sturdy stick, making noise and keeping up situational awareness are all part of bear safety tips. Bears hibernate less deeply than some animals and can be found walking around even in the deep snow of winter. Always keep an eye out and learn all about bear safety.


Giardia lamblia


Recently, Dr. Alton talked about parasitic worms in survival scenarios, but there’s a more common parasite that infects our streams, waterways, and, unfortunately, intestines! Giardia Lambia is a common cause of severe diarrhea and is transmissible all sorts of ways. Find out more about this parasite and what fish antibiotic would be most effective to have in your medical storage.

Ways to prevent Giardia are covered in this episode and include strict and proper handwashing. Just a couple of the ways to avoid getting this parasite, as well as many others, include washing fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking, and using bottled water to brush your teeth if the water is suspect. Nurse Amy recommends demanding daycare workers use gloves when changing your infant or toddler’s diapers. Unfortunately, this is not a Federal regulation and is only a requirement in a few states, which are listed in this episode.

Even though a lot of us may severely disappointed come Tuesday evening’s election results, the earth is not going to end the next day. It may just feel that way.

Life is short, learn Nurse Amy’s secret motto for happiness. Hint: It isn’t a material thing.

All this and more on the Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour!

Our books and custom hand-packed medical kits can be found at:

Here is the link to listen to this week’s episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Blogtalkradio Channel for updates

The Future of Fish Antibiotics in Survival?

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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.


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


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“.

Parasitic Worms

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parasitic worm

It’s important to realize that there are infections not commonly seen today in developed countries that may become major issues if a disaster throws you off the grid. Knowing which disease-causing organisms exist in your area, even if they are not major problems today, will be important to keep your loved ones healthy.

The word “parasite” comes from the Greek word Parastos, meaning “someone that eats at someone else’s table”. When we think of para- sites, none give us the creeps more than having worms.

Parasites like ticks, fleas, mites, and lice live on our skin or just beneath; these are called ectoparasites. Worms, also known as helminths, are endoparasites. They live deep in our intestines or other core organs, often gaining sustenance by sharing our partly-digested food. They are also egg-laying machines, with some depositing tens of thousands a day into their host.

Many different worms are known to infest the human body: nematodes, trematodes, flatworms, and flukes, are just a few. The diseases they cause are a major health issue in underdeveloped countries due to difficulties with sanitation. Even in developed nations, any disaster that impairs access to safe food and water could cause cases of parasitic worms to skyrocket.

Worm infestation is usually caused by ingesting soil that contains their eggs. While this may seem an unlikely happenstance to you, areas where people defecate openly and fail to wash their hands leads to contaminated soil. Some of this soil ends up on people’s hands, and then goes to their mouth when they touch their face.

Parasitic worms range in size from microscopic to very long, depending on the species. The most common infection we’ll see in the U.S. is the tiny Pinworm, which causes anal itching in 40 million Americans. However, almost a quarter of the world’s population has some type of worm infestation. Children are especially vulnerable and may experience stunted growth and developmental problems as a consequence.

Worm eggs or larvae enter the body through the mouth, nose, anus, or breaks in the skin. Amazingly, many helminths actually require human stomach acid to dissolve their egg shells to allow them to hatch. Once hatched, the acid-immune larvae travel from the stomach and attach themselves to the walls of the intestinal tract. Some species infest the liver and lungs as well.


Colonization by worms may be asymptomatic or, as in the case of pin- worms, just involve some itching in the anal area. With some species, however, a large concentration of organisms can cause serious problems.

Each type of worms cause different symptoms, but you should suspect their presence in otherwise-unexplained cases of:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling or gas
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Constant urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Unexplained skin rashes or sores.
  • Anal itching
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Chronic muscle and joint aches.
  • Malnutrition

The above represents a broad array of symptoms, and makes me wonder if the number of cases of worm infestation is underestimated, even in countries with modern infrastructures.


In rare cases, the population of internal parasites is so high that it causes an obstruction of the bowels. Worm species that invade the liver or lungs can cause respiratory distress or a weakened metabolism. All of these complications may result in the death of the patient.

Your body knows when it has been invaded and sets up an immune response against the worm. Success is limited, however, and all the energy put into defense may weaken the ability to fight“secondary” infections that may occur. The more issues the body has to deal with, the less effective it is in fighting them.

Some worms actually compete with your body for the food that you take in. A species known as Ascaris, for example, will attach to the wall of your intestine and eat partially digested food that comes its way. This competition prevents you from absorbing nutrients effectively, and malnutrition results.


There are numerous types of helminthic infections based on the species involved. Infections are often named for the species with the suffix “-asis” (for example, ascariasis), as opposed to other infections/inflammations, which often end with the body part affected and the suffix “-itis” (for example, tonsillitis).

Although there many worms that infect humans, some of the more common types are




Pinworm life cycle

Pinworms are a type of nematode called a roundworm. Reaching only 1/3 inch in length, they lay eggs around the host’s anus, usually at night. This leads to an itching sensation which can become severe. Pinworms are the most common parasitic worm infection in the United States

A cycle then develops where contaminated fingers from scratching come in contact with the mouth. This transports the eggs inside the body where they hatch.

You can test for pinworms simply by placing adhesive tape on the anal region of the patient. Inspect the tape for worms (eggs may also be seen with a low-power microscope) after a few hours or the next morning.



1982 Dr. ?? This enlargement shows hookworms, Ancylostoma caninum attached to the intestinal mucosa. Barely visible larvae penetrate the skin (often through bare feet), are carried to the lungs, go through the respiratory tract to the mouth, are swallowed, and eventually reach the small intestine. This journey takes about a week.


Hookworms are another roundworm and one of the most common helminth infections worldwide. The parasite feeds on blood from vessels in the intestinal walls. Hookworm infestation is sometimes asymptomatic, but can cause anemia as well as abdominal symptoms.

Occasionally, a larval (juvenile) hookworm that uses a non-human host may penetrate the skin of a human. Although it can’t go into the organs, it can cause a skin disease called “Larva Migrans”, once known as “creeping eruption”.

With Larva Migrans, you can see serpentine vein-like lesions with itching in the skin. As the larva move, areas where they previously were may become crusty and very itchy.




ascaris super-infestation

The largest intestinal roundworm, reaching 14 inches, is known as Ascaris. It is thought that there are 2 billion people that carry this worm, mostly in poorly developed countries.

Ascaris eggs, when ingested, become a larvae that enters the blood- stream through the small intestine. It reaches the lung, where it leaves the circulation and is eventually coughed up, swallowed, and goes back to the intestine, where it matures. Once mature, the female worm can produce up to 200,000 eggs a day.

Ascaris effects may include bloody phlegm, fever, cough, and abdominal symptoms. If the concentration of worms is high enough, they may begin to leave the body through the anus, nose, or mouth.




tapeworm with 12 inch ruler at bottom for comparison

Tapeworm is a type of infection caused by a flatworm that lives mostly in Asia and Africa. The worm is, indeed, flat. Tapeworm eggs can form
walled-off areas called “cysts” in body tissues and organs. If larvae are ingested, however, they will mature into adult tapeworms in the intestines. The adults are segmented and reach prodigious lengths up to 55 (!) feet long.

Symptoms are typical for other helminth infections but symptoms related to the infested organ may also be seen.


Medications that can kill parasitic worms are called “vermiculicides” or “vermicides“. All are prescription drugs, although persons with travel plans to underdeveloped countries shouldn’t have trouble getting these from their physician.

Albendazole (brand name Albenza for roundworms) 400 mg once or twice.

Mebendazole (only available in generic form; most specific for pinworm infestation) 100 mg twice a day for 3 days or 500 mg

Pyrantel pamoate (common ingredient in heartworm meds for dogs) 11 mg/kg once, some species once daily up to 3 days.

Praziquantel (brand name Biltricide for tapeworms, various dosages depending on worm species)

Dosing may vary with some of these medications dependent on the type of worm. A second course of therapy is administered if the patient is not cured in 2-4 weeks.

Naturally anti-helminthic plants also exist. Garlic, ingested fresh and raw, is thought to be an effective way to eliminate worms. Wormwood, Clove, Papaya, Pineapple, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and Plumeria have all been reported to be helpful. Interestingly, some believe that tobacco may help eliminate worms.

Careful attention to hygiene, wearing shoes when outside, and, among medical providers, strict glove use will decrease the likelihood of passing worms or their eggs from person to person. Hand washing, especially before preparing food, is considered especially important in preventing  community-wide outbreaks.

Joe Alton, MD


Dr. Alton aka Dr. Bones


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

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image by

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.


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.


image by

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


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

Zika: 10 Things to Worry/Relax About

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Aedes Albopictus Mosquito

Zika virus has been in the news since the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is reassuring and some, well, not so much. Here’s some things you should know that will make you worry/not worry about this infectious disease that’s been reported worldwide. 


Worrisome: Reported cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories will soon hit 20,000. The number of Zika cases IN THE U.S. and its territories reported to CDC’s Arbonet (ARthropod-BOrne virus) national registry has risen to almost 19,000. With some researchers suggesting infection in one quarter of the population of Puerto Rico before the end of 2016, 20,000 cases might be a gross underestimation.

Reassuring: While the Zika epidemic rages in Puerto Rico, the continental U.S has reported a total of 2,964 cases of mostly travel-related Zika virus illness (out of a population of 320 million).  South Florida is the only area in the continental U.S. where local mosquitoes are confirmed by authorities to have spread the disease (about 50 cases).

The number of U.S. Zika cases are updated weekly by the CDC at



Worrisome: The actual number of Zika cases is probably close to 5 times the number of reported cases. Zika virus causes relatively mild symptoms like rashes, fevers, joint pains, and reddened eyes, and even then in only 20% of cases. 80% have no symptoms whatsoever, which means that the actual number of cases is probably 5 times greater. This doesn’t count people who wouldn’t go to the doctor for a mild fever or a rash, so it might be even more.

Reassuring: Even if case totals are, in fact, much higher than reported, the virus leaves the bloodstream after a week or so in most people. It can, however, last for months in seminal fluid or, perhaps, the eyes. Once you have recovered from the acute infection, you receive immunity from the antibodies produced by your immune system. Future pregnancies won’t be affected.



Worrisome: Zika is a bona fide pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease not normally seen in a place that spreads across different regions. Zika has now been identified in close to 70 countries and has been referred to as a pandemic by the National Institute of Health since at least January 2016.

Reassuring: Despite concerns raised by many health officials, athletes and tourists returning from the Olympic Games don’t seem to have sparked significant new outbreaks in their home countries.


microcephalic infant



Worrisome: Newborns with Zika infections can have multiple abnormalities, not just microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a small brain leads to poor head growth. Beside this, however, other evidence of brain damage, deformed joints, and vision or hearing impairment may occur.

Reassuring: The percentage of abnormal newborns in Zika-infected mothers isn’t as high as you think. Statistics for the rate of birth abnormalities in newborns have ranged from 1% to 13% in Brazil and 1% in the previous outbreak in Polynesia in 2013-4, according to a CDC report released last May. There are no numbers that say a Zika-infected mother’s chances are very high of having a baby with microcephaly or other defects.



Worrisome: We can’t say for sure that Zika-infected babies born looking normal will be unaffected by the virus. Zika is shown in lab studies to kill brain and other nerve cells. What if the number of cells damaged is not enough to make the baby appear abnormal at birth but enough to cause delays in milestones like walking or talking? What if these infants end up having learning disabilities once they’re old enough to go to school? We won’t know for years.

Reassuring: Although our research into the effects of Zika virus is in its infancy, no hard evidence exists that a baby from an infected mother will have later developmental deficits.



Worrisome: Zika virus may be passed through from human to human through seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, blood, and now, tears. Researchers are finding more and more ways that Zika might be transmissible from human to human. A study from Washington University in St. Louis reports that tears of mice carried parts of the Zika virus.

Reassuring:  The vast majority of Zika infections are still transmitted by mosquitoes. Sensible actions like the use of mosquito repellents, the wearing of long sleeves/pants, and drainage of nearby standing water are still the best way to prevent an infection.



Worrisome: There is more than one strain of Zika, and there may have been mutations. Zika, like many viruses, exists in different subtypes (at least two) that could mutate from time to time. This fact might explain why a virus originally identified in 1947 only started causing community-wide outbreaks in 2007, and no reported cases of abnormal babies before 2013. A mutation that increased the severity of effect on humans (at least, newborn ones) may have occurred.

Reassuring: It’s possible that Zika just had never been exposed to such large populations without natural immunity. Researchers haven’t yet reported if the strain spreading rapidly in Singapore is the same one as that in Brazil.



Worrisome: There may already be more than one locally-transmitted outbreak in the U.S. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor’s College of Medicine, suspects that there may be more areas of local Zika transmission than just the one in Miami. The Guardian reports that he said, “…I think there’s not just Zika transmission going on in Miami, it’s going on all up and down the Gulf Coast and in Arizona, it’s just that nobody’s looking.” The CDC, although it stops short of predicting an epidemic of Zika, believes clusters of cases may still appear in warm-weather states.

Reassuring: Future local outbreaks are likely to be minor in the U.S.  A number of states, like Louisiana and other Gulf and East coast states, are recovering from floods dues to storms and Hurricane Hermine. Cases of Zika virus, however, don’t seem to be arising out of standing water there that would be excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Cities, like Houston, with low-income areas that harbor abandoned buildings and trash, also provide possible sites for the next generation of mosquitoes; Zika virus doesn’t seem to have taken hold there either.

dead bees

dead bees



Worrisome: Aerial Spraying with chemical pesticides like Naled may affect honeybees and even humans. Use of pesticides that are neurotoxic might have ill effects on important pollinators like bees, or even human beings. It might be safer to use methods that kill mosquito larvae instead.

Reassuring: Aerial spraying is an effective way to eliminate large populations of adult mosquitoes quickly and rarely affects humans. Naled is a shorter acting pesticide than some others, and when used correctly (before sunrise or after sunset), is unlikely to cause major damage to pollinators, which mostly forage during daylight hours. The recent bee die-off after spraying in Dorchester County, S.C., was due to spraying which occurred at 8 a.m.


Singapore’s next for Zika (image: pixabay)



Worrisome: A new local Zika outbreak is spreading throughout Singapore in Asia. The location is important because Singapore is an important financial hub for the region. Travel-related cases already have been reported in Malaysia and the Philippines from returning travelers. Given the widespread commercial travel to Singapore, where 300 cases have been reported in 10 days, the entirety of Asia may be affected in the near future.

Reassuring: Here in the U.S., the coming fall and winter seasons will decrease mosquito populations significantly throughout most of the country. USA Today reported in July that Brazil was recording fewer cases of Zika as the Southern Hemisphere entered its “winter”.


So, it’s your choice: You can decide either to go look for your worry beads or, instead, cover your eyes with your hat and order another pinacolada. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent.


Joe Alton, MD




How to Identify Sepsis as Quickly as Possible

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emergency careDo you know what sepsis is? Sadly, if you answered affirmatively to that question, you’re in the minority. Most people don’t really know anything about this condition. At best, the general public has heard some actor mention it in passing on a medical drama. They don’t really get what it means, or how big of a threat it is.

Which is unfortunate, because sepsis is very common. About 750,000 people with sepsis are hospitalized every year (of them, over 250,000 people die from it), and at any given time, about 1 and 10 patients in US hospitals have the condition. Over half of patients who die in hospitals have the condition in some form, and sadly, the number of people who die from it is increasing every year.

So what exactly is sepsis? For starters, it’s a condition, and not a disease as many people think. It’s basically what happens when your body responds to an infection, but that response is so severe that it damages your own tissue. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection, but fungal, viral, and parasitical conditions can also cause it.

As for who’s the most susceptible to sepsis, a wide range of people can come down with it. On the one hand, it tends strike people with weak or compromised immune systems. That includes the very young, the very old, those undergoing chemotherapy, or people with chronic ailments like AIDS.  On the other hand, anyone can get it. Even if you have a healthy immune system, a traumatic injury, infection, or surgery can cause it. The most common infections that lead to sepsis are pneumonia, kidney infections, bloodstream infections and lung infections. In half of all sepsis cases, the lungs are found to be the source.

By now you may be wondering how you can identify and treat sepsis. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer to that, because to properly treat sepsis, it first has to be identified very quickly. With every hour that sepsis goes untreated, your chance of death increases by 7.6% percent. Once the most severe form of sepsis sets in (aka septic shock) there is about a 50%-70% chance of death.

And it’s very difficult to identify. Even highly trained doctors struggle diagnose the condition early on, because many of its symptoms can look like complications from other diseases, and not everyone suffers from the same exact symptoms. But if you do know the early symptoms, you have a fighting chance at identifying the condition quickly.

One of the biggest indicators is low blood pressure, which is usually accompanied by an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, and a low body temperature. Though oftentimes, a high body temperature is found instead (you can see why this may be tricky for a doctor to diagnose). If caused by an infected wound, severe swelling, intense pain, and redness can be seen. Edema and decreased urination are common as well. And finally, a rapidly deteriorating mental state resulting in confusion is very common.

Sadly, those are pretty much the only symptoms that you as a layman can look for to identify sepsis early on. If you understand what makes someone more susceptible to it, and you know what the symptoms are, you can try to put two and two together, and that’s about it. You’d be fortunate to catch it early on, so it’s best not to take any chances. If there’s even the slightest possibility that you have it, go to the hospital immediately. Once there, the only treatment is antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and lots of prayers.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

New Bad Outcomes For Zika Newborns?

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arthrogryposis clubfoot

arthrogryposis (deformed joints)

As we continue to learn more about the effects of Zika on the newborn, a new series of abnormalities are making clear the implications of infection for pregnant women.


Zika is a member of the Flavivirus family that includes Yellow Fever, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne illness. The main concern is Zika’s predilection for attacking brain cells, causing some infected fetuses to have poor brain development and head size. The condition, known as microcephaly, can cause lifelong disabilities costing millions of dollars in care over a lifetime.


Now, a new study from researchers in Brazil suggests that Zika causes damage to other nerve cells as well. Seven babies born with microcephaly were studied. Six of these were found to also have a rare condition called “arthrogryposis”.


Usually seen in only one of 3000 births, arthrogryposis causes multiple malformed, stiff joints. The abnormalities may be caused, not by damage to the joints themselves, but by weak nerves that don’t allow passion flexion and extension during the pregnancy. The joint then becomes fixed and deformed, a condition known as a “contracture”.


Damage to the nerves that control vision and hearing are also thought to occur as a result of Zika infection in the womb.


The news comes as the 25th case of locally-transmitted Zika infection is reported in South Florida, where warm weather allows a robust population of Aedes mosquitoes, the species most associated with transmission of the disease. State health officials also announced 14 new cases of travel-related Zika, bringing the total in Florida to 382, of which 57 are pregnant women.


Aerial spraying of an area north of Downtown Miami is the latest effort on the part of the state of Florida to combat spread. Storm drains are also being targeted as possible hotspots for mosquito breeding activity. Although the insecticide Naled appears to be lowering the mosquito count in traps set in the neighborhood, it is also a possible danger to honeybees and other natural pollinators.


A separate local case was reported further north in Palm Beach County, but it’s uncertain at present whether it represents the beginning of a second outbreak.


In other news, a baby born in Texas has died from Zika-related complications, including microcephaly.


Despite the concern of health officials about the virus, a recent WaPo-ABC News poll finds that less than half of Floridians and Texans consider themselves worried about Zika. Apathy may stem from the fact that the acute illness itself is mild, with only 20 per cent reporting symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rashes, and sometimes, red eyes. Another factor may be that Zika is mostly a major issue only for pregnant women or couples that are considering pregnancy.


Protecting against mosquitoes is just common sense. In addition to Zika, West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, and other diseases are risky. Wearing light-colored, long pants and sleeves while outside and using mosquito repellent is good policy.


EPA-approved products contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. When using mosquito repellent, don’t forget to:

  • Only use small amounts, but reapply if you’re sweating heavily, swimming, or outside for extended periods.
  • If you’re using sunscreen and mosquito repellent, apply the sunscreen first. Wait 20 minutes before applying mosquito repellent.
  • Avoid spraying near eyes and mouth; spray on your hands and apply. Do the same for children.
  • Avoid applying on cuts or areas of skin inflammation.
  • Wash the repellent off treated skin once you’ve gone inside; especially, wash your hands before touching food.


DEET, the most common ingredient, should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

List of Bad Zika Outcomes Expanding?

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aedes mosquito pixabay

Aedes mosquito courtesy of

As we continue to learn more about the effects of Zika on the newborn, a new series of abnormalities are making clear the implications of infection for pregnant women.

Zika is a member of the Flavivirus family that includes Yellow Fever, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The main concern is Zika’s predilection for attacking brain cells, causing some infected fetuses to have poor brain development and head size. The condition, known as microcephaly, can cause lifelong disabilities costing millions of dollars in care over a lifetime.

Now, a new study from researchers in Brazil suggests that Zika causes damage to other nerve cells as well. Seven babies born with microcephaly were studied. Six of these were found to also have a rare condition called “arthrogryposis”.


Club foot may occur in babies with arthrogryposis (wikipedia image)

Usually seen in only one of 3000 births, arthrogryposis causes multiple malformed, stiff joints. The abnormalities may be caused, not by damage to the joints themselves, but by weak nerves that don’t allow passion flexion and extension during the pregnancy. The joint then becomes fixed and deformed, a condition known as a “contracture”.

Damage to the nerves that control vision and hearing are also thought to occur as a result of Zika infection in the womb.

The news comes as the 22nd case of locally-transmitted Zika infection is reported in South Florida, where warm weather allows a robust population of Aedes mosquitoes, the species most associated with transmission of the disease. State health officials also announced 14 new cases of travel-related Zika, bringing the total in Florida to 382, of which 57 are pregnant women.

Aerial spraying of an area north of Downtown Miami is the latest effort on the part of the state of Florida to combat spread. Storm drains are also being targeted as possible hot spots for mosquito breeding activity. Although the insecticide Naled appears to be lowering the mosquito count in traps set in the neighborhood, it is also a possible danger to honeybees and other natural pollinators.

A separate local case was reported further north in Palm Beach County, but it’s uncertain at present whether it represents the beginning of a second outbreak.

In other news, a baby born in Texas has died from Zika-related complications, including microcephaly.

Despite the concern of health officials about the virus, a recent WaPo-ABC News poll finds that less than half of Floridians and Texans consider themselves worried about Zika. Apathy may stem from the fact that the acute illness itself is mild, with only 20 per cent reporting symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rashes, and sometimes, red eyes. Another factor may be that Zika is mostly a major issue only for pregnant women or couples that are considering pregnancy.

Protecting against mosquitoes is just common sense. In addition to Zika, West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, and other diseases are risky. Wearing long pants and sleeves while outside and using mosquito repellent is good policy.

mosquito repellents

various repellents

EPA-approved products contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. When using mosquito repellent, don’t forget to:

  • Only use small amounts, but reapply if you’re sweating heavily, swimming, or outside for extended periods.
  • If you’re using sunscreen and mosquito repellent, apply the sunscreen first. Wait 20 minutes before applying mosquito repellent.
  • Avoid spraying near eyes and mouth; spray on your hands and apply. Do the same for children.
  • Avoid applying on cuts or areas of skin inflammation.
  • Wash the repellent off treated skin once you’ve gone inside; especially, wash your hands before touching food.

DEET, the most common ingredient, should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about Zika virus in Joe Alton MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available at

The Formula For Penicillin

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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.


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:


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)


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.


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.


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.


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

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


Dr. Alton


Video: Latest Zika News

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Aedes Albopictus mosquito

In Joe Alton, MD‘s latest video, he discusses recent updates by the CDC on the Zika virus, now with 15 or 16 locally transmitted cases in Miami, and closing in on 2000 travel-related cases in the U.S. Puerto Rico has it even worse with close to 6000 cases, almost all locally transmitted, on the island. Several hundred pregnant women are being followed for signs of microcephaly and other birth abnormalities (12 on U.S. soil so far).

Don’t panic, though, there may be clusters of cases in the U.S. this year, but the CDC stops short of predicting an epidemic.

To get all the latest on this worrisome virus, click below:

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


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Going to the Olympics? 5 Risks To Plan for

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zika virus

Zika under the microscope

Every day, more news about Rio’s woes regarding the upcoming Olympics is published online. It’s become clear that going to the games, as an athlete or a spectator, just might be hazardous to your health.



The dangers include a raging Zika epidemic, water contamination, air pollution, and security concerns. Despite the calls to cancel the Olympics for these reasons, Brazil and the International Olympic Committee say the show must go on. What precautions, then, should be taken by the competitors and tourists to stay safe and healthy?






As the CDC learns more about the Zika virus, obviously a mutated version of the original, there are more and more concerns: More species of mosquitoes that might carry it, more types of sexually activity that could spread it, and the unknown long-term developmental effects on infected infants, even those that are born appearing normal.

Athletes and tourists should:

• Stay indoors whenever possible
• Use mosquito repellent whenever outside or in any areas without screens.
• Avoid areas with standing water
• Wear long pants and sleeves
• Treat clothing with permethrin, a long-lasting pesticide
• Use pesticide-treated bed netting if not staying in air-conditioned hotels
• Use condoms (standard issue for this year’s athletes) or abstain from sex



Zika virus isn’t the only infection that visitors to Brazil should be concerned about. Malaria, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, Dengue, and Typhoid fever are some of the other diseases found in the region. Some of these are spread by mosquitoes, others by food and water contamination, and some by sexual activity.

Vaccines exist for a number of these issues, such as Hepatitis and Yellow Fever. Others can be prevented by medications, such as malaria. Every athlete and visitor To Brazil should contact their physician to see what precautions are appropriate for the trip.


dirty water
The waters of Guanabara Bay and other venues for sailors, kayakers, canoers, and open-water swimmers in the Rio Olympics are notoriously filthy due to raw sewage that is constantly released into them. Bacterial and viral counts performed by researchers, including a study commissioned by the Associated Press, found quantities that might be considered a natural disaster in the U.S. The adjective used for the amount of viruses was “astronomical”.

The old saying “Don’t drink the water” goes double, no, triple for your trip to the Rio Games. It’s thought that drinking just three teaspoons of the water has a 99 per cent chance of causing an infection. Dr. Valerie Harwood of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, goes as far to say “Don’t put your head under water.”

Among the germs is rotavirus, the most common cause of gastroenteritis. In last year’s Junior Rowing Championships, a dozen U.S. team members got sick.

This year’s team will be protected with a newly-designed anti-microbial training suit. If you’re just an average tourist at the beach, however, even wet sand has high levels of microbes.

Drink only bottled water and, if you’re going into the water, put that bottle in a plastic bag first. The outside of the bottle could become contaminated if it becomes wet. Have hand sanitizers available and wash wet clothing. Don’t forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Ask for your drinks with “no ice”.


The air quality in Rio isn’t as bad as it was in the Beijing Summer Games, but it’s unacceptable by U.S. standards and much worse than any other Olympics. Particulate matter from the many vehicles in the city is often at dangerously high levels, and responsible for more deaths there than the water.

When you’re not in an air-conditioned building, you might consider wearing a face mask to avoid the pollutants. If you’re a Westerner, you might not be accustomed to this practice, but it’s common in many Asian countries.


A striking scene recently greeted arrivals to Rio’s airport: A group of law enforcement officers with a sign that read “Welcome to Hell, whoever comes to Rio De Janeiro will not be safe.” Indeed, Rio de Janeiro is a hotbed of crime, with entire favelas (low-income neighborhoods) completely under the control of organized gangs. Brazil’s financial woes have caused funding problems for local police, although the city says that it’s added much more security for the Games.

Despite this, be situationally aware. That means keeping an eye on unusual activity or individuals not acting normally. You might consider carrying a small flashlight; some have a strobe function that emits a bright flashing light which might discourage the opportunistic criminal. In any case, have a plan of action in case of trouble.

The CDC recommends, among other things, that you:

• Avoid travel at night
• Keep your hotel room locked
• Don’t wear fine jewelry
• Avoid risky areas
• Always travel with a companion
• Carry copies, but not originals, of important documents when you travel outside

Still going to the Olympics? Some might say that you’ll never have to prove your courage in any other way, but with a few precautions, you can stay healthy and safe.



Joe Alton, MD


Dr. Alton


We’re learning more about Zika virus every day. Check out Joe Alton, MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook” for the important information you need to keep your family healthy

CDC Expands Zika Guidelines

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zika virus

CDC: Females can transmit Zika

In a recent update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now state that Zika virus is transmissible through any type of sexual activity that involves exposure to genital secretions. Previously thought to be sexually transmitted by males to their partners, a recent case in New York City showed that the infection could be passed from a female to a male.

Zika virus carries a risk of severe birth abnormalities in a fetus when infection occurs during a pregnancy. Chief among these is microcephaly, a condition where head growth is decreased as a result of damage to brain tissue. The virus is responsible for at least 1600 abnormal newborns in Brazil and 12 in the United States.

The significance of the new findings regarding sexual transmission is that the population at risk for spreading Zika has now increased considerably. In a revamp of its official recommendations, the CDC now advises against unprotected sex with any person, male or female, who has traveled to or lives in an area with Zika. This includes female-female through vaginal secretions as well as male-male through seminal fluid.

The CDC also released new data that suggests Zika may exist in a pregnant woman for longer than the week or so previously thought. Testing should be performed up to two weeks from exposure or the appearance of symptoms. The CDC stated, “”Expanding the use of the Zika-specific test could provide more women with Zika virus infection a definite diagnosis and help direct medical evaluation and care.”

The CDC also recommended testing all pregnant women in at-risk areas or with possible Zika exposure. These include Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and IgM antibody studies. Previously only available at the National Institute of Health, CDC, and certain state labs, Zika tests are now more widely available through state and commercial labs.

Acute Zika virus infection causes mild symptoms (fever, rash, joint aches, red eyes) in 20 per cent of cases, but 80 per cent show no symptoms at all. While this fact may appear comforting to some, it means that there is the possibility that an asymptomatic pregnant woman may not learn she was infected until her fetus is found to be abnormal on obstetric ultrasound. Often, serial ultrasounds over time are needed; confirmation of an abnormal head growth pattern may not occur until late in the pregnancy.

Official CDC recommendations for those planning to get pregnant in the near future are as follows: “Women who have Zika virus disease should wait at least 8 weeks after symptom onset to attempt conception, and men with Zika virus disease should wait at least 6 months after symptom onset to attempt conception.” The longer period for men reflects that ability of the virus to remain active in seminal fluid for three months or more.

Zika virus is also thought to be transmissible through blood transfusions and even menstrual blood. A case in Utah where a family caregiver contracted the infection suggests that handling bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, or feces might be a risk factor.


Aedes mosquito

Despite this, the grand majority of infections occur due to bites from infected mosquitoes. Controlling mosquito populations by draining standing water and other methods is considered the most effective way of decreasing Zika cases in an area. Individuals should wear loose, light-colored clothing and use mosquito repellent whenever outside in at-risk areas.

Expect CDC guidelines regarding Zika virus infection to change as more is known about the Zika virus.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton



Zika Virus: What We Don’t Know (A Lot)

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zika virus

NIH electron microscope: Zika Virus

Despite the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention downplaying any effect on the coming Summer Olympics in Brazil, Zika virus continues to mystify many researchers. The viral disease, mild or asymptomatic in most cases, can attack brain and other nerve cells in fetuses, leading to major failures in growth and development, such as microcephaly.

Certainly, the major concern with Zika virus is its effect on the unborn fetus. But now, new cases are leading some to question what we really know about the virus. Rare, at least at present, they suggest that more people may be at risk than originally thought.

The CDC reports that in New York City a woman who contracted Zika during a trip to the epidemic zone has infected her male partner through sexual intercourse. Previously, Zika was seen as a purely male-to-female or male-to-male transmission. Now it’s possible that vaginal fluids might have the same ability as semen to spread the virus. If a female can transmit it to a male (or another female?), it widens the population at risk significantly.

For example, a woman travels to Brazil, gets Zika and transmits it, through vaginal secretions, to her partner when she arrives home. Her partner has sex with others and transmits it through, say, seminal fluid.

It’s thought that Zika virus exists in seminal fluid for 2 months or more, but what if it lasts longer? Ebola virus lasts 6 months or more there. Is six months long enough to avoid sex or use protection?

In Utah, an elderly man dies of complications due to Zika virus. Was there some other medical issue that made it a fatal event? The CDC reported that he had 100,000 times more “viral load” than normal. Did he get a particularly bad strain? How many strains are there?

Now, Fox News reports that a family caregiver is found to have been infected. How did it happen? Exposure to blood? Airborne droplets? Contact with urine or feces? No one really knows.

Does this now mean that we have to treat the virus as contagious by casual contact between humans, as opposed to requiring an infected mosquito bite or intimate relations? Should we, then, revamp our contagion protocols for medical professionals?

All this may seem to be major overkill to you. Zika doesn’t even cause symptoms in 80% of cases, and most infected babies are still born without microcephaly. The fact that it’s a “silent” infection in many, however, might be most concerning.


A pregnant woman with an asymptomatic Zika infection won’t know her fetus is affected until ultrasounds tests reveal poor growth of the fetal head or other signs of damage. An asymptomatic male or female won’t know bodily fluids are contaminated.

Another question: Are there long-term effects of Zika virus on the development of otherwise normal-appearing babies? We won’t know until milestones, like walking and talking, are delayed or fail to be reached. That might take years to determine.

Zika is not Ebola. People aren’t dropping dead in the streets, so a calm, reasoned approach to this virus is important. We have much to learn about Zika virus. Funds are needed to study it; we can’t allow politics to “infect” the Zika debate. Politicians should let the researchers do their job to make sure that this mysterious disease doesn’t become a medical crisis in the U.S., now or in the future.

Due to lack of funding, it may be too late to avoid the complications of Zika Virus in the U.S. this summer. If we’re smart, though, we’ll facilitate the research needed to truly understand it and its short- and long-term effects.

Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Find out all you need to know about the Zika virus in Joe Alton’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook”, available at Amazon.

Survival Medicine Hour: Animal Bites, Bears, Economic Forecaster Gerald Celente

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In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP (aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy), we discuss animal bites, how to avoid them and what to do if someone gets bitten. Plus, what to do if you encounter a bear on that hike in the woods, or even rummaging through your trash. Special guest Gerald Celente, famous for forecasting economic events and trends, joins the Altons to share some troubling news about the world’s economy and how the U.S. might be in for some tough times ahead.

gerald celente

Gerald Celente

To listen in, click below:

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

Joe and Amy Alton


The Altons

Can’t bear to be without medical supplies in times of trouble? Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at, #1 Top Supplier at survivaltop50.c0m!


9 Places That Could Make You Sick This Summer

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swimming pool with kids

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Man, it’s hot out and you have more to worry about than mosquitoes and Zika virus this summer. Many places we like to visit in summer are home to bacteria and viruses, and they could make you seriously sick if you don’t take precautions. Here are a few locations where you should be careful, if you want to stay healthy:




What’s better on a hot day than a refreshing dip in the local swimming pool? Despite most pools being chlorinated to remove germs, some are relatively resistant to the chemical. One of these is cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea. It’s also thought that the majority of swimming pools contain E. coli, a bacteria found in human feces. Crowded public swimming pools have the most risk. Avoid swallowing pool water and make sure to shower both before and after swimming.




Your vacation rental in the mountains comes with a hot tub, and what better way to relax those muscles after a day of hiking? Well, the warm waters of the Jacuzzi aren’t disinfected often enough to prevent bacteria from getting you sick. One particularly nasty bacteria called Pseudamonas Aeruginosa can cause an infection that leads to severe rashes.



boy on beach pixabay


What summer vacation doesn’t include a trip to the beach? Salt water is colonized with organisms that can make you ill, and that damp beach towel you’re using several days in a row has plenty of them. The worst, perhaps, is Vibrio Vulnificus, which can cause a life-threatening soft tissue infections called necrotizing fasciitis. Even MRSA infections have been identified in damp towels, so make sure to wash and thoroughly dry them after spending a day in the water.




Sure, public restrooms are Germ Central, especially in warm weather, but it’s not just the toilet seat. The sink faucet and door handles are hot spots as well. You might consider bringing some hand sanitizer and, definitely, use paper towels or tissue instead of your bare hands to touch sink handles and the door as you leave.



playground with kid

School’s out, and the kids will be spending lots of time at the local playground. The swings and slides, however, are crawling with bacteria, and the sandbox might also be the litter box for interesting critters like rats, pigeons, and stray cats. One report found 59 of 60 playgrounds had bacteria like E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, and even Hepatitis A virus. Bounce houses seem to also be teeming with germs. Always make sure children wash their hands when they return home.




Picnic food may start out hygienic, but they become colonized with bacteria if left out more than 2 hours (less if it’s really hot out). Use ice or cold packs to keep that cole slaw or potato salad below 40 degrees until you’re ready to eat. That bag of chips and finger foods are likely to be touched by a lot of dirty hands, as well. Single-serving bags are much better. And no double dipping! Once you put that chip in the salsa and then in your mouth, don’t put it back in the dip. Your mouth bacteria goes with it.


Picnic tables can be pretty dirty, so bring a clean tablecloth. Clean patio tables as often as you clean indoor tables.



backyard gril


Cases of food-borne illness are most common in the summer. Food that’s undercooked might harbor E. coli and Salmonella, so make sure you cook meat evenly at 145 degrees (160 degrees for ground meat, 165 degrees for chicken and other poultry). A meat thermometer will help. Wait three minutes before digging in. Keep all meats hot until it’s time to eat.


Store your grill indoors until it’s needed. If you have to leave your grill outside, make sure to always keep it tightly covered. Bird droppings can cause contamination, and small animals may try to get in to find some leftovers. Avoid tempting them by thoroughly cleaning the grill after every use.




Whether it’s an airplane ride to a summer resort or just the bus to the beach, germs exist on seats, armrests, seat belts, and tray tables; these are rarely disinfected effectively. Carry some disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer to decrease the colony count of bacteria and viruses.


Remember that, in many instances, colds and other respiratory infections occur as often in summer as they do in winter. Avoid touching your face with your hands, a common way to get infected. Give your homey on the bus a fist bump instead of a hand shake: you’ll pass less germs that way.




Getting that vegetable, herb, and flower garden going will give you a sense of accomplishment but, also, an unhealthy dose of bacteria, as well as insect and animal feces. One infection from cat feces is toxoplasmosis, which can be hazardous to young children, pregnant women, and the infirm. Use garden gloves as protection and wash your hands, including that green thumb, after you’re done planting or weeding.




Cuts and scrapes are almost inescapable if you’re active outdoors. Make sure to clean minor injuries and cover with a bandage of some sort. Remove wet bandages and dry the skin before replacing with a fresh one. An infected wound will appear red, swollen, and warm to the touch. Antibiotic ointment will help prevent infection, but doesn’t do much to cure an existing one.


Mosquitoes might transmit viruses like Zika or Dengue, but scratching the itch with dirty fingernails can easily cause infection with bacteria. Use mosquito repellants like DEET or Oil of lemon eucalyptus if you’re outside during mosquito season.


Prevent sunburn by staying in or providing shade with, say, beach umbrellas. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and re-apply frequently during the day.


If even all of the above seems like a good reason to stay indoors this summer, a little preparation and common sense will go a long way to staying healthy and enjoying the outdoors this summer.


Joe Alton, MD


Zika Update: More Cases In U.S., More Woes In Brazil

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aedes albopictus

The U.S. now has three newborns with Zika-related birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Puerto Rico now has 1,700 confirmed cases of Zika, almost 200 of which are in pregnant women. The warm-weather U.S. territory is in the midst of an epidemic of the mosquito-borne illness. The numbers don’t take into account that 80 per cent of infections are without symptoms, a fact that suggests that the actual number of cases is at least five times higher. Evaluations of blood banks in the island has found that more than one per cent of all units donated carry evidence of the Zika virus.

Although 750 cases has been identified in the continental U.S. and Hawaii, all appear related to travel in the epidemic zone. More than 200 pregnant women are being monitored for signs of fetal damage. The CDC has yet to find a case that they are confident was locally transmitted. They consider the risks of a U.S. epidemic to be very low.



The CDC is counting a range of abnormalities in its study on the effect of the virus. Chief among them is microcephaly, where the baby’s skull fails to grow normally, probably as a result of defects in brain development. Also seen are calcium deposits, excess fluid in the brain, and abnormal eye development.  It is thought that 1-15 per cent of Zika-infected newborns will come out with some type of problem.

In an effort to increase preparedness levels, the CDC has assembled teams of experts that it will send to various high-risk states, especially when the first expected local cases are found. Also, the teams plan to assist efforts to control mosquito populations in the affected areas. Lab tests for Zika virus, previously available only through state labs, are now available in various commercial labs, such as Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp.


Aedes Aegypti life cycle

The Zika virus, along with the often-more serious Dengue fever virus, is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Both Aedes Aegypti and its cousin, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, Aedes Albopictus, are thought to be able to spread the virus. These mosquitoes have now been identified in 44 states, up from 12 in previous surveys. The same mosquitoes are known to transmit Yellow Fever and the West Nile virus.

In the meantime, the World Health Organization has closed ranks with the International Olympic Committee in saying that it considers Zika a low risk for causing problems in the upcoming Summer Games. Previously, it had sounded alarms regarding Rio de Janeiro, the host city. Rio has the second highest number of Zika cases in Brazil. The Games start August 5th.

More than 250 medical professional of all stripes, including myself, have signed a petition recommending cancellation or transfer of the Summer Olympics to another venue. At present, this forms a minority opinion, although many countries are warning against travel to the Zika epidemic zone, especially for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy and their partners. Canadian professor Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa was invited to sit in on WHO’s Zika hearings, but the invitation was then rescinded when he refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.


Brazil: Zika epicenter

As if Brazil wasn’t having enough problems with Zika virus, the acting governor of Rio de Janeiro state has declared a state of “financial disaster“.  Governor Francisco Dornelles announced the measure to allow Rio to adopt extraordinary measures to pay mounting costs related to the Summer Olympics. Brazil is in the midst of a major economic recession.

Dornelles’ spokesman said that the decision was made because of lower-than-expected revenues from taxes and oil royalties. He said: “The financial crisis has brought several difficulties in essential public services and it could cause the total collapse of public security, health care, education, urban mobility and environmental management,”.

Rio’s situation is so bad that two of its hospitals were taken over by the government to pay medical personnel. Some police stations are so strapped for funds that they have asked for donations of basic items like toilet paper. Public workers and retirees have suffered months-long delays in receiving their money. Major Olympic projects, like the metro line being built to carry tourists to venues, are well behind schedule.

So, ask yourself this question: Is it worth it to have half a million tourists from 180 countries travel to the epicenter of a major epidemic for a sports event?


Joe Alton, MD


Joe Alton, MD

Hey, find out everything you need to know about Zika Virus with Dr. Alton’s new book: The Zika Virus Handbook.

High Resolution Front Cover_6093961

Zika News and Video

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The first birth in the continental U.S. with Zika-related birth abnormalities occurred in a hospital in Hackensack, NJ. The baby reportedly has microcephaly, a condition where the head fails to grow normally, inhibiting normal brain growth.

While mentally challenged, most of these babies are otherwise healthy. Many will require lifelong care, which has been estimated by President Obama to cost 10 million dollars over the life of the child.

The mother had traveled to the U.S. from Honduras to seek better medical care. As of yet, local cases of Zika have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. However, consider this scenario: the mother of the baby has Zika virus, is bitten by a mosquito, and the mosquito transmits the virus to American citizens during her stay.


Luckily, Zika virus is thought to only stay in the blood for a week or so. This limits the window in which a mosquito can pass the virus from  one human to the next. It does appear, however, to spend much more time in other bodily fluids such as semen. Sexual transmission is believed to be the most likely way for a human to pass it to another human.

The CDC reported May 20th that at least 279 pregnant women in the United States and U.S. territories like Puerto Rico have documented evidence of Zika virus. This is a spike from last week’s report. Many hundreds more Americans citizens, non-pregnant, have been found to have had the infection. As only 20% of patients develop symptoms, actual numbers are probably several times higher.

Still, these are cases in which the victim has traveled from the epidemic zone in South America or had sexual activity with someone who has. No epidemic is expected in the United States, although small clusters of locally-transmitted cases in warm-weather states like Florida and Texas may occur, as well as in major populations centers like New York City during the summer.

High Resolution Front Cover_6093961

Here’s my recent video on the book I’ve written on Zika virus, The Zika Virus Handbook, pretty much all you need to know explained in plain English. No-nonsense, non-panic, it’s the only book, as far as I can tell, written by a doctor who delivered his share of babies during his career and who writes about medical preparedness.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best in good times or bad,


Joe Alton, MDblaze tv 2

Cancel or Move The Olympics

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A letter signed by 150 doctors and scientists has called for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to be moved or delayed due to the Zika virus. Rio is in the heart of the current epidemic.

Calling inaction “irresponsible” and “unethical”, the letter suggests that the Zika virus in Brazil is acting differently than it has in other areas, something I suggested may relate to a mutation in a recent article.

So make it 151 doctors and scientists. In my opinion, sending a half million tourists, not to mention athletes, to the  epicenter of a raging epidemic is, to say least, a bad idea. They’ll come from 170 different countries, get bitten by mosquitoes in Brazil, and head back home to have local mosquitoes spread the poorly-understood virus throughout the world.

Several hundred cases in U.S. citizens returning from the epidemic zone have been identified so far. Since 80 per cent of victims don’t experience symptoms, that means thousands of Americans have likely been infected.


There are 160 pregnant U.S. women among the group that has been diagnosed with the virus. Zika is known to be related to thousands of cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that prevents normal head growth. Brain development suffers as a result.

The fact that many Zika victims have no symptoms means that other women won’t know they had the virus until a sonogram identifies abnormal growth in their fetus. Zika is also associated with higher rates of Guillain-Barre and other nervous system disorders, some of which can be life-threatening.

The Olympics have been canceled five times in the last century, but this was due to world wars, not due to public health issues. As such, the International Olympic Committee, and worse, the World Health Organization, still claim that the Olympics will be safe and “enjoyable”.

Brazil, despite mobilizing most of its military to deal with mosquito control, has hardly been able to get a handle on the epidemic and is behind on putting together some of the infrastructure for the Games, including a metro line that takes visitors to the venues.

Despite this, the government is adamant about continuing, stating that calling off the Olympics would mean stopping half-finished buildings, canceling contracts, and refunding ticket fees. Brazil is thought to have sunk about 20 billion dollars into the Games so far.


In the meantime, the CDC is expecting clusters of Zika cases to be locally transmitted in the U.S. this summer, while stopping short of predicting an epidemic. Director of the National Institute of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the CDC is “stealing from itself” to fund Zika efforts here, taking money from funds meant to combat influenza and other infectious diseases that hit America. Congress and the Obama administration have disagreed on the amount of money that should go to Zika research and mosquito control, delaying what might be vital funding.

Delaying the Olympics is not the answer. It’s being held during the “winter” in Southern Hemisphere Brazil, when mosquitoes might be less active. Delaying it just puts in warmer seasons when mosquitoes will be out in force.

So cancel or move the Olympics. I’ll bet there’s a lot of countries that are under-utilizing the expensive venues they built for previous Olympics. Make the event truly global by having it in a number of countries instead of having it be one big commercial of a particular one. To have a massive sporting event in the middle of an epidemic zone is just plain unethical, if not downright crazy.


Joe Alton, MD

Find out all you need to know about Zika virus with Dr.  Alton’s latest book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available on Amazon.

The Zika Virus Handbook, by Joseph Alton, MD

The Zika Virus Handbook, by Joseph Alton, MD


Survival Medicine Hour: Jack Spirko 2, Zika Triples, Dental Issues

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Jack Spirko and Joe Alton, MD

Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast returns to complete his interview with Dr. Bones on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton. Also, an introduction to dental preparedness, plus what items you might consider for your survival dental kit.

Many of our readers and listeners are surprised to hear us talking about dental issues. Indeed, few who are otherwise medically prepared seem to devote much time to dental health. Poor dental health, however, can cause issues that affect the work efficiency of members of your group in survival settings. When your people are not at 100% effectiveness, your chances for survival decrease.

History tells us that problems with teeth take up a significant portion of the medic’s patient load. In the Vietnam War, medical personnel noted that fully half of those who reported to daily sick call came with dental complaints.  In a long-term survival situation, you certainly will find yourself as dentist as well as nurse or doctor.

Plus, cases of Zika Virus more than triple among pregnant women in the U.S. Still no locally transmitted cases, but the CDC predicts they’ll arrive in the heat of summer, when mosquitoes are out in force. All this and more in this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour.

To listen in, click below:


Wishing you the best of heath in good times OR bad,



Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP

Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600


Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits, from her bleeding control kit to the Stomp Supreme, at her store at

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(!).


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:

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

Survival Medicine Hour: Zika Death, Reporters and Prepper Events, More

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Disasters happen, whether reporters believe it or not

The U.S, records its first Zika death in an elderly man from Puerto Rico, where 700 cases have been confirmed and thousands more suspected. The mainland U.S. hasn’t been immune either: 93 cases so far in Florida and 77 in New York (no subtropical climate but still a home for the Aedes mosquito). They explore how politics is infecting the Zika debate over funding, and holding up appropriations for mosquito control just as warm weather is arriving in the U.S, Their new book “The Zika Virus Handbook” is an all-you-need-to-know about Zika virus, and now available at It’s the only book (far as we can tell) on the subject written by a physician.

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Zika Virus Handbook

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that prepper events, like the ones Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy are speaking at as of this writing are in “the business of fear”. If that’s the case, are car insurance salespeople also in the business of fear? How about health insurance plan and Obamacare? Our hosts discuss how insurance takes many forms, and tangible items like food and medical supplies might just be another form of it. Also, is it fear or common sense that drives a small percentage of the population to take measures to be prepared for disasters? Who are the crazy ones, “preppers” or the general population who scramble to the supermarket and empty shelves in a frenzy before a big storm? You decide.


All this and more on the latest episode of The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP.


To listen in, click below:


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


Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy


Survival Medicine Hour: New Normal, Zika Handbook, More

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Joe and Amy Alton announce their latest book, “The Zika Virus Handbook“! It’s the first book on everything you need to know about the infection written by an MD. It’s concise at 138 pages, but still way more information than the other books on Amazon. You’ll find out how to identify, prevent, and treat the disease, all about the mosquito that transmits it, and every measure you can take to protect your family. You’ll also hear about what our government is doing about it, plus some alternative theories about why so many cases are occurring on this side of the Atlantic. Zika’s this year’s pandemic, and with warm weather approaching, you should know about it.

Also, are people who prepare for disasters normal? Are “normal” people who don’t prepare for disasters normal? Well, in the New Normal, they might be, but normal sure doesn’t mean “sane”. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss the difference between “normal” and “sane” and why it’s even more important, given recent events, for people to wake up and get together knowledge and supplies that might help in times of trouble.


17-year Cicada

Also, it’s time for the 17 year cicadas to come out! Will it be a plague of biblical proportions, and do you have anything to worry about? All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour with Doom and Bloom’s Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP.

To lIsten in, click below:

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


Joe and Amy Alton



The Zika Virus Handbook

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Warm weather is on the way, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that we can expect more case of Zika virus in the United States this summer. Indeed, the Aedes mosquito which transmits the virus seems to have expanded its range to include 30 U.S. states, up from 12 in the last survey. The Aedes mosquito (Aedes is Greek for “unpleasant”) is now found as far North as New York.


Until now, Zika cases have all be traced to those who have traveled to the epidemic zone in South and Central America, with a number also identified in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries. The CDC, however, believes that there will be locally-transmitted clusters of Zika in various areas in the U.S.


We keep a close eye on pandemic diseases, and it looks like Zika virus is the one to watch out for this year. As such, we have researched everything that the average citizen should know about it: How to identify it, how to prevent it, and what the treatment options are.


As an obstetrician in a previous life, Joe Alton, MD is especially interested in a disease that can affect, sometimes disastrously, newborn babies. But it does more than that; Zika has been associated with nervous system disorders, like Guillain-Barre syndrome, that can cause, sometimes permanent, paralysis.



High Resolution Front Cover_6093961

He’s put it all down on paper in his new book The Zika Virus Handbook. Like his 2014 book on Ebola virus, the book has everything you need to know about the infection, and it’s all written in plain English.


“The Zika Virus Handbook” explains all you need to know about the epidemic in a calm, no-nonsense fashion. The book gives a solid plan of action that can be easily followed in a concise guide. All this from a physician that has decades of experience as an obstetrician, and whose mission is to put a medically prepared person in every family for any disaster. In fact, it’s the only book on Zika written by a physician that’s spent his life caring for pregnancies and who is well-known in the field of disaster and epidemic preparedness.


The book also outlines other pandemic diseases, past and present, and discusses way to control the Aedes mosquito, which transmits the disease through its bite.


Like many pandemic diseases, many controversial theories abound about why Zika has become a threat, and you’ll find these and commentary on their plausibility in “The Zika Virus Handbook”.


There’s no need to panic about Zika virus. The CDC stops short of predicting an epidemic in the U.S. But it’s affected 64 countries so far, and it only makes sense to learn about any disease that could affect your family’s health.


You can find the book at, and be sure to keep an eye on Joe Alton, MD’s website at for regular updates.



Amy Alton, ARNP



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High Resolution Front Cover_6093961 Zika


Zika virus, native to Africa, has crossed the Atlantic and is predicted by the World Health Organization to infect 4 million people in the Western Hemisphere.  It has been linked, more every day, to a number of birth abnormalities, including close to 5000 cases of microcephaly (a smaller than normal head circumference with a corresponding small brain) in Brazil. Researchers also have linked Zika to stillbirths, miscarriages, eye problems and other complications, with problems not only in the first trimester but throughout pregnancy. It is also related to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition where a person’s immune system attacks its own nerve cells, and, now, other neurological issues resembling multiple sclerosis.



More Proof for Zika’s Role in Microcephaly and Nerve Disorders



Brazilian researchers reported last week that Zika preferentially targets developing brain cells. They used stem cells to study embryonic brain development in a lab dish, and reported in the journal Science that virus samples taken from a Brazilian patient destroyed the growing nerve cells in a few days. They suspect that’s happening in the womb in pregnant Brazilian women.



Zika’s History



Zika was first identified in monkeys living in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947. It spread slowly at first, and seemed to be a pretty harmless virus, causing hardly any symptoms at all in most people, as a matter of fact, no symptoms in 80% of those infected. But it started proliferating in 2007  to Asia and the South Pacific; it showed up in Brazil around the time of the World Cup in 2014.  Because hardly anyone in the Americas has immunity to Zika, it’s spread widely since then and has earned the title of pandemic.



The CDC and Zika Virus


Transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquitoes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently related its concern for the U.S. as warmer weather arrives this spring and summer, and the mosquito population explodes. A recent survey found the Aedes mosquito in 30 US states, up from 12 in past studies. “Aedes”, by the way, is the Greek word for “unpleasant”. Amen, brother.



Sure enough, the more researchers learn about the Zika virus, the scarier it appears to federal health officials, and they’re urging more money for mosquito control and development of vaccines and treatments.



672 cases of Zika virus have been identified in the United States and Puerto Rico (about half there), all of which are tied to persons who have traveled to or have had sexual relations with someone who traveled to the epidemic zone in South America.



With the 2016 Summer Olympics taking place in Brazil, the country with the most cases, the CDC expects a number of U.S. tourists will return with the virus. They predict clusters of locally-transmitted cases, especially in warm weather states like Texas and Florida, but have stopped short of suggesting that it will become an epidemic here. In Puerto Rico, however, the CDC believes that hundreds of thousands of people might become infected.



Zika Prevention and Treatment


Due to its novelty, there is no proven treatment for Zika virus and the first vaccines won’t be tested until at least September. This is past the time when the Aedes mosquito will be most active here, so it’s important to watch out for it. The NIH suggests bed rest, fluids, and acetaminophen to treat the symptoms of acute disease, which will resemble the flu, with the addition of rashes, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). Aspirin and ibuprofen are discouraged as treatment, as Zika Virus may mimic a related virus, Dengue Fever, which can cause abnormal bleeding (Zika doesn’t). Indeed, Zika virus is related to not only Dengue, but also Yellow Fever and West Nile virus.



The best way to prevent infection is to eliminate areas of standing water that could serve as nurseries for mosquito larvae. As well, citizens are recommended to use mosquito repellents like DEET, Picaridin, IR335, and Lemon Eucalyptus oil (all EPA-approved) whenever outdoors. Travel to the epidemic zone should be avoided, especially for pregnant women and their significant others. Zika’s the first virus to generate a travel warning by the U.S. specifically for those that are expecting. Cases of Zika in travelers have been identified as far away as Russia and China.



GMO Mosquitoes


In a field trial, genetically-engineered male mosquitoes will be released into a test community near Key West, Florida this year. These mosquitoes, known as OX513A, have a gene that prevents their offspring from developing into adults. They will compete with normal males for mating privileges and it is thought that they will significantly decrease the mosquito population in at-risk areas. Local citizens aren’t too happy about the idea, though, and legal action might block the experiment.



Politics and Zika

masks on kids

President Barack Obama has sought about $1.9 billion in emergency money to help fight the Zika epidemic internationally and to prepare in case the virus spreads here, but the request has stalled in the GOP-controlled Congress. Last week, therefore, the administration said it would use $589 million in funds left over from the Ebola outbreak for some of that work. Lucky for the administration and, certainly for us, that Ebola pooped out when it did and left some money. It’s another example of executive action bypassing congress, but I might just agree with this one.



The administration says that it’s laid out a precise plan for dealing with the virus, but members of Congress say that it’s only an outline. Despite this, a bill is expected to pass very soon. Expect more controversy about funding as time goes on.



What You Should Do To Avoid Zika Infection


The most important thing you can do to prevent Zika infections is to make your property inhospitable to mosquitoes. If Zika has been identified in your home town, you will have to take aggressive measures. You can decrease the chance that mosquitoes will want to breed in your backyard by eliminating standing water. Consider these mosquito control methods from the American Mosquito Control Association:



  • Covering rain barrels with a screen or other barrier.
  • Keeping lids on garbage cans.
  • Strictly maintaining disinfection in swimming pools or hot tubs using chlorine or salt. Assure that water is circulating well. Drain completely if not in use. Abandoned swimming pools should be filled in with dirt or sand.
  • Emptying kiddie wading pools.
  • Draining water from tarps, pool covers, or other protective sheeting.
  • Removing buckets, empty flower pots, and other containers that might accumulate water.
  • Frequently changing water in birdbaths, pet dishes, and animal troughs.
  • Unclogging rain gutters that might not be draining well.
  • Repairing any leaky outdoor faucets.
  • Installing or repairing tightly-fitting window and door screens. Use U.S. #16 or #18 mesh.
  • Adding a water feature to a standing pond, such as a waterfall or fountain.
  • Removing debris from ornamental ponds or fountains that might prevent water flow.
  • Installing or repairing tightly-fitting window and door screens.
  • Cutting or mowing areas of tall grass, a favorite place for adult mosquitoes to loiter.
  • Avoiding excessive watering of lawns and plants, especially near the house.
  • Adding topsoil to uneven areas of your yard that might accumulate rain water.
  • Notifying local authorities of nearby properties with areas of undrained storm water that could be an issue. They will probably have equipment that can eliminate the problem.



Note that draining wetlands and natural ponds may be illegal. There are many natural predators of mosquitoes that live there, such as birds, bats, fish, frogs, and other wildlife. Check with your local municipalities for rules and regulations.



So consider long pants and long sleeves if the mosquitoes are thick in your neighborhood this summer. Use your mosquito repellents, and re-apply them often, especially if you’re pregnant or planning to be. Consider mosquito netting, especially if you like the windows open. And think about how important it really is to see personally who wins the pole vault at the Brazilian Summer Olympics. Don’t travel to the epidemic zone unless absolutely necessary.




High Resolution Front Cover_6093961 Zika

Now, for the first time, we’re making a big announcement, our new book “The Zika Virus Handbook: A doctor tells you all you need to know about the pandemic” will be out in the next few days on Amazon and we’re excited about being able to bring this information to our readers and the general public.



The Zika virus is going to be a topic of discussion all summer, and you’re going to want to know what you can do if there are some locally-transmitted cases in your area, as the CDC is now predicting. We talk about Zika’s origins in Africa, its travels to Asia and the Polynesian islands, how it spreads, and all about the nasty little bug that’s transmitting the disease.



We talk about the medical issues that, more and more Zika virus is being linked to, especially birth abnormalities, and nerve conditions that can cause paralysis and other problems. You’ll learn how to identify an active case, how to differentiate it from its relatives like Yellow fever, dengue, west nile, and others. More importantly, you’ll learn how to prevent your property from harboring mosquitoes that put you and your family at risk. We’ll discuss all the different methods that your municipality could use for mosquito control, including pesticides, biological agents, and more.



We also talk about pandemics of the past and present in The Zika Virus Handbook and how to put together an effective epidemic sick room, and a lot more.



A lot of theories as to why these previously minor illnesses have become a big issue on this side of the pond exist, and we even go through a lot of these, and examine them for just how plausible they are. A lot of you remember our Ebola Survival Handbook, and this book is a little like it, although I was pretty mad about our government’s lack of response with this one. I’m a little calmer about this one, and I think, for Zika, we need a calm, no-nonsense approach to dealing with it. I talk about our policy going forward on this epidemic, and what makes the most sense for pregnant women and, really, just about everyone in terms of staying safe and healthy.



I hope you’ll check out the Zika Virus Handbook, we’ll be making announcements when it comes out, and I think you’ll find it a good, concise read.



Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy


Videocast: Around The Cabin #22

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In collaboration with the good folks at, Joe and Amy Alton host a live videocast where they can demonstrate things live, like how to lance a boil, control bleeding, and other medical issues you might encounter in remote or survival settings. Here’s the latest episode, always fun and alway informative!

Brown Recluse wiki

This week’s guest star!


To watch, click below:



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


Joe and Amy Alton


Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600

The Lovely Nurse Amy




Survival Medicine Hour: Lancing A Boil, Headaches, Doctor Shortages?

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We’re about a million primary care doctors short in the U.S., and it isn’t getting any better in the near future. Find out why it may be important than ever to be medically self-reliant. Also, How to lance that nasty boil safely, and what about Dakin’s solution to keep wounds free of infection? Also, Nurse Amy talk about different types of headaches and their treatments. All this and a question for Dr. Bones as a member of the Expert Council of Jack Spirko’s popular Survival Podcast, on the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, aka Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP.


To listen in, click below:


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


Joe and Amy Alton

American Survival Radio


How To “Lance” A Boil

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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.



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


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

Video: New Way To Sterilize Instruments

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                    clean instrument

It’s important to have medical supplies if you’re the family medic for times of trouble, but a lot of these items, once used, must be discarded. Other, more reusable items and improvised bandages must be sterilized or otherwise disinfected. We’ve talked about how to sterilize instruments before, but now an article in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine has proposed a novel new way that might have applications for the survival medic. See the topic discussed and the method (really quite simple) demonstrated in Joe Alton, MD’s latest video…




To watch, click below:




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



Joe Alton, MD


Video: All About Zika Virus

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Zika Virus (ZIKV) is the latest virus to cross the Atlantic and infect large populations in Central and South America, especially Brazil. Over 4000 cases of Microcephaly, a birth defect, have already been reported. The World Health Organization believes up to 4 million cases and 100,000 could become affected before it’s all over (it’s been wrong before, though, as we learned during the Ebola epidemic). In any case, you’ll see a lot about it on the news, so it’s important to know about it. Learn all about Zika virus, with Joe Alton, M.D. in his latest video.

To watch, click below:




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



Joe Alton, MD

blaze tv 2

Zika Virus A Mutation?

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The Zika virus, the subject of one of our recent articles, is spreading throughout the hemisphere after crossing the Atlantic from Africa. At present, cases have been reported in every country except for Canada and Chile. News articles regarding the tragic consequences it has on pregnancies are  published daily. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has gone so far as to travel advisories warning pregnant women to stay away from countries with widespread outbreaks, like Brazil.



Interestingly, in Africa, Zika virus is thought to be a mild pest, causing minor illness; in fact, 80% of those infected have no symptoms at all. It is not associated with birth defects like microcephaly where it is traditionally found. Yet, this virus is now becoming an issue that some predict may affect up to 100,000 newborns. It isn’t hard to imagine that this will tax the resources of poor countries that are dealing with it.



Why is a virus that isn’t a big problem in its original territory suddenly causing these heartbreaking deformities? Zika is an equatorial disease spread by mosquitoes, conditions that are present in both Brazil and Africa. Why should it have so different a presentation in one part of the world than another?



It is my opinion that we dealing with a viral “mutation”. Viruses are well-known for their ability to change genetically. These changes, or mutations, may either be insignificant or have major consequences. Luckily, most are the former, and this is the reason why influenza vaccines work to prevent illness. This year’s flu is usually similar to last year’s, and flu vaccines are made from components of last year’s virus. If an influenza virus mutates significantly, it usually causes many more cases and, often, deaths as we have less immunity to it.



Imagine if Ebola, which caused a regional epidemic in West Africa in 2014, had mutated to become easily transmissible through the air? It would have been more challenging to control and could have reached pandemic status.



Despite this, I can find nothing in the news that mentions the possibility that the virus has mutated. If we are to have success in producing treatment or prevention of this viral illness (none exists at present), we will have to take into account the chance that this Zika virus is not the same as the original.



Joe Alton, MD



48 Surprising Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide

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When I think of hydrogen peroxide, I think of my mom torturing me with a wet cotton ball every time I got a cut or scrape. Sometimes I would even try to hide them from her. But eventually I learned the importance of using hydrogen peroxide to prevent […]

The post 48 Surprising Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

All About Zika Virus

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One of the scenarios we write about is the “Pandemic”. Although we have had success curing many illnesses with antibiotics, we are still struggling with outbreaks of viral diseases. In 2014, thousands died in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic. In 2015, Chikungunya virus crossed the Atlantic into the Western Hemisphere and infected a million people. This year, Zika virus is the latest pandemic, and the first to generate travel warnings specifically for women that are pregnant or of childbearing age.

A little-known virus of equatorial Africa and Asia, the Zika virus has “jumped the pond” and is wreaking havoc in South America, especially among pregnant women and their newborns. Like its predecessors, it’s a mosquito-borne virus. Citizens of the Americas have little immunity against it.

Most people experience mild flu-like symptoms, but an infected during a pregnancy can yield a newborn with brain damage. In late 2015, it was mainly a Brazilian problem. A congenital abnormality (once called a “birth defect”) called microcephaly started appearing among newborns. Microcephaly presents as an abnormally small head and is associated with mental handicaps; if severe, it may be incompatible with life.

Brazil is a large country with a youthful population; in an average year, it sees about 150 cases of microcephaly. Since the arrival of Zika virus in May 2015, there have been 3,500. Now, cases of the virus are being reported in the United States from Virginia to Arkansas to Hawaii (mostly in returning travelers from South America). In total, 25 countries so far are reporting evidence of the virus.


spanish flu ward
Infectious disease can be endemic, epidemic, or pandemic:



–An Epidemic infectious disease is a community-wide outbreak of an illness that is not always present in an area. Influenza, EnterovirusD68, and Ebola are examples.
–An Endemic infectious disease is one that is normally found and expected in a certain area. Malaria is endemic in many tropical countries.
–A Pandemic occurs when an infectious disease crosses various borders and runs rampant throughout a large region, or even the whole world. The Spanish Flu of 1918 is the classic example. Zika has had outbreaks in Africa, Asia, and now, South America. Cases have been reported in Denmark and Sweden as well.


Zika virus is a member of the Flavivirus family, which contains a number of well-known diseases such as yellow fever, chikungunya, and West Nile virus. Like the others, Zika virus is carried by Aedes mosquitoes, which are the main agent of transmission (human to human transmission can also occur); unlike the others, the virus affects the unborn.

Symptoms of the virus include headache, rash, fever, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). The grand majority of infected people have no signs of the infection whatsoever. This is ominous for a pregnancy, as the mother doesn’t even know she was at risk.



There is no vaccine or treatment available that is effective against Zika virus. Prevention, however, is simple: Don’t travel to the countries where widespread outbreaks are occurring. If you have to go, use sunscreen, long pants and sleeves, plus mosquito repellant or netting. Standing water near your location in affected areas should be drained.

Mosquito control efforts are underway in Brazil and other countries at risk. Besides the usual sprays with pesticides, you might be surprised to know that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are playing a part.

A male “Franken-mosquito” called OX513A has a gene that kills his offspring. Female mosquitoes only mate once during their lives, so this might have a significant effect. Brazil claims more than a 90% decrease in the population after release. OX513A was also used in the Florida Keys in 2012 (over protests) to combat an outbreak of another Flavivirus, Dengue Fever.




Joe Alton, MD


Learn more about infectious diseases in our 3 category #1 Amazon bestselling book “The Survival Medicine Handbook”, with more than 270 5-star reviews…

Survival Medicine Hour: New Sterilization Method, Skin Infections, Ginger

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One big issue in remote locations is the sterilizations of instruments and dressings. Now, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease has tested a new method that claims 100% sterilization using portable items that won’t break the bank. Joe Alton, MD explains the procedure and talks about infections you’ll find in soft tissues as a result of poor disinfecting practices and dirty wounds. Also, Amy Alton, ARNP talks about one of her favorite natural remedies: Ginger. All on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.

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


Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP

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Being Nitpicky About Lice

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typical head louse

In good times or bad, your family’s hygiene is a big factor with regards to their health. As Winter progresses, you’ll be spending more time inside, and close quarters means more risk of infections. It also means more risk of infestations, and lice are one of the most common you’ll see.
A common health problem pertaining to poor hygiene is the presence of lice, also known as “Pediculosis”. Lice (singular: louse) are wingless parasitic insects that feed on blood and are found on many species. On humans, there are three types:

The Head Louse Pediculus humanus capitis
The Body Louse Pediculus humanus corporis
The Pubic Louse or “Crab” Pthirus pubis
Body lice can act as a vector to transmit disease to human hosts. At present, there is no evidence that head or pubic lice do, but all lice cause irritation that can have major implications for the health of a survival group. Sometimes, irritation and itching caused by lice breaks the skin; this allows other infections to develop.

Lice are, generally speaking, species-specific: You cannot, as an example, get lice from your dog, like you could get fleas. You get them only from other humans. It’s interesting to note that human lice and chimpanzee lice diverged from each other, from an evolutionary standpoint, about 6 million years ago; this is almost exactly when their hosts went their separate ways.

Major risk factors for lice infestations include crowded, unsanitary conditions or situations where close personal contact is unavoidable. In normal times, these conditions most commonly occur in schools where ordinarily clean children come into contact with those who have lice.

The sharing of personal items can also lead to louse infestations. Clothing, combs, bedding, and towels that are used by multiple individuals are common ways that lice spread from person to person. These risks are even more pronounced in survival settings.


Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are greyish-white as adults and can reach the size of a small sesame seed. Infestation with head lice can cause itching and, sometimes, a rash. However, this type of lice is not a carrier of any other disease. Head lice are relatively common, so much so that 6-12 million cases a year are reported in the United States (mostly among young children).

With their less developed immune systems, kids often don’t even realize they are infested with lice. Adults, however, are usually kept scratching and irritated unless treated. An interesting fact is that African-Americans are somewhat resistant to head lice, possibly due to the shape and width of the hair shaft.


Lice egg, also called a “nit”

The diagnosis is made by identifying the presence of the louse or its “nits” (eggs). Nits look like small bits of dandruff that are stuck to hairs. They are more easily seen when examined using a “black light”. This causes them to fluoresce as light blue “dots” attached to the hair shafts near the scalp.

As black lights will be rare commodities in a collapse, a fine-tooth comb run through the hair will also reveal the adult lice and nits. These special combs are used to remove as many lice as possible before treatment and to check for them afterwards. The diligence required to do this effectively led to the coining of the term “nitpicking”..

nitpicking baboons

It pays to Nitpick!

You will find the nits firmly attached to the hair shaft about ¼ inch from the scalp. Nits will generally appear as yellowish white and oval-shaped. The application of olive oil to the comb may make them easier to remove. Many prefer the metal nit combs sold at pet stores for animals to plastic ones sold at pharmacies for humans.
In normal times, wash and dry all clothes in hot temperatures or, alternatively, place in the freezer to kill the lice. If you are off grid, place clothing and personal items in a plastic bag for two weeks. Adult head lice usually only live a few days off the host.


Body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis) are latecomers compared to head lice, probably first appearing when humans began to wear clothes about 170,000 years ago. As the concept of doing laundry occurred somewhat later than that, you can imagine that constant contact with dirty clothes caused frequent infestations.

Body lice, unlike head lice, have been linked to infectious diseases such as typhus, trench fever and epidemic relapsing fever. Continuous exposure to body lice may lead to areas on the skin that are hardened and deeply pigmented, a condition previously known as “vagabond’s disease”.

Infestations may be an issue common only with the homeless or in underdeveloped countries today; it will, however, likely be an epidemic in settings where regular bathing and washing of clothes isn’t possible.

Body lice are slightly larger than head lice; they also differ in that they live on dirty clothes (especially the seams), not on the body. They go to the human body only to feed. Also, they are sturdier than their cousins and can live without human contact for 30 days or so. Examination of clothes and bedding seams usually pinpoints the problem.

Destruction of the infested clothing, if possible, is the appropriate strategy here. Sometimes, using medication is unnecessary as the lice have left with the clothes (don’t bet on it, however). .


crab louse



Pubic infestations may be either caused by lice or mites. Pubic lice (Pthirus pubis), also known as “crabs”, usually start in the pubic region but may eventually extend anywhere there is hair. They are most commonly passed by sexual contact. Severe itching is the main symptom and can involve the axillary (armpit) hair or even the eyelashes.

Although they are sometimes seen in a patient that has other sexually transmitted diseases, pubic lice do not actually transmit other illnesses. It should be noted that pubic lice infestations are one of the few sexually transmitted diseases that is not prevented by the use of a condom.

scabies mite

Scabies mite


Scabies is often confused with “crabs”, but is caused by another creature entirely: tiny eight-legged mites of the species Sarcoptes scabiei. Like pubic lice, scabies can be passed through sexual contact or other direct skin-to-skin contact with another human but not from animals.

Unlike lice, however, the mites do not live and reproduce on hair shafts but burrow through the skin forming small raised red bumps that may become “crusty”. These areas may hold hundreds of mite eggs. Itching is usually severe and most intense at night. It should be noted that Scabies can affect skin folds, even those with little hair such as the folds of the wrists, elbows, or between fingers and toes.


Infestations with lice and mites can be treated with medications called “Pediculocides”. They include:

Pyrethrins (brand name Rid shampoo, a natural product also found in chrysanthemum flowers)
Permethrin 1% (brand name Nix lotion, a synthetic pyrethrin)
Lindane Shampoo (prescription brand Kwell)
Spinosad (brand name Natroba, a natural insecticide derived from soil bacteria – only for head lice in children 4 year or older(brand name)
Ivermectin 0.5% (brand name Sklice, also from soil bacteria and only for head lice in children 6 months or older)

Nix lotion (permethrin) will kill both the lice and their eggs. Rid shampoo will kill the lice, but not their eggs; be certain to repeat the shampoo treatment 7 days later. This may not be a bad strategy with the other treatments as well. Thoroughly examine the area in question for persistent nits and adults.

You might ask your physician for a prescription for Kwell (lindane) shampoo to stockpile. It is a much stronger treatment for resistant cases. It may cause neurological side-effects in children, so avoid this medicine in pediatric cases. Here are general instructions for the above products:

• Start with dry hair. If you use hair conditioners, stop for a few days before using the medicine. This will allow the medicine to have the most effect on the hair shaft.

• Apply the medicine to the hair and scalp.

• Rinse off after 10 minutes or so.

• Check for lice and nits using a comb in 8 to 12 hours.

• Repeat the process in 7 days

Wash all linens that you don’t throw away in hot water (at least 120 degrees). Unwashable items, such as stuffed animals, that you cannot bring yourself to throw out should be placed in plastic bags for 2 weeks (for head lice) to 5 weeks (for body lice). The bags are then opened to air outside and shaken out.

Combs and brushes should be placed in alcohol or very hot water. Your patients should change clothes daily, although this may be problematic in austere settings. It would be wise for any item that might have been exposed to be treated, even if belonging to other family members. Have enough pediculocide product to treat the entire group.

Over time, commercial medications may run out, but natural remedies for lice have existed for thousands of years. Even commercial medications like Rid Shampoo use pyrethrin, a substance extracted from the chrysanthemum flower. Another favorite anti-lice product is Clearlice, a natural product containing peppermint, among other things.

A combination used for lice utilizes tea tree and neem oils. One topical therapy mixes a blend of vinegar, tea tree oil, and neem oil, which is applied daily for 21 days. A mixture of Witch Hazel and tea tree oil applied daily after showering for 21 days has also been reported as effective against hair lice.

A triple blend of tea tree, lavender, and Neem oil applied to the public region for 21 days may be effective in eliminating Scabies. All of these methods require diligent removal of nits and adult lice by combing beforehand.

Although I have seen recommendations to “suffocate” head lice with mayonnaise, lard, butter, or coconut/olive oil, there isn’t enough evidence to be certain that this method will work. Besides, you might just need those products for survival purposes. If you do use it, you would generously apply to the head, place a shower cap overnight, and rinse out in the morning.

In normal times and not-so-normal times, keeping an eye out for lice will give you a head start on staying healthy. Good hygiene is the key to success, even if everything else fails.

Joe Alton, MD

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Survival Medicine Hour: Vitals, Dakin’s Solution, Fungal Meds, More

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Using Dakin’s solution for wound infections

Is ISIS causing an outbreak of the parasite Leishmaniasis by dumping bodies on the street? Plus, are there fungal meds in veterinary medicine that could be used in survival scenarios for humans? Plus, how to treat wound infections with Dakin’s solution and the simple formula that can save your precious supply of antibiotics. All this and a primer on vital signs for the survival medic with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton ARNP in the Survival Medicine Hour podcast.


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


Joe and Amy Alton

Gatlinburg Amy View 2015

Nurse Amy

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

To watch, click below:


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


Joe Alton, MD


FLUAD, The Next Generation Vaccine?

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One thing you can count on seeing every winter is a flu outbreak. Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that has been the cause of worldwide epidemics (“pandemics”). In 1918, the Spanish Flu spread throughout the globe and killed close to 100 million people.

Even non-pandemic influenza can turn deadly in some cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have limited information on official death counts from flu each year, but it can be anywhere from a few thousand to fifty thousand in the U. S., mostly among those over 65.


So many people get the flu yearly (one in five to one in twenty in recent years) that modern medicine has worked diligently to try and prevent it. This has led to the development of vaccines. Vaccines work by exposing you to the previous year’s virus in the hope that you will develop immunity to this year’s version. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of flu vaccine with a “booster” meant to improve the immune system, especially in the elderly. This new vaccine, called Fluad, claims to translate into better outcomes among older people.



Fluad’s main target is people over 65 years of age. The elderly typically do worst if they get the flu, so much so that influenza has been called the “Old Man’s Friend” because it ends their suffering, and I mean permanently. According to an FDA spokesperson: “Immunizing individuals in this age group is especially important because they bear the greatest burden of severe influenza disease and account for the majority of influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths…”


Fluad contains MF59, a mixture that includes squalene, an oily nutrient produced by the liver but also seen in sharks, certain birds, and amaranth seeds (it also includes some preservatives). When incorporated into vaccines, MF59 increases the number of immune cells that are activated.


From a pandemic standpoint, there’s another benefit: Adding MF59 can help extend vaccine supplies. People might need a lower dose of vaccine, thus allowing more to receive it.


The government actually considered using MF59 when the Swine Flu arrived in the U.S. in 2009. But, although vaccine supplies were short, MF59 wasn’t used due to the expected resistance to the new ingredient.


U.S. government officials have been wary about using MF59 in vaccines because of public suspicion of new ingredients in medical treatments in the U.S. Fluad, however, has been in use in Europe and Canada for close to 20 years; the FDA now declares it to be safe and effective.


Vaccine effectiveness is a big issue, because last year’s vaccine was only around 20% effective in preventing the flu in those who took it. Normally, you want a flu vaccine to be 60% effective or more.


There are two reasons why last year’s vaccine failed, relatively speaking. The formulation may not be effective against a particular virus if the virus mutates or a new virus arrives. Also, if the vaccine doesn’t activate a person’s immune response, it won’t work to produce antibodies against the virus.

Tests show Fluad works at least as well as the vaccines already on the market, and may boost a senior’s protection from H3N2, one of the currently circulating strains of influenza.


(DID YOU KNOW: Type A (the most common) Influenza viruses are categorized by certain proteins on their surface called HA (Hemaglutinins) and NA (Neuraminidases). For example, Swine Flu is H1 N1.)


The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age receive the vaccine. Despite this, only 148 million doses get distributed in the United States, a country with a population of more than 300 million. This is because of concerns on the part of many of adverse reactions. Some believe that reluctance is also due partly to the injection required, so a nasal mist was developed. Unfortunately, shortages are commonly reported.


Another concern is the possibility of  an adverse reaction to something in the vaccine. Ill effects of flu vaccine can be minor or major. Minor problems following a flu shot include pain, redness, and swelling at the site of injection, plus flu-like symptoms. If these occur, they usually last 1 or 2 days.


This doesn’t mean, however, that serious problems can’t occur with vaccines. One in a hundred thousand to a million people may develop a disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause long-term damage to nerves. Children may, rarely, experience seizures due to high fever from a flu shot. Of course, anyone could be allergic to a component of the vaccine, causing a mild to serious reaction. Major reactions seems to occur in one in a million cases.


You won’t find Fluad on pharmacy shelves this year but it should be available next year. Will it decrease flu-related deaths among older citizens in the U.S.? We’ll have to wait until 2016 to find out.


Joe Alton, MD


To find out more about influenza, check out our classic 4 part series of articles, or get a copy of our bestseller The Survival Medicine Handbook, with over 250 5-star reviews.

And, if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for that older child, check out our board game Doom and Bloom’s SURVIVAL!, a great way to have a fun family game night (and think about tough decisions you’d make in a survival scenario). Now with a full set of 8 custom miniatures, our survival medicine DVD, and a SURVIVAL! nylon mini-backpack free with your purchase!


Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

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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 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.



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


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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Survival Medicine Hour: Paris Terror, Prepper Author Jim Cobb, more

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What’s the new normal? It’s certainly not what is was just a few days ago for the French, that’s for sure. Nurse Amy gives her opinion and Prepper Author Jim Cobb of Preppers Survival Hacks joins in to discuss the news of the day, and talk about his new book that’s guaranteed to turn you into the next MacGyver. Also, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones discuss some emergencies that cause a person to collapse, this week: heart attacks. All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour.

black bear

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


Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP

2015 Birdhouse Inn Mountain Paradise View!

2015 Birdhouse Inn Mountain view from the deck (color-enhanced)

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

Survival Medicine Hour: E. Coli Outbreak, Bear Attacks, Making Saline, more

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Type of Bear Unlikely To Attack You


Bears are about on the Alton property in Tennessee, filling up for their winter sleep. We’ve come upon them a few times, but would YOU know what to do if confronted by one? Find out the best and safest way to handle either a defensive or a predatory bear, and much more about these amazing creatures. Also, Chipotle closes 43 stores when linked to an outbreak of E. Coli bacteria; find out how this common and needed bacteria turns into a pathogen (disease-causing organism) and how to identify and treat it. All this and more from Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.


Bacteria rods


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


Joe and Amy Alton


Learn how to deal with medical issues in a disaster by getting a print edition of our 3 category Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook“, with over 250 5-star reviews!

Metronidazole as a Survival Antibiotic

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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.



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 or

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.

Preventing a Cold: Myths vs. Facts

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We often talk about infections that would cause avoidable deaths in disasters, but minor illnesses that negatively affect work efficiency in times of trouble are also major problems for the family medic. When everyone has to be at 110% just to survive, anything that limits the ability to perform activities of daily survival puts the whole group at risk.

One of these issues is the common cold. Known variously as a head cold, naso-pharyngitis, coryza, or just a cold, it is the most common illness on the planet, and 75-100 million Americans present to a medical professional for treatment every year. A small percentage of these people go on to have secondary respiratory infections such as pneumonia, which can lead to a life-threatening condition.


typical virus

The common cold is an infection caused, usually, by a virus in the Rhinovirus or Coronavirus family, although a number of others have been implicated. Affecting the upper respiratory system (nose, throat, sinuses), it’s a (very) rare individual that hasn’t dealt with a cold at one point or another.

Like many viral illnesses, there is no cure for the common cold, and attention should be paid to methods that might prevent it. Many people have their own strategies for prevention, but some of these methods are ineffective and have little basis in fact. Here are time-honored (but false) ways that you can (can’t) prevent a cold:

Dress warmly and you won’t get sick: Dressing warmly for cold weather is a smart move to prevent hypothermia, but it won’t prevent colds. A cold is an infectious disease caused by a virus. Regardless of what you wear, you can be infected in any type of weather.



Stay inside during the winter to avoid catching a cold: Staying inside actually increases your chances of getting infected. Enclosed spaces can expose you to a higher concentration of the virus.



Take antibiotics to prevent colds: Antibiotics kill bacteria. Colds are caused by viruses, an entirely different organism. Therefore, antibiotics are ineffective against them as a preventative or a cure. Although many people ask their doctors for antibiotics to prevent or treat colds, this is a practice that has contributed to an epidemic of resistance in the U.S. Indeed, one out of three Americans leave their doctors’ offices with a prescription for antibiotics to treat an illness that is completely unaffected by them.



Keep your head dry. A wet head will cause a cold: Having a head full of wet hair is thought by some to predispose you to a cold, but it just isn’t so. You may feel a chill, but it won’t make you more likely to catch a virus.

A weakened immune system will cause a cold: Certainly, having a strong immune system is a good thing, but even the healthiest person can catch a cold if exposed to the virus.



Vitamin C will prevent colds: Although supplements like Vitamin C and Zinc may decrease the duration of a cold, they don’t do anything to prevent your catching one.

Turning down the heat in the house will prevent a cold: Many feel that central heating causes the nose to dry up and make them more susceptible to a cold. A virus can colonize the mucus membranes, regardless of the level of humidity.

Prevention is only an issue in the winter. You can only catch colds then: In reality, colds occur most often in the Spring and Fall. Many viruses actually become dormant in cold weather.

Wearing Garlic or other herbs will prevent your getting sick: What? Wearing garlic may repel vampires (and everyone else), but its health benefits mostly derive from being ingested.

Avoid kissing to prevent colds: Interestingly, relatively small quantities of virus reside on the lips or in the mouth. Most of it is found in the nasal cavity. Then again, it’s hard to be kissed without being breathed on as well.

Those are some myths, but here’s a fact: Hand washing is an effective way to decrease your chances of catching a cold. Viruses are transmitted less often if hands are washed regularly and frequently throughout the day. This is especially true if you want to prevent colds in children. Instill hand-washing as a part of daily routine in kids, just as you would teach toilet training.



Natural remedies would include one of my favorites: Green tea with Lemon and Honey.  Drinking the tea and breathing in steam helps the hair follicles in the nose to drain germs out. Lemon is known to thin out mucus and honey is a great natural antibacterial agent.



Don’t forget that viruses can live on surfaces for a period of time, so have some disinfectant around to clean countertops, work surfaces, and doorknobs.

There are as many myths about treating a cold as there are about preventing one. “Feed a cold, starve a fever” is one. We’ll discuss these in detail in a future article.



Joe Alton, MD

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Learn more about dealing with medical issues in times of trouble with our Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook“, with over 250 5-star reviews!

Survival Medicine Hour: Amputation, Insomnia, more

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What if you were the medic in a long-term survival scenario and came upon an injury that won’t get better with the usual treatment? What if you had to make an extreme decision like whether to perform an amputation? Joe Alton, MD steps out on a limb to talk about considerations that would be necessary in these circumstances. Also, Amy Alton, ARNP, discusses a common problem and how to deal with it: Insomnia! All this and more in the latest Survival Medicine Podcast.


To listen in, click below:



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



Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy