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Cogitation: Hubris Will Kill You!

Cogitation is concerted thought, reflection, meditation, or contemplation. “Cogitation” highlights cognitive ideas that cross our paths. These ideas and thoughts don’t really warrant full articles. They are important enough to be shared as food for thought before forgotten. Cogitation: Hubris Will Kill You! hu·bris: noun \ˈhyü-brəs\ : a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence via Merriam-Webster.com The death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the foreign national who recently passed away in Dallas, becoming the first US ebola death, is raising alarms. What I find even more alarming is the CDC’s, and US administration’s public response to his death and the subsequent infection of not one, but two of his nurses as well as the general threat that Ebola poses to our nation and the world.  At every turn the CDC and administration’s statements have turned out to be untrue, or patently false.  The most glaring examples of this are the following: The threat of Ebola coming to American shores is small:  Less than two weeks later Thomas Eric Duncan was dead in Dallas and several potential cases are being monitored in Dallas, TX,  Atlanta, GA and Kansas City, KS. The threat of others being infected is small:  One of Thomas Eric Duncan’s nurses has contracted Ebola, and his family and those that are around him are being closely monitored and there is a real threat that they have been infected as well. The chances of health care workers becoming infected with Ebola is almost non-existent:  Two nurses in Dallas have been confirmed to have contracted Ebola, with another 70 possibly exposed.  No one is 100% certain is was human error that caused the nurses to get infected, and there are conflicting reports that the virus may have mutated so as to be airborne. At every turn officials have had to back pedal, or “clarify” what they previous meant to say. In at least...

The Most Severe Health Emergency of Modern Times

[The 2014 Ebola outbreak is] the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times… World Health Organization via News from The Associated Press Also see the World Health Organization’s Ebola Virus Disease Page FacebookPinterestGoogleRedditTwitterTumblrEmailPrintPocketMoreLinkedInLike this:Like...

Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Incidents & Hazards

Andrew’s Note:  For today’s lesson in preparedness we return to our U.S. military manuals, notably the MULTI-SERVICE DOCTRINE FOR CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, RADIOLOGICAL, AND NUCLEAR OPERATIONS , FM 3-11, MCWP 3-37.1, NWP 3-11, AFTTP 3-2.42 dated July 2011, Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.  Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear is abbreviated as CBRN.  Today we introduce the types of incidents and the introduce the hazards.  Check back later this week as we go into more detail on those hazards. INCIDENTS 1-19. A CBRN incident is any occurrence involving the emergence of CBRN hazards resulting from the use of CBRN weapons or devices, the emergence of secondary hazards arising from counterforce targeting,  or the release of toxic industrial material into the environment. A CBRN incident is characterized on the basis of the intent, opportunity, and capability of the occurrence. There are three basic reasons why a CBRN incident happens, regardless of the type and nature: Intentional. An intentional CBRN incident may include: Criminal acts such as the deliberate dumping or release of hazmat to avoid regulatory requirements. Malicious acts such as the poisoning of one or more individuals. Terrorist acts that involve serious violence to persons or property for a political, religious, or ideological purpose and/or that are a matter of national interest. Accidental. An accidental CBRN incident is an event caused by human error or natural or technological reasons.  Accidental incidents are usually referred to as hazmat accidents and may include: Spills. Releases. Leakages. Natural. A natural CBRN incident is a second- or third-order effect from a natural disaster.  Examples include: Toxic chemical release. Biological waste. 1-20. Intent is the distinguishing difference between the three reasons that CBRN incidents happen. To ensure proper assessment when filtering through the information pertaining to an incident, it is important to know the intent category. Note. A CBRN weapon is a fully engineered assembly that is designed for employment to cause the release...

Smallpox – A Biological Agent

Biological agents are pathogens and toxins derived from nature that target living organisms (humans, animals or vegetation) to kill or incapacitate.  Some biological perils are also suitable for weaponization and use in biological warfare, biological terrorism or economic attacks in the case of pathogens targeting agricultural industries.  Today’s hyper-connected world is particularly vulnerable to the spread of natural or man-made (or assisted) biological risks.  Knowing a pathogen or toxin’s capabilities, symptoms and possible treatments can give you the edge in preventing or knowing when there’s been exposure and should help you seek early treatment from a trained medical professional.  Today we look a little more in depth at smallpox. What is Smallpox: Smallpox is a serious disease caused by the variola virus.  While smallpox has been eradicated in nature with only two known stocks, one maintained by the U.S. and the other by the Russian government.  However, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that additional stocks survive as smallpox wasn’t eradicated until the late 1970’s. Smallpox infection is contagious, but less so than the measles or the flu, with symptoms begin 7-17 days (incubation period) after exposure.  Humans are the only known vectors of smallpox and contagion generally takes more than casual contact.  Contagion begins with the fever and continues until the scabs fall off. Survivors are often left with pitted scars. How Does Smallpox Spread: Direct contact with bodily fluids or contaminated objects including clothing or bed linens Infection by inhalation has been known to happen but is less likely than through direct contact What are the Symptoms of Smallpox: High, persistent fever Delirium Diarrhea Excessive bleeding Vomiting (sometimes) Fatigue Malaise Headache Body or Backache Rash on mouth, face, and forearms that spreads to other parts of the body Bumps on the skin that fill with fluid and develop an indentation that looks like a bellybutton...

It’s Time for That Once a Year Health Prep

It’s time for that once a year health prep again…I mean the seasonal flu shot.  The Army Reserve orders me to ‘take my medicine’ (yes, it’s a lawful order) every year…but I’d get one anyway. In fact, I believe that the flu shot is so important that I pay for all my employees to get their flu shots as well.  Many health insurance programs pay for the entire vaccine…but even if you have to pay for it yourself…it’s a cheap prep at about $25.  You don’t even have to go to the doctor’s office to get it anymore…you can find a vaccination site near you by searching at www.flu.gov. The shot (or nasal spray) includes the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) three best guesses of the strains that your body will need help fighting off this year.  Here are some additional flu facts from the CDC: The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year Getting the flu vaccine is the first and most important step in flu protection It’s especially important to get vaccinated if you: are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease are pregnant Are 65 years and older. live with or care for others who identified in People Who Are at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as possible because: influenza is unpredictable and can begin as early as October it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection You can get your flu vaccine at: doctor’s offices clinics health departments pharmacies (this is where I went to get mine…in and out in 10 minutes) student health centers at colleges and universities many employers offer vaccines at the job site Flu...

Beware the Fair!

With county fair season in full swing there’s evidence of a outbreak of an H1N1 related swine flu that’s transmissible to humans.  While this particular flu is currently a relatively mild strain this is a reminder that the flu is a threat year round. US health officials on Friday warned the public to be careful around pigs after an outbreak of flu among visitors to county fairs. The virus does not appear to have evolved to the point where it spreads easily among humans, but it does contain a gene from the pandemic H1N1 flu that sickened millions worldwide in 2009 and 2010. “We are concerned that… may confer the potential for the virus to infect or spread among humans to a greater extent,” said Joseph Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …Bresee urged people to go to the doctor if they feel flu symptoms after coming into contact with pigs so that public health officials can better track the outbreak.”What we’re really going to be looking for is evidence that the virus has made that change to spread efficiently among humans,” he explained. “So far we haven’t seen that.” via US officials warn of swine flu outbreak at fairs – Yahoo! News Canada. …and remember that the any flu is only few mutations away from becoming a pandemic monster like the world experienced in  1918-1919, (~675,000 deaths in the U.S. and up to 50 million deaths worldwide), 1957-1958 (69,800 deaths just in the U.S.), 1968-1969 (~33,800 deaths), 2009-2010 (~8,870 and 18,300 deaths)…just to name a few.  Estimates per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). To read more about cross species flu transmission and mutation read this recent article Flu That Leapt From Birds to Seals is Studied for Human Threat from the New York Times FacebookPinterestGoogleRedditTwitterTumblrEmailPrintPocketMoreLinkedInLike this:Like...

Ebola Breaks Out Again in Uganda

8/2/12 Update:  Total of  30 Ebola cases in Uganda now including five from Kibaale prison. The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 in the central African nation of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The virus is named after a river in that country. There are five strains of Ebola viruses, all named after the areas where they were found: Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Bundibugyo and Reston, according to the WHO. via Ebola outbreak suspected among Uganda prisoners – CNN.com. I’d forgotten that there was an Ebola strain named after Reston (yes that Reston… in Virginia).  Ebola has broken out in the U.S. three times according to the Centers for Disease Control in 1989, 1990 and 1996.  Each outbreak took place at a monkey quarantine facility and luckily there no fatalities.  As scary as Ebola is… the real fear is that it could mutate into a more contagious pathogen. 7/30/12 Update:  Ebola has now been confirmed in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Originally published 7/29/12:  No cure, contagious and we don’t know where it comes from… There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, and in Uganda, where in 2000 the disease killed 224 people and left hundreds more traumatized, it resurrects terrible memories. Ebola, which manifests itself as a hemorrhagic fever, is highly infectious and kills quickly. It was first reported in 1976 in Congo and is named for the river where it was recognized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists don’t know the natural reservoir of the virus, but they suspect the first victim in an Ebola outbreak gets infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a monkey. The virus can be transmitted in several ways, including through direct contact with the blood of an infected person. During communal funerals, for example, when the bereaved come into contact with...

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