US not capable of handling a flu pandemic


influenza ward, US Naval Hospital, Mare Island, California, December 1918

Despite countless breakthroughs in medicine since the 1918 flu pandemic, one key advance continues to elude researchers.

Without a universal vaccine to combat ever-changing flu strains, another pandemic threatens to overwhelm the U.S. health care system, warns Tom Inglesby, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health…

A 2006 study at the Center for Health Security examined the potential impact of a 1918-type pandemic a century later, based on updated U.S. population figures and the current health care system.

“At the peak of the pandemic in the U.S., we’d have seven times more people in need of ventilation than we have ventilators, and seven times the number of people needing intensive care than we have intensive care beds,” Inglesby said.

The relatively mild pandemics of 1957, 1968 and 2009 killed between 12,000 and 70,000 in the U.S. The severe 1918 pandemic killed up to an estimated 50-100 million people worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S. Deaths a century ago were primarily attributed to lack of a flu vaccine, lack of antibiotics to treat superimposed bacterial pneumonia, and the absence of basic medical supplies that we take for granted now, like oxygen, IV fluids and mechanical ventilation.

Since then, improvements include effective treatments for pneumonia and emergence of vaccines that can generally be developed for a new flu strain within six months. Studies show that vaccines reduce flu risk from 40 to 60 percent—and scientists constantly seek to make them faster and more effective.

RTFA. It might also be useful to have a Congress with elected officials who care more about healthcare than squeezing out another few buck$ in tax breaks for our biggest corporations, wealthiest denizens of Wall Street.

Of course, that would require more than the 2-Party dead end we get lost in every couple of years.

Colorado Legalized Weed — Opioid Deaths Fell

❝ “Marijuana legalization in Colorado led to a “reversal” of opiate overdose deaths in that state, according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than 6% in the following 2 years…”…

The authors stress that their results are preliminary, given that their study encompasses only two years of data after the state’s first recreational marijuana shops opened in 2014.”

❝ Pretty clear:

Even if one doesn’t replace the other there is no medical doubt the cannabis effect aids anxiety, withdrawal symptoms of lots of addictive substances. Probably helps rid your mind of political sophistry. 🙂

Australians Stay Alive Another Day Without God-Given Right to Shoot Down Their Friends and Neighbors


Boring isn’t it?

❝ Due to the nation’s controversial and oppressive gun restrictions, no one has died as a result of a mass-shooting on Australian soil today, for the 7827th day in a row.

❝ North Betoota cinema attendant, Christina Upton can’t believe it has been a whole 21 years and 57 days since a heavily armed white Australian male decided to shoot at a crowd of unsuspecting Australian civilians for no reason.

She says the peaceful two decades that have followed are “probably” because the Australian government decided to strip her of a God-given right to own projectile weaponry capable of shooting down helicopters…

❝ Ms Upton, who claims to be able to walk freely outside of her home without fear of being killed by a mass shooter, believes that God-given rights probably play a bigger role in America’s mass shootings than Americans think.

“I don’t think America should be so hard on itself about the mental state of thousands of lonely white losers. We have those people too,”

“…Just in our country those people don’t have access to Russian-made automatic assault rifles that have been invented purely to help military personnel win wars.”…

❝ Local Betoota cop, Uncle Rick Ridgeway, says that this is because idiots have a harder time getting their hands on machine guns than criminals.

“I think America needs to realise that it’s not really the criminals you need to worry about as such. I’d be more concerned about the weirdos,”

“Criminals use guns to help their efforts in making money through crime – they have much less interest in killing you for the sake of it…”

I’ll second that emotion.

Thanks, Honeyman

The Medical Mystery That Traced Back To Slaughterhouse Profits and Shelf Life

❝ In the 1950s, the U.S. poultry industry began adopting a new process: Acronizing. Ads that ran in women’s magazines pictured crisp-skinned whole chicken that tasted “fresh,” “wholesome” and “country sweet” thanks to a “revolutionary process which helps maintain freshness in perishables” like chicken.

❝ In reality, Acronizing referred to the use of antibiotics. Birds were doused in a diluted solution of antibiotics while they were being butchered. The goal was to keep the meat from spoiling, allowing birds to be sold not just days, but weeks after slaughter.

❝ But as Acronizing became widespread, so too did its misuse. Slaughterhouse workers didn’t always get training on how to use the antibiotics properly, and even those who did sometimes used way more of the drugs in their solutions than the manufacturers called for. That meant some birds might be getting far more antibiotics than could be denatured through the heat of cooking.

As Maryn McKenna writes in her new book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats…”it was possible that housewives were unwittingly feeding their families tetracycline-laced fish and chicken. And doctors would soon discover that the people responsible for getting those proteins to dinner tables were being exposed to antibiotics in a manner that no one had accounted for.”

RTFA, an excerpt from her book

Dogs Who Live With Smokers Die Younger


How to kill your best friend

❝ Dogs are like small children. They tend to explore their environments by putting whatever they can find in their mouths, as well as sniffing about your carpet, your furniture, and your lap. It’s no surprise, then, that your canine friend can be harmed by toxic chemicals in your environment. New research confirms that dogs living in smoking homes are more likely to suffer from DNA damage and show signs of premature aging than those living in non-smoking homes.

❝ In people, the potential health risks of smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke are well documented. But to understand how environmental tobacco affects our pets, Natalie Hutchinson, a veterinary researcher at the University of Glasgow, recruited 42 dogs and their owners, approximately half of whom lived in smoking homes and half in non-smoking homes. Each of the dog owners completed a survey about their smoking habits, frequency, and whether they smoked indoors or stepped outside. Then researchers collected blood, hair samples, and cheek swabs from the dogs during a health checkup. They also offered free-of-charge neutering, and collected spare tissues for genetic analysis.

❝ A year later, Hutchinson followed up with 25 of the pet owners and conducted some more tests. She found that certain biological markers, such as the presence of nicotine in dogs’ hair, were much higher in dogs exposed to smoke at home and were related to the amount of smoking going on. “The fact that we found significant increases in various biomarkers over just a year’s worth of data is the most worrying part for me,” she says. “Dogs can live up to 10 to 15 years with us, which means they could be exposed to even more harmful effects over time.”

But dogs that came from smoking homes were already showing signs of DNA damage that could lead to shorter lives, Hutchinson says. Their telomeres, which cap and protect the ends of chromosomes, were much shorter compared to dogs from non-smoking homes. Telomeres not only protect DNA from oxidative stress, once they reach a critically short length, cells stop dividing and may even die, Hutchinson explains.

No surprise to me. Still, it’s nice to see the beginnings of scientific research validating what lots of folks know anecdotally.

Cubans are 15 TIMES LESS LIKELY TO DIE from Hurricanes Than Americans


Click to watch this production from Democracy NOW

One of the Caribbean islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma was Cuba, where 10 people died. Irma hit Cuba’s northern coast as a Category 5 storm. It was the deadliest hurricane in Cuba since 2005, when 16 people died in Hurricane Dennis.

Cuba has long been viewed as a world leader in hurricane preparedness and recovery. According to the Center for International Policy, a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba. Meanwhile, Cuba has already sent more than 750 health workers to Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

Read the transcript of a discussion with Elizabeth Newhouse, director of the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Project. She has taken numerous delegations from the U.S. to Cuba to see how the Cubans manage disaster preparedness.