If it Can Happen in New Zealand

It can and will happen here.  LA will have another major earthquake, but sadly we are woefully unprepared for it again.  What you do now, before the earthquake, will determine what your life will be like after.  People are often injured and killed by sort of silly things – flying stereo speakers – during earthquakes.  Start with the following to prepare you and those you love for an earthquake:

Do a hazard hunt for items that might fall in your home during earthquakes and secure them.

Create a disaster preparedness plan and practice it.

Own a fire extinguisher and know how to use it.

Determine how you will establish and maintain contact with people in a cellphone dead world. 

Have an emergency supply stash that will be accessible:

  • Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day, for 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks.
  • What else would you need to be on your own for up to 2 weeks?
  • What would you need if you are in your car or office when the earthquake strikes?

Know and practice Drop, Cover and Hold.

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Did You Clean Your Hands?

Hand transmission of microbes (bugs) by health care workers is a primary cause of infections in healthcare settings. Compliance with effective handwashing and hand sanitization regimens can help prevent such infections.  Many studies have shown that alcohol gel sanitizers are as effective and sometimes more effective than soap and water at killing bacteria and viruses that hang out on people’s hands and healthcare workers are now being advised to use alcohol gels instead of soap and water to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

When a person washes their hands they are supposed to do it for at least twenty seconds and the rubbing of the soap and the water should be vigorous.  Such a proper washing uses (or wastes?) more than a quart of water.  And what about the paper towels that are wasted as well?  If the use of alcohol gels is as or more effective than soap and water then what are we doing with these handwashing rituals we engage in a few or more times a day?  This is a question that has few solid answers so far, but needs to be debated.  Water is a precious resource and we shouldn’t be playing games with it.  Let’s figure this thing out together.

Whooping it Up

There is a pertussis epidemic in California and it is taking its heaviest toll among infants, so state health authorities are trying to boost immunization in a population group thought to pass along the disease — adults.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is now shipping free pertussis vaccine to all birthing hospitals in the state, as well as county and municipal health departments. The department is encouraging not only new mothers and fathers to get immunized but also other family members, healthcare workers, child care workers, and anyone else who might have contact with infants.
The CDPH projects that California is on track to suffer its worst pertussis outbreak in 50 years. The state declared a pertussis epidemic on June 17. Through the first 6 months of the year it counted 1337 cases compared with 258 for the same period in 2009.
The incidence rate for children younger than 1 year was 38.5 per 100,000 — the highest rate among any age group. Of these children, 89% were younger than 6 months, which is too young to be fully immunized.
So far, the epidemic has claimed 5 lives — all Latino infants younger than 3 months who had not received any pertussis vaccine, according to the CDPH and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pertussis rates for infants are higher for Hispanics than other ethnic groups in California.
As always, public health authorities stress vaccination as best way to protect against the disease. The CDC recommends that children receive the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 to 18 months, with a booster shot at age 4 to 6 years when they enter school. Infants need the first 3 shots in the series to achieve maximum protection, according to the CDC. Children aged 11 or 12 years should receive a dose of Tdap, the booster shot for adolescents and adults. Adults who did not receive Tdap as a preteenager or teenager also should get a dose.
California does an above-average job of immunizing young children. In 2008, the coverage rate for 3 or more doses of DTaP among children 19 to 35 months of age was an estimated 97.8% for California compared with 96.2% for the nation, according to a survey by the CDC. The immunization rate for California Latinos was even higher, at 98.1%.

There is a pertussis epidemic in California and it is taking its heaviest toll among infants, so state health authorities are trying to boost immunization in a population group thought to pass along the disease — adults.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is now shipping free pertussis vaccine to all birthing hospitals in the state, as well as county and municipal health departments. The department is encouraging not only new mothers and fathers to get immunized but also other family members, healthcare workers, child care workers, and anyone else who might have contact with infants.
The CDPH projects that California is on track to suffer its worst pertussis outbreak in 50 years. The state declared a pertussis epidemic on June 17. Through the first 6 months of the year it counted 1337 cases compared with 258 for the same period in 2009.
The incidence rate for children younger than 1 year was 38.5 per 100,000 — the highest rate among any age group. Of these children, 89% were younger than 6 months, which is too young to be fully immunized.
So far, the epidemic has claimed 5 lives — all Latino infants younger than 3 months who had not received any pertussis vaccine, according to the CDPH and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pertussis rates for infants are higher for Hispanics than other ethnic groups in California.
As always, public health authorities stress vaccination as best way to protect against the disease. The CDC recommends that children receive the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 to 18 months, with a booster shot at age 4 to 6 years when they enter school. Infants need the first 3 shots in the series to achieve maximum protection, according to the CDC. Children aged 11 or 12 years should receive a dose of Tdap, the booster shot for adolescents and adults. Adults who did not receive Tdap as a preteenager or teenager also should get a dose.
California does an above-average job of immunizing young children. In 2008, the coverage rate for 3 or more doses of DTaP among children 19 to 35 months of age was an estimated 97.8% for California compared with 96.2% for the nation, according to a survey by the CDC. The immunization rate for California Latinos was even higher, at 98.1%.

Similar to the rest of the country, however, California falters when it comes to vaccinating children aged 11 and 12 years. In 2008, the percentage of children aged 13 to 17 years who had received at least 1 dose of Tdap since age 10 years was 44% in California and 41% nationwide. A bill is pending in the California state legislature, however, that would allow the state to require middle-school children to be vaccinated against pertussis.

The immunization rate among adults nationwide is even worse, at 6% (the corresponding rate in California is not available). It is the lack of vaccine coverage among adults that California is attacking in the midst of its pertussis epidemic.

Colonoscopies Not An End All

You may believe that colonoscopies are infallible – get a colonoscopy, get any precancerous polyps removed, and you won’t get colon cancer.

Researchers, however, have recently reported the colonoscopies may miss a type of polyp, a flat lesion or an indented one that nestles against the colon wall. And another Canadian study,  found the test, while still widely recommended, was much less accurate than anyone expected.

In the new study, the test missed just about every cancer in the right side of the colon, where cancers are harder to detect but about 40 percent arise. And it also missed roughly a third of cancers in the left side of the colon.

Instead of preventing 90 percent of cancers, as some doctors have told patients, colonoscopies might actually prevent more like 60 percent to 70 percent.

People should continue to have the test, because it is still highly effective, but one should seek the best colonoscopists by, for example, asking pointed questions about how many polyps they find and remove. People should also be scrupulous in the unpleasant bowel cleansing that precedes the test, and promptly report symptoms like bleeding even if they occur soon after a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are not a perfect screening test because they depend on the competence of the doctor doing the procedure.

The American Cancer Society says that even if the test is less effective than many had believed, it has no plans to change its recommended intervals between screenings — the test still prevents most cancers, but the expense and risk of the test argue against doing it more often.

The cancer society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also are focusing on developing measurements of quality so that doctors who do colonoscopies can assess themselves and improve.

About 148,000 people will learn they have colon cancer this year, the American Cancer Society reports, and nearly 50,000 will die of it.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older. Other risk factors include having:

Inflammatory bowel disease.
A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to increased risk of colorectal cancer include:

Lack of regular physical activity.
Low fruit and vegetable intake.
A low-fiber and high-fat diet.
Overweight and obesity.
Alcohol consumption.
Tobacco use.

Shaky City

Scientists recently predicted that a strong and deadly earthquake is virtually certain to strike on one of California’s major seismic faults within the next 30 years. They calculated the probability at more than 99 percent that one or more of the major faults in the state will rupture and trigger a quake with a magnitude of at least 6.7. An even more damaging quake with a magnitude of 7.5 or larger, the earthquake scientists said, is at least 46 percent likely to hit on one of California’s active fault systems within the next three decades. It probably would strike in the southern part of the state, the scientists warned.

Quakes like those would be similar in magnitude to such deadly temblors as the Loma Prieta, which claimed 63 lives and caused at least $10 billion in damage in 1989, and the Northridge quake in the San Fernando Valley in 1994, which killed 57 people and caused more than $12.5 billion in damage.

California, riven by thousands of faults that extend many miles deep into the Earth’s crust, is one of the world’s most seismically active regions. Two huge tectonic segments of the Earth’s crust – the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate – move constantly past each other at about 40 millimeters, or 1 1/2 inches, each year, forming a great clashing boundary where stresses build up along all the state’s faults. That buildup of stress on any single fault after its most recent rupture and the average time between the fault’s past quakes help scientists forecast the probability that stress will rupture the fault again and release an earthquake’s power.

Don’t wait thirty years to get ready!

Prepare now:

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/preparedness.php

Mal Air

Los Angeles has topped American Lung Association’s bad air list of most polluted cities in America. The association found that the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which includes Riverside County, had the worst air based on 2003 through 2005 figures.

The organization based the rankings on ozone pollution levels produced when heat and sunlight come into contact with pollutants from power plants, cars, refineries and other sources. The group also studied particle pollution levels emitted from these sources, which are made up of a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air.

Such pollution can contribute to heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks, the association said. Those especially vulnerable to polluted air are children, senior citizens, people who work or exercise outdoors and people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in counties that still have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution even though there appeared to be less ozone in many counties than previous years, the study found.

The solution? Consider other means of transportation such as mass transit, biking, walking, and carpooling. If everybody did a little something L.A.’s mal air could turn into bel air.

Mind Games

Americans are increasingly heading to the supplements aisle at the first sign of a sniffle. Some believe that supplements are an effective way to head off a cold or the flu. Others are wary of the side effects associated with over-the-counter drugs, or alarmed about the risks cold medicines appear to pose to children.

Sales of cold and flu supplements have grown so much (8% in 2006, compared to 2% for over-the-counter drugs), that more traditional cold and flu brands have taken note. Even the mainstream Theraflu now makes a formulation, Fortifense, containing zinc, echinacea and vitamin C.

But are supplements worth the money spent on them? If the goal is a quick recovery or rapid relief from symptoms, the answer is probably not.
In 2006, sales of homeopathic immune boosters grew 13%, according to data collected by the Nutrition Business Journal; Airborne’s sales jumped nearly 50%, according to company figures. Although sales of formerly popular alternatives such as zinc and echinacea are lagging somewhat (sales dropped more than 6% and 16%, respectively, in 2006, according to the Nutrition Business Journal), they’re still among the top sellers for cold and flu – and both, along with vitamin C, are common ingredients in many patented blends.

“People will go out and spend a whole lot of money on these different products, and unfortunately there’s not that much that’s been shown to be effective,” said Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician at Penn State College of Medicine who has studied alternative remedies for coughs in particular (his research has so far shown that honey works better than cough syrup for kids).

In the absence of a cure for the common cold or flu, what most people are seeking is a little relief.

With alternative remedies, as with over-the-counter remedies, said Paul, that relief often comes from the belief that the treatment is working. “There’s such a large placebo effect with a lot of these things,” he said.

Andrew Shao, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association, agreed. “To say that things like vitamin C and zinc don’t work wouldn’t be totally accurate, because clearly for some people they do.”

The research may be equivocal, Shao added, “but you hear people all the time saying, ‘Well, I swear by it, it works for me.’ ”

There are, of course, better ways to treat or prevent a cold or the flu. A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables helps keep the immune system strong. Getting enough rest is critical for prevention and recovery. Exercise has been shown to reduce cold and flu infections, and so, of course, has frequent hand-washing.

What About Vitamin C?

Americans spend more money on vitamin C, roughly $330 million a year, than on any other purportedly immune-boosting supplement, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. Perhaps because it’s been around so long.
Vitamin C was first isolated in the 1930s, and studies investigating its potential to prevent colds got underway in the 1940s. In 1970, two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling touted the powers of C in his best-selling book, “Vitamin C and the Common Cold.” He was particularly inspired by a 1961 study at a ski school in the Alps. Kids in the study who took one gram of vitamin C per day (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s daily reference value is 60 milligrams a day) had 45% fewer colds than their untreated classmates. They also recovered from colds in two-thirds the time it took their peers to get better.

Pauling’s book and subsequent papers on the topic encouraged numerous researchers to investigate the alleged wonder vitamin in large-scale clinical studies of their own. Soon, conflicting evidence began to emerge. Some studies found the vitamin reduced the frequency of colds, some found it reduced the duration of colds, but still others found that it had no effect at all.

Last summer, the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that reviews the science on health topics, reviewed more than 50 well-designed, published studies on vitamin C and the common cold. The researchers found that taking at least 200 milligrams of C on a daily basis doesn’t reduce the odds of getting a cold — but it does speed recovery time by about 8% in adults. In children, it hastens recovery by 13.6%.

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