Sunday, September 04, 2005

Post from Angie. If anyone is reading that has communication with relatives down here:

Dysentery is a bacterial infection of the GI tract caused by Shigella dysteriae. Historically this disease was known as the "bloody flux," because it is characterized by bloody diarrhea (although it is important to note that Shigella is not the only pathogen that can cause these symptoms).

Like all bacterial infections, dysentery can be treated with antibiotics. According to the CDC, the drugs of choice are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Bactrim or sulfa drugs(trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole), or ampicillin/penicillin.

Shigella is transmitted by the oral-fecal route, otherwise known as consuming food or water contaminated with infected feces. Because of the situation there, where you are being exposed to raw sewage and there is limited food and water, you are obviously at a greater risk of exposure to Shigella, as well as other pathogens, including bacteria (e.g. cholera) and viruses (e.g. enteroviruses such as Hepatitis A). In conditions where people are exposed to lots of untreated water/sewage, these diseases are self-perpetuating, since they both cause and are transmitted by diarrhea.

As gross as this is, there are some basic things that hurricane survivors can do to prevent dysentery.

1. Wash hands with lots of soap (or any kind of detergent that is available...dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.) regularly. This sounds like common sense, but since you lack safe, running water, you should know that many bacteria are killed by detergents, which rupture their cell membranes. Also, washing hands with soap using boiled water is even better.

2. People with dysentery should not share, prepare, or handle foods that will be consumed by others.

3. Although you probably don't have a ton of raw food available to prepare, make sure it is cooked VERY thoroughly before you eat it. In general, use third-world travel rules: boil it, cook it, peel it, or DON'T eat it!

4. If you get dysentery, DO NOT take antidiarrheals such as Imodium (loperamide). This can actually make the disease worse. Only take antibiotics if they are available.

5. A large risk of all diarrheal diseases is dehydration. I know this is also tough, because water is in limited supply, but try to keep people with dysentery hydrated.

6. Try to control sewage as much as possible. Keep dirty diapers (or any waste) in plastic containers/bags far away from consumable food and water. If it is available, also put household bleach in these containers. Wipe surfaces that may have come into contact with fecal matter/sewage with a bleach solution (10-15% bleach).

9 Comments:

Blogger Pooka said...

Some additional notes.

DIAPER WIPES! If you can get your hands on them in these conditions, use them! They're used on dirty baby bottoms for a reason, and these things can even strip car grease off your hands.

Hydration -- if it's -still sealed-, and you can keep it down, so long as it isn't booze, drink. Soda is still mostly water, and it's better than contaminated sources, or dying of dehydration.

1:40 PM  
Blogger "Andy" Bouthiller said...

It is pretty pathetic the military isn't sending more aide. Instead of me sweeping the same deck and wiping down the bulkheads all day I could be down their serving my nations duty. I suppose they think the are helping enough but everytime I turn on the news it seems that they need it. I talked to my chaplin and he says I have to fill out a special request chit. What kind of bull is that. I need to ask permission to help a disaster that happened. I thought that by joining the military I had already requested that.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous angie r. said...

Just be wary of rehydrating people with soda...it contains caffeine, which is a diuretic, and can actually make dehydration worse.

Oh, and this is sort of stupid, but I realized that I made a typo and spelled the name of the dysentery bacteria incorrectly. It's actually Shigella dysenteriae, not "dysteriae". A minor point, I know, but I strive for accuracy.

Josh, I hope you had a great birthday, as great as can be expected under the circumstances.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Amanda M said...

Also, as soon as you get to a dr, get tested - stool samples, blood tests, etc. And there's an vaccine for typhoid, and I read today that police/guard were getting shots.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

This is great information to know. I do not think that many people understand about all the things that have been spoken about in the comment section and in the writings of the blogger. I became so dehydrated one time that I ended up in the hospital for a week. It's not ball game, trust me.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

It is very sad that we are wasting American dollars over sea protecting and rebuilding others countries. But now that we need the military protection and assistance they aren't here. There are so many men and women in the armed forces who would love to be helping the American people, but instead they are over seas. There is no reason that aid and assistance shouldn't be in the south where the disaster our. These people who need aid are dying, so we are killing our own people. This is crazy and action needs to be taken.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Tabelão série B said...

hi iam Brazilian no american

8:12 AM  
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