Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vaccines....

One person asked me about Vaccines. Just today I learned that the disease is killing off the chicken eggs it is grown in (remember, this is a swine/BIRD/human flu...if it is going to affect chickens, it is going to affect eggs).

Here are some other points to consider...

Today: "U.S. vaccine supply could be limited in flu pandemic
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most influenza vaccines for Americans are manufactured in other countries -- a scenario that could limit U.S. supplies should a swine flu vaccine be needed in the coming months.
U.S. government officials have taken steps in recent years to promote more production on U.S. soil by a diverse group of companies, but those efforts are far from complete.
If the current strain of swine flu turned into a pandemic, some health experts worry countries might try to reserve flu vaccine for their own citizens.
"If this thing goes global, our lack of capacity makes it very hard," said former U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy, who worked on flu preparedness efforts in the George W. Bush "


And: It takes 13-26 weeks to grow the flu in chicken eggs (the only way we know how to make flu vaccine). There is a supply situation (can we get enough eggs, supplies), a production situation (how many vials of virus can be produced asap), and a distribution situation of who gets what when. If we do not see wide swaths of people getting sick, meaning everything stays just on time, we can see vaccine getting into our hands in 5-6 months. That is according to the CDC.

Understand as well that there is a hierarchy of when each of us will get the vaccine. Though pandemics like 1918 targeted the young healthy adults, that very group is the very last on the list for vaccinations due to social norms. We place a high value on the babies, the elderly, the sick. This is GOOD in terms of our morals. However, that also means that if the pandemic hits the healthy adults first, we might be unprotected.

The WHO has not decided on whether to even ask for a vaccination, so none is started so far. There is a seed culture that the CDC developed, but that is it. The WHO is still hedging their bets that this will be a non-event.

My recommendation: assume there will not be a vaccine for at least another year. There is simply not the capacity to make enough vaccine for everyone, our vaccines are made mostly out of country (and the countries that have the vaccine plant in their country will probably claim first rights), the vaccine has not been started yet (though the seed culture has), the vaccine that is made for this strain may or may not work on a second or third wave, and there is a heirarchy of who will receive the vaccine.

So prepare in case the vaccine is not available for some reason. This does not mean panic. It means get ready just like one would do if they knew a hurricane was going to hit--calmly and reasonably. That way if it does not hit, no harm done. Simply eat those stashed boxes of poptarts :). If it does hit, and is relatively mild, you can make your decision what to do then, and if it does hit and is severe, you will be in a position to take care of your family. In any case keep your faith in the Lord and in His wisdom. He gave us specific instructions NOT to worry about ANYTHING. That does not mean do not prepare for anything, for He also shows us in many places how the prudent prepare. But it does mean do not WORRY. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Involuntary Quarantine

Hello my brethren,

One point I want to make: the US is already implementing quarantine for people suspected of having swine flu. As far as I know, they are being quarantined in their own homes. This is good, actually, and normal for a situation such as this, HOWEVER it also is a good reminder to have food and medicine at home. Stay home if you are sick. Do not push it. If you have been around others who were symptomatic with the flu, then stay home for a few days if you can, as you can pass the germ before you feel symptoms.

I might be repeating myself, but I would also suggest buying a few trinkets for the children in the family. Stickers, pretty pencils, balloons, whatever you think would bring a smile to their faces. Some candy for the whole family might not be bad either. Think of necessity first, of course, but also think of emotional "helps".

If there is flu in your area, I would recommend cancelling whatever you can. I have read, but am not positive, that sinus rinses can help prevent illness as they literally wash out the flu before it can establish itself. I would think it certainly worth a try, and we plan to do so when the flu hits closer to us.

I would also consider things such as vitamin D as there are anecdotal reports that higher vitamin D might help prevent illness. Again, this is one of those "can't hurt, might help" things. You can get vitamin D drops (one drop per person per day).

Sambucol (elderberry tincture) has been clinically proven in scientific trials to reduce the risk of contracting influenza A. You can make your own, or buy it. Most health food stores should have it.

Phase 5

The WHO has declared a phase 5 in the pandemic. This means that there is sustained human to human transmission in at least two countries and that countries should be implementing their pandemic plans now.

Over 100 schools are closed across the country.

Two Weeks of Food

The CDC is now recommending that you have a 2 week stock of food and medicine because of the H1N1. http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

That is a good START, but I would recommend more than that. First of all, this flu is lasting longer than 2 weeks, and if a family gets it, they do not all stop and start at the same time. This pantry of groceries will mean that someone has to go out sick to pick up more, which will spread the virus.

However, if that is what you can do, please do so and quickly!


Now, for my personal recommendation....

Pandemics generally come in waves lasting about 6 weeks long. They usually have three waves. In 1918 the first wave was mild, but the second wave was very severe. The CDC says to expect this flu to wane in the summer then re-ignite in the fall. I would use this summer to make a nice pantry for yourself, have ways to manage if there is no electricity or clean water, start a garden, or have the supplies to grow things in your windowsill, etc.

If this flickers out, no harm--you can take the money you will have left over at the end of the month in the fall from not having to buy groceries and you can treat the family to something. You can still eat the food--it will not go bad if there is no pandemic. Gardening is a healthful hobby that encourages sustainable living and Christian stewardship. Adding "camping skills" such as how to purify water and how to cook over a fire are just general good knowledge items.

There is no loss if you prepare MORE. There could be a great loss if you are underprepared. There is a tendency to prepare in fear--it happens to all of us when we think our families could be in danger. However, we are not called to fear. We are given a sound mind, and a sound mind recognizes that things happen and it is wise to prepare for them. We UNDERSTAND that this does not come from us, but from the Lord--it is He who allows us to have provision, to gather when it is sunny for the times when it is rainy. He is our Provider, we just have this opportunity to take advantage of it.

Love, sparrow

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

North American Human

That is the new name for this influenza.

Influenza A (H1N1) North American Human.

First cases being reported in Orlando and Indiana. The Orlando case is a tourist from Mexico who was visiting Disney attractions.

Recommendations: Consider starting a garden. Even if this does not become a pandemic, you will have fresh food to eat. If this does become a pandemic, you have a food source. Even if you live in a small apt, you can grow lettuce, spinach, radishes on a windowsill. In the winter this can be fresh food for you.

Why not go pick up a book of local edible wild plants? Did you know that kudzu, for example, is almost entirely edible, and apparently really tasty? Dandelions are also edible--flowers, leaves, and roots (which can be roasted, ground, and drunk like coffee). Did you know that you can make an aspirin tea from willow bark? That hips from wild roses saved children in England from scurvy?

You can also spend a day researching local edible plants. Print off pictures and make SURE you know what you are looking at. Don't go to mushrooms--very little nutrition and even the experts mess those up with deadly consequences--they are not worth the risk when you have better wild edibles locally.

I would make this one of my first steps in preparedness.

Swine Flu Update

I might be repeating myself a bit while I get ramped up here, so bear with me. If you have any notes or questions you want posted or addressed, let me know.

-The WHO has moved the pandemic scale up to phase 4. This means there is "Sustained human to human transmission causing outbreaks in at least one country".

-Here is a map that is updated often of swine flu patients http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&t=p&msa=0&msid=106484775090296685271.0004681a37b713f6b5950&ll=36.031332,-95.625&spn=42.156578,87.890625&z=3&source=embed

-A POSSIBLE origin for the virus has been found in a manure pit in Mexico. There was a 4 year old boy who got sick (and recovered, thank the Lord) who was ill before April 2.

-A woman who works in New York got diagnosed with swine flu after having contact with an ill family member. We should expect to see more of these cases. At first the majority of our cases were returning travelers from Mexico, now we will begin to see people who have not traveled getting ill as well.

-The WHO is not ordering flu vaccine yet until they believe that the world is on the edge of an unstoppable global flu. Remember, it takes 13-26 weeks to make a vaccine. We should not expect one for the first, perhaps second wave of a pandemic.

-The WHO is saying that the situation is "still fluid" and might not result in a pandemic. Other experts disagree and say that this is the beginning of a pandemic.

-Understand that if this is a pandemic, it will probably wane some during the summer, then flare up again in the fall/winter. Pandemics usually have 3 "waves" lasting about 6 weeks each, separated by a few months. Pandemic usually last 18-24 months. Each wave can be more mild OR more severe OR stay the same.

-All 35,000 restaurants are closed in Mexico City. I mention this to get people thinking about closures of this magnitude in your area. Are you prepared?

-There are confirmed cases in France, Germany, UK, Sweden. 9 European countries are looking into other possible cases.


Note: there is no guarantee that this is going to be a major, severe pandemic. While people in Mexico are still dying, there are no reports of people in other countries dying from this. That could mean that there are two different strains, that there is something that either gives people from other countries more protection, or it could be that there is something in Mexico that causes this to be a more severe illness.

My recommendation is still to stock up on food, medicine, necessities. If this does NOT become a pandemic, or is very mild, then you can just eat what you bought and that month have a little extra money from not having to go grocery shopping. If this does become a pandemic, and is severe, you will want to be able to keep your family safe and isolated for as long as you can. Homeland Defense has a paper out stating that a quarantine can last up to 90 days PER WAVE. That does not mean it is going to last that long, but it is possible.

Let's keep praying for this to turn into a non-event.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Recommendations

Hello my beautiful sisters (and any brothers who might be reading this).

I have promised to keep you updated on the events of the swine flu outbreak. I am working hard to get the pandemic book all finished, and hope to have it done by the end of today or tomorrow at the latest.

For those of you who have asked, I also plan to put daily findings on here, as well as any questions and answers that I could find. If you have a question, concern, please feel free to email me.

However, I wanted to update you on something that indicates the seriousness of the situation. The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic flu level by one level, from 3 to 4. This means that there is human to human transmission. It does not guarantee that this will become a pandemic, however, the WHO is extremely conservative, and conditions have already been met to warrant considering this a "pandemic".

What to do? I am NOT going to say "don't panic" because a)that bugs the mess out of me to hear that repeated constantly and b)I have faith that you are thinking, reasonable people who can manage not to panic, but to be proactive.

I would suggest conferring with your spouse. I would then suggest buying some extra supplies, such as medicines, food, and cleaning supplies. I would also buy a few nifty things for the kids, if you have any, in case schools close or they get nervous. Snaplights are fun, puzzles, stickers, little trinket things that you can bring out to distract them. I would also consider what you would do if your school closed. There are many school closings already in the country. Thankfully we are to the end of the year, so not much will be lost. You might even consider pulling the kids out of the last few days if there is flu in your area.

Also be thinking about those in your family and area who might need extra help if a pandemic were to strike!

If you want the pandemic booklet, please send me your email address. It contains information about what a pandemic is, why it is different than seasonal flu, and gives many lists, recipes, tips, etc for surviving a pandemic.

Continue in your prayers, my bretheren! We are not frightened, as the Lord has our lives under control.

I leave you with Psalm 91

1. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
3. Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6. nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9. If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the Lord, who is my refuge--
10. then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12. they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14. "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Swine Flu Outbreak

Hello my beautiful sisters....

Some of you might know that one of my hobbies is epidemiology. I have worked on some publications, etc. I have been studying the tracks of various flu outbreaks for years.

Foxnews.com had mentioned some children hit with a swine flu in California. They recovered, as did their families. When I went to one of my "go to" sites for influenza information, I found that this swine flu is new, is hitting Mexico, Mexico City has closed schools, libraries, theaters, etc.

Because this is a new virus, this year's vaccination may or may not offer any protection at all. One of the eight people who have gotten this in the US was vaccinated. The CDC has said not to consider that last fall's vaccinations protective.

The two states that this has been found in have been Texas and California. However, I listened to a CDC conference call today in which health care providers were told that there will certainly be more. This is transmitting human to human, not through birds or pigs.

The CDC is standing up their emergency operation centers. The WHO is involved and Obama has been briefed.

Now, understand that this is a serious situation, but not a dire one. It would seem that this is circulating through the US, Mexico, and some in Canada (though mostly from travelers from Mexico to Canada). Most people seem to be recovering well enough, though some have died in Mexico and have had to be hospitalized in the US and Canada.

The reason this flu is causing such concern is that it is a new strain (with swine, avian, and human flu genes), it is taking place NOT in the middle of flu season, but at the end, has been pretty severe, causing higher rates of death in ages that are usually pretty safe (20-45 year olds) and it is transmitting pretty easily. These are signs that this is not "normal flu" and must be treated with respect.

What can you do? I would recommend having enough supplies in your house of water, food, bleach, medications, soaps, etc so that you do not have to go out if this arrives in your area. If you can duck for a couple of weeks, you might save your family some serious illness. I would keep an eye on the news or on some of the medical websites (cdc, pfi, promed, who).

If you or your loved ones get influenza (high fever, body aches, cough, EXTREME tiredness, etc) call your doctor. Some patients have also had diarrhea, vomitting and nausea, and it seems that there are also times where the patient has severely bloodshot eyes. Ask your doctor if this needs to be reported, especially if you live in the SW US. Understand that, with air travel, this can be anywhere at any time. One of the children who was sick was put on a plane a few days after he started showing symptoms...meaning he was probably still contagious. The CDC has been in contact with people sitting around him.

PLEASE people, for the love of pete, STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK. If you have the flu, especially, stay home until you are ACTUALLY WELL, not just until you can stand without fainting or whatever. It is not nice to make other people sick. The world will not end if you spend extra time in bed!!! If you MUST go out (and really, unless it is an emergency, you shouldnt) consider wearing a mask. Yes, it might look funny, but it is better than accidentally infecting a pregnant woman, a child, someone undergoing chemo, or a baby. Wash your hands constantly, use hand sanitizer constantly. Cough into your sleeve, not your hand!

I think we all sometimes get tempted to go out when we are sick. It is almost like we think "Well, we have it" so we do not worry about giving it to others. I have seen far too many people go to church out of obligation when they are sick. Stay home. Seriously.

Keep your kids at home if they are sick. Even if they are "getting better" that does not mean they are "well". Schools are amplification points for germs.

Please email if you have any questions. This situation is newly evolving, with the biggest changes and news points happening in the last few hours. We might find that this is merely a blip on the screen and becomes nothing at all. We might find that this is the first wave of a very serious length of time where all families are touched with illness. We cannot know for sure until more time passes, so until then, prepare your households as much as you can and keep washing those hands!

God bless you all!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Streaming Eagle Cam

See the babies! http://www.suttoncenter.org/eaglecam.html

Just a thought....sound mind vs emotion

Just a thought.....

The Lord gave us a sound mind. He also gave us emotions. However, our society has placed emotion above soundness of mind, which, I believe, has led to many of the problems we face today-- personal, mental, and societal.

Women, particularly, have been given emotions to tend to the ill, the child, the elderly. However, we also tend to dwell in our emotions, taking offense where none was intended, relying on worry instead of faith, fretting instead of working the problem, relying on what we "feel" instead of what we "know".

Let's use our sound mind, wisdom, as a guide, not our emotions. Use our emotions to minister to others, but use our sound mind to work problems and to keep us from developing bad mental and emotional habits.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick warnings!

My beautiful sisters!

Been reading some blogs with beautiful handmade items! Ladies are so talented!

However, i wanted to warn about an idea that LOOKS adorable but is VERY VERY dangerous--lacing ribbon through the edges of crocheted or knitted blankets (or anything that a baby or child might use, to be honest).

While the idea is just as cute as it can be, these can create loops, just like how a drawstring purse works, and create a strangulation hazard for a child or baby! Even if a baby is not strong enough itself, the ribbon can snag on something, creating a loop.

One time I saw that someone said "Well, we will just watch the baby and make sure", but these blankets are usually so adorable that they are handed down to others...who might not be as vigilant. It is not work the risk. No amount of cuteness is worth danger to a baby!

Ok, soap box is off now :-)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Older Women Paintings

My Wondeful Sisters in the Lord!

I LOVE going to other women's homemakey blogs and seeing all the wonderful artwork. I think the pictures of darling young women in beautiful flowing dresses peeling apples or reading a book under a tree appeal to our longing for gentleness, for femininity.

But there is one thing I have noticed....where are the older women who are not the "supporting cast" of the painting but are the HEART of the painting, the subject of it? Where are the middle agers? Our society is obsessed with youth, and there is a lot to be said for the fresh face of innocence, the round cheek, the delicate features without spot or wrinkle. Youth is beautiful...but it might be only surface beauty. What about the beauty that comes from life, from wisdom, from being a Titus 2 woman, who has lived long enough and diligently enough to the Lord to teach the younger women?

For example....

Where are the paintings of a "just past youth" mother in glowing color in her late 30's who is repairing a beloved stuffed toy or watching the studies of the grade school children?

Where is the painting of a beautiful feminine woman in her 40's, shown leaning against a flowering plum tree, gazing into the distance with those wonderful laugh lines crinkling around her dancing eyes as she smiles at a long ago memory.

Where is the 50 year old smiling in delight as she races in flowing garments to embrace her weathered husband?

Where are the paintings of the noble, lovely, God fearing 60 year old, shown in beautiful feminine clothing with a look of sweet, knowing understanding on her face as she listens to her 30 year old daughter who has a troubled look on her face, trying to figure out if the baby is ok?


Maybe you have seen these paintings and I have missed them. If so, please link me! I look in the mirror and see a few sags, a few wrinkles, a few pounds and think "But I am still a woman". I look at my wonderful, blessed mother in her 60's who is the picture of tact and fact, southern grace in every bit of glory, who is beautiful and wonderful. Where is her painting?

I think of the poem my darling cousin wrote for her mother, about the loveliness of her mother's feet. Her mother is an old woman, but is one of the most genteel, graceful women I have EVER EVER met. Her very speech is warm, light, and languid, like a summer day with a gentle breeze. My cousin talked about the beauty of her feet, how the brought the Word, how they walked in soft green grass, how they are a treasure to her. Those are the paintings I long to see. I know what youthful beauty looks like--Precious heart is on the cusp of womanhood. :) I want to see femininity in ALL its ages, from toddling babies to wise old women.

I wish I could paint. I would paint these. But I must rely on those who can, as I do not have the ability to do so.

We women do not stop being feminine when we hit 30 xsmilex. Let us look for, and encourage others to look for, paintings that show that, while charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Let us find the art that shows women who have put on the beauty of the love of God, who might not be the newest peach in the orchard, but time has made the sweetest.