Friday, June 24, 2011

World Bank on Bird Flu

So often humans talk about how war kills so many needlessly, yet when we look at the viruses, plagues, diseases and pathogens of the World we see how few people war actually kills as a percentage of the whole. Did you know that in all the recorded written history of our nation only one-percent of the total number of our species, which have lived on the surface of this planet have actually perished in the fighting of a war? Interesting isn't it, especially considering the mass media's obsession with the war in Iraq.

It seems whenever there is not something really interesting in the news such as OJ, Scott Peterson, Hurricane Katrina or Supreme Court nominations we are fixated on the war. Yet wars are nothing compared to what the World Health Organization is warning us against now. David Nabarro spoke recently at a meeting with the World Bank and told them that it is quite possible that a global flu pandemic will kill up to 150 million people. Kind of outs our worries about wars to shame doesn't it? Do you know how many people 150 million is? That is greater than the population of Mexico, which is the fifth largest country in the World.

Currently Bird Flu is affecting ten nations, but is limited due to its inability to be passed from human to human, but this could change with a small evolving change of the bird flu virus and that is bound to happen eventually. Some scientists wonder why it hasn't yet and admit we maybe on borrowed time. If bird flu moves to pigs and infects their respiratory systems it could easily enter the human population and it would spread as fast as the fastest flu type viruses and across the planet, taking out the weakest amongst us. This is serious and the World Bank knows it.

The question is; can the impoverished nations deflect the possible eventuality of such a catastrophic virus and can they afford to vaccine their populations to prevent its spread once it starts? And if money is lent to help them, will they be able to pay it back or will we do another round of debt relief? These may not seem like big issues, but when the Bird Flu enters the human populations, which it will they say, well, it will be too late then to be discussing these things as millions die each week. Think on that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Houston We Have A Problem, Rita

It has not been all that long since Tropical Storm Allison deluged East Houston, indeed that storm sat and spun around and around for days. East Houston is the lowest part of Houston and all the water filled it up. If you will recall the many semi-truck tractor trailers completely submerged on that freeway you will remember exactly what Rita could render.

The areas directly East of Houston are indeed at sea level give or take a few feet. It is a swamp area. Indeed the City of Beaumont TX, is often flooded from regular storms, which Hurricane Rita is not. New Orleans although it could use some additional water to help dilute all that sludge and pollution, will get much more than it needs before all this is over and the areas North will also, which are flooded already and they will all drain back into that lower area. Areas like St. Charles are barely above water levels as well and are also prone to flooding and some are predicting ten inches or more and the area just cannot handle that level of rain. If this storm peters out after landfall it will sit and spin and give all concerned a very wet time, perhaps almost a week worth of heavy rains and runoff from the higher elevations. South Texas is also very prone to flooding and the entire coastline areas from Houston to Corpus Christi could see a whole lot of muddy water and muck.

Although Hurricane Rita has dropped to a Category IV Hurricane which is still extremely intense, it will increase as it hits the water closer to shore where surface temps are pushing 87 degrees and then it may get a burst as it gets close with temps at 88-89 degrees. There is not a lot in the way of Hurricane Rita and it will also be taking out some of the 670 Production Oil rigs in the Gulf on its way to rip a righteous river where the storm surge makes landfall. This will be something we will never forget, nor should we. Think on this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hurricane Victims' Grief - How Can You Help?

We may never know how many people hurricane Katrina killed. But we know this: The victims are going through double grief. They grieve for the family members and friends who have died (post-death grief), for missing loved ones, and countless losses to come. This process is called anticipatory grief.

What is it? Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. Katrina was both, a dreaded event that killed thousands. As the victims' losses increase their anticipatory grief will also increase. If you had to summarize their lives with one word it would be uncertainty.

Everything is up for grabs.

John S. Rolland, author of "Living Beyond Loss: A Death in the Family," says the emotions associated with anticipatory grief are intense. What's more, these emotions can be total opposites, such as hope and despair. Katrina's victims are on emotional overload. No wonder they have most of the symptoms of anticipatory grief. Here are some of their symptoms.

DENIAL. You hear denial sentences on television and radio every day. "Gulf Coast residents are used to hurricanes." "We thought we could ride out the storm." "The [flood] water will go down soon." The problem with denial is that it can kill you.

EMOTIONAL NUMBNESS. Some victims are so traumatized they have a "flat affect" and display little emotion. Their faces are blank and their body language is minimal. It's as if Katrina wrung everything out of them.

NERVOUS BEHAVIOR. The hurricane victims are nervous because they've lost control of their lives. Who wouldn't be nervous? Kids are expressing their nervousness with hyper behavior, crying, or clinging.

ANXIETY AND DREAD. Katrina's victims ask themselves the same question every day: What will happen next? Kids may fear another disaster, according to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Unfortunately, weather forecasts may reinforce this fear.

CHOKED FEELING IN THE THROAT. Some hurricane victims cry easily, others hide their feelings because they must be strong for their families. So they live with a choked feeling in their throats. Besides, if they start crying they might not be able to stop.

CONSTANT SADNESS. Robert Veniga, MD, author of "A Gift of Hope: How We Survive Our Tragedies," says the victims of tragedy often believe things are going to get worse. "Their lives are governed by fears," he writes, "perhaps a fear that they can never again find happiness."

DEPRESSION. Suriving Katrina was hard enough, but now the victims have to face their losses and build new lives. Building a new life takes courage and physical stamina, two things that may be in short supply at the moment. The result is depression.

ANGER. Kids feel insecurity, anxiety, sadness, unfairness, anger and more, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

POOR CONCENTRATION/RETENTION. "I can't even think," one victim told a CNN journalist. If you can't think it's hard to frame sentences and communicate ideas. Background noise makes things harder. Who could concentrate in a crowd of 10,000 people?

HEALTH CHANGES. Many victims were dehydrated when the relif workers found them, according to news reports. Some victims, those who swam or waded through toxic water, have developed skin problems. Kids may have stomach aches, headaches, loss of appetite, nightmares, and sleep problems. Adults and kids are just plain exhausted.

SLEEP PROBLEMS. The victims stranded on rooftops had to be constantly alert and got no sleep. Victims housed in shelters got no sleep, little sleep, or interrupted sleep. Sleep problems alter their perception, thinking, behavior, and the ability to solve problems.

FEELING DISCONNECTED AND ALONE. Trauma has caused hurricane victims and relief workers to feel disconnected. Some think they've been forgotten. But they're not forgotten. Americans and people around the globe are coming to their aid. You can help by:

* Learning about anticipatory grief. Once you know about it you'll understand its power over the hurricane victims.

* Contributing to AmeriCares, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and religious groups that are providing relief.
Every contribution is welcome.

* Donating new clothing - not used - to relief organizations. Make sure the size is listed on all items. Tie socks and shoes together.

* Donating blankets, sheets, pillow cases and pillows to relief organizations.

* Donating personal care items - toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, combs, makeup - to relief organizations.

* Asking your kids to give some of their gently used books and games to relief organizations.

* Donating art supplies. Young children have limited vocabularies, so they communicate through art. Instead of donating coloring books, donate blank paper, crayons and/or water color markers so kids can express their experiences and feelings.

* Sharing your expertise. The American Red Cross and the National Institute of Mental Health need health experts in a variety of fields. Visit their Websites for more information on volunteer needs.

* Listening to victims' stories. If you share your home or if hurricane victims move to your community, take the time to listen to their stories. Your gift of listeing will ease their burdens and help them to see a brighter future.