Controlling Rodents at Home or in Your Bug Out Location

Editor’s Note: Joe Alton, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Bones of DoomAndBloom.net has written an excellent overview of the disease problems rodents can cause and how to keep them under control. It’s a mini-primer worthy of attention for both your home and your bug out location. – John

 

How to Control Rodents as Disease Vectors

 

>rats-in-a-trap

Brown rats may reach 16 inches in length, including tail

in survival settings, it’s been said that rats will do a better job of surviving than humans. Rats, mice, and other rodents are well-known causes of “zoonotic” infections.  A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans.  The animal in question may not have symptoms of the disease itself, but may serve as a “vector”; that is, it carries the disease to a human target.

Rats and mice belong to the order Rodentia, from the latin word rodere (“to gnaw”).  This order contains various families, including beavers, porcupines, squirrels, and gophers.  As you are unlikely to have an infestation of beavers in your home, we’ll concentrate on rats and mice. A pair of rats could produce 1,500 offspring in one year if they all reproduced. Most rats and mice that cause issues for humans come from the “Old World”.  These include:

Brown rats (rattus norvegicus): Also called Norway rats, although they didn’t originate there (Norway has no more rat issues than other countries). Brown rats may reach 16 inches (including the tail) and are good swimmers; the term “sewer rat” was coined for them.

Black rats (rattus rattus): Thought to have introduced the Plague to Europe through their fleas. The black rat, also called the “roof rat”, is slightly smaller than its brown cousin and is an excellent climber.

House mice (Mus musculus): Used to living in close quarters with humans, mice are “nibblers” and can contaminate an entire pantry by taking a few bites out of multiple food items. Mice and other rodents can also chew through electrical wiring, thereby constituting a fire hazard.

Rats and mice are some of the world’s most invasive species. Every year, a percentage of the world’s food supply is contaminated by their droppings, urine, and hair. These items, known as “fomites”, may contain disease-carrying organisms and, as such, render food unfit for human consumption.

hooded rats

Long-Evans hooded rats I worked with in labs help further medical research

Before I go further, let me tell our readers who have rats and mice as pets that they (the pets, not necessarily the owners) are generally clean, intelligent creatures.  I have had the privilege of working with them in university laboratories as a student.  Despite this, it is indisputable that the diseases they may carry are cause for concern.

MEDICAL ISSUES CAUSED BY RODENTS

From a medical perspective, what diseases might one contract from a rodent or its droppings?  These include:

Plague:  The Plague is caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia Pestis. It is carried by fleas. The black rat’s arrival in Europe in the Middle Ages (and with it, its fleas) caused pandemics of the disease that wiped out a third of the population. Even today, Plague exists in developing countries and, there have been hundreds of cases in the U.S. over the past three decades.

Hantavirus: Hantavirus, transmitted by mice in urine, droppings or saliva, causes a serious lung disease that may become fatal without the availability of intensive care.

Leptospirosis: Caused by consuming food contaminated by rat urine, Leptospirosis causes a flu-like syndrome that progresses to kidney and liver failure if untreated.  This disease can also be carried by certain livestock.

Lymphocytic Chorio-Meningitis Virus (LCMV): LCMV may be contracted from mice urine or droppings or from pets in contact with mice, such as hamsters.   It causes a flu-like syndrome that occasionally causes complications in the nervous system, especially in people with weakened immune systems or pregnant women.  LCMV may cause miscarriage or birth defects.

Salmonellosis: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella may occur as a result of handling of pet rats or mice, especially if they have had diarrhea.  It causes severe diarrheal disease in humans, and is one good reason for owners of rats and mice to wash their hands after handling.

Rat Bite Fever: Infection with the bacterium Strebtobacillus occurs from rat bites and scratches or from ingesting food or water contaminated with rat droppings. Abrupt onset of fevers, rashes, vomiting, and headaches are noted at first, with general deterioration afterwards. If untreated, there is a 10% death rate.

RODENT-PROOFING A RETREAT

homestead-cabin-pixabay

rodent-proofing

It’s simply common sense to take measures to prevent rodent infestation in the home and to eliminate those already there. Once an infestation has occurred, much more effort is required to dislodge these unwanted guests. Rodent-proofing a home requires careful evaluation for points of entry from the level of the foundation to the roofline.  This includes sewer lines, bathroom vents, pipes and gutters, doors and windows, and vegetation near concrete slabs.

Some rodent-proofing techniques for homes include:

  • Sealing cracks in building foundations, walls, siding, and roof joints with, for example, mesh hardware cloth or concrete patching. Rodents only need ¼ inch of opening to gnaw their way into your home. Metal mesh scouring pads or galvanized window screening (not steel wool, which quickly deteriorates) may be stuffed into crevices as a temporary solution.
  • Installing vent guards in bathroom or washer/dryer vents.
  • Placing barriers to prevent climbing rodents from going up pipes or gutters.
  • Trimming trees so that branches don’t come close to the roof.
  • Contacting the utility company for strategies to prevent rats from traveling along power lines to your house.
  • Preventing rodents, especially rats, from tunneling under the foundation by placing flat concrete pavers or gravel for the first 3 feet from the base of the house.

Rodent control also involves careful attention to both indoor and outdoor sanitation.  Here are some suggestions for the wise homeowner:

  • Never leave food or water out overnight. Keep your countertops clean and disinfected.
  • Breadboxes may seem old-fashioned, but they are there for a reason: To keep the bread away from rats and mice.
  • Never leave pet food outside, clean all bowls daily, whether they are used inside or out. Rodents love to eat dog and cat food.
  • Clean under kitchen appliances. Even a few crumbs will make a meal for a mouse or rat.
  • Keep garbage disposals and sinks clean with a cup of bleach once a month.
  • Never flush grease down the sink drain.
  • Keep toilet lids down until needed.
  • Store dry foods, even pet foods, in sealed containers at least 18 inches off the floor.
  • Construct barriers around birdhouses and bird-feeders to prevent seed from being accessible to rodents.
  • Remove any fruits or vegetables from your garden that you won’t use.
  • Keep garbage can lids tightly closed.
  • Keep the side and back yards free of debris that might serve as shelters.
  • Deny access to water by fixing leaky faucets.
  • Avoid putting animal products in your compost bin.

IDENTIFYING INFESTATIONS

Rodent droppings

rodent droppings (source: city of Berkeley, CA)

If you’re not sure that your home is currently rodent-free, you might consider:

  • Looking for any partially eaten food, gnawed containers, or nesting material.
  • Inspecting your home’s interior at night with a flashlight; look especially closely at the bases of walls, as rats and mice prefer to travel along them. Little used areas of the home should be especially targeted.
  • Looking for rodent droppings. Mice and rat defecate 50 times a day; if they are in your home, you should be able to find their feces along floorboards, in attic crawl spaces, and in basements.
  • Setting out a thin layer of flour or talcum powder by areas through which rats and mice might enter your home. Place some, as well, along floorboards; rodents prefer to travel along walls. The rodents will leave tracks which will prove their presence.
  • Having cats and dogs as “mousers”. They may or may not be efficient, but they usually will alert you when a rodent is near.
  • Listening for squeaking and scrabbling noises inside walls at night.
  • Check for unusual smells. If there are a lot of rats in your home, you may notice an odor from their urine.

ELIMINATING THE PROBLEM

rats as food

A method of rodent control not discussed in this article

Once you have made the determination that you have rats or mice in your home, it’s time to reduce the population.  It should be noted that long-term control will be difficult if you haven’t followed my earlier suggestions for indoor and outdoor sanitation.

There are myriad mouse and rat-traps on the market and a number of poisons available to kill rodent invaders. It makes more sense to use traps, in my opinion, as poisons may leave you with a bunch of dead, rotting animals inside your walls. The stench may last a month or more, and sometimes deodorizer is needed to be inserted through a hole drilled in the wall.

If you have a lot of rats in your yard, you shouldn’t use poisons, as they may be ingested by neighborhood pets or even children. You should, however, consider trapping boxes. These can be snap traps, electronic “zappers”, glue traps or even catch and release versions. Both rats and mice will readily go for a small amount of fresh peanut butter as bait. Advice to the soft-hearted: Brown rats, black rats, and house mice are not native wildlife; besides other damage, some will cause casualties among endangered songbird eggs and young if released.

Glue traps are popular but controversial.  They are better weapons against mice than rats. Unfortunately, they usually leave you with a live animal to kill.  If you must use them, euthanize the rodent by throwing the trap and animal into a bucket of water or by striking it with a stick several times just behind the head. Another disadvantage of the glue trap is that it loses effectiveness in dusty areas or in extreme temperatures.

Snap traps should always be placed in perpendicular fashion, with the bait side against the wall.  Never use just one trap: Place a number of them several feet apart in the rodent’s usual path. Traps can be fastened to pipes with wire or thick rubber bands.

When cleaning out a building that has been infested with rats or mice, specific safety precautions should be followed to avoid infection. First and foremost, remember that you should never handle a wild rodent, alive or dead, without disposable gloves. Masks should be worn when cleaning. Other steps to follow:

  • Open windows and doors before cleaning to allow it to air out, then leave for an hour.
  • Avoid raising dust if at all possible.
  • Steam-clean all carpeting and upholstery.
  • Clean all surfaces with a diluted bleach solution or other household disinfectant, soaking areas that held dead animals, nests, or droppings.
  • Wash all bedding linens, pillows, etc. and use the high heat setting on your dryer.
  • Eliminate any insulation material contaminated by rodent urine, feces, or nesting material
  • As ultraviolet light can kill viruses, place contaminated items that cannot be thrown away (such as important documents), outside in the sun for several hours. If this isn’t possible, “quarantine” the items for a week in a rodent-free area.  This should give enough time for viruses to be inactived.
  • Dispose of any contaminated items or dead rodents in a plastic bag, and then place them in an exterior garbage can.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after cleaning. Consider showering with soap and hot water.

We share our world with many other creatures. Some of these creatures invade our homes and can damage our possessions and, more importantly, our health. With careful attention to sanitation and the occasional surgical strike, we can eliminate unwanted guests and make our homes safe environments for our families.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary3

Dr. Alton

Learn more about animal-borne diseases and 150 other medical topics in the Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available at Amazon.com.

 

Homeopathy – Overlooked for Preparedness and Survival Medicine

Many of us as preppers are interested in alternative medicine and health. But how much do you know about homeopathy? It approaches health and wellness in a different way than other forms of alternative medicine.

I think homeopathy has been overlooked for preparedness and survival. Perhaps this week’s DestinySurvival Radio and this post can help remedy that.

OK, bad pun.

On this week’s DestinySurvival Radio I explore homeopathy with Becky Rupert, a traditional naturopath and board certified homeopath.

Why Homeopathy now?

An excellent article by Becky about homeopathy can be found on DoomAndBloom.net, the web site for Joe and Amy Alton, also known as Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy. Search their site for homeopathy or click the link below under the Additional Resources heading.)

I applaud Dr. Bones for publishing Becky’s article. It’s in keeping with his attitude of using every tool in the shed when it comes to survival medicine.

I’m familiar with homeopathy because I discovered its benefits for me back in 1995. I’ve been seeing a homeopathic physician for over 20 years. Nonetheless, I can’t claim to be an expert on homeopathy.

But it works. It’s safe for everyone in the family, including babies and even pets.

Remedies aren’t expensive compared to some alternative medicine options. A kit the size of a recipe box can hold an amazing amount of remedies. Becky offers a kit with 40 of them.

And you don’t have to worry about expiration dates.

Upon reading Becky’s article, I realized I hadn’t mentioned homeopathy for preparedness, other than in a casual way. So I contacted her, and she agreed to do an interview for DestinySurvival Radio.

Who is Becky?

 

Becky Rupert

 

Becky Rupert is a Traditional Naturopath and Board Certified Homeopath who has been in practice for 20 years.
She has been a homesteader most of her life and has used homeopathy not only for her family, but also for her garden, bees, and farm animals.

She maintains a full time practice in Northern Ohio, but consults with people all over the united states and abroad.

Get more insight on how she came to pursue homeopathy from our conversation.

What’s So Different About Homeopathy?

In a nutshell, homeopathy calls for a different mindset toward healing.

It uses intensely diluted individual plants and minerals in its remedies. Symptoms of sicknesses and injuries people may have are matched to the symptoms a remedy can cause.

This is different than conventional medicine. If you have a fever, conventional medicine offers you something to suppress the fever.

Homeopathy offers you something that would normally cause a fever. As odd as this may sound, this gives the body a chance to heal itself gently.

Even herbalism seeks to create a result opposite to that which may be happening in your system when you’re ill or injured.

Becky and I talked about the comparison between homeopathy and getting a vaccination. In both cases the body is given something that would normally cause certain symptoms. But there are significant differences.

For example, homeopathy uses one substance as a remedy, not a combination of substances. And there are no additives in homeopathic remedies as there are in vaccines.

Furthermore, it may seem contrary to common sense to dilute substances and expect greater results. But those who understand chemistry will know that dilution can make substances stronger.

So it is with homeopathic remedies. Stronger potencies last longer and work on a deeper level.

Is This for Real?

I know from my own encounters that homeopathy has its share of skeptics.It doesn’t make sense to some, while others consider it nothing more than administration of sugar pills and the placebo effect.

Becky addressed both of those things in our conversation.

Homeopathic remedies can come in various forms, such as pills, pellets or liquid. Becky briefly described how pharmacies make remedies and how various potencies are achieved.

Incidentally, homeopathic remedies are FDA approved.

As for placebo, Becky described giving an ailing horse three different remedies before it got better. If placebo were involved, the horse would have improved with the first remedy, not the third.

This indicates the importance of knowing as much about a given ailment and its causes as possible to choose the right remedy for the situation.

But When Might You Use Homeopathy in a Survival Situation?

When it comes to preparedness, most of us will be dealing with acute situations, such as scrapes, bruises, fractures, colds and so on.

There’s a difference when treating acute symptoms vs. chronic (long term) symptoms. Becky explained this further in our conversation, but she says we can do a lot for acute symptoms with a good book and homeopathic kit.

The name of several remedies came up during our conversation. Arnica is one you’ll certainly want to have on hand. Belladonna is another.

If you can’t keep track of the names, or you’re not familiar with them, click on Becky’s article from the Additional Resources section below.

 

Homeopathic Kit

 

Of course, the goal is to achieve healing. Homeopathy is very individualized. The parent, practitioner, or physician must be observant. Patterns must be looked for.

In other words, if someone has a sore throat, there isn’t one single homeopathic remedy for that which will work for everyone. Is the sore throat on the right or left? Is it red?

The remedy that causes the symptoms exhibited is the best remedy. They’re all safe, so if the first attempt doesn’t work, or it works partially, try again.

Is There More?

I’ve attempted to give a brief overview of homeopathy above, especially for those who aren’t familiar with it. Becky did a good job of explaining things better in our chat. I encourage you to listen to the whole thing because we covered other questions like…

  • Does homeopathy conflict with other medications?
  • Can Homeopathy help cut back on conventional medications?
  • Can medications, herbs or essential oils cancel out the benefits of a homeopathic remedy?
  • How many doses of a remedy should be taken to know whether it works?
  • How does one find a reliable homeopathic practitioner?
  • How can someone learn more about homeopathy?

Listen to my conversation with Becky Rupert when you hear DestinySurvival Radio for February 23, 2017. (Right click to download.)

If you have questions for Becky or want to get the OTC homeopathic remedies or kits she offers, call her office at (419)853-3805. E-mail beckyrupert(at)frontier.com. (Replace (at) with @ in the address.) She also does skype appointments all over the US and abroad.

In conclusion, if you’re new to homeopathy, give it a try. Don’t be afraid of it. Have an open mind. It will fill gaps in your survival medicine strategy. And it can help you keep healthy today as well.

 

Berkana logo - mortar and pestile

 

Additional Resources

Surviving a Fire in a Burning Building

How often do you factor in fire when preparing for trouble? It’s worth consideration.

Buildings can be set on fire by rioters, lightning strikes, electrical shortages, or accidents. Situational awareness on your part could be the key which saves your life in a building that’s on fire.

Joe Alton, MD of DoomAndBloom.net has produced a video discussing some tragic building fires, especially in public venues. He examines what happens in a fire, how fire behaves, and what you can do to increase your chances of surviving the conflagration.

You won’t be dazzled by fancy graphics in this video, but in about 8 minutes, you’ll know what you need to know to stay alive when a fire breaks out.

 

 

Find out more about house fires, wildfires, burns, and much more in Joe and Amy Alton’s Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

 

Treating and Preventing Hypothermia

Editor’s Note: Cold weather isn’t anything to take lightly. Temperatures don’t have to get very low outside before you start feeling their impact.

Knowing how to treat and prevent hypothermia could save someone’s life–maybe your own. You could find yourself out in the cold outdoors on a camping or hunting trip, get stranded in your car in winter weather, or you might lose power at home from a snow or ice storm. Whatever the situation, take note of the guidance Dr. Joe Alton of DoomAndBloom.net offers in the following article. – John

 

Dang, It’s Cold! Treating and Preventing Hypothermia

 

Photo

hypothermia (and bad judgment)

 

This winter has already seen deadly cold snaps where people have found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Whether it’s on a wilderness hike or stranded in a car on a snow-covered highway, the physical effects of exposure to cold (also called “hypothermia”) can be life-threatening.

Hypothermia is a condition in which body core temperature drops below the temperature necessary for normal body function and metabolism. Normally, the body core is between 97.5-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.0-37.5 degrees Celsius). Cold-related illness occurs once the core temperature dips below 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius).

When it is exposed to cold, the body kicks into action to produce heat. Muscles shiver to produce heat, and this will be the first symptom you’re likely to see. As hypothermia worsens, more symptoms will become apparent if the patient is not warmed.

Aside from shivering, the most noticeable symptoms of hypothermia will be related to mental status. The person may appear confused, uncoordinated, and lethargic. As the condition worsens, speech may become slurred; the patient will appear apathetic, uninterested in helping themselves, and may lose consciousness. These effects occur due to the effect of cooling temperatures on the brain: The colder the body core gets, the slower the brain works. Brain function is supposed to cease at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although there have been exceptional cases where people (usually children) survived even lower temperatures.

Prevention of Hypothermia

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prevent hypothermia, you must anticipate the climate that you will be traveling through; include windy and wet weather into your calculations. Condition yourself physically to be fit for the challenge. Travel with a partner if at all possible, and have more than enough food and water available for the entire trip.

It may be useful to remember the simple acronym C.O.L.D. This stands for: Cover, Overexertion, Layering, and Dry.

Cover. Your head has a significant surface area, so prevent heat loss by wearing a hat. Instead of using gloves to cover your hands, use mittens. Mittens are more helpful than gloves because they keep your fingers in contact with one another, conserving heat.

Overexertion. Avoid activities that cause you to sweat a lot. Cold weather causes you to lose body heat quickly; wet, sweaty clothing accelerates the process. Rest when necessary; use those rest periods to self-assess for cold-related changes. Pay careful attention to the status of the elderly and the very young. Diabetics are also at high risk.

Layering. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers trap pockets of warm air and do the best job of insulating you against the cold. Use tightly woven, water-repellent material for wind protection. Wool or silk inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials, like Gore-Tex, work well also. Especially cover the head, neck, hands and feet.

Dry. Keep as dry as you can. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. It’s very easy for snow to get into gloves and boots, so pay particular attention to your hands and feet.

 

st. bernard

Pet the Dog, Skip the Booze

 

One cold-weather issue that most people don’t take into account is the use of alcohol. Alcohol may give you a “warm” feeling, but it actually causes your blood vessels to expand; this results in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your body.

Alcohol and recreational drugs also cause impaired judgment. Those under the influence might choose clothing that might not protect them in cold weather.

Treating Hypothermia

If you encounter a person who is unconscious, confused, or lethargic in cold weather, assume they are hypothermic until proven otherwise. Immediate action must be taken to reverse the ill effects of hypothermia. Important measures to take are:

Get the person out of the cold. Move them into a warm, dry area as soon as possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, be sure to place a barrier between them, the wind, and the cold ground.

Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious. Verify that they are breathing and check for a pulse. Begin CPR if necessary.

Take off wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove gently. Cover the victim with layers of dry blankets, including the head, but leave the face clear.

Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets. Some people may cringe at this controversial notion, but it’s important to remember that you are trying to save a life. Gentle massage or rubbing may be helpful. Avoid being too vigorous.

Give warm oral fluids if awake and alert. If, and only if, the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body. Coffee’s out, but how about some warm apple cider?

Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm, not hot, water in a plastic bottle. Apply to the neck, armpit, and groin. Due to major blood vessels that run close to the skin in these areas, heat will more efficiently travel to the body core.

Avoid applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp directly on the victim. The extreme heat can damage the skin, cause strain on the heart, or even lead to cardiac arrest.

 

Joe Alton, MDAuthorJoe

 

Find out more about cold-related injuries in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, now at 700 pages! Also, fill those holes in your medical supplies at Nurse Amy’s store at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did.

 

A Doctor Gives Guidance on Storing Medications

Storing medications properly now means they’ll be more effective and last longer. You’ll find the video below of interest, whether you want to take care of your medicines today or you’re setting medications aside in anticipation of future difficulties.

Joe Alton of DoomAndBloom.net, MD, a.k.a. Dr. Bones, shares the following information as a public service to help you and me. Watch the video to glean his advice.

 

 

You might also like Dr. Alton’s article entitled Straight Talk About Expiration Dates.

Joe Alton and his wife Amy are coauthors of The Survival Medicine Handbook, and Joe is the author of The Zika Virus Handbook.

In addition to that, the Altons are creators of the Doom and Bloom SURVIVAL! Board Game.

 

Fish Antibiotics – Will You Still be Able to Get Them?

Editor’s Note:Joe Alton, MD, a.k.a. Dr. Bones of DoomAndBloom.net, is a long time proponent of stocking up on fish antibiotics for the survival medicine kit. But will government regulation make them difficult to get?

Here’s his latest info on this topic, reproduced here with permission. – John

**********

The Future of Fish Antibiotics in Survival?

Betta-Fish-Nurse-Amy

Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens)

As the first physician to write, years ago, about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a survival tool, I’ve long realized their utility in preventing unnecessary deaths in true survival scenarios (in normal times, seek modern and standard medical care). Lately, I’ve received a lot of mail asking about the upcoming FDA Veterinary Feed Directive. Does it mean the end of the availability of fish and bird meds for placement in disaster medical storage?

To understand what the Veterinary Feed Directive is and what it means for the preparedness community, we should first describe the problem that the Directive aims to correct: Antibiotic resistance. There is an epidemic of antibiotic resistance in this country, and it exists, not because of pet bird or fish antibiotic use, not because “preppers” might put them in a disaster medical kit, nor even primarily from the overuse by physicians. It is due to the excessive use of antibiotics on livestock. About 80% of antibiotics used in the United States are given to food-producing animals.

antibioticslivestock

The definition of a “Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) drug”, according to section 504 of the FD&C Act (21 USC 354) states that it is “[a] drug intended for use in or on animal feed. The CDC’s goal #1 of decreasing the emergence of antibiotic resistance and preventing the spread of resistant infections has three objectives (see page 33):

1 -“Implement public health programs and reporting policies that advance antibiotic resistance prevention and foster antibiotic stewardship in healthcare settings and the community. “

2 -“Eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals and bring other in-feed uses of antibiotics, for treatment and disease control and prevention of disease, under veterinary oversight. “

3 –“Identify and implement measures to foster stewardship of antibiotics in animals.”

As you can see, 2 of 3 of the above relate specifically to animals. Why are so many antibiotics given to livestock? It’s not, primarily, to treat infections that they may have. It’s actually because, for reasons that aren’t completely clear, it seems to speed their growth and gets them to market sooner. In other words, the profit motive. This is standard practice here in the U.S., but some countries, like Denmark, have banned the use of antibiotics on livestock unless they need them to treat disease.

The FDA and CDC are concerned about the excessive use of antibiotics in general and, in particular, on the animals that produce our food. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden mentioned some months ago that an increased “stewardship” (in other words, control) of these meds was indicated to decrease the development of antibiotic resistance. The Veterinary Feed Directive is part of that response.

What are the drugs affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive? Here they are:

Established drug name Examples of proprietary drug name(s)
chlortetracycline Aureomycin, Aureomycyn, Chlora-Cycline, Chloronex, Chlortetracycline, Chlortetracycline Bisulfate, Chlortet-Soluble-O, CTC, Fermycin, Pennchlor
erythromycin Gallimycin
gentamicin Garacin, Gen-Gard, GentaMed, Gentocin, Gentoral
lincomycin Linco, Lincomed, Lincomix, Lincomycin, Lincomycin Hydrochloride, Lincosol, Linxmed-SP
lincomycin/spectinomycin Lincomycin S, Lincomycin-Spectinomycin, L-S, SpecLinx
neomycin Biosol Liquid, Neo, Neomed, Neomix, Neomycin, Neomycin Liquid, Neomycin Sulfate, Neo-Sol, Neosol, Neosol-Oral, Neovet
oxytetracycline Agrimycin, Citratet, Medamycin, Oxymarine, Oxymycin, Oxy-Sol, Oxytet, Oxytetracycline, Oxytetracycline HCL, Oxy WS, Pennox, Terramycin, Terra-Vet, Tetravet-CA, Tetroxy, Tetroxy Aquatic, Tetroxy HCA
penicillin Han-Pen, Penaqua Sol-G, Penicillin G Potassium, R-Pen, Solu-Pen
spectinomycin Spectam
sulfadimethoxine Agribon, Albon, Di-Methox, SDM, Sulfabiotic, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfadived, Sulfamed-G, Sulforal, Sulfasol
sulfamethazine SMZ-Med, Sulfa, Sulmet
sulfaquinoxaline S.Q. Solution, Sulfa-Nox, Sulfaquinoxaline Sodium, Sulfaquinoxaline Solubilized, Sul-Q-Nox, Sulquin
tetracycline Duramycin, Polyotic, Solu/Tet, Solu-Tet, Supercycline, Terra-Vet, Tet, Tetra-Bac, Tetracycline, Tetracycline Hydrochloride, Tetramed, Tetra-Sal, Tetrasol, Tet-Sol, TC Vet

“Note: apramycin, carbomycin/oxytetracycline*, chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine*, streptomycin, sulfachloropyrazine, sulfachlorpyridazine, and sulfamerazine/sulfamethazine/sulfaquinoxaline * are expected to transition to Rx status, but are not marketed at this time. If they return to the market after January 1, 2017, they will require a prescription from a veterinarian.”

If you look at the list above, you’ll see no mention of the common aquarium/avian antibiotics used in the pet industry. Fish-Mox (Amoxicillin) is not included in the list. Neither is doxycycline, metronidazole, nor others that I’ve recommended for disaster storage. Some first-generation drugs, like Penicillin and Tetracycline, are mentioned but not any of the proprietary names related to the ornamental trade. That doesn’t mean that they might not include them at some point. As the earliest antibiotics, they have been subject to significant resistance, and might not be the best choices for survival storage in any case.

At present, Thomas Labs, one of the largest distributors of fish and bird antibiotics for the pet trade, has not visibly changed any of its policies regarding sale of these products. Their labeling clearly states “Not for Human Use”, and many sites that sell their products include this statement:

“…Thomas Labs sources it’s (sic) antibiotics from the same USP grade manufacturing as antibiotics used for humans, but we and Thomas Labs are not doctors and do not deal in human health problems, or prescription medications. Only a doctor can correctly prescribe antibiotics for specific need in humans. We strongly discourage anyone who wants to take Fish Antibiotics for themselves…”

It seems clear that the Veterinary Feed Directive considers livestock and not hobby fish and birds to be the highest priority targets. If they did, the pet trade might cease to exist.

The Veterinary Feed Directive may, indeed, decrease the incidence of bacterial resistance in the U.S. So will the wise use of antibiotics by the nation’s physicians. Hopefully, one day food livestock will be raised antibiotic-free; some companies are already taking this step.

From a preparedness standpoint, I still believe that having antibiotics in your medical kit will save lives in a long-term disaster or survival setting. The ones I have written about over the years are still available, at least for the time being; those medically responsible in times of trouble will find them to be useful tools in the medical woodshed.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD is a physician, author, and medical preparedness writer for disaster and long-term survival scenarios where medical help is not available for the foreseeable future. For more information on these and other topics, see the Altons’s #1 Amazon bestseller The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way.

 

Get Survival Medicine Instruction from This Helpful Resource

When disaster strikes and no doctors are available, you’ll have to rely on your own medical knowledge to survive. Thankfully, we’re seeing the release of more books offering survival medicine instruction.

Scott Finazzo has written Prepper’s Survival Medicine Handbook. It’s a resource that gives you survival medicine instruction in easy to understand language and a compact form.

Scott is my guest on DestinySurvival Radio this week. Below I’ll share a few thoughts about his book and our conversation.

 

Prepper's Survival Medicine Handbook

 

Handbook Author

Scott Finazzo has been my guest before on DestinySurvival Radio. Read about a previous visit here.

Scott has been a firefighter for nearly 20 years and is currently serving as a lieutenant for the Overland Park, Kansas, Fire Department. He has been an instructor for firefighting tactics, confined space rescue, first aid, CPR, Community Emergency Response Teams, and other emergency training.

In addition to being an emergency responder and educator, Scott has been writing in various capacities for much of his life, contributing to blogs, magazines, and books. Scott’s first book, co-authored with Scott B. Williams, The Prepper’s Workbook, became a national best seller. He followed that up with the narrative of his kayak journey through the Virgin Islands called Why Do All the Locals Think We’re Crazy? Most recently he wrote The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook, and he tells me his next book is Prepper’s Guide to Knots.

Handbook Overview

Don’t confuse Scott’s book with another book on survival medicine with a similar title. A promotional blurb nicely summarizes what this one is about.

“Going beyond basic first aid, Prepper’s Survival Medicine Handbook teaches military-tested methods for treating life-threatening medical conditions, including gunshot wounds, third-degree burns, radiation exposure, broken bones, ruptured arteries, severed limbs, poisonous snakebites, anaphylactic shock and more.

“Author Scott Finazzo, an emergency responder, details step-by-step treatment for everything from hypothermia and heat stroke to seizures and cardiac emergencies. Using information from actual military field manuals, this book provides everything you need to keep you and your loved ones safe when there’s nowhere else to turn.”

At 242 pages, this one’s small enough to put in your camping backpack or bug out bag.

Chapters are short and to the point. The last several pages include a list of references and a handy index, whhich I recommend using as you get familiar with the book’s contents.

You’ll find drawings and illustrations taken from military field manuals.

Chapter topics covered include…

  • Basic Procedures
  • Controlling Blood Loss
  • Trauma
  • Shock
  • Fractures
  • Burns
  • Heat-Related Emergencies
  • Cold-Related Emergencies
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Bites and Stings
  • Common Medical Emergencies
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear First Aid
  • Specific Climate Survival
  • Rescue Operations
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Resuscitation

Handbook Observations

This is a first aid book and more. Its content is not only drawn from military manuals, but from Scott’s 20 years of experience as a fire fighter.

In spite of the reliance on field manuals, the book is written in layman’s language. It was Scott’s intention to make it readable and user friendly, and he’s done a good job.

Whether you’re a hard core prepper or have little experience and few prepping supplies, Scott says this book is meant for you. It’s written in such a way as to quickly get to the point of the topics discussed. You get the essentials you need.

As for how to use it, get familiar with how the book is laid out. Know what it includes. Pull it off the shelf and refamiliarize yourself with it before you travel or go camping. As time goes on, you’ll know how to best use it to meet your needs in a post disaster situation.

Key topics such as starting a fire, purifying water, building a shelter, and identifying useful plants are included in the lengthy chapter on climate survival. I would have expected these to have their own dedicated chapters.

That said, each topic is touched on throughout the chapter in relation to the climate setting and terrain discussed.

Handbook Advice

Scott strongly recommends “sizing up” both a given situation and the patient (or patients) you’ll be dealing with. This calls for using your six senses. That sixth sense means recognizing gut instincts and intuition along with normal physical senses.

You don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily or become part of the problem. Scott and I talked about ways to sort that out so you can do the most good for the greatest number of people.

The importance of staying calm can’t be overestimated. It helps others be calmer and increases the chances for a successful outcome, under the circumstances.

Scott puts a significant emphasis on the importance of psychological well being. It’s the survival mindset that helps us get through difficulty.

Psychological first aid comes into play in stressful times because it’s not wise to be some kind of macho hero. It’s not only members of the military who experience PTSD.

Look for changes in others–and in yourself–which bring up the need to get help. Talk to a professional counselor if possible. But at least talk with someone else so you’re not holding things inside.

Scott described his own experience with an incident where he needed to get help, even though he resisted the idea at first.

How we respond is how we prepare. Regardless of whether you have the supplies and equipment you want, can you be mentally flexible enough to get through the situation? Can you be creative and resourceful to make due with what you have at hand?

Scott shares useful tips on what to include in your medical supplies which you might not have thought of. For example, have hard candy for children, or even for yourself. It’s comforting to have.

Did you know there are a number of uses for credit cards besides using them to spending money?

Here’s another tip. Put VapoRub under your nose to block out bad smells.

Generally speaking, preparation is good, no matter what the survival situation is a natural or man-made disaster. Preparing for one thing often prepares you for other things.

Handbook Call to Action

Scott and I talked about more than I can relate here. Therefore, hear our conversation by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for September 1, 2016 (Right click to download.) Keep up to date with Scott at www.ScottFinazzo.com.

To get Prepper’s Survival Medicine Handbook, click on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. You’ll be glad you did.