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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Worried About Your Heart?

Ever since I became a parent, I'm sleeping later and later. Of course I was never the "early to bed, early to rise" type of person since my uni days, but since my first child was born, it's getting worse.

His first few months were practically a nightmare. He was a VERY light sleeper and was very difficult to take care of as he pretty much woke up and started crying almost every half an hour. So me and my wife had to take turns looking after him and basically didn't get much sleep. As he grew older, he went to bed about 12am. Now he is sleeps earlier, but I pretty much only get to do my own stuff (work, leisure, etc) after the kids are asleep. Obviously sleeping late will take a toll on your health. Which was why this forwarded mail caught my attention, and I'm going to share it with you.

The email consist of 2 sections:-

Section 1: Natural Therapy For Heart Vein Opening

The 1st part is a natural therapy for heart vein opening. Not sure if it works, but since it's ingredients are all natural and are not life threatening, I decided to share it with you without doing any research. Feel free to try it and tell me if it works :) And also tell me about the taste too LOL! Well, here it is:

"Dear All,

Natural therapy for heart vein opening

Please pass it to your colleagues or friends.

For Heart Vein opening

1) Lemon juice 01 cup

2) Ginger juice 01 cup

3) Garlic juice 01 cup

4) Apple vinegar 01 cup

Mix all above and boil in light flame approximately half

hour, when it becomes 3 cups, take it out and keep it
for cooling. After cooling, mix 3 cups of natural honey

and keep it in bottle.

Every morning before breakfast use one Table spoon
Your blockage of Vein's will open
(No need any Angiography or By pass)"

Section 2: Sharing Of Experience

This is an email about a person who had a severe heart attack symptom and was rushed to the hospital. He was sharing about his experience but more importantly, his lifestyle, which is quite similar to mine, except the smoking part. He also shared the doctor's recommended lifestyle. So take a read and see if it's applicable to you.

This is e-mail received from a person working in a Software Company

Dear colleagues, I am working in Blore Software City ....... I wanted to share an incident of my life with you, hoping that it may be an eye opener to you so that you can live more years.

On 27th October afternoon, I had severe heart attack symptom and I was rushed to the hospital.

After reaching to the hospital, the doctors prescribed a test called angiogram.. This test is basically to identify blood flow of heart arteries. When they finished the test they found a 94% block in the main artery, please see the image below with red circle.


At this point, I wanted to share my living style, which has caused this block in my heart arteries. Please see the below points of my life style, if any of these points are part of your life style then you are at risk, please change yourselves.

1. I was not doing any physical exercise for more than 10 years
, not even walking 30 minutes a day for years.

My food timings are 11:00 AM Breakfast or no Breakfast, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM Lunch and dinner at 11:00 PM to 12:00 AM.

Sleeping in very odd timings, going to bed between 12:00 AM and 3:00 AM. Waking up at between 9:00 AM and 10:30AM ........ Some times spending sleepless nights.

I used to eat heavily because of long gaps between lunch and dinner and I used to make sure that Non-Veg is available most of the time, there were times when I did survey on city hotels to find delicious Non-Veg dishes. I was never interested in vegetable and healthier food.

Above all I was chain smoker from years.

My father passed away due to heart problems, and the doctors say the heart problems are usually genetic.

Once they identified the major block they have done immediately a procedure called angioplasty along with 2 Stints, mean they will insert a foreign body into the heart arteries and open the blocked area of arteries. Please see the below image after the procedure.


I learnt from the doctors
that 60% people will die before reaching the hospital,20% people will die in the process of recovering from heart attack and only 20% will survive .. In my case, I was very lucky to be part of the last 20%.

Doctors instructions:

Need to have physical exercise for minimum of 45 minutes daily.
Eat your food at perfect timings, like how you eat during your school days. Eat in small quantities more times and have lot of vegetables and boiled food, try to avoid fry items and oily food. Fish is good than other non-vegetarian food.
Sleep for 8 hours a day, this count should complete before sun rising.
Stop smoking.
Genetic problems, we cannot avoid but we can get away from it by having regular checkups.
Find a way to get relived from the stress.

So I urge you all to please avoid getting into this situation, it is in your hands to turn the situation up side down, by just planning / changing your life style, by following simple points above.

If you find it's useful you can forward this mail to your friends and loved ones.....

Like for all the things I received in the email, do take it with a pinch of salt, but in this case I really don't think there's any harm in knowing these information,whether you follow them or not LOL!

I'm working on changing my lifestyle, but with my 3rd child arriving.... Well, let's hope I'll be successful before it's too late :P


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cord Blood Banking: Should I? With who?

In my wife's previous pregnancies, we were struggling with the question of whether or not we should collect our babies' cord blood, and with which company should we bank it with. We didn't quite get to that part of choosing a company since we decided not to collect it at that point in time after doing some research online.

In the past, what I learned from my research are:

1. While it is very hard to determine the likelihood of the banked cord blood being used, we do know that the probability is very low. Some say is 1:1,000; some say is 1:2,700 and even 1:10,000. Therefore it is more of an insurance.

2. Some websites (such as those from public bodies) recommend that it is better to store it with public blood bank instead of private blood bank. The main advantage for that is that it's free, and your blood may actually be used to help someone else in need, since the probability of you or your family actually needing it is very low. Also, since the likelihood of using your blood is quite small, should you need it, chances are, it'll still be there for you to use. The problem with public cord blood bank is that it's not available everywhere and to everyone. For example, as far as I know, in Malaysia, there is only 1 public blood bank, which is our National Blood Centre (Pusat Darah Negara) and the donor has to deliver in Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL). Therefore if you are delivering in other hospitals, you won't be able to donate. Not sure if it is still the case now, feel free to call them and ask. You can go to this page directly to read about the cord blood services offered by our National Blood Centre or you can call and find out more. The number to call is +603 - 2693 3888. (Please note that the National Blood Centre website is in Bahasa Malaysia, not English)

3. The use of stem cells is still in the early stage of research, eventhough the potential is great (I believe).

4. The blood collected often is only enough to use it on a kid or a small adult. So when the time comes, it may not be enough for you to use.

5. That there is absolutely nothing wrong in storing your baby's cord blood in private blood bank, if you can afford it.

6. I absolutely hate those private blood bank's guilt and fear inducing advertisements to make parents feel like their baby's life is at stake if they don't store his/her cord blood, and that they can only be considered as "good" parents if they do so. What a load of rubbish! In my opinion, if you have limited resources ($$), I personally think that it is much more practical that you use that money to get a medical / insurance plan for you and your family first. But that's just me. Oh well, unfortunately, this is how the private blood banks make a living LOL! By playing on parents' fears and guilt, gently.

This time around, we felt that we are financially ready to store our 3rd child's cord blood. If you're still asking whether should you or should you not store your baby's cord blood, the answer is very simple:

"Bank your baby's cord blood if you can afford it, and if you believe in it's usefulness."

Our next question is which company should we store it with. Public banking is more or less out of question for us since we are not delivering our baby in HKL. There are currently 4 companies that I know that are offering private cord blood banking services in Malaysia. They are:

1. Stemlife Berhad
2. CryoCord Sdn. Bhd.
3. CellSafe International
4. StemTech International

There may be more. Please do let us know if you know of any other private cord blood bank operating in Malaysia.

When I was doing my research, I came across this blog that talks about one of the above companies being unscrupolous and unethical such as storing Hep B infected cord blood unit. I'm not going to say which company it is, but I strongly recommend reading it, especially the comments, they are very informative. By the time you reach the 50th comment (probably much earlier), you'd more or less figure out which company it's talking about LOL! Of course, always take such websites with a pinch of salt, and always do your own research. What they say may or may not be true. So read it, and decide for yourself what you want to do with that information. Anyway, the blog is called 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Use Co. X.

When you are considering which company to use, one of the comments from the above website came out with a few questions to ask when you call these companies, which I think is very useful. The comment is reproduced below:
  • 47. | August 10, 2007 at 2:08 am

    hi june and madam tan,i dare not recomend u to any cord blood banks in particular.coz dun want u to think im solicitating for them.what u can do is, call up the other two co.firstly ask them,are they taking in Hep carrier baby’s sample?
    secondly, do they take maternal blood?
    thirdly,do they have a certified cleanroom?
    once these questions are all a yes, then u can proceed asking them their pricing,promotions etc.
    hope this help….oh btw,there are 2 more co. out there june. so go find out about it….

Now, the next step for us is to call these companies and interogate them LOL! At the moment, my gut feeling is leaning towards CryoCord Sdn. Bhd. since it ticks most of the boxes. I will definitely let you know of my findings and decision once I called up these companies.

Last but not least, I would recommend a few very good websites and articles for you to read. One of the excerpt that I really like is taken from the article "Private Cord Blood Banking - Some Salient Questions And Straight Answers" by Dr. Ng Soo Chin. He says:

"I have no problems with people storing cord blood for own use later. Neither have I had any qualms about private companies collecting storing cord blood stem cells. My concern is that as consumers the parents are not being presented with the whole truth and this is not acceptable from viewpoint of good clinical practice. I am also concerned about the ‘entrapment syndrome’—the private cord blood Co can present various reasons to up their fees in the future and I don’t think the consumers have very little to fight back. What if the company folds? Despite being claimed as a form of medical insurance, I agreed with Dr Mitchell Cairo (Pediatric oncologist and stem cell researcher) that insurance should have a definable pay-offs and not on theoretical considerations. Perhaps, parents should instead invest on educational or health insurance for the baby rather than on something nebulous as private cord blood banking!"

LOL! Now THAT's a thought! Anyway, some websites and articles for your viewing pleasures:

1. The Health Minister Speaks Up Against Cord Blood Storage Hype
2. Private Cord Blood Banking - Some Salient Questions And Straight Answers
3. Parents' Guide To Cord Blood Foundation - A very comprehensive guide to cord blood banking for international readers since it has information on many of the public and private blood banking companies through out the world, including Malaysia.
4. AABB website.

Well, that's all from me this time. Hope you find it useful. Will update y'all on my findings later. Do leave us a comment or email us if you have any additional information.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Joke Of The Day!?

Well, the last 2 weeks had been really hectic. My eldest son is having his exams, I'm sourcing for contractors for a small renovation work that has to follow a very tight schedule to prepare for my 3rd child's arrival in the beginning of August, of course taking into consideration the possibility of the baby arriving early; and to top it all off, me and both my sons were down with viral infection, again. Anyways I hope I can work on this little blog of mine with more consistency LOL!

Back to the topic at hand.

My eldest son loves telling jokes, kinda like his old man. Unfortunately, most of the time, his jokes are usually not really logical, and at best, not really funny, also kinda like his old man. But every once in a while, he would come up with something that's really good, of course these jokes are usually borrowed, but that's ok! Since most of the time we grown-up recycled jokes from other sources anyway. The joke goes kinda like these:

"Daddy, why do cows wear cow bells?" asked my 6 year old.

"I don't know, why?" answered me in my usual reply to his "Why" jokes.

"Because their "HORNS" don't work!!!" Get it?

It actually took me a second or two (I know, I'm slow) and I burst out laughing out loud! This is probably the funniest joke he has told till now. Then my wife told me something that put a frown back on my face almost immediately.

Apparently my son told this joke to his grandma and grandpa (my mom and dad). When he told my mom, my mom laughed as she thought it was funny. Then my son went upstairs to tell his grandpa, and soon after, he came back crying. So my wife attempted to sooth and also teach him the idea that sometimes, different people have different sense of humour. Just because we think something is funny does not mean others will find it funny, so it's perfectly fine if they don't laugh.

"But mom!" cried my son, "grandpa DID laugh, BUT IT WAS SO FAKE!"

THAT coming from a 6 year old. That was one of those few moments that I realised my life ain't gonna be the same (and easy) ever again. It wasn't too long ago that I documented a similar moment. Oh well, fun and challenging times ahead!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swine Flu A (H1N1) Virus Prevention & Treatment FAQ

Here's the second part of the Swine Flu FAQ obtained from CDC website.

This part will have FAQ on prevention and treatment as well as dealing with contamination of the virus. Here is also the first time I heard about the "Swine Flu Parties" LOL! If you don't know what it is, read on and you'll find the answer. All I have to say is there are all sorts of people in this world LOL! Anyway, here goes:-

Prevention & Treatment

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against this new H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.

Other important actions that you can take are:

  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.

Photo of man sneezingWhat is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. If you are sick, stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. CDC recommends that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where people have been identified with new H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people, except to seek medical care.

If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Are there medicines to treat infection with this new virus?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with the new H1N1 flu virus. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. During the current outbreak, the priority use for influenza antiviral drugs during is to treat severe influenza illness.

What is CDC’s recommendation regarding "swine flu parties"?
"Swine flu parties" are gatherings during which people have close contact with a person who has novel H1N1 flu in order to become infected with the virus. The intent of these parties is to become infected with what for many people has been a mild disease, in the hope of having natural immunity to the novel H1N1 flu virus that might circulate later and cause more severe disease.

CDC does not recommend "swine flu parties" as a way to protect against novel H1N1 flu in the future. While the disease seen in the current novel H1N1 flu outbreak has been mild for many people, it has been severe and even fatal for others. There is no way to predict with certainty what the outcome will be for an individual or, equally important, for others to whom the intentionally infected person may spread the virus.

CDC recommends that people with novel H1N1 flu avoid contact with others as much as possible. They should stay home from work or school for 7 days after the onset of illness or until at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.

Contamination & Cleaning

Photo of hands and soapHow long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Photo of cleaning suppliesWhat household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled?
Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first.
Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

Thus ends the two parts of the FAQ obtained from CDC. In the next post I will include a FAQ from a more local source that is more applicable to Malaysian.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Swine Flu A (H1N1) Virus General FAQ

I know, I know, I'm a little slow. Pretty much everyone who intends to write about the A(H1N1) virus would have written it by now. Unfortunately I had been busy with lots of things lately but hey, this is for my own use as well so it doesn't really matter :P

I'm basically getting these FAQ from the CDC page, but just in case if they ever take down the page for whatever reason, at least I will still have it for my own reference. I will be breaking this FAQ into 2 parts. The first part will be about the characteristics of the virus as well as what is CDC doing about this outbreak, and the second part will more on prevention and treatment as well as contamination and cleaning.

Before I go into the FAQ, here are some useful links:

1. Here is where I get the FAQ from.

2. If you want updates on the virus, you can visit CDC website which will be updated on a regular basis.

3. For local (Malaysia) updates, The Star website does have a Swine Flu Watch, but not sure how often they update it as the last time it was updated was on the 29th April 2009. It does provide some more locally related FAQs.

Anyway, here it is, the FAQ obtained from CDC:

Questions & Answers

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You*

May 8, 2009 12:00 AM ET

Novel H1N1 Flu

What is H1N1 (swine flu)?
H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

H1N1 Influenza virus imageWhy is this new H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?
This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a “quadruple reassortant” virus.

Novel H1N1 Flu in Humans

Are there human infections with this H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
Yes. Cases of human infection with this H1N1 influenza virus were first confirmed in the U.S. in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas. The outbreak intensified rapidly from that time and more and more states have been reporting cases of illness from this virus. An updated case count of confirmed novel H1N1 flu infections in the United States is kept at CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

Is this new H1N1 virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this new H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

Photo of nurse and childWhat are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of this new H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.

How severe is illness associated with this new H1N1 virus?
It’s not known at this time how severe this virus will be in the general population. CDC is studying the medical histories of people who have been infected with this virus to determine whether some people may be at greater risk from infection, serious illness or hospitalization from the virus. In seasonal flu, there are certain people that are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with chronic medical conditions. It’s unknown at this time whether certain groups of people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications from infection with this new virus. CDC also is conducting laboratory studies to see if certain people might have natural immunity to this virus, depending on their age.

How does this new H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of this H1N1 virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, CDC believes that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Exposures Not Thought to Spread New H1N1 Flu

Can I get infected with this new H1N1 virus from eating or preparing pork?
No. H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get this new HIN1 virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Is there a risk from drinking water?
Tap water that has been treated by conventional disinfection processes does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. Current drinking water treatment regulations provide a high degree of protection from viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of the novel H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 would also be similarly inactivated by chlorination. To date, there have been no documented human cases of influenza caused by exposure to influenza-contaminated drinking water.

Can the new H1N1 flu virus be spread through water in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational water venues?
Influenza viruses infect the human upper respiratory tract. There has never been a documented case of influenza virus infection associated with water exposure. Recreational water that has been treated at CDC recommended disinfectant levels does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of the H1N1 influenza virus to chlorine and other disinfectants used in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational venues. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels recommended by CDC (1–3 parts per million [ppm or mg/L] for pools and 2–5 ppm for spas) are adequate to disinfect avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 virus would also be similarly disinfected by chlorine.

Can H1N1 influenza virus be spread at recreational water venues outside of the water?
Yes, recreational water venues are no different than any other group setting. The spread of this novel H1N1 flu is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Response & Investigation

What is CDC doing in response to the outbreak?
CDC has implemented its emergency response. The agency’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by the new virus. CDC continues to issue new interim guidance for clinicians and public health professionals. In addition, CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak.

What epidemiological investigations are taking place in response to the recent outbreak?
CDC works very closely with state and local officials in areas where human cases of new H1N1 flu infections have been identified. In California and Texas, where EpiAid teams have been deployed, many epidemiological activities are taking place or planned including:

  • Active surveillance in the counties where infections in humans have been identified;
  • Studies of health care workers who were exposed to patients infected with the virus to see if they became infected;
  • Studies of households and other contacts of people who were confirmed to have been infected to see if they became infected;
  • Study of a public high school where three confirmed human cases of H1N1 flu occurred to see if anyone became infected and how much contact they had with a confirmed case; and
  • Study to see how long a person with the virus infection sheds the virus.

Who is in charge of medicine in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) once it is deployed?
Local health officials have full control of SNS medicine once supplies are deployed to a city, state, or territory. Federal, state, and local community planners are working together to ensure that SNS medicines will be delivered to the affected area as soon as possible. Many cities, states, and territories have already received SNS supplies. After CDC sends medicine to a state or city, control and distribution of the supply is at the discretion of that state or local health department. Most states and cities also have their own medicines that they can access to treat infected persons.

*Note: Much of the information in this document is based on studies and past experience with seasonal (human) influenza. CDC believes the information applies to the new H1N1 (swine) viruses as well, but studies on this virus are ongoing to learn more about its characteristics. This document will be updated as new information becomes available.

For general information about swine influenza (not new H1N1 flu) see Background Information about Swine Influenza.

There you have it. First part of the FAQ. Will post 2nd part asap.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Crazy 14-Days.

It has been a crazy 2 weeks for me,

An outbreak of a weird strain of the swine flu virus, which I'll write more in upcoming posts.

An almost 5 full days of crazy working hours and deadline up to 2am or 3am.

Crazy experimentation with my jailbroken iPhone 3G (fine, that's for my own enjoyment :P)

A crazily good business opportunity just presented (more like re-presented) itself.

A sudden onset of a crazy (crazy to us at least) eye allergic reaction in my 3 year old which scared the living daylights out of us. I shall elaborate more of this in this post.

Me, my wife, my 2 sons and my mom went shopping in the 1 Utama Shopping Centre on Saturday. While we were having lunch in one of the restaurant, I noticed my youngest son is rubbing his eyes again. I said again because it's not uncommon for him to do that as his eyes get itchy quite easily. While we try to stop him sometimes, we're not that worried about it, and the itch will usually go away after a while and it'll be ok. But that day it was different as his eyes were getting quite red so we were paying more attention to him and try to stop him from rubbing his eyes.

While I was shopping for some toys with my 6 year old, my wife suddenly called me on my mobile (she was sitting on a bench somewhere with my 3yo to take care of him) and said that there was something weird forming in his eyes, sort of like a blister of some sort. We were very worried and without hesitation, we decided to send him to a hospital as most of the clinics would be closed.

I was carrying him and we were walking very fast/running to my car, which was parked quite far away, and decided to bring him to the Emergency Ward of Damansara Specialist Hospital in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya.

When we finally get to see the doctor on duty (after registration and waiting for a while), the doctor's initial diagnosis was Membranous Conjunctivitis. When he learnt that it was a sudden onset, he ruled that out as viral and bacterial conjunctivitis usually take quite sometime to develop. He then picked up the phone and called one of the eye specialist and asked for advice. The thing I really like about this doctor is that he is calm and more importantly, admits openly that he doesn't know much about it. I totally forgotten to get his name as me and my wife were too worried to even think of getting the name of the doctor LOL!

Anyways, in conclusion, the doctor diagnosed it as an allergic reaction since it happened so suddenly. My son used to be allergic to dairy products and nuts. He is getting better now with the dairy products and we still won't let him take anything containing nuts. He must have touched something he is allergic to during lunch and accidentally rub his eyes with that hand. The doctor said that it may take about 3 days for it to totally recover. While we were hoping it to be sooner, it's not too bad.

We were given 4 different types of eye drops (1 of them contains steroid) and a bottle of antihistamine, which stops the itch. Putting the eye drops is a nightmare as my son was not very cooperative but since we had done this before we sort of know the trick. The trick is to put a drop at the inner corner of the eye when it is shut tight (due to crying), and then to try to open his eyes, either to convince him to do it, or we do it by force by gently spreading the eyelids open with fingers. Once it's opened, the eye drop will go in.

I did some research online and found something called Allergic Conjunctivitis. In other words, it's conjunctivitis that is caused by allergy. Good thing is this form of conjunctivitis is not contagious and should not take to long to recover. I'm still not sure if what my son has is an Allergic Conjunctivitis, since the doctor just said that it's an allergic reaction, but today is the 2nd day and he is already much better. The blister in the eye has subsided so we're happy.

Here are some sites that contains information on Conjunctivitis and Allergic Conjunctivitis which I hope you find it useful:-
1. Conjunctivitis from Dr. Greene

2. An article on Allergic Conjunctivitis by the University of Illinois At Chicago's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

3. An article on Allergies of the eye by the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

So yeah, all in all, last 2 weeks had been really exciting and challenging for me :D. Well, live and learn.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Can't Take This Sh*t No More!!? (A Remedy For Diarrhoea)

Recently I just received another forwarded email about some kind of magical remedy for some kind of ailment. This time, it is for diarrhoea.

This caught my attention straight away because for most of my life, I've been having a very sensitive bowel. Having diarrhoea can sometimes be a daily event for me. Not only that, after becoming a parent, it's sometimes quite scary when your little ones have severe diarrhoea, not to mention the horror of cleaning them up after that, especially if you're using cloth nappy LOL! Of course, after we know for sure that something is not right, we will let them wear disposable for the rest of the day, but still, the smell is almost unbearable.

According to the email, the very simple, and more importantly, perfectly safe remedy, is rice water. My wife and I heard of it before but we didn't really take it seriously. Anyway I will copy and paste the whole email below. I will also include an article from Rehydration Project that was mentioned in the email. Hope you find these information useful.

"> > Subject: Fw: Diarrhoea

Drinking sugar dilute in
water also makes a simple and quick remedy!

With recent case on the Geylang Serai food poisoning out
break.. would like to share the info received from a friend pls read on it may be of help...

When someone gets diarrhoea, sometimes the solution is so
easy, we wonder why anyone has to suffer.

The secret is in rice water.

This is already known in this region. Ask your maids -- Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Filipina and they would know about it.

(My mother) knew about it. When Dr Albert Winsemius came to
Singapore or a farewell and thank you dinner in his honour, he brought along his wife Aly and his granddaughter, Jolijn. Both women came down with very bad gastroenteritis. They saw the doctor who gave them medication. It was slow to work.

Mother boiled some rice in lots of water and went to their hotel with two 1.5L bottles of rice water.

I cringed in shame at the offer of this folk remedy, which seemed so primitive to me. Never heard of this cure before. To my surprise, it worked, and they were even able to go out for dinner the next day. Both were exclaiming how the rice water did the trick of making them well again. Well, lucky it worked, I thought to myself.

I was discussing this some years back with Kim Ng, the ex-matron of KK Hospital. She said, yes, that is what Professor Wong Hock Boon, the notable paediatrician teaches.. I was shocked and made some comment how could he? It was common knowledge so what had he to do with it?

Many months later, I regretted laughing at it. Dr Christina Shanta Emmanuel, who is the CEO of...uh, which group I have forgotten. Either National Health Group, or Polyclinics, or whatever.. regarded me seriously when I brought up the topic like it was good fun. She said that Prof Wong Hock Boon had presented a paper on it. At some conference. After he had done clinical trials.

Then his results were published in the Lancet, the Medical Journal all doctors read. In fact, said Shanta, he was credited for saving the lives of 2 million African babies by this method.

Ah, so! I am impressed.

It is rice water and not rice, that does the trick. I have
found it effective again and again. You take a handful of rice and boil it in a large saucepan with lots of water. Like three or four large glasses. Then you cool that and drink the water. If you are in a hurry to relieve the ailing person, take the saucepan off the fire and dunk it in a frying pan or basin of cool water with ice cubes if necessary.

This gives the patient a chance to drink the rice watersooner and cure himself or herself sooner.

When drinking the rice water, make sure there is lots of it. You have to tell the patient that enough water must go in to line your guts from throat to other end, all 10 to 12 metres of it. If you take rice, it stays in the stomach. If you take broth, some of it may go into the small intestine.

But if
you take rice water, it will carry rice grains to every inch of your small and large intestine to the end where the problem is.

How does it work? Even Prof Wong Hock Boon doesn't know. Read the attached file. Or go to

It is good to pass on the news to everyone you know because the complaint is so common and people suffer unnecessarily. You would be doing your friends a great favour to relieve them of their misery when the occasion arises."

You can visit the link above to read the article, or you can just read it here :P

"Rice water and diarrhoea

The advantage of using rice water is that rice is cooked daily in South East Asia.
WHO photograph by Dr Gramiccia

In South East Asia, rice is prepared in two ways - to produce either dry, cooked rice or, with extra water, rice porridge. This leaves a fluid (rice water) on top of the cooked rice grains.

Professor Wong Hock Boon, a paediatrician working in Singapore, has been using rice water to rehydrate babies for several years. If the babies are bottle-fed rice water is given exclusively for the first 24 hours of treatment - breastfeeding can continue as normal (1). Professor Wong and his colleagues have found that many babies who have not responded to other rehydration solutions respond well to rice water. If diarrhoea starts again with the re-introduction of milk, extra rice water is given with additional rice porridge. Older babies are sometimes given rice porridge alone.

The advantage of using rice water is that rice is cooked daily in South East Asia.

The means by which rice water helps to stop diarrhoea are still being researched. One explanation could be that starch-like sugars tend to draw less fluid out of the body and into the gut compared with a similar amount of simple sugar such as glucose. Some babies with diarrhoea can digest starch more easily than simple sugars. The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) is carrying out studies on the inclusion of locally available starches (such as rice starch) as the carbohydrate in oral rehydration solution.

As Professor Wong stresses, the advantage of using rice water is that rice is cooked daily in South East Asia. The rice water is boiled and does not have to be made up and kept in large quantities as is frequently the case with sugar-salt rehydration solutions.

If you would like more information about the use of rice water for rehydration, write to: Professor Wong Hock Boon, National University of Singapore, University Department of Paediatrics, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore.

For information on ICDDR, B's work on locally available starches, write to: Library and Publication Unit, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, G.P.O. Box 128, Dacca-2, Bangladesh.

(1) Wong H B 1981 Rice water in treatment of infantile gastroenteritis. The Lancet vol 2: 102-103."

Please Share: For those who have tried this method, or have heard of stories and testimonies, please do not hesitate to share with us.

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