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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.

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