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Do-it-yourself biowarfare defense
Salon ^ | 3 October 2001 | Pamela Weintraub

Posted on 10/03/2001 11:23:54 AM PDT by white trash redneck

Be prepared?

Taking precautions against bioterrorism may not be as futile as you think.

By Pamela Weintraub

On Sept. 11, hours after New York's twin towers crumbled to the ground, the state Department of Health and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were on the scene sampling the rubble and the air. While officials expressed concern over exposure to asbestos, acidic gas and other contaminated dust and debris, their greater fear was that the crashing planes might have discharged weaponized anthrax, smallpox or plague. They were relieved to find no evidence of biological attack. Some were also surprised.

Three weeks later, with lower Manhattan a war zone, Americans face a new reality: Police vehicles barricade reservoirs against acts of biological and chemical terror. Crop dusters and hazardous waste trucks, allegedly targeted by terrorists for delivery of killer cargo, are under 24-hour surveillance. And talking TV heads invoke nightmare scenarios of bioterrorism, which they say could claim millions of lives.

In case of an actual germ attack, what should we, individually, do? A recent New York Times story reported a sudden flurry of prescriptions for the antibiotic ciprofloxacin -- shown in peer-reviewed medical literature to be superior in treating anthrax and other weapons of biological war. The doctors the story cited labeled the effort misguided, and, said the Times, felt that "Cipro would probably be useless in treating anthrax."

Other media outlets have tended to agree. When a listener to a recent radio call-in show asked the physician-host how he might protect himself from the biological threat, he was told, "It's being addressed by the government. It's a public health issue, and individuals need not be concerned."

As a society, our best hope for long-term survival is, of course, collective security. We must fight terrorism at its source, and create a rapid response system for civilian defense so that any bioweapon making it through the safeguards can be halted at once.

But you don't have to be chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Science Board, like William Schneider Jr., say, to realize we may still be a tad unprepared. "Our healthcare system already operates at 95 percent capacity," says Schneider, and would be "unable to accommodate a mass-casualty event."

So what is a citizen to do? There's the conventional wisdom: If and when a weaponized germ is deployed near your office or home, cross your fingers and pray. This might be acceptable if, in fact, there were no means of self-defense. But a reading of peer-reviewed literature in august publications from the Journal of the American Medical Association to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Report, and interviews with experts in the field, suggest a host of specific preparations that we, as individual civilians, can take. From small private stashes of inexpensive antibiotics like tetracycline to a store of supplies, including electrolyte, paper masks and latex gloves, there are some simple steps that could give us the edge in surviving the first chaotic days of a bioterrorist attack.

Take, for instance, the issue of cipro. While it's true it won't help once symptoms set in, a source as authoritative as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) points out that the symptoms may start anywhere from two days to eight weeks after exposure, depending how close you are to ground zero and how much anthrax you have inhaled. So while the unlucky victims to get sick first and set off the alarm are beyond help, the rest of us -- those blocks or miles away from the release -- will have a fighting chance with a week or two of cipro or another antibiotic, doxycycline, on hand.

Here's the advice of the "Consensus Statement" of the working group gathered by JAMA to produce a May, 1999 article entitled "Anthrax as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management": 60 days of treatment with antibiotic, to commence before symptoms begin. "A delay of antibiotic treatment for patients with anthrax infection even by hours may substantially lessen chances for survival," the Journal states. Given the state of our emergency pipeline, I'll keep a bottle of Doxy or Cipro in the medicine cabinet, thank you very much, no matter what the New York Times says.

Going through the potential weapons of biological terror, in fact, I've found at least some means of self-defense in each and every case.

Smallpox: Considered by many the most threatening of all biological weapons because of its extreme contagion and its power to kill a third of those afflicted, smallpox is a virus and, therefore, unresponsive to antibiotic treatment at any point. Nonetheless, there are things you can do to try and improve your chances. One suggestion from experts is the purchase of electrolyte for any infected individual who becomes dehydrated. You may also wish to purchase latex gloves, paper surgical masks and paper gowns to promote cleanliness and ward off contagion in case anyone is infected in your home. Natural immune boosters like the beta carotene found in carrot juice are worth a shot as well. But the most potent form of protection, even after exposure, according to the American Medical Association, is the vaccine itself -- if you can get your hands on it. "Vaccination administered within the first few days after exposure and perhaps as late as 4 days may prevent or significantly ameliorate subsequent illness," according to a 1999 article in the Association's journal.

Plague: As with anthrax, you'd be wise to have a small personal stash of antibiotics on hand. According to the Center for the Study of Bioterrorism and Emerging Infections, a division of St. Louis University School of Public Health, alternatives here include doxycycline, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and, especially in cases of meningitis, Chloramphenicol -- although this is to be avoided at all cost by pregnant or lactating women.

Tularemia: In weaponized form, say researchers at the Center for the Study of Bioterrorism, this bacterial infection can kill about a third of those who remain untreated. Thankfully, common antibiotics, including doxycyline, tetracycline and cipro, reduce that number to 2 percent. Because it might be difficult to count on a prescription, let alone supplies at the pharmacy, in the face of a mass epidemic, it could be wise to have a week or two of your own supply on hand.

Cholera: It's not a pretty death, but without treatment, sometimes an unavoidable one. Yet a few simple supplies can shift the odds in your favor. These include the right kind of rehydration fluids -- World Health Organization solution, Ricelyte or Rehydralyte are recommended. Also advisable: Tetracycline, docycycline or ampicillin, among other antibiotics proven effective in fighting this disease.

There's no need to be alarmist here, just intelligent; no need to hide in a bunker or spend large sums of money. Certainly, it's downright dangerous to use antibiotics unless there's an actual attack, lest you inadvertently breed resistant forms of the very microbes you want to kill. All you need to do is take some modest precautions and, most important, think: Are your personal decisions driven by your own reading and analysis of the peer-reviewed literature, or by radio doctors and TV talking heads?


TOPICS: Editorial; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS:
Interesting though superficial article on defense to bio-warfare. One of the problems is that all these agents typically feel like having the flu in early stages, and so unless there has already been an outbreak, an individual doesn't really know whether he's gotten garden-variety flu versus anthrax. Clearly, we're going to be very dependent upon the CDC and state health departments. I hope the CDC has decided to shelve its crusade against firearms in civilian hands as a "disease," and gets cracking on legitimate public health issues that we may face.

Go to the original articles for extensive public health links if you want to read more.

1 posted on 10/03/2001 11:23:55 AM PDT by white trash redneck
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To: white trash redneck
There another very useful thread on this subject. Someone might want to post it.
2 posted on 10/03/2001 11:30:25 AM PDT by George from New England
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To: white trash redneck
Go here to purchase a number of the items mentioned in this article.
3 posted on 10/03/2001 11:36:04 AM PDT by The Energizer
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To: white trash redneck
It is my impression that acquiring these kinds of antibiotics would be difficult, because they would need to be dispensed via prescription.

True?

Prudent minds want to know.

4 posted on 10/03/2001 11:38:02 AM PDT by Brandybux
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To: ScreamingFist
FYI bump.
5 posted on 10/03/2001 11:43:25 AM PDT by freefly
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To: Brandybux
Just watched a video about bacterial warfare 2 nights ago, by Larry Harris, said many can be purchased in large quantities at farmer's exchanges (vet medicine). I have no idea how to find a farmer's exchange, but there must be one online. A friend said that cipro can't be purchased at a farmer's exchange.
6 posted on 10/03/2001 11:45:19 AM PDT by japaneseghost
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To: The Energizer
The problem with self-defense against biochemical warfare is that there is, in fact, very little that we can do against it. This is the classic case of public goods versus privatization -- the government is simply better suited to protect us than we are to protect ourselves. The government has to be proactive in destroying all peoples who harbor ill-will toward the U.S., because biochemical warfare will prove to be the nuclear bomb of our time.
7 posted on 10/03/2001 11:47:23 AM PDT by daniel1q
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To: The Energizer
The problem with self-defense against biochemical warfare is that there is, in fact, very little that we can do against it. This is the classic case of public goods versus privatization -- the government is simply better suited to protect us than we are to protect ourselves. The government has to be proactive in destroying all peoples who harbor ill-will toward the U.S., because biochemical warfare will prove to be the nuclear bomb of our time.
8 posted on 10/03/2001 11:47:28 AM PDT by daniel1q
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To: Brandybux
Yeah, cipro and doxycycline require prescriptions. Veterinary tetracycline may be available without prescription (I recall my ex-father-in-law, a traveling hog and chicken feed salesman, peddling the stuff), but doxycycline is the tetracycline of choice here.
9 posted on 10/03/2001 11:51:46 AM PDT by white trash redneck
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To: slugbug
Any input here?
10 posted on 10/03/2001 12:11:09 PM PDT by Teacher317
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To: Brandybux
Mexico

Walk into a pharmacy, tell them what you want, pay them, walk out. The only prescriptions needed in Mexico are for narcotics.

Many people I know go to Mexico for their meds - much less expensive than here in the US.

11 posted on 10/03/2001 12:12:31 PM PDT by TexanaRED
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To: white trash redneck
Is it possible to purchase antibiotics on line with no script? My doctors would never give a script in advance!
12 posted on 10/03/2001 12:21:27 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: TexanaRED
No prescription is needed at this link. They come from Thailand and the items come in 3days air if desired or normally 10-20

Don't ask me how I know ;-)

http://www.1drugstore-online.com/default.htm

13 posted on 10/03/2001 12:23:40 PM PDT by Hang'emAll
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To: Hang'emAll
Thanks. I'll check it out. Have been thinking for months I would make a run down to Mexico for some pottery, now I am thinking antibiotics. Also thinking with the added security at the border IF there is any added security, it may just be too much hassle. So, that website might just come in handy!
14 posted on 10/03/2001 12:43:51 PM PDT by TexanaRED
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To: daniel1q
BS screw the gov.org when it comes to protecting us. ANY type of antibiotic would do wonders if used imediatly after being infected. It might not save your life but it will increase the odds of you surviving.Problem is by the time we know we have been infected it is usually too late for anything to do any good. If gov.org wanted to protect us we would all have high quality surgeon masks(which are cheap and in abundant supply) and antibiotics in our medicine cabinets
15 posted on 10/03/2001 1:02:46 PM PDT by winodog
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To: daniel1q
BS screw the gov.org when it comes to protecting us. ANY type of antibiotic would do wonders if used imediatly after being infected. It might not save your life but it will increase the odds of you surviving.Problem is by the time we know we have been infected it is usually too late for anything to do any good. If gov.org wanted to protect us we would all have high quality surgeon masks(which are cheap and in abundant supply) and antibiotics in our medicine cabinets
16 posted on 10/03/2001 1:02:48 PM PDT by winodog
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To: white trash redneck
A few months ago I read on the Net that there exist about 500,000 doses of smallpox vaccine. I have tried to get doses for my children, with no luck at all using the best channels I know. They say that production has been shut down for years.

Makes one suspect the vaccine is being kept for the Big Boys.

17 posted on 10/03/2001 1:03:17 PM PDT by Iris7
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: The Energizer
They do not sell cipro or any antibiotics.
19 posted on 10/03/2001 1:10:56 PM PDT by winodog
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To: Iris7
Thats a big 10-4. The gov.org cannot or will not carry out their number one obligation, which is to protect the citizens. They are too busy taxing us to death and passing laws which restrict our freedoms to actuall do something useful.

The people need to wake up and throw all the bums out of office.

20 posted on 10/03/2001 1:13:43 PM PDT by winodog
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To: white trash redneck
I just called my Primary Care Physician's "mega-care" office. They took my name & number and will get back to me.
21 posted on 10/03/2001 1:22:51 PM PDT by lds23
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To: Iris7
I heard a quick blurb on the news, CNN or MSNBC, that congress had received smallpox vaccinations last year. I haven't heard it since. I would really like to know if it is true.
22 posted on 10/03/2001 1:26:50 PM PDT by Letitring
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To: winodog
Travmed.com does sell several of the items mentioned in this article to keep on hand, such as oral rehydration salts, etc. I recently purchased items for a trip I ended up cancelling.
23 posted on 10/03/2001 1:29:57 PM PDT by The Energizer
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To: Letitring
that congress had received smallpox vaccinations last year

Oh yeah, let´s make sure these morons survive.

I hadn´t heard this but if true..I´d say highly suspicious. However, I would argue that if there was a smallpox outbreak-it would be the trumped up Soviet weapon type, possibly even mixed with someother virus/disease, say gangrene. my guess would be an immunization may not do a whole lot of good.

Needless to say,living like this is really getting the best of me. I was awoke by my neighbors dog at about 4am and shortly thereafter I heard something buzzing around in the sky, sounded like it was flying low. I have no idea what it was, but it has had me unnerved all day.

24 posted on 10/03/2001 1:35:49 PM PDT by riri
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To: riri
Bump for later reading.
25 posted on 10/03/2001 1:39:11 PM PDT by borkrules
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To: white trash redneck
WHO electrolyte solution:

1 liter cold H2O
8 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sodium chloride (table salt)
1/2 tsp Sodium bicarb (Baking soda)
1/4 tsp potassium Chloride (KCl)USP powder (or 2-3 gms per dose)

The only hard part is getting the KCl powder. By prescription it comes in 20mEq packets or large stock bottles of powder for use in pharmacies. Over the counter potassium supplements might work, but I don't know how much KCl is in an actual OTC dose.

26 posted on 10/03/2001 1:57:53 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: proud2bRC
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27 posted on 10/03/2001 2:00:49 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: white trash redneck
bump
28 posted on 10/03/2001 2:12:24 PM PDT by VOA
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To: RnMomof7,Brandybux
Here's what I have:

For informational purposes:

To: American in Israel

"Also keep in mind that doxycycline or cyproflaxin antibiotics are pretty effective against most of the germs used in bio warfare."

Both can be found/ordered here.

24 Posted on 07/25/2001 00:31:06 PDT by Justa

Note- someone, can't recall who, on this board had more links for online 'scripts--- let's hope they weigh in soon!

29 posted on 10/03/2001 2:15:06 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: proud2bRC
Thanks for the references, all. I preach handwashing and staying home if you're sick. If more of us did these two things, flu season wouldn't kick our collective butts so badly each year. (If we have a bad flu season this year, it could knock even more of the pins out from under the economy!) No bioattack will be transmitted by some new and magic means. The first people to get flu or smallpox could save a lot of lives if they will only realize that this isn't the time to be the martyr who goes to work with a 103 fever!

Maybe we need to bring back those cheesy 1950s personal hygiene films? No, wait, let's get Spielburg to make one that will be truly memorable.

Don't take any wooden nickles and don't touch any public bathroom door fixtures barehanded. :-)
30 posted on 10/03/2001 2:56:11 PM PDT by ChemistCat
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To: ChemistCat
CC, do you know at what point small pox is contagious? I understand it has a ling incubation, followed by a few days of flu-like symptoms, them a rash appears on extremities and face, etc...Which stage is contagious, or are all?

Also, they now have those new anti bacterial hand washes that you can keep in the car, at your desk, etc.

31 posted on 10/03/2001 3:03:01 PM PDT by riri
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To: daniel1q
The problem with self-defense against biochemical warfare is that there is, in fact, very little that we can do against it.

Anyone who remembers NBC (Nuclear, biological, chemical) training from the military realizes how futile it is to expect you can protect yourself for any period of time.

32 posted on 10/03/2001 3:07:56 PM PDT by VA Advogado
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To: backhoe
Has anyone used that drugstore? The # for them is a private residence in the US. Lady said she gets about ten calls a day.
33 posted on 10/03/2001 3:08:58 PM PDT by winodog
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To: backhoe
Note: Do NOT use cipro in kids, unless their life is in danger. Cipro closes down their growth plates prematurely. Doxy is a safer bet with peds.
34 posted on 10/03/2001 3:09:57 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: All
I have a home defense/survival forum on my website. This link is to some info on gas masks. Gas Mask Info

We'll be putting up some more articles and info on MREs, chemical suits, first aid and other relevant topics. Feel fee to drop by the forum and add any info you feel will help those who have never been trained in the military or about survival and home defense.

My background is 7 years in the USAF Special Forces and many years of hunting and living off the land. There are also active military also posting in the forum. No experts, just what has worked for us and what hasn't.

35 posted on 10/03/2001 3:15:19 PM PDT by spectr17
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To: VA Advogado
For about 10 cents a day (a stock bottle of Doxy is about $5 for 100 Doxycycline 100mg tablets) one can take an antibiotic prophylaxis against many of these bugs. It can be taken indefintely with little or no fear of side effects. Teenagers take it literally for several years during adolescence for acne. If an attack occurs, this will prevent infection. It seems to me to be ten cents well spent. I can order it from the link I posted above. I have an account with them. Have I done it yet? No. Why not? Good question....mostly because I'm not yet convinced they actually have any NBC on American soil.
36 posted on 10/03/2001 3:21:35 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: proud2bRC
Thanks for the info!
37 posted on 10/03/2001 3:21:56 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: winodog
The # for them is a private residence

Hummm!

38 posted on 10/03/2001 3:23:57 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: proud2bRC
FR Thread: Virtual Naval Hospital: Treatment of Biological Warfare Agent Casualties
39 posted on 10/03/2001 3:26:36 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: ChemistCat
I preach handwashing

That really does work. When I used to take my little kids to the park I'd ALWAYS wash their hands with a diaper wipe before I started the car to go home. They were hardly sick as kids. What is your take on colloidal silver?

40 posted on 10/03/2001 3:56:19 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: George from New England
Here is a fun family home night project. Convert an old CD player into a Sarin gas detector!

How Stuff Works

Pop some corn and enjoy!

41 posted on 10/03/2001 4:06:25 PM PDT by nimc
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To: Slyfox
I have NO IDEA about CAg except that it is expensive, and I don't take anything my doctors don't know about. I have too many meds & problems already! I have huge doubts about the effectiveness of homeopathy and herbal megadosing. Don't let my name fool you--I'm a chemistry *student* and maybe not even that for much longer. Maybe there's room for me at the bottom of the polemic biz? Does anyone know how well that pays?
42 posted on 10/03/2001 4:24:55 PM PDT by ChemistCat
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To: VA Advogado
VA, ground zero is always pretty much doomed and the second generation infected doesn't fare much better in any plague. But don't lose hope unless you work at a major transportation hub. If our government can respond swiftly and decisively, an epidemic can be contained by drastic quarantine measures; few toxins are dangerous when diluted by enough air/water. The exceptions are expensive and dangerous to transport--"OOPS, Achmed, I just spilled some plutonium dust in that chai you are drinking"?

I am hoping that we've already seen the cleverest thing these people can do. Taking the WTC towers down COMPLETELY was clever. I was expecting the second attack almost at once if it was going to be bio. By now we'd know. Don't worry--but do wash your hands!!!!!!!
43 posted on 10/03/2001 4:32:32 PM PDT by ChemistCat
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To: ChemistCat
Don't worry--but do wash your hands!!!!!!!

LOL I feel better already. And I do agree with your statement about it being able to be contained. The problem is leaving a contaminated area. The odds of being hit are very very slim, but if you are, I suspect its over for you. If you're not, no need to try to wear a gas mask as you sleep. . as if this could even be done. I doubt it.

44 posted on 10/03/2001 4:37:13 PM PDT by VA Advogado
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To: VA Advogado
We all feel a lot less safe. I don't know what to do about that feeling except pray a little and maybe take a little Flexeril at night. Unknots the muscles, gives the sheep a calculus course....
45 posted on 10/03/2001 5:08:55 PM PDT by ChemistCat
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To: riri
Riri, what I know about smallpox mostly comes from reading historical fiction from the Revolutionary War period. Both sides of the battle were terribly stricken with this. Apparently it is spread by contact, flies, and so forth. The painful pustules that develop, then rupture, are filled with very contagious material. Some smart guys figured out that if you popped the pustules before they ruptured on their own and then infect people through a little scratch on their arm, they would develop just ONE pox at that site and would develop a healthy immune response before the infection became systemic. I have no idea if this works but I'm passing it along anyway. I know that the first smallpox vaccine was developed because a physician noticed that dairy workers who had had the much milder infection cowpox seemed immune to smallpox. He deliberately infected his own son with cowpox and later proved the boy protected from smallpox as well. Smallpox is no laughing matter. Those who survive were terribly scarred for life, and the infection completely debilitated or killed almost all who got it. This is what I know, and it's not based on any medical knowledge. I'm not a real Chemist, I just play one on FR and during frantic hour exams.
46 posted on 10/03/2001 6:01:11 PM PDT by ChemistCat
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To: proud2bRC
"No Salt" brand "salt alternative" is nearly pure potassium chloride (KCl). Thanks for the antibiotic tip.
47 posted on 10/04/2001 12:41:35 AM PDT by Iris7
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