Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Norovirus: The Super Virus
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Norovirus: The Super Virus

Harley Sachs - May 25th, 2006
It comes on without warning. One minute you feel okay. The next you are
doubled up with nausea, diarrhea, a fever, and unable to keep anything down. You’re laid up for 24 to 72 hours. The result, besides extreme discomfort, is dehydration that can be life threatening. We learned it was the Norovirus.
We just experienced an epidemic of that disease at the retirement building where I winter in Portland, Oregon. Of 240 residents, 80 were stricken. Of 115 staff members, 46 were put out of action. Five of our elderly residents were put in the hospital because of dehydration.Fortunately no one died.
We were lucky. Across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, three
elderly residents did die. A number of ambulance and health care personnel promptly caught the disease. Usually the Norovirus is not fatal except for the already infirm elderly and very young children. But it is so virulent, its spread is difficult to contain.
Originally called the Norwalk virus because it broke out in an elementary
school in Ohio, the Norovirus is called by Dr. David Matson of Eastern Virginia Medical School an “industrial strength” protein. While the more common diarrhea rotavirus that attacks children needs 10,000 particles for a kid to catch it, the norovirus needs only 10.
Unlike influenza, polio, and rhinoviruses, the Norovirus has no fatty lipid element that would make it easier to destroy. There is no treatment and no cure. One simply tries to hold out until it passes and not get dangerously dehydrated That’s difficult when you can’t eat or drink anything and keep it down.
When the virus struck our retirement community the chef had to shut down
the salad bar and cancel all community dinners and parties involving food. People were forbidden to visit the residents’ health center. Everyone was cautioned to wash their hands frequently. We lived in a state of siege for several weeks while the illness ran its course.
The illness caused local schools to close while the staff tried to disinfect everything with bleach water. The virus can hang around on hard surfaces for weeks and is more persistent in the environment than AIDS. People who have had it can continue to slough off bits of the dangerous protein
for days after the end of symptoms. It can even hang around in carpets and be stirred
up by simply walking across the room.
No wonder the Norovirus does well in dense populations like schools, cruise ships, and retirement buildings.
Its persistence is amazing. It was reported that in 1998 a Slovenian raspberry grower irrigated his crop with contaminated water. The virus settled on the berries and survived their being turned into juice that was exported to 13 countries. When the disease struck a contingent of British troops in Afghanistan it was suspected as being a biological warfare agent. As such, it could be an excellent weapon: persistent, debilitating, and not fatal. You can’t fight if you are sick.
What should do if you come down with the Norovirus? Stay in bed, avoid contact with other people. Wash your hands frequently, and try to keep up your liquid intake. Even after your symptoms have disappeared, remember that you can still pass on the contagion. The kicker is that having had it once you do not acquire an immunity. You can catch it again, and your resistance is lower next time.
It seems that as quickly as we find new medicines, diseases evolve that are resistant or immune. Norovirus is usually not fatal. Bird flu is and about 50% who catch it die. If the protein for the norovirus somehow hooked up with the bird flu and added its contagion to the mortality of the bird disease the human race would be in dire danger. I think I’ll skip the cruise.


Harley L. Sachs, visit the web site
www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs
and listen to two stories broadcast on the BBC (broadband high speed recommended!) and read extensive reviews.
 
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