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Ebola Virus – Three Things You Need to Know

featured-bacterial-infections-101The Ebola virus has resurged and become all but an epidemic in parts of West Africa.  As of this past July, as many as 60% of the infected with the virus has died in this recent bout.  But if you are like me, I was oblivious as to what Ebola really was.

MedicineNet.com defines this disease as follows:  “Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a viral disease caused by Ebola virus that results in nonspecific symptoms early in the disease and often causes internal and external hemorrhage (bleeding) as the disease progresses. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is considered one of the most lethal viral infections; the mortality rate (death rate) is very high during outbreaks (reports of outbreaks range from about 50% to 100% of humans infected, depending on the Ebola strain).”

Additionally, here are three main things I found out:

How it’s Contracted

The Ebola virus is native to West Africa, stemming from countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, South Sudan, Gabon, Guinea and Liberia.  This virus lives in animals, and in turn, humans can contract it from these same infected animals.  How?  The main thing to remember is that this virus can be passed on by coming in contact with body fluids of an infected person or animal.  Scientists have deduced one of the ways the virus is transmitted is from eating the infected animals.  In this case, it could be monkeys or fruit bats which are a part of the diet of West Africans.

Another way transmission occurs is by using unclean medical equipment or needles after caring for Ebola patients.  In developed countries this is very seldom the problem, but in poorer countries where funds and trained professional help is scarce, this is certainly the case.  Also, the virus can be passed on from the dead to living.  When infected patients die, those handling the body are in danger of contracting this disease if they are not wearing the appropriate protective gear.

Signs and Symptoms

The Mayo Clinic states that signs and symptoms can start as early as five to 10 days of infection.  At this point, the infected individual may start to experience:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Over time, symptoms may worsen to include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (possibly bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding – from eyes; worsens toward death, coming from every orifice: eyes, ears, nose and rectum
  • Internal bleeding
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Shock

Cure and Prevention

Even though scientists are working on a cure, there is none at this time.  And since there is no known cure, prevention is the key.  The Mayo Clinic provides some clear-cut prevention steps:

Avoid areas of known outbreaks – if traveling abroad, check for current epidemics

Wash your hands frequently – use soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs (with 60% alcohol)

Avoid bush meat – do not buy wild animal meat while in developing countries

Avoid contact with infected people – caregivers need to take special care to avoid contact with the person’s blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva

Follow infection-control procedures – wear protective gear and dispose of used needles

Don’t handle remains – let specially train teams bury remains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crackhead Mentality

crackheadSoooooo, an older relative of mine had her house broken into recently.  Let’s just call her Aunt Mae.  Yep.  They came through the locked gate, the double-window, bars and the security system.

What did they steal?  Oh, a lot of her better jewelry, some of which she’ll never get back because she had them over 40 years.  But I want to get to the point of this article – what kind of crackhead gets up with the very intention to steal???  Exactly how did that conversation go?

“D’oh, ah.  You know that lady down the street?  (I’m speaking in my crackhead voice now).

She be gone at a curtain time.  So let us go down der and see wha’ she got.

But her got an alarm, don’t it?

I ‘un care ‘bout her havin’ not alarm.  We do it quick, we can beat the po-po der.  Let us just steal something quick and light.

Let us see…a TV?  Nah, nah, nah.  Dat’s too big.

A furniture?  Naw, that still to big, ain’t it?

Hmm…(crackhead is now scratching his temple).  May have to settle on jew’ry.

Yeah!  Dat’s it.  Jew’ry!  We is so smart!  She dun already pulled out the driveway.  Is we got ev’rything?  Den let’s go!”

Then, I imagine the crackheads walked down the street with their crackhead walk.  You know, the way that crackheads do.  They busy their little gnarly crackhead fingers and break down gates, glass windows and such.  They run like skinned crackheads as the alarm goes off and shuffle to where they think the jewelry is.  It’s there.  Minutes are rolling by.  The alarm is still waling and now the crackheads are beginning to sweat.

They get all they can and out the window they go.  Leaving all their little crackhead fingerprints that the officer later lifted and sent in.  What will I say to these puppies when and if they are caught and confirmed as the culprits?  Oh let’s see, what comes to mind?  Oh what name can I call them or will roll off my lips that will wrap up my emotions as well as my Aunt Mae’s?

You.  Crackhead.

Interracial Dating

interractialInterracial dating and marriages have increased substantially according to The USA Today.  In fact, an article entitled, Census Shows Big Jump in Interracial Couples, posted April 2012 in the same online magazine stated, “Among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples)…”  Wow.  That’s a big change.

This move has caused a lot of dialogue as you can imagine.  In the last few years I have read more than enough articles on the subject.  The following is just a few I can personally recall:  I can’t find a man within my race so should I date someone who is not black?  Why do black men date white women? If I date a white man, does it mean that I, as a black woman, am turning my back on the brothers?  I have heard all the reasons and rationales – some hate-tinged, some not, some skittish, and some bold as brass.  But you know what I’ve concluded?  Grown people are going to do what they want to do.  Others may or may not like it, love it, or agree, but once a strong, intelligent person has made up his or her mind, there it is.

Really, the fact that there is a rise in interracial relationships should not be surprising at all.  We live in a technical world; it is ever so easy to reach out to a person, who under normal circumstances, you would not have the opportunity to do so.  That’s what the technical world of the internet does – it opens up opportunities for those who are inclined to take them.  So many barriers that once separated people are just not a problem at all – language, distance, culture or race.  Let’s talk about Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, Twitter, Flicker, Pinterest, Tumbler, and just good ol’ email.

But then there’s the other side of this coin to consider.  My coworker and I was talking about how people will put more time into buying a particular automobile than they would getting to know a person that they intend to marry or are dating.  This same coworker, however; was quick to point out that he knew of instances where a person married only after dating for a couple of months and they are still married years later.  Now that was a risk – even though the same is true with any marriage – we both agreed that a hurried decision like that was a bigger risk whether of the same race or not.  In some cases, the more external differences there are, the more risk factors there are as well.

But ultimately, as time and experience has shown us, managing external responses to interracial relationships are not unmovable barriers but it is something a mature person considers beforehand, knows what she is up against, and prepares herself for it.

Black History – 15 Interesting Facts

February

If you didn’t already know, February is Black History month.  This month-long celebration started out as the Negro History Week Celebration first organized by Carter G. Woodson.  It was chosen because two birthdays came during this time –Frederick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s.

I ran upon some interesting facts about Black History and just wanted to share.  Take a gander at the information listed below.

Xavier University, a historically black college in Louisiana, has one of the highest success rates in the country of getting their graduates into medical school.

Spelman College in Atlanta is NOT the only historically black college for women, Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina is the other one.

Victor Blanco was the Black mayor of San Antonio in 1809 – before slavery was abolished, while Texas was still part of Mexico.

Frank Wills, a Black security guard, discovered President Nixon’s cover-up which later caused his resignation as President of the United States. Despite Wills’ discovery, he struggled to find work for the rest of his life.

Benjamin T. Montgomery, a former slave, bought the plantations of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the end of the Civil War, and became one of the biggest cotton planters in Mississippi.

Rex Ingram, a Black actor, bypassed the stereotypes by playing a meaningful role in the film “The Green Pastures” in 1936.

Sophia Tucker and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College, used just $100 to found this Historically Black College.

The African American advisors to President Franklin D. Roosevelt were called the “Black Brain Trust.”

Vermont was the first U.S. territory, in 1777, to abolish slavery. Pennsylvania was the first state to do so, in 1780.

Dr. William Hinton, a Black physician, is credited with creating a test to detect the syphilis disease.

In 1959, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors in Prince Edward County, Virginia, voted to close its public schools in a show of “massive resistance” against integration.  The vast majority of the county’s 1,700 African American students and some white students went without formal education from 1959–1964.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Sainte-Domingue (Haiti), built the first permanent settlement in what would become Chicago in 1779.

Alonzo Pietro, a Black Spaniard explorer, set sail with Christopher Columbus to the “New World.”

Walter S. McAfee is the African American mathematician and physicist first to calculate the speed of the moon.  On January 10, 1946 a radar pulse was transmitted towards the moon. Two and a half seconds later, they received a faint signal, proving that transmissions from earth could cross the vast distances of outer space.

Henry Highland Garnett, born a slave in Kent County, MD was named Minister of Liberia in 1881. He was also President of Avery College in Allegany, PA.

Rare Disease Day – February 28, 2014

RDD_whiteThere are well-known diseases such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis.  And then there are rare diseases in which the names alone could take up a whole line.  Try saying trimethylaminuria (TMAU) three times.  TMAU, although reportedly not fatal, can be crippling due to extremely unpleasant symptoms like foul breath and body odor due to the body’s lack of ability to break down a certain common chemical found in food.

Not a problem you say?  Try being a nine-year-old kid that stinks to high heaven while going to public school.  Not fun.  And yes, this condition affects young and old.  There is no cure.

Maybe you’re one of many who like to look at shows about strange disorders and diseases.  We as humans have a never-tiring fascination of strange medical conditions that people may develop or are born with.  I can remember watching a show where a young man was growing tree-like warts all over his body.  Another time there was a lady on a program whose legs were so swollen that movement was almost impossible.  Both of these conditions baffled the medical community.  Myself, I was stunned to learn of such ailments.

But it wasn’t until I was personally touched by how rare disease can alter your life that I learned that you not only should feel something, but should do something as well.  That’s why Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2014, is so important.  The US 
Rare Disease Day website states:

“Rare Disease Day is an international advocacy day to bring widespread recognition of rare diseases as a global health challenge. The day is celebrated on the last day of February every year. In 2014, it will be observed on February 28th.  In the U.S., any disease affecting fewer than 200,000 people is considered rare. This definition comes from the 
Orphan Drug Act of 1983 and is slightly different from the definition used in Europe. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans. In other words, almost one in ten Americans are suffering from rare diseases.  Besides dealing with their specific medical problems, people with rare diseases struggle to get a proper diagnosis, find information, and get treatment. The rarity of their conditions makes medical research more difficult.”

Anyone can be involved in Rare Disease Day and there are many suggested activities. The day has been established as a grassroots advocacy day and we encourage everyone to participate in some way!

This website focuses on Rare Disease Day activities in the U.S. To learn what’s happening around the world, go to the global Rare Disease Day website at 
rarediseaseday.org.”

If you are suffering with a rare disorder or know someone who is, then this event was created for you.  Additionally, for those who are moved to do something and even if you can’t do much, just do what you can.  
NORD, the National Organization of Rare Diseases, will accept donations as low as a dollar.  Hey, it all adds up.

Remember, Alone We are Rare.  Together We are Strong.

Tips for Easy Tax Filing

taxesAll right guys, it’s that time again.  Tax time!  Don’t everybody jump out of sheer excitement.  For some, these words mean money, for others, not so much.  But the way I view it, it’s like pulling out a loose tooth.  Might as well do it now and get it over with.

Listed below are three points that might help:

This point cannot be emphasized enough:  Don’t procrastinate!  You don’t have to do it all in one day or weekend.  You can do a little at a time.  That way, you are sure to make fewer mistakes and not overlook possible tax savings.

Use Free File or try IRS e-fileFree file:  if you made less than 57,000 last year you can take advantage of free brand-name tax software offered around this time.  Another option is to go to IRS.gov/freefile to access the IRS Free File.

IRS e-file:  This is a very accurate, easy and popular way to file.  On a good note:  even if you file now and find out you owe, you don’t have to pay until April 15th.

And for us that need it, you can always file an extension.  So say your return is not ready and April 15th is fast approaching.  You can request an extension through the Free File program.  This will get you an extra six months to work on your taxes.  For those who want to go the paper route:  use Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).  You can download the form at IRS.gov or call 1800-TAX-FORM (1800-829-3676).  Here’s the catch:  you still have to pay any taxes owed by April 15th.  The extension gives you more time to work on your tax return; it does not give you more time to pay.

What We Can Learn From Nelson Mandela

MandelaAlthough I am definitely not of any political persuasion, I have to say Nelson Mandela’s death had a surprising effect on me.  I personally feel that the changes we need earth wide will not be brought about by a man, any group of men, or even a woman.  It will take a stronger and wiser Personage to handle this hot mess we’ve got goin’ on down here.

That said, even though Mandela was a man – and by his own admission, a flawed and imperfect one – he has left an indelible mark in history.  For one, I was struck by his loyalty and single-minded dedication to a higher cause than himself.  But shouldn’t we all have that quality?  Let’s ask ourselves, is there something in my life that is worth more than life itself?  I’ve noticed that when such is the case, a noble purpose drives individuals to enrichment of character and fortitude.

No, I’m not encouraging fanaticism, instead, deep reflection as to whether those of us who live for our jobs, our beauty, or accolades will still have happy and fulfilled lives when these things are gone.  It is of the utmost importance to live for something honorable, greater and that has an unfading value.

Secondly, we can learn patience from Mandela.  How many could endure 27 years in prison and come out without an overwhelming feeling of bitterness and anger?  I’ve since learned that Mandela initially took up violent ways to accomplish his purpose before being sentenced to jail time.  Later, however, he realized that violence was not the answer.  This he learned in the 27 years he spent behind bars.

Now, most of us will not have to endure 27 years in prison but are we dealing with long-term illnesses of our own or of a loved one we care for?  Are we struggling to save our marriage or are we wrangling with a moody teenager?  These situations can be stressful and can easily make us throw up both hands.  But wouldn’t it be better not to give up so quickly and find a way to cope and hopefully improve matters?  Do we think Mandela did this on his own?  No, he had cellmates that became his friends.  They no doubt gave him strength and the encouragement to go on.  So where is our support?  Let’s be adamant about having that in our lives.  We all need it, especially when struggling with difficult times. 

Finally, some have placed Mandela on a very high pedestal and gave him sainthood.  I would rather see his flaws, problems, struggles and pain so I can learn from them.  It’s something I can relate to.  I’ve never known a perfect person and would not know what that was like.  But I can connect to imperfection, the ups and downs of life, disappointments, death, and hope.  And that’s why we all can connect and relate to Mandela – he was unabashedly human.  He exhibited the complexities of any person put in similar circumstances.  Did he struggle? Yes.  Did he fall? Of course!  But most of all, he prevailed.  And that, my friend, gives us all hope.