Each year some 5,700 people in the US are treated for typhoid fever, about 75% of those have contracted it whilst travelling in the developing world. Although a severely debilitating disease, deaths listing typhoid as the cause are rare in the United States. Most will survive due to good nutrition, a return to clean drinking water and prompt medical attention. Remove any of these things and typhoid could quite easily get a foothold in the United States.
It is highly contagious disease that is easily passed from person to person.
Typhoid is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi. this bacteria only lives in the blood and intestinal tract of humans. You can contract typhoid if you come into contact with food or drink handled by someone with typhoid, or if typhoid has contaminated the water you use for drinking, washing or preparing food.
The usual treatment for typhoid is antibiotics though with the crisis the world is facing with antibiotic resistance, this line of treatment may be futile in the not too distant future. This poses a major problem for all of us, but it’s an even bigger problem when looked at from a preparedness point of view. Life will be precarious enough without the fear that the antibiotics that we have stored are useless.
It would be prudent to look into natural remedies for treating infection now rather than later. Many swear by colloidal silver, and research suggests that cinnamon has potent antibiotic properties.
Living in cramped and unsanitary conditions is an open invitation for disease. Lots of disease. Typhoid has been used as an example, but that is just one of many diseases that routinely surfaces during economic down turns, after natural disasters and in times of war. History is full of such events. Typhoid, typhus, cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and many, many more all arise from contaminated water and/or lack of adequate sewerage.
I find it useful when teaching people about infectious disease to give them links to advice pages, written by experts, in countries that experience much higher incidences of disease than we do in the Western world. You can see the type of information I mean here. It may be written in a much more basic manner than the information sheets we get in the west, but they are a very valuable source of information from regions that do not have the medical care that we enjoy.
Following simple advice like cooking food thoroughly, peeling fruit before eating it and adding bleach to drinking water can help stop you getting typhoid and therefore the worries of treating it are removed.
We need to get back to basics if we are going to protect ourselves from diseases like typhoid in a collapse situation. With every home having clean, fresh water on tap, and the practice of having a daily shower, many people have no knowledge of how to live without these things.
All that stands between us and a surge in these once common diseases is hygiene. The day we no longer have access to fresh water in quantity is said by many to be fast approaching, either from a natural reduction in available water or due to a societal breakdown that affects the availability of water coming into our homes.
Whatever the reason the results could well be the same.
Human waste disposal needs to be robust, and a plan should be made for the management of human waste before it is needed. An outhouse would be preferable if you have the space to have one. The waste should be disposed of in a deep pit located where it can’t come into contact with water sources or food that is being grown.
Composting human waste has been mentioned in many articles but on a personal level I am not convinced the compost heap would get to the required temperature to kill all harmful bacteria.
Human waste is going to become a major issue in a very short space of time in the event that a crisis affects the municipal water supply.
If you bury waste it should be at ideally be 200 ft from your home, and should not be in a location where heavy rain could cause run off to get into a water course, or cause contamination to you home.
Ideally solid and liquid human waste should be kept separate, but this is not always going to be possible. Heavy duty garbage bags can be put into the toilet pan, cat litter, dried grass, leaves or even shredded newspaper should be placed in the bottom of the bag to soak up liquid, more dried material should be added if required over time. Using this method means the toilet seat can be used, and the lid closed helping to prevent smells.
The bag should be tied up, with as much air as possible excluded and put inside another heavy duty bag and left to dry out before incineration or deep burial.
It’s not enough to just consider the disease that are circulating our locations at this point, consideration has to be given to those that will re-emerge if the country is in a situation where medical help is not available.
5,700 people a year are treated for typhoid fever every year in the US. All of them will be spreading it around…they will have no idea what they are suffering from. The only way we can prevent diseases such as typhoid spreading is either by mass education, which we all know is not going to happen, or by being fastidious in our own practices after any event.
Having a secure supply of clean water is critical, it means you do not have to use sources that could have been contaminated by others.
Rain water is perfectly adequate for washing and maybe putting some thought into a collection system now could prevent a good deal of trauma later.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.