We were at the recent USA Prepares event in Missouri and many of the questions that we fielded during our time there related to the stockpiling of medicines and what each medicine was useful for in times of trouble. There isn’t a 60 second answer to this. Actually, there isn’t a 60 MINUTE answer to this, but anyone that is interested in preserving the health of their loved ones in a collapse will have to learn what antibiotics will work in a particular situation.
It’s important to start off by saying that you will not want to indiscriminately use antibiotics for every minor ailment that comes along. In a collapse, the medic is also a quartermaster of sorts; you will want to wisely dispense that limited and, yes, precious supply of life-saving drugs. Having said this, not having antibiotics in your storage will result, in a grid-down scenario, in the unnecessary deaths of members of your group to infections incurred from activities of daily survival. An infected cut from chopping wood, for example, may travel to the circulation, causing a life-threatening condition known as “Septicemia” or “sepsis“. In the History Channel series “After Armageddon“, this was the cause of death of an EMT due to the lack of antibiotics in the community medical storage.
Why Liberal Use of Antibiotics is Bad
Liberal use of antibiotics is a poor strategy for a few reasons:
· Overuse can foster the spread of resistant bacteria. Antibiotics routinely given to turkeys recently caused a resistant strain of Salmonella that put over 100 people in the hospital. 36 million birds were destroyed.
· Potential allergic reactions may occur that could lead to anaphylactic shock (see my recent article on this topic).
· Making a diagnosis may be more difficult if you give antibiotics before you’re sure what medical problem you’re actually dealing with. The antibiotics might temporarily “mask” a symptom, which could cost you valuable time in determining the correct treatment.
You can see that judicious use of antibiotics, under your close supervision, is necessary to fully utilize their benefits. Discourage your group members from using these drugs without first consulting you. Remember, YOU are in charge of making these (sometime difficult) decisions to parcel out your limited medical supplies. Use them wisely.
What Antibiotics Should I Get?
There are many antibiotics, but what antibiotics accessible to the average person would be good additions to your medical storage? Each antibiotic belongs to its own family and is useful for different ailments. Here are some common antibiotics (most available in veterinary form without a prescription) that you will want in your medical arsenal and their veterinary equivalent:
· Amoxicillin 250mg AND 500mg (FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE)
· Ciprofloxacin 250mg and 500mg(FISH-FLOX, FISH-FLOX FORTE)
· Cephalexin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-FLEX, FISH-FLEX FORTE)
· Metronidazole 250mg (FISH-ZOLE)
· Doxycycline 100mg (BIRD-BIOTIC)
· Ampicillin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-CILLIN, FISH-CILLIN FORTE)
There are various others that you can choose, but the selections above will give you the opportunity to treat many illnesses and have enough variety so that even those with Penicillin allergies with have options. Cephalexin, although not in the same drug family, has been quoted as having a 10% cross-reactivity rate with Penicillin. There are many others that meet my criteria:
1)They must only be produced in human dosages, although they are “supposed” to be for fish
2)The only ingredient must be the antibiotic itself. Nothing else that makes your scales more shiny or your fins longer
3)They must appear identical to their human equivalents when removed from the bottle
4)They must be available without a prescription
5)They must be available for purchase in bulk
This article addresses one of the most common antibiotics available in aquatic equivalents. Amoxicillin (Aquarium version: FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE, AQUA-MOX): comes in 250mg and 500mg doses, usually taken 3 times a day. Amoxicillin is the most popular antibiotic prescribed to children, usually in liquid form. More versatile and better absorbed than the older Pencillins, Amoxicillin may be used for the following diseases:
· Anthrax (Prevention or treatment of Cutaneous transmission)
· Skin or Soft Tissue Infection (cellulitis, boils)
· Actinomycosis (causes abscesses in humans and livestock)
· Tonsillitis/Pharyngitis (Strep throat)
This is a lot of information, but how do you approach determining what dose and frequency would be appropriate for what individual? Let’s take an example: Otitis Media is a common ear infection, especially in children. Amoxicillin is often the “drug of choice” for this condition, although it is not necessary so for some of the above-listed illnesses.
First, you would want to determine that your patient is not allergic to Amoxicillin. The most common form of allergy would appear as a rash, but diarrhea, itchiness, and even respiratory difficulty could also manifest. If your patient is allergic, another antibiotic such as Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprin or Cephalexin could be a “second-line” solution.
Once you have identified Amoxicillin as your choice to treat your patient’s ear infection, you will want to determine the dosage. As Otitis Media often occurs in children, you might have to break a tablet in half or open the capsule to separate out a portion that would be appropriate. For Amoxicillin, you would give 20-50mg per kilogram of body weight (20-30mg/kg for infants less than four months old). This would be useful if you have to give the drug to a toddler less than 30 pounds. A common child’s dosage would be 250mg and a common maximum dosage for adults would be 500 mg. Take this orally 3 times a day for 10 to 14 days (twice a day for infants). Luckily, these dosages are exactly how the commercially-made medications come.
If your child is too small to swallow a pill whole, you could make a mixture with water (called a “suspension”). To make a liquid, crush a tablet or empty a capsule into a small glass of water and drink it; then, fill the glass again and drink that (particles may adhere to the walls of the glass). You can add some flavoring to make it more palatable. Do not chew or make a liquid out of time-released capsules of any medication, you will wind up losing some of the gradual release effect and perhaps get too much into your system at once. These medications should be plainly marked “Time-Released”.
Anytime you, as medic, place a person on a new medication or supplement, they should be carefully watched for signs of allergy. If they develop a rash, itching, diarrhea, or other untoward symptoms, you should discontinue your treatment and look for other options.
You will be probably see improvement within 3 days, but don’t be tempted to stop the antibiotic therapy until you’re done with the entire 10-14 days. Sometimes, you’ll kill most of the bacteria but some colonies may persist and multiply if you prematurely end the treatment. In a collapse, however, you might be down to your last few pills and have to make some tough decisions.
For official recommendations regarding the use of Amoxicillin to treat the other illnesses listed, consider investing in a book called the Physician’s Desk Reference. It will have all this information (and more) on just about any medication manufactured today. Listed are indications, dosages, side effects, risks, and even how the drug works in the body. Online sources such as drugs.com or rxlist.com are also useful, but you are going to want a hard copy for your library. You never know when we might not have a functioning internet.
In my next article, I will be reviewing some of the other antibiotics that I listed above…