Infectious disease will be more of an issue in hard times, especially in a long-term survival situation. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that issues with water and food contamination are going to bring down epidemics of infectious disease onto the surviving population. As such, anyone expecting to survive long-term will have to provide for this eventuality.
Bacterial Infections: What You Should Know
Even the clearest mountain stream in a National Park might have organisms like Giardia in it; many of these organisms lead to significant diarrheal disease, dehydration, and even death without appropriate treatment.
Few succumb to infections (except perhaps the elderly) in developed countries these days. In the aftermath of a major disaster, however, we can expect to be thrown back to an earlier era medically; the death rates back then may be what we’ll expect in the future if we are not prepared.
Of course, we should start with antibiotics. Here’s my list of antibiotics you should have stockpiled, along with their veterinary equivalents:
(Note: Some brand names mentioned in the list above no longer exist, but have been replaced by other brands. Look up the generic name online.)
All of the above, with the exception of Amoxicillin and Ampicillin, are acceptable in those with Penicillin allergies. With the above antibiotics in your medical supplies, you’ll be able to treat 90% of the bacterial diseases that will appear on your doorstep in times of trouble, even Anthrax.
In the case of diarrheal disease, there is another useful prescription drug that may help prevent dehydration (the major cause of death). Ondansetron (Zofran in the U.S.) is an anti-emetic, which means that it decreases nausea and vomiting. Strong enough to be used in chemotherapy patients, it would be an unsympathetic physician that would refuse a request for a prescription for anyone in a situation where water quality may be an issue.
Unless you live in the middle of Death Valley, you will have to beware of fungal infections. Common ones like Ringworm, Athlete’s Foot, Jock itch, and others will be rampant in situations where you might not be able to change socks or underwear often. Therefore, it makes sense to keep some antifungal medication around as well.
Clotrimazole (lotrimin) is a good choice here, as it comes in cream or powder, and doesn’t require a prescription. Medications like Miconazole (Monistat) would also be useful for vaginal yeast infections. There is an oral tablet as well called Fluconazole (Diflucan), which may be more convenient but requires a prescription.
Finally, anti-viral medications will be useful as well. Many of the infections, especially respiratory, that we consider to be bacterial in nature are more likely to be viral in nature. Antibiotics have no significant effect on viruses, even though many patients will demand an antibiotic prescription from their doctors as soon as they feel the first symptom.
One of the most popular anti-viral drugs is called Tamiflu (Oseltamvir). Tamiflu gives effective relief against symptoms of influenza and decreases the amount of time you would be sick. Given when you first realize that you have been exposed to someone with the flu, it could even prevent the illness altogether. It should be noted that some drugs that treat viral infections like herpes may have little effect against respiratory illness.
By the way, don’t throw away that expired Tamiflu; the government has given a 5 year use extension beyond the date of “expiration” through the Shelf Life Extension Program. Like many medications in pill or capsule form, Tamiflu remains effective long afterwards. See my article “The Truth About Expiration Dates” for more info.
Although we’re mentioning pharmaceuticals today, don’t forget that natural products such as Garlic and Honey have significant anti-infective properties. Garlic, for example, has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti0viral effects. Many people report significant antibacterial effect with colloidal silver, as well.
For more in-depth information, refer to our article which starts the series on how to use antibiotics:
For our list of over the counter medications that are important for your medical storage (including some also useful for some infections), see our next article…
Are you ready to deal with medical issues in situations where help is NOT on the way? With “The Survival Medicine Handbook“, you’ll become a better medical asset in just about any emergency. Here’s the book trailer: