Health Care

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

Decarboxylation: What It Is, & Why You Should Decarb Your Weed

decarbing

Have you ever wondered why you need to heat cannabis to feel the psychoactive effects? In order to get high from cannabis, you need to decarboxylate it first. But, what is decarboxylation and why should you decarb your weed? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting the most out of your herb. 

What is decarboxylation?

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Did you know that raw cannabis is non-psychoactive? The herb only becomes psychoactive when two things happen. First, when the bud dries and ages. Second, when the cannabis is heated. More psychoactive compounds are created by heating the plant than via ageing. In order to release the full potential of marijuana’s psychoactive effects, you must first go through a process called decarboxylation.

 

“Decarboxylation” is a long word for a simple process. To decarboxylate your herb, you just need to heat it. Applying a little heat to dried bud inspires some fascinating chemical reactions in the plant. Namely, you transform compounds called cannabinoid acids into a form that is readily usable by the body.

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in the cannabis plant that bind to cells in the body to produce effects. Sometimes decarboxylation is called “activating” or “decarbing”.

You probably have already heard that the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what gets you high when you smoke a little flower or eat an edible. But, you won’t find much THC on a live, growing marijuana plant, if any at all. What you find instead is another compound called THCA, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

THCA is not psychoactive. That’s right, this acid compound won’t get you high. In order to feel the mind-altering effects of cannabis, you need to transform THCA into psychoactive THC. So, you apply a little heat.

Each time you take a lighter to a joint or place your cannabis in the oven, you are acting the part of an amateur chemist. You are converting one compound into another. You’re turning an otherwise non-psychoactive plant into a psychoactive one. To get specific, you are removing a “carboxyl group” from the acid form of THC. Hence the term “De-carboxylation“. Without that carboxyl group, THC is able to freely bind to cell receptors in your brain and body.

Are there benefits to raw cannabis?

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If you want a high, you need to decarb first. However, there are some benefits to leaving your cannabis raw. Keep in mind that “raw” does not mean dried and cured. When you dry and cure your cannabis, a little decarboxylation happens as the herb ages.

Raw, uncured cannabis has a variety of health benefits. Cannabinoid acids are potent anti-inflammatories. The herb is also packed full of vitamins and nutrients found in other healthy greens.

To use the herb raw, you’ll need to use freshly picked buds or fan leaves. You can also store raw cannabis in the refrigerator for a day or two like you would any other leafy green herb. Though, be mindful of mould and wilting. Densely packed cannabis flowers can become mouldy quite quickly when they’re exposed to moisture. You really want to use them as quickly as possible. They also begin to lose potency and denature the longer they sit.

Many medical cannabis patients have success by simply drinking raw cannabis juices or smoothies. You can find more information on raw, dietary cannabis here.

If you’re hoping for some psychoactive edibles, however, it’s best to decarboxylate your cannabis before you begin the cooking process.

Why do I decarb before cooking?

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If you’re cooking with cannabis, it is highly recommended you decarboxylate before you begin making your edible. If you ingest cannabis and want the full psychoactive effect, you need to first decarboxylate before cooking with the herb. Activating your cannabis prior to cooking ensures that THC’s psychoactive potential is not wasted.

If you don’t decarb before cooking, you risk losing potency and are not making the most out of your cannabis.

Do I need to decarb CBD strains?

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The short answer? Yes. CBD is short for cannabidiol, another common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. Just like THC, CBD is found in its acid form in raw cannabis. This raw form (CBDA) has health-promoting properties on its own. But, activating CBD makes it more readily available for the body to use.

To use the proper term, activated CBD is more bioavailable. This means that the compound can be put to use by your body right away. When left in its raw form, your body has to do some extra work to break down the molecule and it may use the acid form in a slightly different way.

The same goes for other cannabinoids as well. Their raw form is the acid from. To make them more bioavailable, you need to decarboxylate. Bioavailability is why you need to decarb your weed.

Temperature and terpenes

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When it comes to decarboxylating, the lower the temperature you use, the longer the decarboxylation process is it’s going to take. However, this is not a bad thing! When using a lower temperature, you to lose fewer terpenes throughout the decarboxylation process.

Have you ever wondered why buds of even the same strain can have different tastes and smells? The answer is hidden in terpenes. Simply put, terpenes are the oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell such as berry, mint, citrus, and pine. There are many medicinal benefits to terpenes; some will successfully relieve your stress while others will promote focus and awareness.

Terpenes also work in tandem with THC and other cannabinoids to amplify the medical benefits of certain strains. For example, one common terpene is linalool. Linalool is the compound that gives lavender its unique scent. Strains like L.A. Confidential and Lavender tend to have high levels of linalool. Research suggests that this may amplify the sedative effects of THC.

The max temperature for terpene expression is 310 to 400°F (154 – 204.4°C). Anything above that will burn off the terpenes, altering flavor and lessening medical effects.

How to decarb before cooking

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Decarboxylation is a super simple process. Before you throw some cannabis into your pasta sauce or some “herbal seasoning” to your next pizza, make sure you follow these easy steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 240° F. / 115° C.
  2. Break up cannabis flowers and buds into smaller pieces with your hands. We use one ounce, but you can elect to do more or less.
  3. Put the pieces in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure the pan is the correct size so there is not empty space on the pan.
  4. Bake the cannabis for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so that it toasts evenly.
  5. When the cannabis is darker in color, a light to medium brown, and has dried out, remove the baking sheet and allow the cannabis to cool. It should be quite crumbly when handled.
  6. In a food processor, pulse the cannabis until it is coarsely ground (you don’t want a superfine powder). Store it in an airtight container and use as needed to make extractions

Watch the video

Fortunately, we’ve created this easy step-by-step video to walk you through the decarboxylation process. It really is not complicated, and taking a little time to properly activate your herb will produce amazing results. Watch the video below to see how it’s done:

 

 

One Month Before The Olympic Games in Rio, Everything Is A Disaster

There is always a panic about the state of affairs in the host city in the lead-up to the Olympics, but usually, fears start to abet closer to the Games.

In Rio, however, things are only getting worse. With only a month to go before the Opening Ceremony on August 5, an official state of emergency has been declared.

Vanessa Barber of the New York Times dubbed the Games an “unnatural disaster,” which might sound like an exaggeration, except that when acting state governor Francisco Dornelles announced a “state of public calamity” in Rio, he said that the crisis might lead to a “total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility, and environmental management.”

Related PostLess Than Six Months Out, The Rio Olympics Are A Mess

By officially declaring a state of emergency, the city is now able to receive emergency funding from the federal government, but only time will tell whether it’s all too little, too late.

Five months ago, the biggest concerns headed into the Games were the Zika virus, polluted waters, and unfinished venues. Now, not only have those problems not been solved, a host of other issues — such as a super bacteria, unpaid police officers, and a closed anti-doping facility — have been added into the mix.

Additionally, President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in May and thousands of families have lost their homes due to Olympic construction.

So as athletes spend the coming weeks trying to book their ticket to the Games and doing their last-minute training regimens, it’s important to take a closer look at the city that awaits them when they arrive.

Police Aren’t Getting Paid

Last week, athletes, tourists, and Rio residents were greeted at the Rio airport with a sign that read, “Welcome to Hell. Police and firefighters don’t get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe.”

That’s not exactly a message that inspires confidence.

Seen at the airport in Rio today: First responders welcome toutists. A sign of what’s to come during the Olympics?

Bailout money — approximately $850 million worth — is coming as a result of the state’s emergency status, and back pay will reportedly be distributed to the emergency personnel this week. But some officers are not optimistic that they will receive the support they need to keep up with the increase in tourists for the Games and the rising crime rates in the favelas, the Brazilian slums located in urban areas.

“We have a very common saying here in Brazil — ‘For the English to see,'” one officer in Rio told CNN. “I believe that the politicians here are doing everything for the English to see.”

Increased Crime Rates

Perhaps related to the lack of funds available, there have been numerous high-profile crime incidents in Rio in recent weeks.

Among those, an Australian Paralympic athlete was mugged at gun point; a German broadcasting truck filled with equipment was hijacked; mutilated body parts washed up on a beach near the Olympic volleyball venue; and there was a shootout to free a drug kingpin at the hospital that will service many of the tourists during the Games.

Safety should be a concern to everyone heading to Rio — according to Barber, 76 people have been hit by stray bullets in Rio so far this year, and 21 of them have died. Brazil is also facing an “epidemic” of anti-LGBT violence.

“[Violent crime] is the most serious issue in Rio and the state is doing a terrible, horrible job,”controversial Rio mayor Eduardo Paes told CNN. “It’s completely failing at its work of policing and taking care of people.”

However, Paes said that 85,000 officers from outside police forces, including the army and navy, will arrive in Rio in late July to work at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Police Brutality

Of course, the answer to an increase in crime is never as simple as “more policemen,” especially considering the history of police brutality in Rio. According to Amnesty International, there has been a 135 percent increase in the number of people killed by police officers in Rio in the run-up to the Games. In May, 40 people were killed by on-duty police officers. Last May, the number of fatalities was only 17.

Related PostPolice Brutality Has Surged In Brazil. It’s About To Get Even Worse.

“The soaring death count ahead of this major sporting event represents an epic failure on the part of the authorities to protect the most fundamental human right — the right to life,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International’s national office in Brazil.

“It is completely unacceptable that these numbers are increasing despite all the warnings and complaints of Rio inhabitants of the excessive use of force by police. The authorities must act immediately to rein in the worst excesses of the security forces, stem the cycle of violence, and ensure the right to life is assured.”

Most of the people impacted by police violence are young, black men from very poor communities in Rio, particularly the favelas.

The ‘Super Bacteria’

The pollution in Rio’s waterways has been a concern ever since an AP investigation last year found that Olympic athletes would be swimming and boating in waters that were up to 1.7 million times more hazardous than waters on a Southern California beach.

Now, mere weeks before the competitions begin, CNN reports that Brazilian scientists have discovered a “drug-resistant bacteria” that entered the city’s waterways “when sewage coming from local hospitals got channeled into the bay.”

“We are making this alert because, if athletes get infected there is a chance this bacteria is multi-resistant and the physicians should know about this,” lead researcher Renata Picao told CNN. However, Picao did not recommend moving the Games.

There has also been a recent oil slick in the Guanabara Bay, the sailing venue for the Games, which is turning white boats brown.

“The boats were completely brown,” Spanish sailor Jordi Xammar told the AP. “But the worst thing was we saw a lot of dead fish.”

Zika Virus

With all of the above controversies, the Zika virus has become somewhat of an afterthought. However, it is still something that is of great concern for athletes, tourists, and, most crucially, residents of Brazil.

In May, a professor warned in the Harvard Public Health Review that it was “socially irresponsible” for the Olympics to continue, and that because an estimated 500,000 people will come into Rio for the Games and there is still so much unknown about the Zika virus, the games could lead to a “foreseeable global catastrophe.”

Related PostDoctor Warns That Rio Olympics Could Lead To A ‘Global Catastrophe’

The mosquito-borne virus is particularly a concern for women who are pregnant or who are planning on becoming pregnant, but men who are planning families have also been instructed to be careful, since the disease can be transmitted sexually. Recently, MLB pitcher Francisco Rodriguez recounted his two-month battle with Zika, and described how much it zapped his energy and impacted his quality of life.

A few notable athletes, including seven male pro golfers, have withdrawn from the Games in partbecause of Zika.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) insists that as long as precautions are taken, such as mosquito repellent, athletes and tourists should feel confident going to Rio for the Games — with the exception of pregnant women. August is a part of Rio’s winter, so conditions are expected to be less hospitable to mosquitoes during the Olympics anyways.

But unfortunately, fear over the disease is still a factor for many — and it doesn’t help that so many of Rio’s hospitals have been shut down due to the financial crisis.

Welcome, we don’t have hospitals! – “Aviso” na estrada do Galeão. (Foto: Tiago Bla)

No Anti-Doping Lab

To top things off, the Rio anti-doping lab was shut down late last month.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) closed the lab down because of its “nonconformity” to international standards. The lab previously lost its accreditation in 2013 and spent $60 million to get re-certified. Many of those funds came from the government, despite the massive recession in Brazil.

According to the AP, the director of the laboratory, Marco Aurelio Klein, was fired after WADA closed the lab, and the new director, Rogerio Sampaio, is scheduled to meet with WADA in the upcoming weeks to try and get the lab reopened in time. However, in the likely case that Sampaio is not successful and the lab remains closed for the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will have to choose a lab outside of Brazil to test the blood and urine samples collected at the Games. Currently, the IOC is considering labs in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Bogota, Havana, and Mexico City.

“The Agency will ensure that, for the time being, samples that would have been intended for the Laboratory, will be transported securely, promptly and with a demonstrable chain of custody to another WADA-accredited laboratory worldwide,” Olivier Niggli, WADA’s incoming director general, said. “This will ensure that there are no gaps in the anti-doping sample analysis procedures; and that, the integrity of the samples is fully maintained.”

But with the torch scheduled to be lit in just four weeks, nothing is certain.

After a secret meeting, scientists announce they are making synthetic human genomes

It’s happening.

An international group of scientists has just announced their plan to create a synthetic human genome within 10 years – which means they’re going to try to write a brand new DNA code for human life from scratch.

The ambitious undertaking, called Human Genome Project-write, could be the key to understanding human disease better than ever before, and it could also greatly reduce the cost of genetic sequencing. It’s an incredibly exciting project for science, but what’s worrying some is the fact that the project has been launched without the public having been properly consulted on any ethical concerns.

Rumours about the new project started last month, when 150 scientists met in a closed-door meeting at Harvard Medical School to talk about building an entirely synthetic human genome.

The fact that journalists weren’t allowed to be at the meeting was met with criticism, and now 25 of the researchers have outlined their proposal in Science- although it hasn’t done much to relieve concerns. 

Posed as an unofficial follow-up to the hugely important Human Genome Project (HGP) – which ended in 2004 and resulted in the complete mapping of our genetic code – the goal of HGP-write is to take things one step further and not just read our genomes, but create them.

The expectation is that this research, if nothing else, will drop the price of genetic engineering and testing 1,000-fold over the next decade – which would be pretty incredible, seeing as we’re already able to sequence an entire genome for under US$1,000 today.

“[T]he goal of HGP-write is to reduce the costs of engineering and testing large genomes, including a human genome, in cell lines, more than 1,000-fold within 10 years, while developing new technologies and an ethical framework for genome-scale engineering as well as transformative medical applications,” the researchers wrote in a draft of a press release obtained by The Washington Post  (no official press release has been put out as yet).

To pull this off, the scientists say they’ll attempt to raise US$100 million of private and public funding over the next decade, and collaborate with international groups in order to get it done.

And as cool as that would be, they’ve definitely got their work cut out for them. Although scientists have managed to create synthetic genomes for bacteria the past, writing a complete human DNA code is going to be A LOT harder.

As Bec Crew reported for us back in May, creating a synthetic human genome “means figuring out which chemicals are needed to create the 3 billion bases of DNA that sit inside the 23 pairs of chromosomes found inside every cell nucleus in our body”.

Oh, and then they’re going to have to work out where all those chemicals go, put them together in lab in the right order, and then arrange them so that they can direct a cell to stay alive.

The good news is that this crazily ambitious project could teach us a whole lot about our biology and disease. But, as someone on Facebook is bound to point out to you today, it could also help scientists get one step closer to creating ‘designer babies’.

The concern is that this kind of research could teach us more about how to engineer humans that are resistant to disease, or are exceptionally strong or intelligent. While it’s actually not as simple as programming whatever traits we want, it’s definitely something we’d be closer to after this project.

To be very clear, that isn’t anywhere near the intention of this project. The researchers state outright that their project will end in the petri dish, and they have no intention of keeping any of the human genome cell lines alive.

But critics are saying that the problem is that the proposal laid out in Science still really doesn’t deal with the ethical concerns that it brings up.

The team does write that they “will enable broad public discourse on HGP-write; having such conversations well in advance of project implementation will guide emerging capabilities in science and contribute to societal decision-making”, though they don’t really outline exactly what questions those discussions will involve.

There are existing stem cell research guidelines that will apply to their research, but because this is such a new undertaking, the researchers will have the responsibility of creating many new rules as they go.

“Before launching into such a momentous project, questions need to be asked,” including whether it should even occur, Stanford University bioengineer Drew Endy told MIT Technology Review. “The authors fail to pose these essential questions. In fact, in their proposal, they fail to pose any questions.”

But for all those ethical concerns, the undeniable truth is that this project is probably going to benefit all of us, and our children, in ways we can’t even imagine.

“This is as bold an aim as the original human genome project and the authors of this Science paper acknowledge that their new aim will be met with similar controversy as the original HGP had to contend with,” synthetic biologist John Ward, from University College London, told the Genetic Expert News Service via email.

“But its now well accepted that the original HGP opened up the possibility and increasingly, the reality, for new medical treatments in human genetic diseases and cancer and we will be reaping the benefits of this for decades to come,” he added.

Talking about such an ambitious program again should be incredibly exciting, but as much as we love to see science advance our understanding of biology to all new heights, projects like this need to come with the appropriate level of ethical discussion – if only for the fact that without upfront, transparent discussion, the public is never going to trust what’s going on.

And in a world of misinformation, anti-vaxxers, and climate change denial, the last thing we need is to give people a reason to be wary of science.

Let’s do this, but let’s do it right.

 

Things Your Yoga Teacher is Dying to Tell You (But Probably Won’t).

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Despite what every ill-informed medical professional tells you, not all yoga is good.

Bonus: Yes, I’m a Serious Yogi, But I Still Do These 6 Things.

Ha! There, I said it.

Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you ‘yoga might help?’ Then this Power class is for you.

When we say ‘notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,’ we mean ‘Stop looking at me like I’m Hitler.’

Please don’t giggle when we say ‘perineum.’ Just think about the muscles of the pelvic floor: how would youdescribe them?

You in the back, who keeps checking your mobile phone, see the way you’re jamming your arms straight, crunching your lower back and throwing your head back? You know how your mouth was moving before? We’re saying ‘don’t do that.’

Can’t do yoga because you’re ‘not flexible’? We admire you more than you realise just for turning up. Having said that, if you insist on contorting your body into the most advanced version of every pose ‘cause that’s real yoga,’ then send my love to your chiropractor.

Like you, our Chakras aren’t always aligned. But when you’ve had a bad day, chances are you can hide behind your computer. When we’ve had a bad day we have to pray like a mother*** that we can let it go before our 5:30 class.

Twenty percent of yoga teachers came to yoga through anger management problems, 10 percent through injury rehabilitation, and the rest of us are raging control freaks trying to keep it in check.

Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what is going on in your knee, shoulder, pinkie toe. Here’s a tip, if something’s really pinching, don’t do it.

If we drone on about ‘respecting others,’ it’s only because the two girls catching up on gossip in the back row are giving us the shits. That or we’re trying to tell the lady behind you that covering up her hastily smoked Marlboro Lights with lashings of J-Lo’s Dream isn’t working.

Sure, we see you as a ‘whole person, beautiful in your completeness,’ but when you step onto the mat, we also see you as a collection of joints that are in or out of alignment. So when we manually adjust your pose, we’re really just helping you to align, not trying to pinch your bum.

Wow, yes, do answer your texts during the forward bends. Did you come to yoga to just ‘chill, get some me time, y’know tune in?’ Then start by turning off your mutha-loving phone.

We don’t like it when you leave before Savasana, for the same reason that Jamie doesn’t like you taking your lemon chicken out of the oven ten minutes early: you’re undercooked. And also, it’s really rude.

No one cares what you wear. Having said that, those leggings are more see-through than you think.

Like you, most of us can’t put our foot behind our head. And yet we have the gall to call ourselves yoga teachers. Go figure.

In an average class, there’ll be a depressed person, a blissed-out person, and a one-bitten-fingernail-away-from-going-postal person. Some want to sweat, others want gentle coaxing. But if you think our class is “not as good as my other teacher, Satya’s,” know that it’s impossible to please everyone. (Oh and by the way, Satya’s real name is Karen.)

After a long week telling people to breathe in and out, there’s nothing better than lying on the couch to watch a jolly good beheading on Game of Thrones.

If the class theme is ‘equanimity,’ chances are we’re trying not to take it personally that two people turned up to last night’s class. Ditto ‘body love’, ‘Patience’ and ‘forgiving those who’ve wronged us’.

Some teachers like to be idolised, others don’t care for it. But if you do, you’re 80% more likely to hear that they’ve been involved in a sex scandal or killed their own prey.

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you eat meat / get injuries / were found drunk in the gutter!’ Yes, that’s right, we’re human. Need to learn from someone perfect? Good luck with that.

The people who tell you how amaaaaazing yoga is are usually the ones who don’t turn up regularly. Serious about your practice? Turn up when you’re irritable as hell, then have the balls to take three deep breaths without running away.

Physical postures are just one part of yoga. There’s also meditation, philosophy and a bunch of other stuff. You don’t have to be spiritual, or even a nice person to try—but if you decide to take it seriously, your life will turn upside down. And it will be worth it.

Your shit doesn’t frighten us. So cry if you need to cry, be grumpy if you need to be grumpy. Heaving sobs in a hip stretch? Excellent. I myself mouthed swear words through my first five years of practice.

You look so peaceful in Savasana. You look like you really need a rest.

We will never tell you what we really think of Bikram unless we are drunk.

Ebola in the UK: Woman diagnosed with virus in Glasgow, and went threw Heathrow!

Ebola in the UK: Woman diagnosed with virus in Glasgow Gartnavel Hospital

The female nurse worked at a Save the Children facility in Sierra Leone

The first case of Ebola to be diagnosed on British soil has been announced tonight, after a health worker in Glasgow was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The female patient is an NHS nurse who had just returned from the Sierra Leone after a spell treating the victims of the potentially fatal disease.

She is currently being treated at the specialist Brownlee Unit for Infectious Diseases at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital, and is said to be clinically stable.

The Scottish Government said in a statement tonight that procedures to deal with infectious diseases have been put into effect.

A spokeswoman for Save the Children confirmed to The Independent that the female patient is an NHS nurse who worked at its Ebola hospital in Kerry Town, near the capital Freetown. She added that the charity believes the patient flew to Sierra Leone on 23 November.

The woman had returned to Scotland on Sunday night via Casablanca and Heathrow, arriving into Glasgow Airport on a British Airways flight. She was screened both in Sierra Leone and Heathrow, but at that stage was not displaying any symptoms.

The woman sought medical help hours after her return to Britain when she began to feel ill early on Monday morning, and was placed into isolation at 7:50am.

In line with UK and Scottish protocol for patients diagnosed with the virus, she will be transferred to the high level isolation unit in the Royal Free hospital, London, as soon as possible.

Public health officials were last night attempting to track down fellow passengers. She is believed to have been in contact with only one other person after arriving in Glasgow.

Anyone deemed to be at risk will be contacted and closely monitored the Scottish Government added, but stressed: “the risk to others is considered extremely low” as the aid worker was diagnosed in the very early stages of the virus.

However, a telephone helpline has been set up for anyone who was on the Heathrow to Glasgow flight last night. Those concerned can phone: 08000 858531.

A British Airways spokesman said the firm is working closely with health authorities in England and Scotland, and will offer assistance if it is required.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and the risk to people on board that individual flight is extremely low,” he added.

In response to the diagnosis, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee (SGoRR) to ensure all necessary steps are being taken, and has also spoken to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Our first thoughts at this time must be with the patient diagnosed with Ebola and their friends and family. I wish them a speedy recovery.

She added that Scotland has been preparing for the eventuality that the disease could reach its shores “from the beginning of the outbreak in West Africa.”

“I am confident that we are well prepared,” she said. “We have the robust procedures in place to identify cases rapidly. Our health service also has the expertise and facilities to ensure that confirmed Ebola cases such as this are contained and isolated effectively minimising any potential spread of the disease.”

A Downing Street spokesman said that the UK Government stood ready to assist “in any way possible”.

Health workers walk on November 13, 2014, on Kerry Town treatment centre (Getty Images)Health workers walk on November 13, 2014, on Kerry Town treatment centre (Getty Images)
The Kerry Town facility where the nurse worked opened on 5 November, and includes an 80-bed treatment centre managed by Save the Children and a 12 bed centre staffed by British Army medics specifically for health care workers and international staff responding to the Ebola crisis.

The only other British person to be diagnosed with the often deadly virus was nurse William Pooley, 29, who contracted Ebola earlier this year while also volunteering in Sierra Leone and was flown back to Britain in tight isolation.

He has since returned to the West African nation to continue his work, and appeared as Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message speaker to urge the British public to join the fight against the disease.

Having recovered from the disease, he is thought to have developed some immunity to the virus. He said he was going back because there was a “real emergency” in the country and he was delighted to be back on the front line.

More than 1,000 British health service staff have volunteered to tackle the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone with the first group of doctors and nurses flying out last month. They are supporting military personnel who have built clinics to treat disease victims.

A virologist works in a testing lab in Kerry Town treatment centre (Getty Images)A virologist works in a testing lab in Kerry Town treatment centre (Getty Images)
Since an Ebola outbreak began in December 2013 in the West African country of Guinea, there have been a total of 19,500 cases in eight countries, mainly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – and 7,600 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

The latest reports indicate that the spread of the disease is fluctuating in Guinea, declining in Liberia and plateauing in Sierra Leone. In those three countries, the death rate is 70 per cent.

The symptoms of the deadly virus include a fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain, a sore throat and intense muscle weakness, according to the NHS. Patients typically develop these symptoms after five to seven days, but can appear between two and 21 days of a person becoming infected.

After these symptoms develop people experience diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, and stomach pain before liver and kidney functions deteriorate.

 

If untreated, Ebola then causes internal bleeding and patients can bleed from their ears, eyes, nose or mouth.

However, while Ebola is contagious, it is only spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person, such as urine, vomit, diarrhoea and faeces, and saliva.

The World Health Organisation makes it clear that patients do not become contagious until they are displaying symptoms of Ebola, and they are not contagious during the incubation period.

The infection can be transmitted when these infected fluids come into direct contact with another person’s broken skin, or with mucus membranes, which are found in the lining of the nose and mouth.

McDonald’s Transparency Campaign Reveals Toxic Ingredients

McDonald’s Transparency Campaign Reveals Toxic Ingredients

HEALTH
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Written by: Alek Hidell

 

American’s awareness to health and diet issues prompted McDonald’s to put forth a campaign of transparency.  What was found will disgust you beyond belief.  It is no secret, fast food restaurants cut costs by taking short cuts. These short cuts lead to the use of preservatives, flavor enhancers and a slew of other chemicals.  While McDonald’s was trying to expose that their product aren’t as bad for you as purported, the result was not what they hoped for.mc donalds transparency campaignThe multi-billion dollar company has created a series of videos, available on their website, hoping to show the public how their food makes it from the farm to the restaurant. We have all heard about the legendary “pink slime”, a meat filler used by most fast food chains. McD’s has publicly stated that they no longer use pink slime, but the sad thing is that pink slime might be the least scary thing you eat at McDonald’s. So what will you find in your daily trip to Mickey D’s?

 

1) Aluminum Sulfate: de_aluminiumsulfat_fluessig

used in bread production but also used in fertilizer and pesticide.

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2) Silicone Oil:mcdonalds-2

used in chicken nuggets, it is also used to make contact lenses.

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3) Cysteine-L: 

lcysteinehairduckfeathersnoahsbagels_1

a protein synthesized from human hair and duck feathers used to enhance flavor.

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4) TBHQ: Screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_3.50.33_PM_original

 

a petroleum byproduct used in most of McD’s menu.

Image: The dosage and amount of Mc Nuggets that, when consumed (within some hours) can lead to death.

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5) Propylene Glycol:

sta-clean-antifreeze-propylene-glycol-low-silicate-sca-precharged-800x1302

used in fast food and a number of consumer products, such as anti-freeze.

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6) Prescription Drugs:

prescription_drugs

a sampling of McD’s food showed residual traces of the antibiotics and even antidepressants, which were fed to their livestock.

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7) Dimethylpolysiloxane: 

Don’t worry, I can’t pronounce this one either. You’ll find this in anything McD’s cooks in a frier. It is also used to make shampoo, silly putty and a number of other non-food related products.

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8) Carminic Acid: tg

a food dye which comes from Cochineal beetles.

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9) Cellulose:

Cellulose_in_Hand

a filler which comes from wood pulp, it is the least harmful ingredient (out of this list) though.

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10) Silicone Dioxide:

mcdonalds-10

an industrial sand used to keep substances from clumping.

One of the most shocking revelations about McD’s and the majority of processed food manufacturers is the use of citric acid. While citric acid is produced naturally in things like citrus fruit, that’s not where it comes from when used by these mega-corporations.  The citric acid used comes from a GMO Black Mold excretion. safe_image

The transparency allegedly put forth by McDonald’s has only brought up more questions.  The videos and information on their site does not address problems which activists have had issue with.  None of the information provided addresses the fact that the majority of the beef used by McDonald’s comes from antibiotic treated cows who are fed GMO corn. Nor does it address the fact that all of McD’s eggs come from caged chickens. While transparency is a good start, McDonald’s continues use these horrific, cost-cutting practices that puts profits over people.

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Sources:

http://www.nutritionalanarchy.com/2014/04/14/citric-acid-comes/

http://time.com/3501921/mcdonalds-transparency-campaign/

http://www.trueactivist.com/youll-never-eat-mcdonalds-again-after-reading-these-10-horrifying-facts/

http://www.trueactivist.com/mcdonalds-transparency-campaign-backfires-prepare-to-be-shocked/

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control

Conservatives are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history.

When people look back on the 20th century from the vantage point of 500 years on, they will remember the 1900s for three big things.

One was the integrated circuit, and (more importantly) the Internet and the information revolution that it made possible. When our descendants look back, they’re likely to see this as an all-levels, all-sectors disruption on the scale of the printing press — but even more all-encompassing. (Google “the Singularity” for scenarios on just how dramatic this might be.)

The second was the moon landing, a first-time-ever milestone in human history that our galaxy-trotting grandkids five centuries on may well view about the same way we see Magellan’s first daring circumnavigation of the globe.

But the third one is the silent one, the one that I’ve never seen come up on anybody’s list of Innovations That Changed The World, but matters perhaps more deeply than any of the more obvious things that usually come to mind. And that’s the mass availability of nearly 100% effective contraception. Far from being a mere 500-year event, we may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that’s so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.

Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.

Our biology reduced us to a kind of chattel, subject to strictures that owed more to property law than the more rights-based laws that applied to men. Becoming literate or mastering a trade or participating in public life wasn’t unheard-of; but unlike the men, the world’s women have always had to fit those extras in around their primary duty to their children and husband — and have usually paid a very stiff price if it was thought that those duties were being neglected.

Men, in return, thrived. The ego candy they feasted on by virtue of automatically outranking half the world’s population was only the start of it. They got full economic and social control over our bodies, our labor, our affections, and our futures. They got to make the rules, name the gods we would worship, and dictate the terms we would live under. In most cultures, they had the right to sex on demand within the marriage, and also to break their marriage vows with impunity — a luxury that would get women banished or killed. As long as pregnancy remained the defining fact of our lives, they got to run the whole show. The world was their party, and they had a fabulous time.

Thousands of generations of men and women have lived under some variant of this order — some variations more benevolent, some more brutal, but all similar enough in form and intention — in all times and places, going back to where our memory of time ends. Look at it this way, and you get a striking perspective on just how world-changing it was when, within the span of just a few short decades in the middle of the 20th century, all of that suddenly ended. For the first time in human history, new technologies made fertility a conscious choice for an ever-growing number of the planet’s females. And that, in turn, changed everything else.

With that one essential choice came the possibility, for the first time, to make a vast range of other choices for ourselves that were simply never within reach before. We could choose to delay childbearing and limit the number of children we raise; and that, in turn, freed up time and energy to explore the world beyond the home. We could refuse to marry or have babies at all, and pursue our other passions instead. Contraception was the single necessary key that opened the door to the whole new universe of activities that had always been zealously monopolized by the men — education, the trades, the arts, government, travel, spiritual and cultural leadership, and even (eventually) war making.

That one fact, that one technological shift, is now rocking the foundations of every culture on the planet — and will keep rocking it for a very long time to come. It is, over time, bringing a louder and prouder female voice into the running of the world’s affairs at every level, creating new conversations and new priorities in areas where the men long ago thought things were settled and understood. It’s bending our understanding of what sex is about, and when and with whom we can have it — a wrinkle that created new frontiers for gay folk as well. It may well prove to the be the one breakthrough most responsible for the survival of the human race, and the future viability of the planet.

But perhaps most critically for us right now: mass-produced, affordable, reliable contraception has shredded the ages-old social contracts between men and women, and is forcing us all (willing or not) into wholesale re-negotiations on a raft of new ones.

And, frankly, while some men have embraced this new order— perhaps seeing in it the potential to open up some interesting new choices for them, too — a global majority is increasingly confused, enraged, and terrified by it. They never wanted to be at this table in the first place, and they’re furious to even find themselves being forced to have this conversation at all.

It was never meant to happen. It never should have happened. And they’re doing their damndest to put a stop to it all, right now, and make it go away.

It’s this rage that’s driving Catholic bishops into a frenzied donnybrook fight against contraception — despite the very real possibility that this fight could, in the end, damage their church even more fatally than the molestation scandal did.  As the keepers of a 2000-year-old enterprise — one of the oldest continuously-operating organizations on the planet, in fact — they take the very long view. And they understand, better than most of us, just how unprecedented this development is in the grand sweep of history, and the serious threat it poses to everything their church has stood for going back to antiquity. (Including, very much, the more recent doctrine of papal infallability.)

That same frantic panic over the loss of the ancient bargain also lies at the core of the worldwide rash of fundamentalist religions. Modern industrial economies have undermined the authority of men both in the public sphere and in the private realms; and since they’re limited in how far they can challenge it in the external world, they’ve turned women’s bodies into the symbolic battlefield on which their anxieties over this play out. Drill down to the very deepest center of any of these movements, and you’ll find men who are experiencing this change as a kind of personal annihilation, a loss of masculine identity so deep that they are literally interpreting it as the end of the world. (The first rule of understanding apocalyptic movements is this: If someone tells you the world is ending, believe them. Because for them, it probably is.)

They are, above everything else, desperate to get their women back under firm control. And in their minds, things will not be right again until they’re assured that the girls are locked up even more tightly, so they will never, ever get away like that again.

If you’re a woman of childbearing age in the US, you’ve had access to effective contraception your entire fertile life; and odds are good that your mother and grandmother did, too. If you’re a heterosexual man of almost any age, odds are good that you also enjoy a lifetime of opportunities for sexual openness and variety that your grandfathers probably couldn’t have imagined — also thanks entirely to good contraception. From our individual personal perspectives, it feels like we’ve had this right, and this technology, forever. We take it so completely for granted that we simply cannot imagine that it could ever go away. It leads to a sweet complacency: birth control is something that’s always been there for us, and we’re rather stunned that anybody could possibly find it controversial enough to pick a fight over.

But if we’re wise, we’ll keep our eyes on the long game, because you can bet that those angry men are, too. The hard fact is this: We’re only 50 years into a revolution that may ultimately take two or three centuries to completely work its way through the world’s many cultures and religions. (To put this in perspective: it was 300 years from Gutenberg’s printing press to the scientific and intellectual re-alignments of the Enlightenment, and to the French and American revolutions that that liberating technology ultimately made possible. These things can take a loooong time to work all the way out.) Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will, in all likelihood, still be working out the details of these new gender agreements a century from now; and it may be a century after that before their grandkids can truly start taking any of this for granted.

That sounds daunting, though I don’t mean it to be. What I do want is for those of us, male and female, whose lives have been transformed for the better in this new post-Pill order to think in longer terms. Male privilege has been with us for — how long? Ten thousand years? A hundred thousand? Contraception, in the mere blink of an eye in historical terms, toppled the core rationale that justified that entire system. And now, every aspect of human society is frantically racing to catch up with that stunning fact. Everything will have to change in response to this — families, business, religion, politics, economics…everything.

We’re in this catch-up process for the long haul. In the meantime, we shouldn’t be surprised to be confronted by large groups of well-organized men (and their female flunkies, who are legion) marshaling their vast resources to get every last one of Pandora’s frolicking contraception-fueled demons back into the box.  And we need to accept and prepare for the likelihood that much of the history of this century, when it’s finally written, will be the story of our children’s ongoing struggles against the organized powers that intend to seize back the means of our liberation, and turn back the clock to the way things used to be.

The fight for contraception is not only not over — it hasn’t even really started yet.

Endangering the Herd

The case for suing parents who don’t vaccinate their kids—or criminally charging them.

Families from across the U.S. living with autism take part in a rally calling to eliminate toxins from children's vaccines in Washington June 4, 2008.

What if a mother decided not to vaccinate her daughter for measles, based on rumors that the vaccine causes autism, and her daughter gets the disease at the age of 4 and passes it to a 1-year-old, who is too young for the vaccine, at her day care center. And what if that baby dies?

That’s the sad scenario, more or less, of a Season 10 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. And it’s the hypothetical case study in a provocative paper in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics that explores whether there’s a case for holding people legally accountable for the damage they cause by not vaccinating their children. “One can make a legitimate, state-sanctioned choice not to vaccinate,” the bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan and his co-authors write, “but that does not protect the person making that choice against the consequences of that choice for others.” Since epidemiologists today can reliably determine the source of a viral infection, the authors argue, a parent who decides not to vaccinate his kid and thus endangers another child is clearly at fault and could be charged with criminally negligent homicide or sued for damages.

As you’d expect, the growing anti-vaccination movement responded in fury. After Caplan wrote a related post for the Harvard Law Blog, angry comments poured in. “This article is industry propaganda at its worst,” one commenter declared. Another wrote: “Caplan would have familiar company in fascist Germany.” The blog eventually shut down the comments for violations of the site’s policies against “abusive and defamatory language” and the sharing of personal information.

Here’s why the anti-vaxxers are wrong and Caplan and his co-authors are right to raise the idea of suing or criminally charging them: Parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids for reasons of personal belief pose a serious danger to the public.

Measles vaccines are about 95 percent effective when given to children. That leaves a 5 percent chance that kids who are vaccinated will contract measles. This means that no matter what, the disease still poses a public health risk, but we rely on others to get vaccinated to hugely reduce the likelihood of outbreaks. That’s the process known as herd immunity.

Unvaccinated children threaten the herd. Take the San Diego measles outbreak of 2008. After unknowingly contracting the disease on a trip to Switzerland, an unvaccinated 7-year-old boy infected 11 other unvaccinated kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of the cases occurred in kids whose parents had requested personal belief exemptions (or PBEs) through the state of California, one of 17 states to allow them. But three of the infected were either too young or medically unable to be vaccinated. And overall, 48 children too young to be vaccinated were quarantined, at an average cost to the family of $775 per child. The CDC noted that all 11 cases were “linked epidemiologically” to the 7-year-old boy and that the outbreak response cost the public sector $10,376 per case.

Today, several states blame a rise in preventable diseases on the declining child vaccination rates. In Michigan, less than 72 percent of children have received their state-mandated measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines. In New York, as Caplan noted in his blog post, pockets of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community are experiencing a mini measles epidemic. Thirty cases have been confirmed so far. According to Dr. Yu Shia Lin of Maimonides Medical Center, some members of the community avoid the measles vaccine because they think it causes autism. The most visible proponent of this idea, former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, will receive a giant new platform for her viewpoints when she joins the daytime gossipfest The View on Sept. 9.

The belief that the MMR vaccine causes autism goes back to a 1998 study published in the Lancet by a British gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakefield. In 2010, after years of criticism, the journal finally retracted Wakefield’s study, announcing that it was “utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false.” Britain’s General Medical Council later revoked Wakefield’s medical license, noting that he’d failed to disclose his role as a paid consultant to lawyers representing parents who thought vaccines had harmed their kids. The CDC makes clear there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

Yet this dangerous idea persists. Often, it persists among people who are simply doing what they think is best for their kids. Which is why it’s necessary to take extra measures to ensure nonvaccinators understand the risk they pose to other people’s children.

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a professor of law at UC Hastings College of the Law and author of the blog Before Vaccines, argues in support of Caplan and his co-authors that if you fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent your child from transmitting a deadly virus to another child, you should bear the cost of that risk. If the government doesn’t impose liability, it is giving anti-vaxxer parents a free pass for posing a danger.

There should be exceptions, of course. A child may be too young to receive a vaccine or may be undergoing a medical treatment like chemotherapy that prevents vaccines from working. A vaccine shortage or lack of access to a medical facility would legally excuse a parent for not vaccinating.

There are legal obstacles to penalizing parents who don’t vaccinate their kids. Courts are generally less likely to impose liability on someone who fails to act than they are on someone who acts recklessly. Also, proving cause and effect will sometimes be difficult. Then again, to win damages, a plaintiff would only have to prove that it’s “more likely than not” that a nonvaccinated child infected another person.

Parents who don’t vaccinate their kids may have the most heartfelt reason in the world: fear for their own children’s safety. But the basis for that fear is simply unfounded, and their decisions are putting other kids directly at risk. The bottom line is that the government’s interest in protecting children from getting the measles should trump parents’ interest in making medical decisions for their kids. The creators of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit seem to agree. The name of the episode in which a little girl dies as a result of a mother’s refusal to immunize her son? “Selfish.”

Jed Lipinski is a freelancer journalist in New York. Follow him on Twitter.

Growing Up Unvaccinated

Baby getting a vaccination

I am the ’70s child of a health nut. I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was 1, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy; we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil.

I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm in England’s Lake District, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids.

We ate (organic local) meat maybe once or twice a week, and my mother and father cooked everything from scratch—I have yet to taste a Findus crispy pancake, and oven chips (“fries,” to Americans) were reserved for those nights when Mum and Dad had friends over and we got a “treat.”

As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox. In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

So the anti-vaccine advocates’ fears of having the “natural immunity sterilized out of us” just doesn’t cut it for me. How could I, with my idyllic childhood and my amazing health food, get so freaking ill all the time?

My mother would have put most of my current “crunchy” friends to shame. She didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, she didn’t do drugs, and we certainly weren’t allowed to watch whatever we wanted on telly or wear plastic shoes or any of that stuff. She livedalternative health. And you know what? I’m glad she gave us such a great diet. I’m glad that she cared about us in that way.

But it just didn’t stop me getting childhood illnesses.

My two vaccinated children, on the other hand, have rarely been ill, have had antibiotics maybe twice in their lives, if that. Not like their mum. I got many illnesses requiring treatment with antibiotics. I developed penicillin-resistant quinsy at age 21—you know, that old-fashioned disease that supposedly killed Queen Elizabeth I and that was almost wiped out through use of antibiotics.*

My kids have had no childhood illnesses other than chickenpox, which they both contracted while still breastfeeding. They, too, grew up on a healthy diet, homegrown organics, etc. I was not quite as strict as my mother, but they are both healthier than I have ever been.

I find myself wondering about the claim that complications from childhood illnesses are extremely rare but that “vaccine injuries” are rampant. If this is the case, I struggle to understand why I know far more people who have experienced complications from preventable childhood illnesses than I have ever met with complications from vaccines. I have friends who became deaf from measles. I have a partially sighted friend who contracted rubella in the womb. My ex got pneumonia from chickenpox. A friend’s brother died from meningitis.

Anecdotal evidence is nothing to base decisions on. But when facts and evidence-based science aren’t good enough to sway someone’s opinion about vaccinations, then this is where I come from. After all, anecdotes are the anti-vaccine supporters’ way: “This is my personal experience.” Well, my personal experience prompts me to vaccinate my children and myself. I got the flu vaccine recently, and I got the whooping cough booster to protect my son in the womb. My natural immunity—from having whooping cough at age 5—would not have protected him once he was born.

I understand, to a point, where the anti-vaccine parents are coming from. Back in the ’90s, when I was a concerned, 19-year-old mother, frightened by the world I was bringing my child into, I was studying homeopathy, herbalism, and aromatherapy; I believed in angels, witchcraft, clairvoyants, crop circles, aliens at Nazca, giant ginger mariners spreading their knowledge to the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Egyptians, and that I was somehow personally blessed by the Holy Spirit with healing abilities. I was having my aura read at a hefty price and filtering the fluoride out of my water. I was choosing to have past life regressions instead of taking antidepressants. I was taking my daily advice from tarot cards. I grew all my own veg and made my own herbal remedies.

I was so freaking crunchy that I literally crumbled. It was only when I took control of those paranoid thoughts and fears about the world around me and became an objective critical thinker that I got well. It was when I stopped taking sugar pills for everything and started seeing medical professionals that I began to thrive physically and mentally.

If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines.

But not everyone around you is that strong, not everyone has a choice, not everyone can fight those illnesses, and not everyone can be vaccinated. If you have a healthy child, then your healthy child can cope with vaccines and can care about those unhealthy children who can’t.

I would ask the anti-vaxxers to treat their children with compassion and a sense of responsibility for those around them. I would ask them not to teach their children to be self-serving and scared of the world in which they live and the people around them. (And teach them to love people with autism spectrum disorder or any other disability supposedly associated with vaccines—not to label them as damaged.)

Most importantly, I want the anti-vaxxers to see that knowingly exposing your child to illness is cruel. Even without complications, these diseases aren’t exactly pleasant. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy watching children suffer even with a cold or a hurt knee. If you’ve never had these illnesses, you don’t know how awful they are. I do. Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bedsheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents, the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears, the blood, the midnight visits to the emergency room, the time sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your face.

Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn’t do it without us pro-vaxxers. Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the drop in herd immunity will leave your children unprotected. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out.

This piece originally appeared on Voices for Vaccines.

Also in Slate:

*Update, Jan. 6, 2013: This post has been updated to clarify that the quinsy the author contracted, not the author herself, was resistant to penicillin.

Second Ebola Diagnosis In Texas Raises Questions About What The Hospital Is Doing Wrong

tex-ebola

 

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where a health care worker has tested positive for Ebola

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/LM OTERO

A health care worker in Dallas has been preliminarily diagnosed with Ebola, suggesting that the first case of the deadly virus has been transmitted on U.S. soil. The news has renewed questions over whether Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the facility that recently treated the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, is doing enough to stem the spread of the disease.

The worker — who has not been identified by name — was one of the hospital employees who helped treat Thomas E. Duncan, the Liberian man who recently died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas. Federal health experts have been tracking all of the Americans with whom Duncan may have come into contact while he was contagious.

According to hospital officials, the infected individual helped treat Duncan during his second trip to the emergency room, when he was seriously ill. “That health care worker is a heroic person who provided care to Mr. Duncan,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkin said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

The infected worker was reportedly wearing full protective gear around Duncan, so it’s not yet clear how the virus was transmitted. But, according to federal officials, the hospital failed to follow at least part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocol for containing Ebola. The agency has released a set of detailed guidelines for health care facilities to ensure that the virus is not transmitted further.

There has been some controversy over the care that Duncan received at Texas Health Presbyterian. First of all, it’s concerning that he was sent home after his first visit to the ER; the fact that he had a high fever and had recently traveled from Western Africa should have alerted officials to the potential Ebola risk.

According to the Associated Press, the hospital has repeatedly changed its story about what exactly medical professionals knew about Duncan’s health. Newly released documents show that some of the hospital staff may have recognized the Ebola threatwhen he was first admitted, but that didn’t translate to swifter action. The state health department is now considering a probe into the hospital to make sure it’s following health and safety laws, and the CDC is going to send additional staff to Texas.

Joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Duncan’s family has repeatedly criticized the hospital, saying he was given substandard care because he was not a white American. They point out that Duncan was the only person treated for Ebola in the U.S. who wasn’t taken to Nebraska Medical Center, which has a high-tech quarantine unit, or given experimental drugs that may help combat the virus. Duncan’s nephew has told reporters that said his uncle’s care was “either incompetence or negligence,” and he finds it “conspicuous” that all the white Ebola patients in the U.S. have survived while “the one black man died.”

More broadly, there has been some concern that panic over the global Ebola epidemic — which has claimed more than 4,000 lives in Western Africa — is leading to an uptick inxenophobia and racism. Pundits’ increasingly insistent calls to close the U.S. borders to protect against Ebola-infected travelers is furthering a narrative of “otherness.” Some African travelers arriving back to the U.S. and Europe say that medical staff is nowrefusing to care for them in routine doctor’s appointments out of fear of contracting Ebola, even if they’re not showing any symptoms.

When it comes to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, officials promise they’re continuing to “review and evaluate” the decisions around Duncan’s treatment. The hospital has also isolated the health care worker who is showing signs of Ebola infection and is working to track down the other people who may have come into contact with them. Officials say they’re still confident they know how to contain the virus.

“Contingency plans were put into place, and the hospital will discuss the way that the health care worker followed those contingency plans, which will make our jobs in monitoring and containment much easier in this case than in the last one,” Jenkin said. “While this was obviously bad news, it is not news that should bring about panic.”

In response to growing concern about travelers bringing Ebola into the United States, airport officials began enhanced screenings on Saturday. Still, experts maintain that the best way to respond to Ebola is to address the outbreak’s epicenter in Western Africa, where embattled countries are still struggling to get the health care resources they needto treat the virus.

UPDATE

President Obama was briefed on the new Ebola case on Sunday. He ordered an expeditious investigation into the failures of Texas Health Presbyterian, and also asked the CDC to ensure that hospitals get more preparation for how to deal with other Ebola cases that may emerge.

UPDATE

The CDC has confirmed that the health care worker has contracted Ebola.

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