Tag Archives: Doom and Bloom

Using Antibiotics Wisely by Joe Alton, MD

Using Antibiotics Wisely (from www.doomandbloom.com)

Antibiotics are essential tools for success in long-term survival, but the government, the food industry, and some physicians and patients are fostering widespread resistance to many of the standard drugs. More than 2 million diagnosed cases of antibiotic resistance were reported in the United States in 2013, leading to 23,000 deaths and costing 30 billion dollars.

As a physician, I was often asked by patients in my practice for antibiotic prescriptions for certain ailments, some of which these medications really weren’t useful for. Antibiotics deal mostly with bacteria, and many respiratory and other infections are caused by other disease-causing organisms such as viruses. I was always very cautious when it came to prescribing these medications, and as a caregiver, you should be also.

This doesn’t mean that I think that antibiotics aren’t useful, especially in survival scenarios. In situations where modern medical care isn’t available, they will prevent many avoidable deaths. You should have a good supply of these drugs in your storage.

If you use antibiotics for every minor ailment that comes along, you will run out very quickly and may contribute to an epidemic of antibiotic resistance caused by overuse. In survival, the medic is also a quartermaster of sorts; you will want to wisely dispense that limited and, yes, precious supply of life-saving drugs. You must walk a fine line between observant patient management (doing nothing) and aggressive management (doing everything).

Liberal use of antibiotics is a poor strategy for a few reasons:

bird flu chicken

Overuse can foster the spread of resistant bacteria, as you might remember from the salmonella outbreak in turkeys in 2011. Millions of pounds of antibiotic-laden turkey meat were discarded after 100 people were sent to the hospital with severe diarrheal disease. The food industry is responsible for 80% of the antibiotic use (overuse) in the U.S. This is not to treat sick livestock but to make healthy livestock grow faster and get to market sooner. According to National Geographic magazine, only 7 per cent of some 400 antibiotics given to livestock have received review by the Food and Drug Administration.

Another reason to use antibiotics sparingly is that potential allergic reactions may occur that could lead to anaphylactic shock. Frequent exposure to antibiotics increases the likelihood of developing an allergy to one or more of them.

Lastly, being trigger-happy with antibiotics may make diagnosing an illness more difficult. If you give antibiotics BEFORE you’re sure what medical problem you’re actually dealing with, you might “mask” the condition. In other words, symptoms could be temporarily improved that would have helped you know what disease your patient has. This 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. In survival settings, discourage your group members from using these drugs without first consulting you. In normal times, seek a qualified medical professional.

Joe Alton, MD

joe video tentTo find out more about antibiotics and their usage in survival settings, get a copy of our 3 category amazon bestseller, the Survival Medicine Handbook, a great way to succeed, even if everything else fails.

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Lost at Sea? Part 1 By Joe Alton, MD (Doom and Bloom)

Lost at Sea? Part 1

(from www.doomandbloom.net on April 7, 2015)

boat louis jordan

In the news, a man named Louis Jordan survived 66 days lost at sea off the Carolina coast with little apparent physical effect. Some have wondered out loud how this is possible: Could it have been staged? I decided to take a closer look at why he was so successful in keeping it together when everything else fell apart.

Rough seas caused Mr. Jordan’s 35-foot sailboat to capsize in the middle of the night. Wisely, he stayed with the upside-down boat which was still floating. As a result, he was able to remain near his supply of water and food, as well as some equipment, such as a fishing net. Luckily for him, the boat eventually self-righted in the waves, which sailboats are designed to do. If he had been stranded in the water on an open raft or with just a life jacket, he would probably have succumbed to exposure in cold Carolina waters.

Little physical evidence of the elements on our castaway? In a boat without power but with an intact cabin, you have shelter from the wind and sun. Any normal person would know to stay inside on the open ocean in January. Still, he looked almost too good for the amount of time he was out there.

Mr. Jordan says that he rationed himself to a pint of water a day, which means he consumed more than 60 pints of water during his ordeal. How did he do it? We know that the lifelong sailor lived on his 35-foot boat. We can assume that, like many boats that size, there might be a shower with a water tank large enough to allow bathing. If he could access the tank and also use containers to catch rainfall, he could stay hydrated.

From a survival standpoint, we know that he could live for quite a while without food, but 66 days? It’s possible (although it varies from person to person) as long you drink water. In cases of anorexia, organ failure occurs at around half the normal Body Mass Index (BMI), about 12-13 (normal 18 – 25). A typical fashion model has a BMI of about 17. Mr. Jordan started off at about 230 pounds and states that he ended up losing 50 pounds.,

Again, he may have had some food stores that survived the capsizing. We do know he had some equipment to catch fish. Fish are often attracted to floating jetsam, and he states that he wiggled a shirt in the water and snapped up curious fish with a net. I’ve never tried this technique, but it seems possible.

Mr. Jordan claims that he “broke” his shoulder in the capsizing, although there was no evidence of trauma when he was rescued. Since he isn’t a medical professional, I would think that any significant pain would make him think a fracture occurred. Any number of lesser injuries can cause pain, however, and he more likely injured soft tissue which healed 2 months down the line.

Now to an aspect of this story that I can’t explain; How Mr. Jordan was found just 200 miles from shore after 66 days. What about ocean currents? It seems like a small amount of distance to drift in such a long time period. If someone could explain how this could happen, please comment below.

A hoax or the real thing? Can someone be found alone hundreds of miles out to sea in a damaged boat without it being a true story? I’ll give Mr. Jordan the benefit of the doubt, but could his survival story have been embellished along the way?

Absolutely. Mr. Jordan didn’t file “float plans” (the equivalent of a plane’s flight plan), so it’s not certain exactly how long he was out there. If he came back in to a different marina and got in trouble when he went out again, it might not have been a 66 day journey. In any case, it allows a discussion of how best to survive being lost at sea; that will be the subject of our next article.

Joe Alton, MD



With all the news focusing on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, we forget that there is a pandemic running rampant on this side of the Atlantic right now. The Chikungunya virus has traveling from Africa and has ravaged the Caribbean and Latin America. In this hemisphere, the number of cases has reached 729,000 in 34 countries or territories as of mid-September 2014. Compare this to 6,000 cases of Ebola in the same time frame.

Chikungunya (an African term meaning “that which bends up”) is a viral illness that is not fatal, but causes excruciating pain in joints as well as a high fever. The pain is reminiscent of severe arthritis and can last for weeks, months, or even years. Unlike some other viruses like Enterovirus D68, which can be without symptoms in many cases, the majority of those infected will suffer the effects of the illness.

Other symptoms, besides joint pain and fever, include:

• Headache

• Nausea and vomiting

• Red eyes

• Sensitivity to light

• Leg swelling

We don’t yet know what causes some of the above symptoms.

The virus isn’t brand new; it was first originally identified in 1952, but is thought, in hindsight, to have caused outbreaks since the 18th century. Epidemics of Chikungunya have been reported in the regions of the Indian Ocean, Africa, Asia, and some Pacific Islands.



Chikungunya is an example of a mosquito-borne disease, with the common Aedes Aegyptus species and the more aggressive Asian Tiger Mosquito proven as vectors (agents than transmit the virus to humans). Monkeys and apes were original reservoirs of the virus, but it is thought to have traveled to this hemisphere through rats and other rodents. Since it is new to the area, few are immune; this has caused the number of cases to skyrocket.

There is no known cure or treatment other than pain relief and fever control through medications like Acetaminophen (Tylenol). The disease is prevented by good mosquito control. Areas where air-conditioning is widely available seem to be less affected.

Diseases like Chikungunya, while not fatal, can cause economic damage in the form of lost work days; 13% of businesses in the Dominican Republic have reported absenteeism due to the illness. The strain on medical facilities is also significant, with many hospitalizations in the acute phase.


cruise ship

CDC recommendations include caution for those who travel to the Caribbean or Latin America, especially:

• Arthritis sufferers

• Those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease

• The elderly

• Pregnant women; Chikungunya may possibly be passed to the fetus

• Aid workers, missionaries, and other long-term travelers

• People whose travel involves large amounts of time outdoors



With the large amount of Americans traveling on vacations to the Caribbean and Latin America, we can expect more issues with the Chikungunya virus in the near future.

Joe Alton, M.D., the Disaster Doctor DoomandBloom.net




Special thanks to Joe Alton, M.D. (Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P. (Nurse Amy) at DoomandBloom.net


I’ve been writing a lot about epidemics lately, including Ebola, EnterovirusD68, and others. I talk about immunity issues a lot in my articles, but I haven’t really explained what it is in much detail. In this article, I hope to give you a working knowledge of it and the various types of immunity that keep a community from running rampant with infectious disease.

Your immune system is a marvel, and probably saves your life every day from one harmful germ or another, and even zaps some microscopic cancers.

Let’s talk a bit about immunity as it relates to infectious disease. Immunity is the ability of your immune system to resist a particular infection or toxin. This can refer to resistance of an entire species (humans, for example, don’t get very many diseases that fish get) or the resistance of a particular individual to an illness. Typhoid Mary, for instance, was a domestic cook who carried the germ for Typhoid fever and passed it on to many others without ever getting sick herself. Immunity is affected by many factors, such as age, genetics, and stress from nutritional, environmental, or chronic illness, something we’ll all experience in a survival setting.

There are several levels of immunity. They are:


When an infectious agent is detected, the body responds by producing a large amount of white blood cells, an immune response which attacks the invader. Your body does this for every day. During an epidemic, the human population’s ability to generate white cells increases its resistance. It is this property of the human body that causes the epidemic to eventually collapse.


The body’s defenses may retain a type of ‘memory’ of the offending organism. If the illness returns to the area, that memory causes the body to produce a faster and stronger response against it. This is especially true with viral infections, often giving lifetime protection. An example would be “Varicella”, a viral illness otherwise known as ‘chicken pox”. Once you have had chicken pox, you probably won’t get it again for the remainder of your life.


A particular individual, or occasionally an entire species, might possess the ability to resist a pathogen due to genetic “memory” passed on from generation to generation.

The Native American population of the New World, for example, had an extraordinarily high mortality rate when exposed to smallpox by the first European explorers. In some areas, 90% of the native population of the North American East Coast died. Those same explorers, however, had a much higher survival rate due to natural immunity given by centuries of previous exposures.


When a large group (a “herd”) possesses immunity, non-immune individuals in it enjoy a certain protection due to fewer exposures to an infection that may otherwise be fatal to them. The most common example today relates to vaccinated populations. If an unvaccinated person moves into an area where many are immune due to vaccinations, the likelihood of exposure to, say, measles drops significantly. This confers a certain level of protection. The person isn’t immune to measles but there is very little exposure to it because everyone else is vaccinated. if many unvaccinated people move into an area, however, the overall “herd immunity” may be lost.



Vaccinations against influenza are usually made available to people in developed countries in advance of seasonal outbreaks, in an effort to confer immunity to the populace. This type of immunity is known as acquired immunity, as it was acquired artificially by vaccine as opposed to natural immunity by exposure to a disease.

With influenza, these are most effective if the virus is similar to last year’s strain, as they use material from that to produce the vaccine. If the virus has mutated significantly, the vaccine may not be as effective. If the virus doesn’t mutate a great deal, such as smallpox, vaccine could eradicate a disease. This is not to say that there might not be side-effects or complications from the vaccine, just that the benefits might outweigh the risk in certain cases.

That’s just a little on immunity. in future articles, we’ll discuss important aspects of protection against those bugs that might cross the border into your area and some topics from our latest no-nonsense DVD on pandemic preparedness.

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones

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