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Why Some People Survive Ebola (And How You Can Too)

On May 11, 2017, one of Africa’s poorest countries announced it was facing a new Ebola outbreak. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) rattled international health officials with the grim news. It had been barely 18 months since West African nations declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that had lasted two years. The outbreak first emerged in Guinea in late 2013, but quickly spread to Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The virus would go on to crop up in limited cases in Nigeria, Senegal and Mali. It even managed to creep beyond West Africa, with isolated cases making headlines in the United States, Spain, the UK and Italy. While these isolated cases in western countries garnered the lion’s share of media attention, the reality is the overwhelming number of Ebola’s victims were in West Africa. In total, over 11,000 people in the region died during the outbreak, with a further 28,600 being infected. Fast forward back to 2017, and the outlook for the DRC wasn’t exactly positive. A potential vaccine had finally been developed, but it remained untested on a large scale.

The world braced for yet another uncontrollable outbreak, with the possibility of deaths in the thousands being a very real possibility.

Instead, just four people died. Another four were infected, but managed to survive Ebola. After a mere 42 days, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the DRC’s outbreak was over, and life returned to normal.

In short, the DRC proved that even one of the world’s most impoverished, war-torn nations can defeat Ebola.

We can learn a lot about Ebola by comparing the 2013-16 West Africa outbreak with the DRC’s 42 day emergency. Why did deaths quickly surge into the thousands in West Africa, but not in the DRC? Or, perhaps more importantly, is there a way we, as individuals, can improve our own chances of surviving an Ebola outbreak?

Comparing the DRC and West African Ebola Outbreaks

In the DRC, the Ebola outbreak began in the isolated Likati region. The region is heavily forested, sparsely populated and rarely traveled.

“People weren’t moving around in the way they were during the West African outbreak,” DRC expert and researcher from the University of California Los Angeles, Anne Rimoin told The Atlantic.

Because of the limited population movement, the virus was easy to contain and track. This was a massive stroke of luck to the DRC, but Congolese officials didn’t beat the virus with luck alone. Instead, they responded almost immediately to the outbreak. The DRC had already developed a coordinated plan long before news of the virus had emerged. Then, as soon as the first report of Ebola came in, officials carried out their pre-prepared response without hesitation.

In this case, the response began when a 45-year-old man died in the back of a taxi of a mystery disease. A local health clinic suspected it was Ebola, and sent samples to the capital, Kinshasa. The diagnosis was confirmed, and the WHO was notified. Twenty four hours later, Congolese authorities with international support began full-scale emergency procedures.

They were ready, and well-versed on every detail of their outbreak plan.

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In comparison, West Africa was caught completely off-guard.

“In Guinea, it took nearly three months for health officials and their international partners to identify the Ebola virus as the causative agent,” the WHO has stated.

The WHO continued, “By that time, the virus was firmly entrenched and spread was primed to explode.”

When the virus spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone in March 2014, those countries also had sluggish responses to the outbreak. Early cases went undetected and ignored.

ebola

ebola

As the WHO grimly put it, “The outbreaks in these two countries likewise smoldered for weeks, eventually becoming visible as chains of transmission multiplied, spilled into capital cities, and became so numerous they could no longer be traced.”

By the time health officials recognized the serious epidemic they were facing, it was already far beyond their control.

“In the West Africa outbreak, nobody was looking for Ebola,” Rimoin explained.

“It wasn’t on a list of things that people were worried about, or even among the top suspects at the time,” she said.

Rimoin said that Congolese officials were on the lookout for Ebola, and recognized it when they saw it. In other words, the fast thinking of just a handful of staff at a small health clinic in a backwater region of the DRC may have been responsible for saving thousands of lives.

On the other hand, not only did West African officials not recognize Ebola when they saw it; they also lacked the training and resources to handle the highly-contagious disease. Guinea and its neighbors had few isolation wards before the outbreak began, and most on-the-ground medical workers had little to no training on infection control. This meant the health centers themselves simply became factories for the virus, allowing it to spread to other patients and staff. To make matters worse, safe burial practices weren’t enforced, meaning even the dead were spreading the virus.

All this made it easy for the virus to entrench itself in major population centers.

“iI past outbreaks, Ebola was largely confined to remote rural areas, with just a few scattered cases detected in cities. In West Africa, cities – including the capitals of all three countries – have been epicenters of intense virus transmission,” the WHO explained.

“The West African outbreaks demonstrated how swiftly the virus could move once it reached urban settings and densely populated slums,” they stated.

Poverty

ebola - 3

ebola - 3

This brings us to the most important thing to understand about Ebola. More than anything else, Ebola is a disease of poverty. In densely-packed urban slums, the raw sewerage, poor hygiene and rotting public infrastructure made the virus unstoppable. In the countryside, poor transport and communication networks made responses difficult to impossible. Low levels of public education meant many of the virus’ early victims had no idea how to handle their mystery disease. Nobody knew what to do, so panic set in.

“As the situation in one country began to improve, it attracted patients from neighboring countries seeking unoccupied treatment beds, thus reigniting transmission chains,” the WHO noted.

“In other words, as long as one country experienced intense transmission other countries remained at risk, no matter how strong their own response measures had been,” they concluded.

Cultural practices surrounding death also exacerbated the spread. Many West African cultures place a high value on the custom of returning to your home village or town to die. Unfortunately, this meant the sickest patients and the dead were moved around on often long journeys home, thus helping spread the virus to otherwise clean areas.

Finally, even the best of West African culture betrayed Ebola’s victims. According to the WHO:

“Ebola has preyed on another deep-seated cultural trait: compassion. In West Africa, the virus spread through the networks that bind societies together in a culture that stresses compassionate care for the ill and ceremonial care for their bodies if they die. Some doctors are thought to have become infected when they rushed, unprotected, to aid patients who collapsed in waiting rooms or on the grounds outside a hospital.”

So basically, pretty much everything went wrong, stacking the odds against anyone just trying to survive Ebola.

What can we learn from all this?

The horrific story of Ebola’s spread through West Africa has a lot to teach us about how to protect ourselves in such an outbreak. For one, we now understand that quarantining the sick early is absolutely critical. For us, as individuals, this means reporting potential cases immediately, and avoiding risky areas ourselves. During an outbreak, crowds are your worst enemy, and the virus is best suited to spreading rapidly in an urban context. So, in a major epidemic, cities should be avoided, with rural areas being safer. Isolation is key, but so is resisting the urge to aid anyone suspected of being infected with the disease. Unless you’re a professional with adequate equipment and training, all you’re going to do is make things worse. Speaking of people making things worse, traditional healers and superstition also played a role in the 2013 epidemic.

“Even prior to the outbreaks, poor access to government-run health facilities made care by traditional healers or self-medication through pharmacies the preferred health care option for many, especially the poor,” the WHO said.

“Many surges in new cases have been traced to contact with a traditional healer or herbalist or attendance at their funerals,” the organization found.

This might sound like a uniquely West African problem, but it isn’t. US and other western countries have their own snake-oil salesmen, and dodgy home remedies are a dime a dozen. No doubt, a future Ebola outbreak in any part of the world would spark the proliferation of unreliable, self-proclaimed cures and folk remedies. Resorting to such treatments is just another way to make things worse, and will only make it harder to survive Ebola. If you contract Ebola, you need urgent, professional medical care.

hospital

hospital

Are some individuals more likely to survive?

Just as we’ve found that some countries have fought Ebola better than others, it’s also true that some individuals do better as well. Naturally, we’d probably all like to be among those people. According to one 2014 study, the main determinant between those who survive Ebola – and those who don’t – manifests in the early stages of the disease. Victims who suffer severe symptoms early on tend to likewise fare worse in the long-run. Previous studies like this one found evidence to suggest this might be because Ebola has an unpleasant ability to send the immune system into chaos. Hence, patients need to focus on surviving the disease’s initial assault on the immune system, if they hope to survive Ebola.

For the rest of us, this could mean that staying in the best health possible is the most straight-forward way of reducing your risk of succumbing to the disease. So if, for some reason, you’re at risk of contracting Ebola, you have a pretty good excuse to take it easy. Keep your immune system healthy by avoiding anything that could tire you out, or make you ill. Consider adopting a healthier lifestyle by cutting out alcohol and tobacco. Try following this immune system checklist from Harvard Medical School. It suggests mostly common sense advice, such as keeping stress levels low, getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight. Obviously, things like avoiding stress and sleeping well might sound trivial, but they matter. This is especially true if your life may depend on keeping your immune system at peak performance. Indeed, this is one of the most important factors in whether you survive Ebola.

Genetics

Unfortunately, you can only do so much to improve your chances, because whether you survive Ebola or not might already be determined by your genes. Another study found anyone with the gene leukocyte antigen-B07 or B14 are more likely to survive Ebola. The same study also found evidence suggesting a mutation in the NPC1 gene might provide complete immunity from Ebola. It’s not entirely clear why this is the case, but laboratory tests indicate the virus simply can’t infect cells with this kind of genetic mutation. Before you get too excited, bear in mind only somewhere between one in 300 to one in 400 people of European descent carry an NPC1 mutation. As for people of African descent, there’s no solid data on how common this mutation is. So while it’s worth keeping in mind that some people are unusually resistant to the disease, it’s not something that will help most of us.

The vaccine

Finally, if there’s one sure-fire way to survive Ebola, it could come in the form of a new vaccine. In late 2016, the WHO announced success in a major trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine. While the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is already being stockpiled by the WHO, the reality is it still hasn’t been approved for clinical use. Nonetheless, there’s every chance the vaccine could become widely available in the coming years. So, it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground on this one, especially if you’re at risk of Ebola for some specific reason; such as plans to travel to a country with a history of outbreaks.

For now though, the best way to survive Ebola remains through careful preparation. In an outbreak, avoid densely populated areas, and practice good hygiene. Don’t travel unless you must, and keep your immune system strong. With any luck, you’ll be among the survivors.

Looking for more information on how to protect yourself from sickness? You’ll love these articles:
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Self Sufficiency

NYC Adds Nearly 4,000 People Who Never Tested Positive To Coronavirus Death Tolls

New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.

The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever.

The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.

“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times.“As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”

The post New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll appeared first on Daily Caller

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Self Sufficiency

How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

The thing about homesteading is you get to create your own ingredient right from scratch! Cheese, yogurt, butter and now sauerkraut, a delightfully sour and crunchy ingredient you can use on your meals — or consume by itself — while on a homestead, or while facing this health crisis!

This homemade sauerkraut is a great meal because it has a long shelf life. You can either make plain sauerkraut or mix it with herbs and spices. In this tutorial let us make Lacto-fermented sauerkraut that preserves all the good probiotics in a jar, good for your guts.

So how to make sauerkraut in a mason jar?

RELATED: How To Make Buttermilk On Your Homestead

Delicious Sauerkraut Recipe Every Homesteader Should Know

Why Make Sauerkraut?

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Not only does sauerkraut spoil a long time, but it is also a meal in itself, and it is also easy to make! You don’t need to be an expert cook, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

So let us get started. Here are the steps in making sauerkraut in a mason jar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage or 2 1/2 lbs cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

Tools Needed:

  • knife
  • bowl
  • mason jar
  • smaller jar
  • rubber band

Step 1: Wash & Clean the Tools & Ingredients



Wash all the equipment and utensils you need. Wash your hands too.

You don’t want to mix your sauerkraut with bad bacteria, anything that is going to make you sick.

Next, remove the faded leaves from your cabbage. Cut off the roots and the parts that don’t seem fresh.

Step 2: Cut the Cabbage Into Quarters & Slice Into Strips



Cut your cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice it into strips.

Step 3: Place in a Bowl & Sprinkle With Salt



Put the stripped cabbage into a bowl. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt.

TIP: Use canning salt or sea salt. Iodized salt will make it taste different and may not ferment the cabbage.

RELATED: Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Step 4: Massage the Cabbage



Massage the cabbage for five minutes or more to get the juice out.

TIP: You’ll know it’s ready when you see a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl and will look similar to coleslaw.

Step 5: Press Cabbage Into the Mason Jar



Add the cabbage to the mason jar gradually. Press it in hard to allow the juice to come out. Do this every time you add about a handful of cabbage.

IMPORTANT: Food should be covered by the liquid to promote fermentation. Add any excess liquid from the bowl to the jar.

Step 6: Press a Smaller Jar Into the Mason Jar



You want to squeeze every ounce of that juice from the cabbage. To do this place the mason jar in a bowl and get a smaller jar.

Fill it with water or marble to make it heavy. Press it into the bigger mason jar. Allow any juices to rise to the surface.

Step 7: Cover the Jars With Cloth & Tie With Rubber Band



Leave the small jar on. To keep your jars clean from annoying insects and irritating debris, cover your jars with a clean cloth. Then, use a rubber band to tie the cloth and the jars together, putting them in place.

Step 8: Set Aside & Check Daily

Set it aside in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. Check the water level daily. It should always be above the cabbage.

Step 9: Taste Your Sauerkraut & Keep at Cool Temperatures

Homemade Sauerkraut Cumin Juniper | How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar

After about five days, you can taste your sauerkraut. If the taste is to your liking, tightly cover it with the lid and store in the fridge or cellar.

NOTE: If after five days it’s still not your desired taste, leave it for a few more days. This will allow the fermentation process to continue.

You can now enjoy your sauerkraut in a mason jar. Enjoy its goodness! You can use it as a side dish or mix it with your favorite sandwich.

Things to Remember in Making Sauerkraut

  • Store away from direct sunlight and drafts.
  • Colder weather will make the process longer. Spring is the best time to make them since the warmth helps activate the fermentation.
  • Always make sure that the cabbage is below the water level during the entire fermentation process.
  • If the water level decreases during the fermentation process, you can make a brine and add it.

Let us watch this video from Kristina Seleshanko on how to make delicious Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar!

So there you have it! Making Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar is as easy as slicing the cabbage into strips. Remember that as long it remains unopened, your sauerkraut can last for months. Best of all, you can partner this sauerkraut in many recipes.

What do you think of this homemade recipe? Share your best sauerkraut recipe in the comments section below!

Fellow homesteaders, do you want to help others learn from your journey by becoming one of our original contributors? Write for us!

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Self Sufficiency

9 SPRING VEGETABLES FOR YOUR GARDEN

Having plants in the house will bring peace to people. Having a little garden with vegetables is even better! You can grow these vegetables in your backyard garden easily as well!

RELATED: Microgreens Growing Guide

In this article:

  1. Tomato
  2. Eggplant
  3. Beet
  4. Spinach
  5. Pea
  6. Carrot
  7. Radish
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Asparagus

Growing veggies in your garden will give you an opportunity to understand what you eat and value it more. Early spring is when most vegetables are being planted. Keep reading to learn about 9 spring vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden!

Tomato

Tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the States! There are different varieties to choose from. Tomatoes need to be planted in early spring because they won’t survive a frost.

Because tomatoes are consumed daily, try adding them to your garden! They’re not difficult to grow either.

Eggplant

Eggplants are known to have low-calorie, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious! So why not plant them in your garden?

Eggplants shouldn’t be planted too early because they won’t be able to survive a frost. So you could consult an expert in your area before you plant your eggplants.

Beets

Beets are known to be a superfood for its various health benefits. They’re easier to grow in the garden, usually around late March or early April.

If the weather is always cool, beets will keep getting bigger and bigger. Once the weather starts to warm up, you’ll need to harvest them, or they’ll go to waste.

Spinach

Spinach is a delicious early spring veggie, and it’s also very beneficial for health. And it’s not difficult to grow spinach in your garden!

Spinach needs cold weather to grow. Getting spinach to grow is easy, but keeping it growing will require some extra care.

Pea

Peas are usually planted in late April. Peas will die in freezing temperatures, but they also won’t survive the heat either. So make sure you plant your peas in early spring.

Peas are widely used in many different ways, and there are different types of peas. The soil you’ll be planting your peas should be suitable for them, so make sure you ask while buying seeds.

Carrot

There are different types of carrots, but regardless of their size and color, it’s a fact that carrots are both delicious and rich in vitamins.

They’re root vegetables, so with proper sun and watering, they can be picked up as baby carrots as well.

Radish

A radish is an excellent option for beginners because it doesn’t require too much care. Radish is easy to harvest.

Radish grows fast, so it’s better to keep an eye on it after a few weeks. Radish usually is grown pest-free, but there’s always the chance of unwanted guests, so watch out for worms. Radish can be eaten raw or can be added to garnish recipes.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow at home, but it is very popular.

Cauliflower grows better in colder weather, so before you plant it, consider the climate of your garden. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is known to be very beneficial for health.

Asparagus

Freshly picked, tender asparagus is very delicious!

Asparagus plants get more productive with each harvest, and mature asparagus harvest can last for months! Make sure you plant them at the correct time, or else they might go to waste.

All the vegetables listed above are great for your healthy diet, and it’s fun to watch them grow. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your own veggies and eat healthy this spring!

So tell us which veggies will you be growing this spring? Tell us in the comments section!

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