Sunday, September 13, 2020

A Word About Chiggers


                          Chiggers are a family of mites who are a member of the Trombiculidae Family, which is part of the Arachnid or spider family. They can afflict human beings, and can afflict birds, rodents, dogs, and horses.  In the US, these are most often found in the Southeast, the South and sometimes in the Mid-West. Canada used not to have chiggers, but the latest literature says that Southern Ontario now does. One reference says that they can now be found worldwide.  Most often they are unseen, but occasionally they can be seen as extremely tiny black or red dots. 

                             Human beings don't generally feel their bites, but once a chigger larva bites and burrows, he extends a tiny tube or a stylostome in order to extract body fluids for nutrition. Often we are bitten by more than one at a time. They like folded and damp areas of skin like the groin, the ankles, the axillae, behind the knees, and under the belt region. The chigger's saliva causes a reaction for us, and even after the chigger has fallen off, we are troubled by significant and intense itching in the area. The itching can be so intense that we may not be able to sleep. Although the issue is ultimately self limiting, it can be very annoying.

This is a very typical appearance of chigger bites.

                                      This is a rather typical appearance of chigger bites.

                             A few years ago, a physician friend of ours got chiggers from her husband who had been golfing, and then even after a shower, brought the chiggers home to his wife where they both suffered for a few days.

                          There is a commercial preparation called Chigger-rid which is available in the American South. What I usually do for chiggers is take a 2x2 gauze pad and wet it with Hydrogen Peroxide 3% and then scrub the regions of obvious chigger damage. The centers will fizz and usually this will help the small wound to resolve more quickly. It also seems to help with the itching. Some lesions will need a second or a third cleansing.   Others find Calamine or ice to be helpful.

                           We used to believe that chiggers were simply a summer annoyance and that it was a sign that we hadn't been as careful as we should have been in very deep grass or woodland areas. However, since we had a mild winter here, it has been a banner year for chiggers for almost everyone. Chiggers can also afflict your horses and dogs, and they can lead to enough scratching that a local infection can occur. One of my horses was afflicted this year and this was such a discomfort to him that it adversely impacted his eating and required treatment.  The literature also discusses a dog who developed serious neurologic problems following a chigger infestation.  We also know that some types of chiggers can spread scrub typhus. (I have placed a link below on scrub typhus) The antibiotic doxycyline is sometimes used for humans or animals who have been infected by chiggers and ticks and who are now febrile.  It is possible that chiggers can spread other tick borne varieties of illness and that this is simply not yet known.  So it would be wise to see a physician if you have a bothersome cluster of chigger bites and then develop a fever.


                          Chiggers may also look like this. Some people have particularly sensitive skin in which the area of induration may be much broader than in the earlier pictures. (Picture courtesy of

Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Primer on Human Metapneumovirus or HMPV


                I do a huge amount of continuing medical education, in part to continue to be licensed as a registered nurse in a number of states, some of which have different educational requirements than others, for continued licensure, and in part because I have a personal interest. In the past couple of years, for the purpose of being able to compound medication for both humans and veterinary uses, I also obtained a credential as a pharmacy technician. I hold certification in every state, and a license to practice in my home state. Of course, there is a fair chunk of continuing education involved in that too.  This is why it is surprising that I had absolutely not completed any continuing education which mentioned this.

                HMPV or Human Metapneumovirus was first discovered in 2001. It is a leading cause of respiratory infection within the world.  It is a relative of RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, which is a virus that can leave a premature child or young child with asthma for a lifetime, if he or she is to contract it as a youngster.  Both of my youngest sons had RSV in the 1990s and were therefore afflicted, thankfully only with mild asthma.  Both RSV and HMPV are members of the paramyxovirus family.

                HMPV can afflict people of absolutely any age and can impact both the upper respiratory and lower respiratory tree. It's incubation period after exposure is between 3-6 days and degree of illness is variable. Although it is a significant respiratory infection, sufferers may also have conjunctivitis.   In the US, winter and spring are the times of year that are most likely times to contract it.   One can contract it from coughs, sneezes, shaking hands, or from objects one might touch that were also touched by infected persons. Prevention is therefore important.  As yet, we have no specific treatment or immunization for it.

                 Prevention is therefore focused on:

1. Diligent handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap.

2. Avoiding those who are sick. Staying home if you are.

3. Avoiding kissing. Avoiding the use of utensils and cups which belong to others.

4. Covering your nose and mouth while sneezing.

5. Avoiding those who are sick and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth or face.

6. Daily cleaning of your counters, sinks, doorknobs etc. can help to prevent spread throughout your home.

             We do have specific lab tests which can ascertain whether or not you have HMPV.      This is a common respiratory infection, and could easily be confused with COVID-19.   Although an infection with HMPV can produce a pneumonia and can conceivably kill infants, the elderly or those with a concurrent medical problem, most of the time, patients overcome this infection.  It's important to mention this because this infection can "muddy the waters" with COVID-19 concerns.  Those who reside in nursing homes, prisons etc., in close proximity may be at most risk for spread and for potential complications.

             Autumn and then winter are on their way. It is important to know that a persistent respiratory infection should be seen by your physician so that it can be differentiated between other infections. COVID-19 for example may require different treatment than the supportive care necessary in HMPV.

Authoritative information on HMPV

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Reminder About Comments That Contain Advertisements


          In the last few months I have received a number of comments for posting on this blog, which also advertise a product or a service.   Because I cannot appear to endorse a product or service that I know nothing about, I set a policy document regarding the posting of products or services in the form of a comment, back in 2014.  The link to our Advertising and Commentary Policy document appears within the black rectangle at the near top of the page, with other pages which concern my books and other blogs. These pages appear as links and the lettering is blue.  Since this particular page hasn't been noticed in the last several months, I have decided to post the page now as an actual post.

            Please contact me should you have any questions.  I do occasionally post and review a specific product or service, but a prior arrangement needs to be made. It took me time to research The Simple Pump, and some of the other products I have recommended.  Thank you for your understanding.

Advertising and Commentary Policy

        Effective May 1. 2014,  I will no longer be posting commentaries or responses to the posts here, when they includes or contain a link to a webpage for the purpose of advertising, unless there is a prior arrangement to do so. 

       Of late, a huge number of comments received do not relate at all to the post I have written.    Refrigerators on sale this weekend in India do not relate to a post on hand pumps for wells !    

        I am also being asked by others to remove comments or ads, and this is creating liability issues for me.  

     I  feel an obligation to provide information about products I actually use and can truly tell readers about, and not about products of which I know nothing.   

              My focus has always been to bring important preparedness information on varietal topics which only includes advertising when I personally know something about the product, and then I provide my own perspective and reactions.    My purpose has never been to log large numbers of followers, although we do have a fair number of unique users who although they have not signed up to become followers, but who do visit the site, and do participate.  We are a reference for reasonable family preparedness information and I do pay attention to issues of frugality here.

 I am also unable to allow posts here that have been placed anonymously or by "opaque users", due to issues of liability.   

I am also not available to the blogs on a daily basis, and so many comments, will simply not be reviewed or posted in a timely manner.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated understanding and cooperation.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Reprise of the Benefits of Raising Chickens

These are Silky chickens.

      I wrote this first post in June of 2013.   Since I have spent a big portion of this Summer raising and caring for new chickens, and many others have as well as a source of eggs during our COVID-19 lockdown, I thought I would repost it.  Enjoy.

     There is a trend in the United States permitting those in quasi urban and suburban neighborhoods to own chickens.  Most of them have restrictions sufficient to prevent all night cackling, and I have read that many cities outlaw roosters, but I see the change in zoning to allow at least some chickens,   as a good thing.  Chickens allow families to have eggs, often in abundance, and that alone, can make them very worthwhile. Chicken manure when composted can be some of the best fertilizer.
          Chickens can also be incredible pets.  We have raised several injured chicks by hand who were simply thrown away by the feedstore, and each of them grew to be intelligent, cooperative and loving creatures, and one of them was a congenial rooster.   At our maximum here we had one hundred chickens. We presently have about fifty and they are either Rhode Island Reds or Bantams.  Many mornings I eat a large hard boiled brown egg fresh from one of the hens.    Linda from the blog  Practical Parsimony can vouch for what fantastic companions chickens can be. 


I love this one.  It looks like it has a screen door.

This one has a greens tray for growing greens for them, or for you.

This coop can be moved around your yard, permitting your grass to recover, and allowing your hens weekly fresh grass.

              Many of the pictures above which have appeared on this particular blog post were taken by, and were constructed by

     Laughing Chickens.     

   They are custom built, but are available to be constructed and sent via UPS in modular fashion, so that they can be easily assembled all over the country.    They are also constructed of reclaimed wood.

You can e-mail the owner at:

 You can call Duck at     (415) 295-4696

You may see additional and larger pictures at the Williams-Sonoma catalog online.


         Or, you can use all of this as inspiration, and build your very own

    We have so many eggs at the moment , but they decrease in Winter.

This is what we do with them:

*Have eggs for breakfast.   (We all have low total cholesterol)

 * Make a variety of different quiches, and freeze them in the freezer as quick dinners or lunches.
    (We make Quiche Lorraine, Broccoli and Cheddar, Chive and Cheese, Veggie and Herb)

* We cook them and add them to dog, and sometimes cat food.  Our animals are long lived and have great coats.

* Eggnog when the season is right.

* Give or trade some to friends.

*Make your own egg custard.

Egg custard recipe
(Although we use white sugar instead of brown in this, and we use less.)

This allows you to walk inside and collect eggs without a lot of bending or squatting.

The original post is configured slightly differently and has some additional information. It appears at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

On Losing Friends in Political Discussions in 2020


Not everyone agrees that this might be a lovely place in which to spend the day, either.

     I don't think many would argue with me if I were to say that 2020 is one weird year. Not that I follow astrology, but the unusual features in 2020 have me at least noticing things like Pluto and Saturn aligning in Capricorn for the first time in five hundred years. What does all this mean ? Well it means that astrologically, at least, we can expect big changes on the beautiful blue ball we call home.

             In 2020, we have known media not to simply report news,  but to selectively and inaccurately report issues and happenings as part of an agenda. It is increasingly difficult to get factual and trustworthy data from most news outlets, even those which held the best reputations in our parent's day.  Next we were deluged with complete and repeated coverage of a virus which caused significant death and destruction in China and then quickly spread to almost all the parts of the world. Shortly after, much of the world has been barred from travel. Many businesses have been closed with the objective of prevention of the spread of the virus. Schools and universities closed. Economic life and family life have changed significantly. Bars and restaurants are closed, and since many of them cannot continue to exist on simple take out orders, many of them have closed forever, including some of my favorites. I would probably be preaching to the choir to tell you that many people, as a result of not working, are enduring the most challenging economic times they have ever known. In my own state there is presently a moratorium on evicting those who cannot pay their rent. However, I am not sure what happens to the landlords who can't pay the mortgages, the taxes or the insurance costs on the homes where they are not receiving rental payments.  Since more people are at home, and because "idle hands" are indeed the devil's workshop, all sorts of groups are using this time to complain, riot, destroy and tantrum in any and all ways possible.

             Generally, I don't need everyone in the world to agree with me. I have my own opinion, just like everyone else, and it's enough. It changes sometimes when conditions or consistent changes to my information does as well. Generally, I have lots of different friends from different countries, occupations, and interests, and it's natural for them to have different opinions than I do, on certain subjects. I have come to feel that decent people often do not agree on how they might make the world a better place, and that's okay too. If I ran the world, everyone would be likely to be well fed, and medical care would be top notch. Of course, I come to most things with as perspective of a registered nurse. However, you should not wish me to run the world, today or tomorrow, because if I did, the bridges would likely be collapsing around us, as not being a civil engineer like my grandfather, I simply wouldn't adequately prioritize them.   My friends who are social workers might think differently than those who are rocket scientists, engineers, or surgeons. It's actually good that each of us have different interests and priorities as working together we are more likely to make the world a better place in tandem with one another. I understand that we each try to make the world a better place within our abilities and within our backgrounds.

            When I was a student in college, there was tolerance for those with different views. We might think someone had strange ideas, but we knew they were entitled to them. We also knew that those raised in different families than our own might have divergent views, and that was okay.  Since that time, schools and some colleges have changed. There is "group think" and those who credit themselves with being "enlightened" express what their group believes is "correct thinking".  Of course, the rest of us know that we are in fact, the experts on choosing the elements in and choices in our own lives.

           I don't measure my words much. I give my perspectives and when appropriate, I share the data or the science which leads me to recommend what I am saying. Take it or leave it. Although I am pleased when something I have posted aids a person, a family or their animals, I also don't mind if someone chooses not to heed it, and they decide to go another way.  This year, a lot of people are overly sensitive. They seem to need to feel that their view is the one right way.

             Rarely throughout life I have lost a friend. Sometimes, someone who is a close friend thorough part of your life, isn't really interested in continuing with you when you choose another path.  Some of us lose some of our single friends when we marry or have children. Some of us lose some friends when we leave our old employer to start a new business.  It's probably not realistic to expect that friends we had in one life stage will remain with us through all the others.  However, it's only this year that I have lost a few friends just based on our political views alone.  One of my friends was actually a distant relative.  Where I believe that public school, private school, homeschooling and even online education are all viable alternatives for certain children, and that parents need to seek the right education for the right child, the right family, and in the right block of time, she does not. She believes that all children need to be given to the state to be properly educated and to have "the right attitudes".  I couldn't help but to politely indicate that many US children have very poor test scores, in reading and mathematics, and that many are not particularly productive as adults. Apparently, she no longer wishes to be a friend.   I also have a friend who is very much my favorite singer songwriter and arranger. She has very clear political views, and since I know several people who have worked with and are acquainted with the current president and his family, I don't share her views. And so, I have lost this friend also.

            I understand that a beloved friend from the sandbox might not be kept in high school.  I understand that the close friend you had might not remain so when she chooses to date the young man you dated before her.  However,  I don't really understand the need some others have to befriend only those who will mirror the political views they might have.

            I would like to suggest, for just a moment that we all clearly benefit from friendships with those who have different interests than we do. They are simply available for learning that we ourselves might not get in our own circles or careers. Think hard before you choose to cut out and therefore limit your inputs from others.  Having friends who agree with everything we say isolates us, and prevents us from growing.  It's perfectly okay to have friends of associates who see the world differently than we do. In fact, it's probably healthier than only having friends who drone the identical views to your own.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blood Types and COVID-19

                     One of the challenges in COVID-19, is predicting who might require hospitalization or who might require intensive care level intervention as a consequence of complications of COVID-19. It is not as simple as whose who are elderly, and it isn't as simple as those who have an underlying or chronic medical issue.  Several months ago, I recall a couple of newspapers claiming that some physicians had indicated that some blood types had shown more of a proclivity to developing complications with COVID-19 than others, and I even remember being asked about this.  My answer at the time was that this is interesting, but that a couple of different research centers would need to confirm this, otherwise it changes nothing for us. It simply means that we all need to take the precautions as directed.

                   Today, I received an article from what should be an authoritative source on the matter, The American Journal of Nursing.  From the study described in the article, it does appear as if those with Type O blood appear to be capable of managing the illness in most cases, and that Type A individuals have had more complications.  It's an interesting article, and since a number of you asked me about it, I am simply going to provide you with the link to it here.

                 COVID-19 is not yet over. Please continue to be cautious.

Just after I posted this, the National Institute of Health's director, posted very similar findings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Word to the Wise is Sufficient


                 Why is the woman who has been writing posts on preparedness and survival here for the last twelve years, fairly silent, as the United States deteriorates into looting and insurrection?   Rational Preparedness is about situational and regional awareness and family and personal preparation. It's about knowing enough about your own health, diagnoses and the diagnoses of your family to care for them properly in between physician visits. It's about knowing enough about your animals to care for them properly and to take them with you, should you have to depart from your home.  In the last twelve years, we have discussed self defense, health management, growing food, homeschooling issues, purchasing supplies, emergency kits, tools, reasonable stockpiling, animal care, landscaping for safety and privacy, cabins and bug-out locations, and when we evaluate sheltering-in-place against a family evacuation.

                    We weren't planning for things that might happen. We were planning for issues that would eventually emerge in one manner or another.  It has been no secret that American public schools have been deteriorating sharply for years. History has been flattened and extracted, and alternate history has been taught to most young people. Consequently, many of them are gullible and don't have the measure of skepticism they should. Their education has not prepared them to be thinking individuals and so they can't ask the correct questions. Many have not been prepared to support themselves, and many hold huge amounts of debt for an education which in itself, has handicapped them.  In addition, we have a deterioration of morality all over the world.  A collapse of cultures is bound to occur, and many thought it would come sooner than this.

                    Without getting too deeply into politics here, we also have a problem. We have rotten apples in media who ignore happenings and stories that may be important, only to present stories which may or not not be true at all, simply because they advance the agenda they wish to push. We have decent American people doing their jobs, caring for their families, helping charities and perhaps churches and doing an excellent job, and we have the disenfranchised who simply want to tear down anything they wish. They claim that they have a purpose in doing so, but they don't. They are simply expressing rage.   In addition, the groups stoking insurrection would have us believe that we have racial problems in the US.  Although nothing is perfect, the members if different races who are working together, fare better than most people, US and foreign realize.  In the US, we have had a black president, black governors, lots of African American and black physicians of all specialties from other nations. We have lots of African American attorneys. People of all races have lots of opportunities to learn whatever they wish in the US. Many of them are quite wealthy now, and are CEOs of substantial businesses.  African Americans continue to make significant opportunities in sports, the arts, music, fashion and design.  Many journalists and editors in some of the largest newspapers and magazines are African Americans and many are high ranking police officials and high ranking military officers.  We mustn't forget this.  We are being asked to war between different factions of our society in order to collapse our government.  We must be better than that. We must reject what we know not to be true.

                 So, continue to find a source of reasonable news.  Listen and then turn it off. Take care of your family. Make plans that allow you to continue to do the job. Read the posts here.  Shelter in place when necessary, and evacuate if needed.  2020 is indeed a difficult year, for everyone. Do what you need to do to care for yourself, your family, your property and your animals. There are twelve years of posts to help you tackle some of the things you have not yet planned to do. Those who pay attention should survive this year's upheavals.