Your Health & Happiness: WHO speaks out on Bird Flu
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Advance Notice: As
Avian Flu continues to spread, the United Nations is leading a concerted
effort, working with national governments and international agencies to ensure
that World Health Organization Regulations are widely understood and followed.
As the lead UN Agency for tourism the UNWTO is taking a
central role in helping the sector respond to the evolving conditions in a way
which maximizes awareness and minimizes disruption for tourists and the
Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli and his Special
Advisor Geoffrey Lipman will hold a briefing for industry decision makers on
the morning of 10th March at ITB Berlin.
Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Dr Lee Jong-Wook has now
publicly stated that since the beginning of February 2006, the highly
pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread to affect wild or domestic
birds in 17 new countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
The World Health Organization reconfirms that,when poultry
products are safely handled and properly cooked, humans are not at risk of
acquiring H5N1 infection through food.
Although the H5N1 virus is highly infectious among poultry,
it is not easily transmissible to humans. Since December 2003, this virus is
known to have infected 173 people, of whom 93 have died. Not one of these cases
has been linked to the consumption of properly cooked poultry or poultry
The main health risk currently is to people who are in close
contact with infected poultry, such as families with backyard flocks and
poultry workers in wet markets or live animal markets.
Heightened surveillance among domestic and wild birds, rapid
detection of the virus, and swift implementation of control measures are
important in supporting and maintaining consumer confidence in the safety of
Globally, the evidence demonstrates that there is no risk of
infection when birds and eggs are well-cooked, as this kills the virus. Poultry
products are important sources of protein throughout the world.
For further information, please refer to the WHO avian
influenza website http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/index.html
The Doctor's Consultation: Middle ears do not grow
on children’s foreheads
by Dr. Iain Corness
Children are amazing little people. They come up with all
sorts of cute symptoms, which initially you would imagine point towards one
bodily system, but in actual fact belong to something apparently quite
This absolute “truism” was brought back to me when a
seven year old came to stay. This sick child had been unable to eat for two
days and intermittently vomited for the past 24 hours. He was flushed, and a
hand on the forehead was enough to show he was running a fever.
His mother was worried that son and heir was going to end
up having his appendix removed in this foreign land. A strange pagan country
where they eat grasshoppers and beetles as an after dinner delicacy!
(Personally I prefer chocolate frogs!)
She was even more worried when I approached him with an
auriscope. That’s one of those instruments for looking in ears. Sure enough,
there was the flaming red ear drum, the herald sign of Otitis Media, otherwise
known as “Middle Ear Infection”.
Ear infections are actually very common in small children.
Most ear infections involve the middle ear. This is called Otitis Media.
Babies and young children suffer more middle-ear infections
than older children because the tubes connecting the middle ear to the throat
(the Eustachian tubes) are shorter and when the Eustachian tube is blocked,
fluid does not drain very well from the middle ear to the throat, and air does
not get up into the middle ear space as well as it should.
Babies and toddlers may suffer intense ear pain and usually
have a fever. There may also be vomiting, loss of appetite, decrease in energy
and some loss of hearing. In some cases, pus will break through the eardrum.
This results in a thick yellow discharge from the ear. The child feels better
when the ear discharges as the painful pressure is gone. The burst eardrum
usually heals on its own.
Going straight to the cause was not a case of brilliant
diagnosis (though the plaudits of the crowd are always accepted) but purely
the result of many years of experience. In any young child with those
symptoms, one must always suspect and exclude the middle ear problems.
Why do they vomit with it? Probably for the same reason
that people get sea sick – disruption of the normal fluid workings of the
inner ear. Whatever, it is always worth asking your vomiting, febrile child if
he or she “hurts” anywhere. If they point to or pull at the ear then you
are most likely on the right track.
Remember that the middle ear infection does not necessarily
produce an ear discharge as an initial symptom. For that to happen, it means
the pus and goo trapped in the middle ear has ruptured through the ear drum.
What we call a perforation, generally shortened to “perf”.
The treatment is a swiftly administered appropriate
anti-biotic. If the ear is discharging, then a culture can be taken and the
exactly appropriate antibiotic chosen. If not, then most doctors fly by the
seat of their pants and prescribe a Penicillin derivative or one of the newer
drugs. Some paracetamol to ease any pain and lower the temperature completes
the package and expect junior to be better in a couple of days.
If your child gets recurrent middle ear infections, then
you really should get this investigated – including an audiogram (hearing
test) to ensure there is no lasting damage.
So just remember, Mums of the world, vomiting may not
necessarily mean an intra-abdominal problem. It could all be in the ears!
One subject I haven’t seen addressed in your column is the social
problems involved with aging. I am in my 78th year, and have experienced
the usual physical and mental deterioration that one would expect in
one’s later years. My hearing is shot (the only things I can hear
clearly are karaokes and speaker trucks). My sight has dimmed, dementia
set in, E.D. (at my age normal sex is like shooting pool with a rope), and
These problems have taken a toll on my normal lifestyle, but in most cases
I have managed to cope. For example sexual gratification has been provided
by the therapists at Pattaya’s numerous road houses. Now, however, I
have been beset by the cruelest malfunction of all...involuntary
flatulence. It’s well known that older people have a problem with gas,
but up until recently I have been able to pull the trigger (so to speak)
at my discretion. I no longer have this ability. My social life is in
shambles. While it is an excellent excuse to avoid jury duty or church
services, and is the source of much-needed exercise taking the stairs to
avoid crowded elevators, I find that I’m alone a lot.
Don’t suggest adult diapers because I am in no way incontinent, and the
emissions alluded to are pure gas (not the odorless variety). Tums don’t
help much. I just sit in my room...widow open and fan on “high”,
growing old and lonely. How can I cope, Hillary.
What an admission, my malodorous Petal! I’m a-gassed and blown over by
your rectal problem. But like your ED problems, help is at hand, to coin a
phrase. Have you ever heard of “Le Petomane” a rather unique French
gentleman? “Le Petomane” aka Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) was a French
music hall artiste (or more correctly “fartiste”) who found he was
able to play tunes and make special effects by passing wind. He practiced
at home till he could control himself going through his motions, so to
speak. He was quite a rage in the latter years of the 19th century and the
first decade of the 20th and even performed for the then Prince of Wales,
later King Edward VII and the King of Belgium. He was more popular than
the famous Sarah Bernhardt, whom you would have heard of, being 78, such
as you are. In a typical Le Petomane performance, he appeared on stage in
red cape, black silk “poison” trousers (they had an arsenic), and
white cravat, with a pair of white gloves held in the hands for a touch of
elegance. Having explained that his emissions were odorless - Le Petomane
took care to irrigate his colon daily - he would proceed with a program of
fart impressions, as it were: the timid fart of the young girl, the hearty
fart of the miller, the fart of the bride on her wedding night (almost
inaudible), the fart of the bride a week later (a lusty raspberry), and a
majestic 10 second fart which he likened to a couturier cutting six feet
of calico cloth. However, it is rumored that one day whilst giving a gala
performance at the Pompadour Theatre in Paris he followed through in his
silk underwear on stage and in front of the audience. He was never the
same after that and gave up about the time when WW1 broke out in Europe.
Now, Tully, I am not suggesting that at 78 years of age you start a new
stage career with your involuntary wind, but the point of the flatulent
tale is the Le Petomane’s practicing to make his passing perfect, and
the colonic washouts to stop the smell. There’s your answer!
My Dear Hillary,
You are such a treasure! A public thank you and a reprint of my card.
My Chiang Mai friends are terribly jealous about the
attention I am receiving. I am so glad the champagne and chocolates
brought some pleasure into your life. All the best for the New Year and
keep up the good work in 2006. Hugs.
Dear Grateful Peter,
I am pleased to tell you that the pleasure from the champagne was not only
mine, but also for the friend I shared it with, though I have to shyly
admit that probably the thick end of the bottle was mine! After all, I am
sure you would have been very disappointed if I didn’t have the major
share. The chocolates were another story however. I played out my Miss
Piggy role to perfection with those and scoffed them all! Thank you again
for restoring my faith in human nature, though I did get a scolding from
Camera Class: Background information
by Harry Flashman
many times when you are taking a photograph do you look at the background? If
you are honest, then the vast majority of you will reply, “Never.”
Unfortunately, the wrong background, fussy, cluttered or “jarring” is a
sure-fire way to spoil what could have been a great picture.
In your haste and eagerness to make the subject the
“hero” you forget to look at the background, being so engrossed in making
the foreground subject look good. However, there are many photographic
techniques that can be used
to get rid of backgrounds completely.
The majority of these techniques do refer to the capabilities
of an SLR camera. With compacts (digital or film), you do not have the luxury of
being able to pre-set the aperture. However, this does not mean that compact
users have no control over picture backgrounds.
One of the best techniques to master is the one that allows
you to control the Depth of Field in any photograph. Depth of Field is merely
the “sharp” area between the foreground and the background in any
photograph. To isolate your subject in a snapshot you should try and get the
sharpness region to begin just before your subject and end just behind the
subject, your “hero”. Here’s how to do this.
For this technique, you do need a camera that allows you to
select the Aperture, otherwise called the f stop. Look at the ring of numbers
around your lens and you will see that they go from about 2.8 through to 22. You
don’t even need to know what those numbers mean, but all you have to remember
is that the smaller the number, the shorter the Depth of Field, and conversely,
the bigger the number, the deeper the Depth of Field.
When you want to take a portrait, focus on the eyes and set a
wide aperture – generally around f4 is satisfactory. Using a standard lens and
shooting about 2 metres from the subject, you will get a Depth of Field, which
will extend from around 200 mm in front to 400 mm behind. Anything further away
will be gloriously out of focus, isolating your portrait subject from any
distracting background, just like the photograph on the right.
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. These are the
times you want to have a huge Depth of Field, as in taking landscape
photography, for example. To maximize the Depth of Field, go for the biggest
number on the Aperture scale (generally around f22, though some lenses will give
you f32). As an example, if the background is 1000 metres away, then focus on a
point about 300 metres away. With the one third forward and two thirds back
rule, you will get a good DOF from the foreground, right the way through to 1000
metres in the distance. Simple, isn’t it, after you understand the basic
principles of these optical laws.
If you have an “Aperture” mode in your camera it is even
easier. Select the aperture mode first, then select the f stop to give you
shallow Depth of Field or deep Depth of Field and the camera will adjust the
shutter speed to suit.
But what do you do when you have a point and shoot camera?
Well, it isn’t the end of the world. First try and arrange your photo shoot
location in a shadowed area. The automatic iris on the camera will automatically
select a small numbered Aperture which will shorten the Depth of Field for you.
Now there is another way to get a nothing black background,
and this is with flash. This you can do, even with a compact. Position your
subject as far away from the background as possible. Now by moving in close to
the subject, the flash will illuminate the “hero” but runs out of brightness
before it gets to the background. Look at the photo this week, as that is how
that was done.
If all else fails, then just walk in close so that the
subject fills the frame so well that there is no room for a background.
Distracting backgrounds are now a thing of the past!
Dogs - Man’s best friend: Dogs: Control of external parasites – part 3
Following my last article on external pest control in
Chiang Mai Mail’s Vol.V. No.9, I’d like to continue with the control and
treatment of the other regularly occurring parasites on dogs, namely mange
mites and the fungal ringworm.
All three kinds of parasites react strongly to the
animal’s immunity. The stronger it is, the less susceptible the animal is
to these pests. Therefore, once your animal has caught one of these diseases
next to the treatment, the immunity of the animal should be boosted as well.
Sarcoptic (or Scabies) and Demodectic mange can be
treated by injection once a week or by mouth every day. Be aware though,
that for all collies and their mixed
varieties the medicine (Ivermectin) is often fatal, and therefore other
medicines should be prescribed. I also have seen dogs reacting sensitive to
this me dicine given by mouth, showing up as (severe) diarrhea.
As this medicine is a burden to the liver, the treatment
is often accompanied by certain Vitamin B-complex pills. Antibiotics and
anti-itch medicines (often corticosteroid tablets) are also regularly
prescribed. Antibiotics, however, are only necessary in case of damaged skin
with a potential danger to secondary bacterial infection.
Long-term (1 to 2 months) corticosteroids is
contraindicated because it depresses the animal’s immunity to the mites,
and so worsening the condition. It has more (severe) side-effects than most
pest control medicines, such as endocrine diseases or an increased chance on
cancer, and it doesn’t solve the problem but only suppresses the itching.
Having said that, a Sarcoptic mange infestation can be so
horribly itchy for the animal that a short course of these anti-itch
medicines is recommended. Further, all the objects the scabetic animal has
touched should be thoroughly cleaned, including a careful check on yourself
and all others who has been in contact with the animal as scabies is
contagious for humans.
As the Demodectic mite is not the primary cause of the
disease, but a lowered function of the immune system, it is claimed the
animal can often also successfully be treated with homeopathic medicines.
When ringworm shows itself as bald circular spots, an
easy-to-apply method is to clip the hair away around the spot and treat it
with vinegar or a sulfur paste three times daily. But, once the fungal has
spread all over the body a regular broad-spectrum anti-fungal medicine is
recommended. Ringworm spores in the animal’s living quarters, on the
grooming material and in the animal’s bedding can easily be killed with
For more information on pets health, dog and cat
boarding, dog training
and behavior, please visit www.luckydogs.info or contact LuckyDogs: 09 99 78
Life in the Laugh Lane: Nine Days of Pleasure and Pain: Part Three
by Scott Jones
On Day Seven I awake at 5 a.m. to Mr. Pain
hammering my jaw with a rubber mallet. On top of my neck sits a massive,
throbbing tooth with a quarter of it missing so six million nerves are exposed
to the air. The new battery I purchased the day before is dead so we start the
bike down a hill and ride to the morning market where you can buy fresh donuts,
screws, lottery tickets, any previously living creature dried on a stick,
medicine made from desiccated mosquito wing, ant’s testicles and eye of newt,
plus all the individual parts of a pig, some assembly required. I hope to find
a pig’s head to replace mine.
little piggies finally made it to the market.
The plan was to continue to Chiang Khong on the Mekong River
but with a dead battery and a dying tooth, I decide to split from Jon the
Dentist and Karaoke Todd, hoping to meet them later with a bike that starts and
a jaw that’s stopped hurting. Armed with Wonder Woman, her purse full of
pain-killers and an extra battery, I set off for Chiang Rai for the second day
in a row. The bike performs perfectly, starting every time, as though it’s
just toying with my sanity, recreating the age-old saga of every vehicle that
constantly makes a horrible noise until you drive it into a garage where
mechanics hear nothing and think you’re an idiot. After a semi-liquid lunch
of porridge I can suck through the spaces in my teeth, we stand up to hit the
bike shop and the dentist office as the lens pops out of my glasses onto the
table, surprisingly not into the street to be crushed by a passing tuk-tuk. I
consider moving into a temple and spending my life in robes in the dark.
The bike shop owner seems confident the problem is the
regulator so I rent a scooter to go to the dentist’s office where they make a
big deal over me wanting to wear my motorcycle helmet while in the chair.
Diagnosis: old tooth, big cavity, nerve exposed, root canal. Choices: 1)
suffer; 2) live in Chiang Rai for a few days of drilling; or 3) remove decay,
add medicine, pack with cement, get out of town. The moment I choose Door
Number Three, the needle is jabbed into my outer gum, spun around and then
jabbed into my inner gum. I can hear it clicking on the roots. Wide-eyed and
mouth watering, I mumble, “You know, in America, they put
strawberry-flavored, numbing gel on the gums before the shot.” Miss Youngest
Dentist in Thailand Still Wearing The School Uniform From Her High School says,
“Oh yes, we do that here with children.”
Glasses, bike and tooth intact, I get up early on Day Eight
in Chiang Rai to write my Life in the Laugh Lane newspaper column before
heading off to meet my friends. The column finished, I plug in my external hard
drive to copy the file. Instantly the laptop goes blank, dead, black, no power,
nada, game over, man. At least it doesn’t involve Mr. Pain or child mechanics
or overzealous dentists or strand me any longer in Chiang Rai. I calmly put my
expensive door stop into its case and send the newspaper a text message by my
mobile phone, which strangely enough, still works: “Wrote column and
immediately computer died. Everything I touch turns to crap. Don’t let me
near anything of yours that’s valuable.” The sensitive, caring reply,
“Great. Good luck. Stay away from us.”
We meet my friends in Phayao for a stroll through the night
market to take in the stunning, smiling scenery, avoiding the most beautiful
creatures with low voices, large hands and cowboy hats. Nothing is damaged on
the way back to Chiang Mai except my pride. My friends head home, leaving me
with an array of equipment for the next ride, all of which will be broken and
unusable when they return. My laptop has been sent to Bangkok and will return
several years after I’m dead. My column is finally delivered, hand-written on
banana leaves by monkeys. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Machines
has confiscated everything I own that has an engine or uses electricity. I only
eat food that fits through a straw.
If you dare, please help us help some orphans and
join our Give-Live-Ride Charity Motorcycle Tour next year…just don’t let me
touch your bike, your computer,
your glasses or your teeth. (www.giveandlive.org for more info.)