Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What you need to know about Swine Influeanza (Swine Flu)

Key Facts about Swine Influenza (Swine Flu)

What is Swine Influenza?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Swine flu viruses cause high levels of illness and low death rates in pigs. Swine influenza viruses may circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930.

How many swine flu viruses are there?

Like all influenza viruses, swine flu viruses change constantly. Pigs can be infected by avian influenza and human influenza viruses as well as swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge. Over the years, different variations of swine flu viruses have emerged. At this time, there are four main influenza type A virus subtypes that have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. However, most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

Swine Flu in Humans

Can humans catch swine flu?

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred. Most commonly, these cases occur in persons with direct exposure to pigs (e.g. children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry). In addition, there have been documented cases of one person spreading swine flu to others. For example, an outbreak of apparent swine flu infection in pigs in Wisconsin in 1988 resulted in multiple human infections, and, although no community outbreak resulted, there was antibody evidence of virus transmission from the patient to health care workers who had close contact with the patient.How common is swine flu infection in humans?In the past, CDC received reports of approximately one human swine influenza virus infection every one to two years in the U.S., but from December 2005 through February 2009, 12 cases of human infection with swine influenza have been reported.

What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Can people catch swine flu from eating pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F (70°C) kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.

How does swine flu spread?

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

What do we know about human-to-human spread of swine flu?

In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman was hospitalized for pneumonia and died 8 days later. A swine H1N1 flu virus was detected. Four days before getting sick, the patient visited a county fair swine exhibition where there was widespread influenza-like illness among the swine.
In follow-up studies, 76% of swine exhibitors tested had antibody evidence of swine flu infection but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggest that one to three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection.

How can human infections with swine influenza be diagnosed?

To diagnose swine influenza A infection, a respiratory specimen would generally need to be collected within the first 4 to 5 days of illness (when an infected person is most likely to be shedding virus). However, some persons, especially children, may shed virus for 10 days or longer. Identification as a swine flu influenza A virus requires sending the specimen to CDC for laboratory testing.

What medications are available to treat swine flu infections in humans?

There are four different antiviral drugs that are licensed for use in the US for the treatment of influenza: amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir. While most swine influenza viruses have been susceptible to all four drugs, the most recent swine influenza viruses isolated from humans are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. At this time, CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

What other examples of swine flu outbreaks are there?

Probably the most well known is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy. The virus was transmitted to close contacts in a basic training environment, with limited transmission outside the basic training group. The virus is thought to have circulated for a month and disappeared. The source of the virus, the exact time of its introduction into Fort Dix, and factors limiting its spread and duration are unknown. The Fort Dix outbreak may have been caused by introduction of an animal virus into a stressed human population in close contact in crowded facilities during the winter. The swine influenza A virus collected from a Fort Dix soldier was named A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1N1).

Is the H1N1 swine flu virus the same as human H1N1 viruses?

No. The H1N1 swine flu viruses are antigenically very different from human H1N1 viruses and, therefore, vaccines for human seasonal flu would not provide protection from H1N1 swine flu viruses.

Swine Flu in Pigs

How does swine flu spread among pigs?

Swine flu viruses are thought to be spread mostly through close contact among pigs and possibly from contaminated objects moving between infected and uninfected pigs. Herds with continuous swine flu infections and herds that are vaccinated against swine flu may have sporadic disease, or may show only mild or no symptoms of infection.

What are signs of swine flu in pigs?

Signs of swine flu in pigs can include sudden onset of fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed.

How common is swine flu among pigs?

H1N1 and H3N2 swine flu viruses are endemic among pig populations in the United States and something that the industry deals with routinely. Outbreaks among pigs normally occur in colder weather months (late fall and winter) and sometimes with the introduction of new pigs into susceptible herds. Studies have shown that the swine flu H1N1 is common throughout pig populations worldwide, with 25 percent of animals showing antibody evidence of infection. In the U.S. studies have shown that 30 percent of the pig population has antibody evidence of having had H1N1 infection. More specifically, 51 percent of pigs in the north-central U.S. have been shown to have antibody evidence of infection with swine H1N1. Human infections with swine flu H1N1 viruses are rare. There is currently no way to differentiate antibody produced in response to flu vaccination in pigs from antibody made in response to pig infections with swine H1N1 influenza.

While H1N1 swine viruses have been known to circulate among pig populations since at least 1930, H3N2 influenza viruses did not begin circulating among US pigs until 1998. The H3N2 viruses initially were introduced into the pig population from humans. The current swine flu H3N2 viruses are closely related to human H3N2 viruses.
Is there a vaccine for swine flu? Vaccines are available to be given to pigs to prevent swine influenza. There is no vaccine to protect humans from swine flu. The seasonal influenza vaccine will likely help provide partial protection against swine H3N2, but not swine H1N1 viruses.

Swine Influenza and You

What is swine flu?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?

In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

Is this swine flu virus contagious?

CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does swine flu spread?

Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

How can someone with the flu infect someone else?

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?

First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?

Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?

People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body?

We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands with soap and warm water & that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
How serious is swine flu infection?

Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. In September 1988, a previously healthy 32-year-old pregnant woman in Wisconsin was hospitalized for pneumonia after being infected with swine flu and died 8 days later. A swine flu outbreak in Fort Dix, New Jersey occurred in 1976 that caused more than 200 cases with serious illness in several people and one death.

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Antiviral Drugs and Swine Influenza

Antiviral Drugs:

Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) with activity against influenza viruses, including swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat swine flu or to prevent infection with swine flu viruses. These medications must be prescribed by a health care professional. Influenza antiviral drugs only work against influenza viruses, they will not help treat or prevent symptoms caused by infection from other viruses that can cause symptoms similar to the flu.

There are four influenza antiviral drugs approved for use in the United States (oseltamivir, zanamivir, amantadine and rimantadine). The swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses that have been detected in humans in the United States and Mexico are resistant to amantadine and rimantadine so these drugs will not work against these swine influenza viruses. Laboratory testing on these swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses so far indicate that they are susceptible (sensitive) to oseltamivir and zanamivir.

Benefits of Antiviral Drugs:

  • Treatment:
    If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious influenza complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started as soon after getting sick as possible, and might not work if started more than 48 hours after illness starts.
  • Prevention:
    Influenza antiviral drugs also can be used to prevent influenza when they are given to a person who is not ill, but who has been or may be near a person with swine influenza. When used to prevent the flu, antiviral drugs are about 70% to 90% effective. When used for prevention, the number of days that they should be used will vary depending on a person’s particular situation.

CDC Recommendation:

CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses.

Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu ®) is approved to both treat and prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people one year of age and older.

Zanamivir (brand name Relenza ®) is approved to treat influenza A and B virus infection in people 7 years and older and to prevent influenza A and B virus infection in people 5 years and older.

Recommendations for using antiviral drugs for treatment or prevention of swine influenza will change as we learn more about this new virus.

Clinicians should consider treating any person with confirmed or suspected swine influenza with an antiviral drug.

-Taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA.-

For more info on Swine Influenza from CDC, go here.

For updates on Swine Influenza in Malaysia, go here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Of Hinduism & Indians

The word 'Hindu' does not occur at all in the Indian ancient culture. The first reference to it in an Indian book is, i am told, in a Tantrik work of the 8th century A.C., where 'Hindu' means a people and not the followers of a particular religion. But it is clear that the word is a very old one, as it occurs in the Avesta and in old Persian. It was used then and for a thousand years or more later by the people of western and central Asia, or rather for the people living on the other side of the Indus river. The word is clearly derived from Sindhu, the old, as well as the present, Indian name for the Indus. From this Sindhu came the word Hindu and Hindustan, as well as Indus and India.

Map of the ancient Indus civilization (also shown here is the Saraswathy river that is believed to have dried up, forming the Thar desert)

Map of modern civilization surrounding the Indus and the Thar desert

The famous Chinese pilgrim I-tsing, who came to India in the 7th century A.C., writes in his record of travels that the 'northern tribes', that is the people of Central Asia, called India 'Hindu' (Hsin-tu) but , he adds, 'this is not at all a common name...and the most suitable name for India is the Noble Land (Aryadesha).' The use of the word 'Hindu' in connection with a particular religion is of very late occurrence.

An artist impression of I-Tsing

The old inclusive term for religion in India was Arya dharma. Dharma really means something more than religion. It is from a root word which means to hold together: it is the inmost constitution of a thing, the law of its inner being. It is an ethical concept which includes the moral code, righteousness, and the whole range of man's duties and responsibilities. Arya dharma would include all the faiths (Vedic and non-Vedic) that originated in India; it was used by Buddhists and Jains as well as by those who accepted the Vedas. Buddha always called his way to salvation the 'Aryan Path'.


The phrase 'Vedic dharma' was also used in ancient times to signify more particularly and exclusively all those philosophies, moral teachings, ritual and practices, which were supposed to derive from the Vedas. Thus all those who acknowledged the general authority of the Vedas could be said to belong to the Vedic dharma.
Sanatana dharma, meaning the ancient religion, could be applied to any of the ancient Indian faiths (including Buddhism and Jainism), but the expression has been more or less monipolized to-day by some orthodox sections among the Hindus who claim to follow the ancient faith.

The symbol of Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism were certainly not Hinduism or even the Vedic dharma. Yet they arose in India and were integral parts of Indian life, culture and philosophy. A Buddhist or Jain in India is a hundred per cent product of Indian thought and culture, yet neither is a Hindu by Faith. It is, therefore, entirely misleading to refer to Indian culture as Hindu culture. In later ages this culture was greatly influenced by the impact of Islam, and yet it remained basically and distinctively Indian. To-day it is experiencing in a hundred ways the powerful effect of the industrial civilization, which rose in the west, and it is difficult to say with any precision what the outcome will be.

Hinduism as a faith, is vague, amorphous, many-sided, all things to all men. It is hardly possible to define it, or indeed to say definitely whether it is a religion or not, in the usual sense of the word. In its present form, and even in the past, it embraces many beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest, often opposed to or contradicting each other. Its essential spirit seems to be to live and let live. Mahatma Gandhi has attempted to define it: 'If i were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: Search after truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe in god and still call himself Hindu. Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth...Hinduism is the religion of truth. Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of truth we have not known.' Truth and non-violence, so says Gandhi: but many eminent and undoubted Hindus say that non-violence, as Gandhi understands it, is no essential part of the Hindu creed. We thus have truth left by itself as the distinguishing mark of Hinduism. That, of course, is no definition at all.

It is, therefore, incorrect and undesirable to use 'Hindu' or 'Hinduism' for Indian culture, even with reference to the distant past, although the various aspects of thought, as embodied in ancient writings, were the dominant expression of that culture. Much more is it incorrect to use those terms, in that sense, today. So long as the old faith and philosophy were chiefly a way of life and an outlook on the world, they were largely synonymous with Indian culture; but when a more rigid religion developed, with all manner of ritual and ceremonial, it became something more and at the same time something much less than that composite culture. A Christian or a Moslem could, and often did, adapt himself to the Indian way of life and culture, and yet remained in faith an orthodox Christian or Moslem. He had Indianized himself and become an Indian without changing his religion.
The correct word for 'Indian', as applied to country or culture or the historical continuity of our varying traditions, is 'Hindi', from 'Hind', a shortened form of Hindustan. Hind is still commonly used for India. In the countries of Western Asia, in Iran and Turkey, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and elsewhere, India has always been referred to, and still called, Hind; and everything Indian is called 'Hindi'. 'Hindi' has nothing to do with religion, and Moslem or Christian Indian is as much a Hindi as a person who follows Hinduism as a religion. Americans who call all Indians Hindus are not far wrong; they would be perfectly correct if they used the word 'Hindi'. Unfortunately, the word 'Hindi' has become associated in India with a particular script - the devanagari script of Sanskrit - and so it has become difficult to use it in its larger and more natural significance. Perhaps when present-day controversies subside we may revert to its original and more satisfying use. To-day, the word 'Hindustani' is used for Indian; it is, or course, derived from Hindustan. But this is too much of a mouthful and it has no such historical and cultural associations as 'Hindi' has. It would certainly appear odd to refer to ancient periods of Indian culture as 'Hindustani'.

Whatever the word we may use, Indian or Hindi or Hindustani, for our cultural tradition, we see in the past that same inner urge towards synthesis, derived essentially from the Indian philosophies outlook, was the dominant feature of Indian cultural, and even racial, development. Each incursion of foreign elements was a challenge to this culture, but it was met successfully by a new synthesis and a process of absorption. This was also a process of rejuvenation and new blooms of culture arose out of it, the background and essential basis, however, remaining much the same.

-Taken from The Discovery of India written by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1944 during his incarceration in Ahmadnagar Fort Prison Camp. Images and captions were added by the owner of this blog and is not part of the book-

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The end of the world - a preview

Dear friends & readers,
thanks for all the e mails, calls and smses checking on me and my long absence from cyber space. It is very humbling to know that there are people out there who are concerned about my welfare. Once again, thank you. I feel blessed having you as my friends.

Not to worry. Nothing untowardly so far. I was just away attending to some family matters that required some urgent attention. Suffice to say, it was also a break for me, away from the computer.

I have yet to reply your emails as i only read them today. Rest assured, i will be making it my top priority to reply them ASAP. In the mean time why don't you guys enjoy this You Tube video that i bumped into some time ago. It's been around for quite some time now, but nevertheless, it remains one of my favourites. It's a video of what might become of planet earth if it was to be hit by a huge asteroid:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Is ignorance really bliss?

"Papa!, mari sini!" At first, i thought i was hallucinating. Then again "Papa!, mari sini!". I rushed to the door way to find my 2 1/2 year old son squatting by the fallen baby stroller. He looked at me and waved his left hand gesturing me to come closer to him and and gently uttered, "Papa! Mari sini", "See! it fall down". He was oblivious to his grammatical error and i didn't mind. But, what i did mind though, was, how out of touch i was with my son's development. I have been ignorant of the fact that he had picked up a second language. "Where have i been all this while?" i thought. "I had to make good this break and start catching up with my very much back logged family life". And make good, i did. No computer, no newspapers, no Malaysiakini, no The Malaysian Insider, no blogs. I was in my own "sanctuary", where i remained politically stupid for a week. My time was spent catching up with wify and my two little ones, oblivious of the happenings around me. What a good week it was. Ignorance was bliss!

Returning back to work just for a day on the 30th, knowing that i'm going to be on leave again the next two days was a real drag. That morning all i wanted to do, as i laboured myself out of bed, was to get back in bed and cuddle up with my nice, warm and cozy bolster...my son!

Got back to the clinic, turned on my laptop and ran through the happenings in Malaysia and around the world with my thoughts still visualizing how i was going to be spending the next two days with my kids. Then, while reading of the happenings at the Gaza strip, i chanced upon some pictures that made my heart sink:

A relative carrying the body of 4-year-old girl, Dena Balosha, during her funeral in Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Did they launch rockets on Israelis too?

What do you think she's going to tell her children when she comes out of the hospital?

One lesser place to seek solace.

Where do you think they spent new year's?

While New Year revellers were misbehaving on the streets of Malaysia, these Palestinian youngsters were on the streets trying to protect whatever little roof left for their loved ones.

Guess what kind of "Fire" works display they were watching during the new year countdown? We had a home to return to after watching ours. Did they?

I dread to even guess what this guy is asking for in his prayers.

The brave warrior! and i'm not talking about the guy in the uniform. This David has no chance in the world to beat the Goliath in this one.

Some of the thousands who were robbed off their childhood and their lives. They did not deserve this! What kind of animals do this to innocent children? If these photographs did not send tears rolling down your cheeks, i don't know what will.

Here's the guy who is currently playing god! (seated in the middle, Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel).
One can stumble upon thousands of gruesome photos of slain Palestinian women and children in the Internet. But of what value are these pictures and write ups when all that we can do is sit and complain. What's the use of the UN? I will not start with the U.S. as it would be a waste of my precious time.
I had some Palestinian buddies during medical school. They were Palestinians living in various parts of the world other than Palestine. From them i learnt that the well connected and well to do Palestinians had long left their homeland to seek refuge in other countries. The ones left behind to live through this nightmare are the poor souls who were not gifted with the financial affordability to tag along with their more well off Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Where is the justice in Israel's actions? Some defend Israel's move by condemning the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Southern Israel even through the period of the truce. Come on people, let's compare an apple to an apple please. Rockets vs sophisticated, state of the art warplanes? Rockets vs latest technology equipped armoured tanks? Stone hailing youths vs specially trained arm force with heavy armour and sophisticated weapons? You kill 3 of ours and we kill 400 of yours?
Mr.Olmert, please stop. Enough of sacrificing innocent people to quench your thirst for revenge and political mileage. You snatched their land from right under their noses and now you call them terrorists. Who is the real terrorist here? Please stop these atrocities and genocide immediately and unconditionally. Stop playing god!
I join hands with all peace loving humans of the world in condemning this utterly inhumane and cowardly act by your Zionist regime. Shame on you!
Shame on me too. What is my microscopic discomfort compared to the agony of these very unfortunate creations of god? Now i ask myself, is ignorance really bliss?
For those who are still unclear of the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, you can read it from my previous post here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just For Laughs

Some funny ones to start your day. Imagine the tough times our teachers had to endure during our hey days? I know mine had a tough time, especially my geography teacher. Geography was my weakest subject and i remember once during an exam, i didn't know the name of the river on the question paper. It was long and winding, so i wrote "the long and winding river". The teacher minused one mark for that and i ended up choosing history for SPM.

Have a good monday morning people! (click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Origins of the Kelantanese

Origins of the Kelantanese
by Michael Chick

Following the search for the origins of the Malaysian constitutional “malays”, my journey brings me to Vietnam. There, I meet up with the Cham people. After all, every Kelantanese I've met claim to be descendants of the Mighty Champa Kingdom.
Just who are the Cham? I met up with Dr. Hang, an Anthropologist at Saigon University, Ho Chi Minh City. According to him, the Champa Kingdom is a 2nd Century Kingdom in Central Vietnam.
From 1487, they were continously driven by the Kinh (read as Mongoloid Vietnamese) from Hanoi till Phan Thiet today. Proof of this lies in the fact that there were hundreds of Cham Towers from Hanoi till Phan Thiet (near Mui Ne Beach).

If you'd observe very carefully, you might notice how similar the Cham are to the Kelantanese. The Austronesian Cham of Vietnam look extremely similar, and wear identical headgear to almost everyone in Kelantan. Both male as well as female. Not surprising. The Champa Kingdom had long established trading ties with both the present-day Malaya, Pattani, Aceh as well as Java since the 4th Century. Multiple wars also broke out between the Kingdom of Champa with Java. Migration was simply inevitable.
The Chams were Hindus. They still are today. In fact, all the towers of the Champa Kingdom are of Hindu Origin. One may visit any Museum, from Saigon to Danang till Hanoi. They all have on display, hundreds, if not thousands of Artefacts of this mighty Ancient Hindu Kingdom. It is however, so sad to see the Chams today, getting the short-end of the stick.
Since they were driven by the Kinhs (Hanoi) down south, they live in the most hostile parts of the country. Barely getting rain, the land is almost Savannah-like in nature. Large cacti live in abundance on non-cultivated land.

Visiting the Cham produced mixed feelings. On the one hand, one comes face-to-face with the remnants of a mighty empire. On the other hand, one wonders why the Vietnamese government does little to improve the living conditions of these “bumiputras”. I proposed new theories; that the Cham were in fact the actual people of the Dong Song, Hoabinhian and Sa Hyunh Culture, much to the surprise, but delight of these Saigon Anthropologists. Previously, they only assumed that those cultures belonged to “someone else”, and that Cham History only started in the 2nd Century. Proof being the Temples and Towers. I also highlighted that the Champa Kingdom would have been the second Kingdom of the Hindunization of South East Asia. The first, being Malaya, in the site near Penang called Lembah Bujang, of the 2nd Century.

Upon further scrutiny, there seems to be a lot more than just distant historical similarities between the Cham people, and the Kelantanese. My transalator informed me that there were twin towers located in Qui Nhon. “Much like that in Malaysia”. I was dumbfounded !! I immediatle made the 300km journey. In total, I travelled over 2,000 km by road, boat, and every other imaginable transport available, visiting over 30 major Cham Tower sites along the entire coast of Vietnam.

Furiously making notes, I also found that the similarities did not stop at the fact that there were just twin towers. Cross-examining schematic diagrams of the Cham Towers and KLCC was astounding!
For example, the top and side view schematics, when overlayed, was an identical match.

The similarities did not end there, even a side profile view of the Cham towers and KLCC was a match. I could barely contain my excitement when I made these cross-comparisons. Even the
Saigon Anthropologist Professors were dumbstruck. No one had ever imagined that there was any correlation between an apparently “Muslim-built Design” with that of an Ancient Hindu one. Add to that, it was located in isolated Vietnam. For those who have visited these sites before, pull out your private photo boxes, and confirm for yourself that the pictures I have displayed here have not been doctored in any way.

Considering that Mahathir was of Indian Origin, it does not completely surprise one that he took inspiration from his ancestry in Kerala. However, one might think that it is strange that he took inspiration from 2 apparently incompatible religions to build his monumental icon. It is even stranger that despite using a Hindu-derived icon to symbolize Malaysia, the Hindraf are swept aside and marginalized. Of course, it is even stranger that Najib takes the trouble to fly in from India, Hindu Priests into his home and office to perform covert rites, as per ascertained by the Driver's Sworn Affidavits.
Can seemingly incompatible religions be jointly practised? No? Read on. This might change your mind. Think for a moment of Sai Baba's concept of “All religions lead to God” Concept. The clue lies in Vietnam. There is a Religion called CaoDai-ism. It is very widely practised. CaoDai is a merger of Confusianism, Taosim, Buddhism, Catholism, and Islam. This is a unifying and endemic religion. So is the Cham-Bani religion, which is a merger of Hinduism & Islam. Then, there are The Balinese, practising a merger religion of Animism & Hinduism. Of course, most of Java practices Kejawen which is a combination religion of Animism & Islam. So in reality, Najib's merger of Hinduism & Islam would be merely a copycat version of the Cham-Bani-type of religion of Vietnam. To add to it, he is Bugis, which makes him part Mongolian, part Arab. (No reference intended of his involvement with Altantuya). Hence his pale Mongoloid-type appearance.
Surprisingly, UMNO today has turned to worshipping a Chinese God. And that God, is called the God of Money. So, the combination religion which unites worshiping Corruption and Allah, is called BN (Blatant Narcisism). Since inter-faith combination-worship is now a known Asian trait, is it not strange that UMNO was so quick to dispense with The Sky Kingdom in Terengganu? Perhaps Sky Kingdom Worshippers were not into worshipping Corruption as UMNO fervently does. Wonder what went on in UMNO's minds. I also wonder what Hadhari actually is. (or not...) Take heart, my Hindraf friends. You now have an World Famous Icon, built by an Indian, who took direct inspiration from Hinduism. Not just one building, but a pair of twins, financed with Malaysian Petroleum money. Be proud. This is the best Hindu Representation of Malaysia, the world has ever seen; something which even Semi Value did not anticipate. Hence, his Political Demise. (or should I have said Allaryahum Semi Value??) I can imagine him going “Aiyo yoyoyo..” while smacking his forehead. I'll part, leaving you with a composite picture. Two World-Famous icons “photoshoped” together to illustrate my point. Please do not let the Khmers see this, or they would sue the pants off Malaysia like the Indonesian Parliament almost did with Rasa Sayang. Maybe the Khmer Rouge did discuss this blatant copyright infringement, maybe they did not. But I doubt Pol Pot lost any sleep over this.
I'll keep Malaysia posted at the end of my research in Cambodia.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pediatric obesity - some guidelines

Photos and all italics were added by me to explain the meaning of certain words and phrases.

The Endocrine Society (read about The Endocrine Society) has issued practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity. The online version was released on 9 September.

Recommendations set forth in the guidelines are as follows:

  • Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) in the 85th percentile or greater, but less than the 95th percentile, and obesity as a BMI in the 95th percentile or greater.
    BMI Categories for Kids:
    Underweight - BMI less than the 5th percentile
    Healthy Weight - BMI 5th percentile up to the 85th percentile
    Overweight - BMI 85th to less than the 95th percentile
    Obese - BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile.
    Refer to BMI chart for girls
    here, and for boys here

  • If there is evidence of a genetic syndrome (syndrome = a group of symptoms or identifying features of a disorder or disease; genetics syndrome = a syndrome presented by abnormalities in development and/or growth, which is caused by defects in genes and chromosomes) , referral to a geneticist is indicated.
    Children with a BMI in the 85th percentile or greater should be evaluated for obesity-associated comorbidities (other underlying or co-existing illness/health conditions).
  • As the prerequisite for any treatment, intensive lifestyle modification should be prescribed and supported, including dietary, physical activity, and behavioral components.
  • Dietary recommendations include avoiding consumption of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods (eg, sweetened beverages, most "fast food," and calorie-dense snacks); controlling energy intake through portion control in accordance with the Guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics; reducing saturated dietary fat intake for children older than 2 years; increasing intake of dietary fiber, fruits, and vegetables; eating timely, regular meals, particularly breakfast; and avoiding constant "grazing," especially after school.

Suggestions set forth in the guidelines are as follows:

  • Pharmacotherapy (treatment with drugs), in addition to lifestyle modification, should be considered in obese children only when intensive lifestyle modification has been ineffective and in overweight children only if severe comorbidities persist despite intensive lifestyle modification, especially those children who have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes or premature cardiovascular disease.
    Pharmacotherapy should be prescribed only by clinicians experienced in using antiobesity agents who are cognizant of the risks for adverse reactions.
    Pharmacotherapeutic options may include: i) sibutramine, which is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for those younger than 16 years; ii) orlistat, which is not FDA approved for those younger than 12 years; iii) metformin, which is not FDA approved for treatment of obesity but which is approved for those who are at least 10 years old with type 2 diabetes mellitus; iv) octreotide, which is not FDA approved for the treatment of obesity; v) leptin, which is not FDA approved; vi)topiramate, which is not FDA approved for the treatment of obesity; - growth hormone, which is not FDA approved for the treatment of obesity.
  • Bariatric surgery, which refers to surgical procedures performed to treat obesity by modification of the gastrointestinal tract to reduce nutrient intake and/or absorption, is suggested for adolescents with a BMI of less than 50 kg/m2, or more than 40 kg/m2 in whom lifestyle modifications and/or pharmacotherapy have been unsuccessful and who have severe comorbidities. (more about bariatric surgery from Wikipedia).

  • Bariatric surgery is not recommended for preadolescent children; for pregnant or breast-feeding adolescents; for those planning to become pregnant within 2 years of surgery; for any patient who has not mastered the principles of healthy dietary and activity habits; or for any patient with an unresolved eating disorder, untreated psychiatric disorder, or Prader-Willi syndrome (read more about Prader-Willi Syndrome here).

  • To help prevent obesity, clinicians should recommend that infants be breast-fed for at least 6 months and that schools offer children in all grades 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily exercise.

  • Clinicians should educate children and parents regarding healthy dietary and activity habits; advocate to restrict availability of unhealthy food choices in schools; ban advertising promoting unhealthy food choices to children; and redesign communities in ways that will maximize opportunities for safe walking and bike riding to school, athletic activities, and neighborhood shopping.

"The objective of interventions in overweight and obese children and adolescents is the prevention or amelioration of obesity-related co-morbidities, e.g., glucose intolerance and T2DM [type 2 diabetes mellitus], metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension," the authors of the guidelines write. "We suggest that pharmacotherapy (in combination with lifestyle modification) be considered if a formal program of intensive lifestyle modification has failed to limit weight gain or to mollify comorbidities in obese children. Overweight children should not be treated with pharmacotherapeutic agents unless significant, severe co-morbidities persist despite intensive lifestyle modification."
-Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism-