Thursday, July 23, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Assalamualaikum dear brothers and sisters..May Allah guide you always ..
this is a very heartwarming story that I had found..and I would like to share with the rest of you
By Juan Galvan
Remembering My Shahadah
Before Maghrib Prayer, I told my friend Golam, "There's lots of peace in knowing that I only have to worship one God. I don't worship money, wealth, or any of that. I don't have to please the world." Golam nodded.
"Recently," he stated, "Look at the Americans. They have all kinds of freedom. You would think everyone should be happy, yet so many people are unhappy."
I simply believed that Islam was true and I wanted to become a Muslim. But would I be a good Muslim? Maybe! Maybe not! I was thinking about this until prayer time came. Afterwards, it would be time to say Shahadah, the declaration of faith. I would officially be a Muslim.
Golam stood up and faced the crowd and announced, "There's someone who will take Shahadah. He attends the University of Texas. He grew up in Texas. He's been coming to the mosque regularly."
Next thing I realized was that I was sitting in front of the people in the mosque. I was about to go through a "Muslim baptism" as a Christian friend once put it.
The imam said, "Brother, what is your name?"
"Juan Galvan," I responded.
I was handed a microphone. He told me to repeat what he said. The Arabic I said wasn't exactly as I had practiced. I had the paper I used to practice in front of me. I wish I could remember exactly what was said.
"I testify that there is no God but Allah. I also testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger." Then he stated, "I also testify that Jesus is His servant and prophet. God has no son and no mother."
I recalled how adamant Muhammad was to never be worshiped as a God. Stating that Jesus was also God's prophet reminded me about the significance of Jesus within Islam.
After I said the Shahadah, the imam stated, "Congratulations. God forgives the sins of those who turn towards Him. And He can turn your previous bad deeds into good deeds."
Everyone clapped then stood up to shake my hand or hug me. I felt very much at home. I tried hard not to cry. All Muslim converts have had experiences that brought them to Islam.
I wish there were a way I could tell all the Muslims I've ever met that I've embraced Islam. I want them to know how much I appreciate them for telling me about Islam. Meeting all those Muslims was a part of a series of events that brought me to where I am today.
I am a Mexican-American who comes from a modest background. I was born in Lockney, Texas, in 1974. I spent my adolescent and teenage years in such small Texas Panhandle towns as Quitaque, Turkey, Lakeview, and Memphis. None of them has a mall, a movie theater, or a McDonald's.
In these small towns, if you hear a fire truck or police car, either your neighbor's house is on fire or your neighbor is being arrested. Memphis, Texas, population 2,300, proudly proclaims itself "The Cotton Capital of the World."
I spent over half my life in Turkey and Quitaque. Turkey was named after Turkey Creek. Quitaque was named after an Indian name, which means "horse manure." I sometimes joke that I am uncultured as a result.
The population of both towns is less than 600 and shrinking. In 1972, the Turkey and Quitaque schools consolidated creating Valley School halfway between the two towns. I attended Valley School and have fond memories of life as a Valley Patriot.
Of course, our school colors were red, white, and blue. Growing up in small communities gave me much appreciation for the simplicity in God's creations. A brother once chuckled after hearing me say, "If I can become Muslim, anyone can become Muslim."
My dad was a cotton ginner. Now, he is a custodian at a junior high school in Pampa, Texas. I had eight siblings, but in 2000 my 17-year old sister died in a car wreck.
I graduated from Memphis High School in Memphis, Texas, in 1994. I did well in high school and would attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock. In 1998 I began attending the University of Texas at Austin. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in management information systems in December 2001. Not bad for a kid who had to hoe cotton most of his junior high and high school summers to pay for his clothes and school supplies!
When Faith Is Shaken
In high school, I received a jolt to my long-held belief when a Christian friend told me that the Holy Trinity was not true and that Jesus was not God. "He was wrong," I told myself. Jesus had to be God.
God and humanity were disconnected by the sin committed by Adam and Eve. God sent His only "begotten" son to die because He loved us so much. Because only God forgives, Jesus had to be God. I even had the Bible quotes to prove it! Indeed, being a devout Roman Catholic Christian, I have read almost the entire Bible.
In high school, I was a lecturer, usher, Eucharistic minister, and religious education teacher. I was the godfather for a nephew and a niece. The idea that Jesus was God made much sense.
I have always had respect for other religions. I would often attend other Christian churches and join interfaith Bible study groups. While in one such group, I told my friend Chris that I was a Catholic. Chris blatantly told me that the Catholic Church was "a false doctrine."
As you can imagine, I defended my religion. Chris accused me of worshiping Mary, saints, and the Pope. I argued that we only revere them. Of course, I explained that the Virgin Mary should be revered for being the Mother of God. And everyone loved Pope John Paul II for his many contributions.
Islam vs. Christianity
Around this time, I happened to see a man praying. His knees, hands, and forehead were touching the ground, and he was barefoot. After he finished praying, I introduced myself to him. He said his name was Armando, and that he was a Muslim. I thought to myself, "OK, freaky, you're Muslim. You can't be Muslim. What's this Hispanic guy doing, praying to Allah?"
He later told me that Spain was Muslim for over 700 years and that thousands of Spanish words have Arabic roots. The ruins of mosques with Qur'anic writings have been found in Cuba, Mexico, Texas, and Nevada.
Most importantly, Armando spoke to me about Islam. I began to realize that my reverence for Mary and saints was much more than mere reverence. Chris was right. However, we were both worshiping Jesus! Armando said that Jesus was only a prophet and that nothing and no one is worthy of worship but Allah.
I asked an African American Muslim, "Why do you worship Allah? There's no Allah mentioned in the Bible." His response was very enlightening. Allah, God, and Dios mean "God" in different languages. Allah literally means "The God" in English and "El Dios" in Spanish.
As soon as I began to study Islam, many of my questions were answered. What is the purpose of life? How can the Father be the Son? Why can't God just forgive anyone He wants? What happens to babies who die before baptism?
In the Qur'an, Allah states what means [And when they (who call themselves Christian) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses"] (Al-Ma'idah 5:83). Indeed, my eyes overflowed with tears as I read that verse.
However, I would not embrace Islam until three years later because of fears common among many non-Muslims interested in Islam. I was afraid of possible rejection from family and friends. I was most afraid of changing.
During these three years, I tried to live as ordinary a life as possible. I tried to convince myself of my happiness. Sometimes I convinced myself that I was an atheist, and other times I thought I was at least an agnostic. I had absolutely rejected my Christian beliefs as falsehoods. I would always return to believing completely in one God. I feared the existence of God and His prophets for what such faith might mean for my future.
As I was driving one Saturday morning, a red truck moved into my lane. I had no time to react; I found myself hitting it. I could have died. My left lung collapsed and I needed a chest tube to survive. I had broken ribs and a broken arm.
Under these circumstances, my priorities shifted from the worldly to the spiritual. Along with my greater appreciation for the Creator came an intense desire to embrace truth. Three years before my accident, I had been given several Islamic brochures with titles such as Concept of God in Islam, Concept of Worship in Islam, and Who was Jesus?". I revisited these brochures along with comments from a Qur'an that I had borrowed.
A few months later, I stepped into a mosque for the first time on a Friday afternoon. I was perplexed by the lack of shoes and chairs in the prayer area. I was very impressed with the unity as Muslims prayed together, side by side.
I visited this mosque regularly for about a month before embracing Islam during the summer of 2001. My faith and courage were increasing and, eventually, I didn't care what anyone thought. I only wanted to please my Creator. Islam ended my doubts about the existence of a Creator. Islam is the true, universal religion of God.
I fell in love with Islam while listening to talks about brotherhood, prayer, and charity. I found myself intrigued by these guys who found time to pray five times a day. Many were college students who had figured out ways to pray at the mosque two or three times a day.
I was amazed by these people who could fast from sunrise til sunset for an entire month. I thought to myself, "Wow, that's faith!" I was impressed by the self-discipline and brotherhood among these Muslims.
They lived simple lives and were happy with what they had. They lived their lives around Islam. They were very much at peace. I wanted to be one of these Muslims.
More people would convert to Islam if we were better Muslims. If Armando had not been praying, I would not have known he was Muslim, and we would not have spoken.
My Family and Friends
After telling my dad that I had converted to Islam, he asked, "?Qué es éso?" (What is that?). I responded, "It's a religion." Then, after telling him a little about it, he replied, "?Como los Arabes?" (Like the Arabs?) I responded, "No, it's for everyone."
One of my sisters asked me once, "Don't you still love Jesus? How could you do this to the Virgin Mary?" I replied, "I still love Jesus. We believe he's a prophet. There's also a chapter called Mary in the Qur'an."
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions among Americans, including Latinos. We have to educate everyone about Islam. Muslims and Christians both honor the Virgin Mary. God exists independent of reason, but the concept of God varies by religion. Many people think that Islam is a religion of Arabs. Yet, Arabs make up less than 25 percent of the entire Muslim population.
And, of course, I found myself defending my religious beliefs to my family after the attacks of 9/11. Soon after the attacks, one of my sisters said something like, "That leader of ya'lls, he's gonna call a holy war." CNN should take a poll to find out how many Americans believe bin Laden is the Muslim leader.
My dad asked my mom, "What'd he get himself into?" They hadn't heard from me in a while so they were a little concerned. When I talked to them, I reminded my parents that Muslims are not a gang of fifty members. There are over 1.2 billion Muslims in the world.
Some people act as if some Arab in Saudi Arabia has a long list of Muslims and can call anyone on the list when he wants to blow up a building. I have much sympathy for the families that were directly affected by the 9/11 tragedy. Muslims are imperfect; whereas Islam is perfect.
When I pray at a mosque, I get the opportunity to pray beside people of all races and nationalities. We don't distinguish each other by race, nationality, or social class, but only by piety. We're just Muslims. Together with a billion other Muslims, we form concentric circles around the Ka`bah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
I can't imagine never praying beside other Muslims again. When I pray, I know that brothers and sisters from around America are praying, too. When I embraced Islam, I joined the universal brotherhood of Islam transcends all other brotherhoods.
Muslims make up a global family that stems from unconditional love. Love towards your family is natural. A family's love is unconditional. Your true friends will also love you unconditionally.
Islam takes what's beautiful and makes it more beautiful. If you were a good son or daughter, you might be surprised when your parents say that you have become an even better son or daughter after your conversion.
I am often asked why I embraced Islam. "How does a Latino born in the middle of nowhere in Texas become a Muslim?" I am also asked about Latinos, in general. "Why are Latinos becoming Muslim?" I know that many people including my own family struggle to understand why I am now a Muslim, and I've come to better understand that coming to Islam is solely through God's guidance. His guidance is a mercy.
Only through God's mercy do Muslims appear at the right place at the right time in the lives of non-Muslims to introduce them to Islam. Only through His mercy does a non-Muslim become a Muslim.
A struggle occurs within everyone, every day, and everywhere. We struggle to attain what is most important for us. By embracing Islam, we tell Allah that He is the most important and that we are prepared to struggle to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong.
Have patience. You do not know the happiness that your Creator has in store for you. Today, I live in Central Florida with my wonderful wife and son. God willing, one day I will speak at the Valley School to tell them that I am now a Muslim and how Islam has made me a better person.
And every day I thank the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful for all His blessings. I am a Mexican-American Muslim. All praise and thanks to Allah.
Juan Galvan’s conversion story was initially published in the July/August 2002 issue of Islamic Horizons Magazine under the title “How Allah Found Me in Texas.” An updated version of his conversion story was published online at ReadingIslam.com in June 6, 2007.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
THere will always be a time when you finally realize that the fun is over... And you feel at loss as to what to do next...
Today marks the end of my almost 2 weeks holiday...one of the longest holiday that i've had in recent years..or actually, for the past one year...
And unfortunately tomorrow i will begin my medical posting...my 4th posting..
It also marks my first anniversary since i've started working...which was 8.7.2008..exactly one year ago.
The feeling of disdain and morose befell me once more..actually, this kind of feeling has always enveloped me ever since I was a primary school.
I've never liked school..I always tend to find reason as to skip school..ever since kindergarten..and it had lasted until the end of secondary school.
The university years were not so bad, and I had actually liked going to university..with the more relaxed school and not so stringent rules. Even though during medical school, there were the frequent exams and all..but at the end of the day, what I can say is that I had enjoyed it very much and i've cherished every moment there.
And now come the working environment...The first posting was pure wreck for me..I had sort of enjoyed the paeds posting - especially the NICU part, but in general, since it was my first posting..there were so many adjustment for me..
And then the 2nd posting - which was O&G,-- oh my...That was a definite stress zone for me. None could have matched that.. With the ever pressing specialists and Medical officer - I had thought that I might have eventually had a breakdown.. but Alhamdulillah , I had actually survived..
3Rd posting was orthopaedics, which I had found to be quite enjoyful - there was both elements of surgical and medical based. The specialists were such wonderful bunch of people..what more with the ever cheerful yet sometimes moody MO;s , the posting was such an enjoyful posting...
and now...i'll be posted to MEdical...I don't know whether I can make it or not...I don't know whether I can survive the posting..what more with the upcoming Ramadhan...
YA Allah,..please give me the strength...
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert
Current phase of alert in the WHO global influenza preparedness planPandemic preparedness
In the 2009 revision of the phase descriptions, WHO has retained the use of a six-phased approach for easy incorporation of new recommendations and approaches into existing national preparedness and response plans. The grouping and description of pandemic phases have been revised to make them easier to understand, more precise, and based upon observable phenomena. Phases 1–3 correlate with preparedness, including capacity development and response planning activities, while Phases 4–6 clearly signal the need for response and mitigation efforts. Furthermore, periods after the first pandemic wave are elaborated to facilitate post pandemic recovery activities.
The current WHO phase of pandemic alert is 6.
In nature, influenza viruses circulate continuously among animals, especially birds. Even though such viruses might theoretically develop into pandemic viruses, in Phase 1 no viruses circulating among animals have been reported to cause infections in humans.
In Phase 2 an animal influenza virus circulating among domesticated or wild animals is known to have caused infection in humans, and is therefore considered a potential pandemic threat.
In Phase 3, an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver. However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.
Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Any country that suspects or has verified such an event should urgently consult with WHO so that the situation can be jointly assessed and a decision made by the affected country if implementation of a rapid pandemic containment operation is warranted. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.
Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.
Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.
During the post-peak period, pandemic disease levels in most countries with adequate surveillance will have dropped below peak observed levels. The post-peak period signifies that pandemic activity appears to be decreasing; however, it is uncertain if additional waves will occur and countries will need to be prepared for a second wave.
Previous pandemics have been characterized by waves of activity spread over months. Once the level of disease activity drops, a critical communications task will be to balance this information with the possibility of another wave. Pandemic waves can be separated by months and an immediate “at-ease” signal may be premature.
In the post-pandemic period, influenza disease activity will have returned to levels normally seen for seasonal influenza. It is expected that the pandemic virus will behave as a seasonal influenza A virus. At this stage, it is important to maintain surveillance and update pandemic preparedness and response plans accordingly. An intensive phase of recovery and evaluation may be required.
Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You
Novel H1N1 Flu
What is novel H1N1 (swine flu)?
Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
Why is novel H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?
This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.
Novel H1N1 Flu in Humans
Are there human infections with novel H1N1 virus in the U.S.?
Yes. Cases of human infection with novel H1N1 influenza virus were first confirmed in the U.S. in Southern California and near Guadalupe County, Texas. The outbreak intensified rapidly from that time and more and more states have been reporting cases of illness from this virus. An updated case count of confirmed novel H1N1 flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.
Is novel H1N1 virus contagious?
CDC has determined that novel H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people?
The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
How severe is illness associated with novel H1N1 flu virus?
It’s not known at this time how severe novel H1N1 flu virus will be in the general population. In seasonal flu, there are certain people that are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. Early indications are that pregnancy and other previously recognized medical conditions that increase the risk of influenza-related complications, like asthma and diabetes, also appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from novel H1N1 virus infection as well.
One thing that appears to be different from seasonal influenza is that adults older than 64 years do not yet appear to be at increased risk of novel H1N1-related complications thus far in the outbreak. CDC is conducting laboratory studies to see if certain people might have natural immunity to this virus, depending on their age. Early reports indicate that no children and few adults younger than 60 years old have existing antibody to novel H1N1 flu virus; however, about one-third of adults older than 60 may have antibodies against this virus. It is unknown how much, if any, protection may be afforded against novel H1N1 flu by any existing antibody.
How does novel H1N1 flu compare to seasonal flu in terms of its severity and infection rates?
CDC is still learning about the severity of novel H1N1 flu virus. At this time, there is not enough information to predict how severe novel H1N1 flu outbreak will be in terms of illness and death or how it will compare with seasonal influenza.
With seasonal flu, we know that seasons vary in terms of timing, duration and severity. Seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Each year, in the United States, on average 36,000 people die from flu-related complications and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related causes. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 are children younger than 5 years old. Over 90% of deaths and about 60 percent of hospitalization occur in people older than 65.
So far, with novel H1N1 flu, the largest number of novel H1N1 flu confirmed and probable cases have occurred in people between the ages of 5 and 24-years-old. At this time, there are few cases and no deaths reported in people older than 64 years old, which is unusual when compared with seasonal flu. However, pregnancy and other previously recognized high risk medical conditions from seasonal influenza appear to be associated with increased risk of complications from this novel H1N1.
How does novel H1N1 virus spread?
Spread of novel 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 by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, CDC believes that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to 7 days after they get sick. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. CDC is studying the virus and its capabilities to try to learn more and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Exposures Not Thought to Spread Novel H1N1 Flu
Can I get infected with novel H1N1 virus from eating or preparing pork?
No. Novel H1N1 viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get infected with novel HIN1 virus from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
Is there a risk from drinking water?
Tap water that has been treated by conventional disinfection processes does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. Current drinking water treatment regulations provide a high degree of protection from viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of novel H1N1 flu virus to conventional drinking water treatment processes. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels typically used in drinking water treatment are adequate to inactivate highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 would also be similarly inactivated by chlorination. To date, there have been no documented human cases of influenza caused by exposure to influenza-contaminated drinking water.
Can novel H1N1 flu virus be spread through water in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational water venues?
Influenza viruses infect the human upper respiratory tract. There has never been a documented case of influenza virus infection associated with water exposure. Recreational water that has been treated at CDC recommended disinfectant levels does not likely pose a risk for transmission of influenza viruses. No research has been completed on the susceptibility of novel H1N1 influenza virus to chlorine and other disinfectants used in swimming pools, spas, water parks, interactive fountains, and other treated recreational venues. However, recent studies have demonstrated that free chlorine levels recommended by CDC (1–3 parts per million [ppm or mg/L] for pools and 2–5 ppm for spas) are adequate to disinfect avian influenza A (H5N1) virus. It is likely that other influenza viruses such as novel H1N1 virus would also be similarly disinfected by chlorine.
Can novel H1N1 influenza virus be spread at recreational water venues outside of the water?
Yes, recreational water venues are no different than any other group setting. The spread of this novel H1N1 flu 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.
Prevention & Treatment
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against novel H1N1 virus. 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.
- Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
Other important actions that you can take are:
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.
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. If you are sick, stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
If I have a family member at home who is sick with novel H1N1 flu, should I go to work?
Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with novel H1N1 flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. If they become ill, they should notify their supervisor and stay home. Employees who have an underlying medical condition or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice, because they might need to receive influenza antiviral drugs to prevent illness. For more information please see General Business and Workplace Guidance for the Prevention of Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Flu in Workers.
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. CDC recommends 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 people have been identified with novel H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. Staying at home means that you should not leave your home except to seek medical care. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings
If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed
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 or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- 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
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
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Are there medicines to treat novel H1N1 infection?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with novel H1N1 flu virus. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) 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. During the current outbreak, the priority use for influenza antiviral drugs during is to treat severe influenza illness.
Contamination & Cleaning
How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.
What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.
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, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.
What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled?
Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first.
Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.
Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.
Response & Investigation
What is CDC doing in response to the outbreak?
The agency’s goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by the new virus. CDC is working with state and local health departments to enhance surveillance in the United States and to collect and analyze data to assess the impact of the virus and determine the groups at increased risk of complications. In addition, CDC continues to issue new and updated interim guidance for clinicians, public health professionals and the public for the prevention and treatment of this new virus.
To expand the national and international laboratory capacity for detecting novel H1N1 influenza, CDC has developed and distributed new influenza diagnostic kits and reagents to more than 350 laboratories, including laboratories in 131 countries. CDC’s Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak.
The U.S. Government also is aggressively taking early steps in the process to manufacture a novel H1N1 influenza vaccine, working closely with manufacturing. CDC has isolated the new H1N1 virus, made a candidate vaccine virus that can be used to create vaccine, and has provided this virus to industry so they can begin scaling up for production of a vaccine, if necessary.
What epidemiological investigations are taking place in response to the recent outbreak?
CDC works very closely with state and local officials in areas where human cases of new H1N1 flu infections have been identified. CDC has deployed staff to several states to assist with the investigation of the impact of the novel H1N1 influenza, including the assessment of the severity of illness, how easily the virus spreads, and the amount of time people may be infectious. In states where EpiAid teams have been deployed, many epidemiological activities are taking place or planned including:
- Active surveillance in the counties where infections in humans have been identified;
- Studies of health care workers who were exposed to patients infected with the virus to see if they became infected;
- Studies of households and other contacts of people who were confirmed to have been infected to see if they became infected; and
- Study to see how long a person with the virus infection sheds the virus.
*Note: Much of the information in this document is based on studies and past experience with seasonal (human) influenza. CDC believes the information applies to novel H1N1 (swine) viruses as well, but studies on this virus are ongoing to learn more about its characteristics. This document will be updated as new information becomes available.
|Chikungunya|| || || |
|Written by Dr. Kamarul Imran Musa|
|Wednesday, 31 December 2008|
Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. It is an alphavirus of the family Togaviridae. The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a root verb in the Kimakonde language, meaning "to become contorted" and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.
Signs and symptoms
Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually ends within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death. Often symptoms in infected individuals are mild and the infection may go unrecognized, or be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue occurs.
The virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Most commonly, the mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two species which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue. These mosquitoes can be found biting throughout daylight hours, although there may be peaks of activity in the early morning and late afternoon. Both species are found biting outdoors, but Ae. aegypti will also readily feed indoors.
After the bite of an infected mosquito, onset of illness occurs usually between four and eight days but can range from two to 12 days.
Several methods can be used for diagnosis. Serological tests, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), may confirm the presence of IgM and IgG anti-chikungunya antibodies. IgM antibody levels are highest three to five weeks after the onset of illness and persist for about two months. The virus may be isolated from the blood during the first few days of infection. Various reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) methods are available but are of variable sensitivity. Some are suited to clinical diagnosis. RT–PCR products from clinical samples may also be used for genotyping of the virus, allowing comparisons with virus samples from various geographical sources.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
today i met someone who had touched my heart deeply. We have never met before...never once have i set my eyes on her...but Allah has granted me to encounter her today...
She is a quiet person...but from her face, you can tell that she holds one thousand and one stories. Her eyes, warm and round.
She had been involved in a tragic accident a few weeks ago..Alhamdulillah she was unhurt, lest for a few cuts. She saw a white light at the time, as her vehicle had flipped over. The quran which was sitting on the glove comparment, was unscathed.
That incident had changed her a lot. She has been a very religious person before this, but this time around, it had caused her to change much more.
Since then, she became much more quieter. Much more to think about and ponder..
Her words touched me..as i sat next to her, listeing to her advice.
She had asked me..."what is your matlamat in life?"
I became quiet..and responded to her after much pause...
My quest in life is to seek for Allah's pleasure. To follow the footsteps of the beloved Prophet. To make sure that each second, each breath that I take is to fulfill this honored quest...
I cried softly..as I realized that this is not so...My life right now does not reflect of which I seek..May Allah show me the way...
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
the recent death of fellow brother michael jackson actually affected me in a way. I know it sounds absolutely silly..but the thing is, before this, i was very much infatuated with music before i came to know of a thing called " tarbiyyah"..
When the stories of michael jackson became a neverending saga and constantly bombard the ever hungry media..i was also strewn into the story.
Alas, I was reminded of the yesteryear where music and entertainment was an integral part of my life.
I was very much alert in the music scene as I was an adamant listener to the HItz.fm and an avid reader of Galaxie.
There were humongous collections of posters of which we would get when you buy the entertainment magazines.
My hobbies also include visiting the bookstore whereby I would be surrounded the few inches thick novels..my taste of books were of various genres. From mystery, adventure, epic novels and also high school stories. Mind you, i was only in secondary school at the time. The prolific authors of which I was sought after were Frederic Forsythe, JOhn Grisham,and of course J.R.R Tolkien...
My ultimate favorite book of all time, ( in terms of fiction, that is) is the Lord of the Rings.
At school also, there were endless of discussions regarding artistes and their music -- most notably at the time, the Spice girls,backstreet boys and Oasis.
And I was..a very huge fan of oasis, whom I considered at the time to be one of the greatest band.
..............Yet, Allah has it planned that I soon discovered something much more meaning in my life...Something that became the reason for living...
I discovered Allah...I discovered that loving Allah is something that surpass all in this world. There is no greather nikmah in this world than having to know Islam...and I praise Allah that He has chosen me to this path...And I Pray to Allah that He would always guide me to be in the straight path so that I may be placed in Jannatul Firdaus
We are at the age where the pop culture dominates..as a youth living in today's generation, we are constantly being bombarded with neverending interjections by the mass media propogating this kind of lifestyle....
Popular culture (commonly abbreviated as pop culture) is the totality of distinct memes, ideas, perspectives, and attitudes that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture. Heavily influenced by mass media (at least from the early 20th century onward) and perpetuated by that culture's vernacular language, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of the society. Popular culture is often viewed as being trivial and "dumbed-down" in order to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream. As a result of this perception, it comes under heavy criticism from various scientific and non-mainstream sources (most notably religious groups and countercultural groups) which deem it superficial, consumerist, sensationalist and corrupted.
It is manifest in preferences and acceptance or rejection of features in such various subjects as cooking, clothing, consumption, and the many facets of entertainment such as sports, music, film, and literature. Popular culture often contrasts with the more exclusive, even elitist "high culture", that is, the culture of ruling social groups, and the low or folk culture of the lower classes. The earliest use of "popular" in English was during the fifteenth century in law and politics, meaning "low", "base", "vulgar", and "of the common people"; from the late eighteenth century it began to mean "widespread" and gain in positive connotation. (Williams 1985). "Culture" has been used since the 1950s to refer to various subgroups of society, with emphasis on cultural differences.
Defining 'popular' and 'culture', which are essentially contested concepts, is complicated with multiple competing definitions of popular culture. John Storey, in Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, discusses six definitions. The quantitative definition, of culture has the problem that much "high" culture (e.g. television dramatisations of Jane Austen) is widely favoured. "Pop culture" is also defined as the culture that is "left over" when we have decided what "high culture" is. However, many works straddle or cross the boundaries e.g. Shakespeare, Dickens, Puccini-Verdi-Pavarotti- Nessun Dorma. Storey draws attention to the forces and relations which sustain this difference such as the educational system.
A third definition equates pop culture with Mass Culture. This is seen as a commercial culture, mass produced for mass consumption. From a Western European perspective, this may be compared to American culture. Alternatively, "pop culture" can be defined as an "authentic" culture of the people, but this can be problematic because there are many ways of defining the "people." Storey argues that there is a political dimension to popular culture; neo-Gramscian hegemony theory "... sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the 'resistance' of subordinate groups in society and the forces of 'incorporation' operating in the interests of dominant groups in society." A postmodernism approach to popular culture would "no longer recognise the distinction between high and popular culture'
Storey emphasises that popular culture emerges from the urbanisation of the industrial revolution, which identifies the term with the usual definitions of 'mass culture'. Studies of Shakespeare (by Weimann, Barber or Bristol, for example) locate much of the characteristic vitality of his drama in its participation in Renaissance popular culture, while contemporary practitioners like Dario Fo and John McGrath use popular culture in its Gramscian sense that includes ancient folk traditions (the commedia dell'arte for example).
Popular culture changes constantly and occurs uniquely in place and time. It forms currents and eddies, and represents a complex of mutually-interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways. For example, certain currents of pop culture may originate from, (or diverge into) a subculture, representing perspectives with which the mainstream popular culture has only limited familiarity. Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public.
Popular culture and the mass media have a symbiotic relationship: each depends on the other in an intimate collaboration."—K. Turner (1984), p.4
The news media mines the work of scientists and scholars and conveys it to the general public, often emphasizing elements that have inherent appeal or the power to amaze. For instance, giant pandas (a species in remote Chinese woodlands) have become well-known items of popular culture; parasitic worms, though of greater practical importance, have not. Both scholarly facts and news stories get modified through popular transmission, often to the point of outright falsehoods.
Hannah Arendt's 1961 essay "The Crisis in Culture" suggested that a "market-driven media would lead to the displacement of culture by the dictates of entertainment." Susan Sontag argues that in our culture, the most "...intelligible, persuasive values are [increasingly] drawn from the entertainment industries", which is "undermining of standards of seriousness." As a result, "tepid, the glib, and the senselessly cruel" topics are becoming the norm. Some critics argue that popular culture is “dumbing down”: "...newspapers that once ran foreign news now feature celebrity gossip, pictures of scantily dressed young ladies...television has replaced high-quality drama with gardening, cookery, and other “lifestyle” programmes...[and] reality TV and asinine soaps," to the point that people are constantly immersed in trivia about celebrity culture.
In Rosenberg and White's book Mass Culture, MacDonald argues that "Popular culture is a debased, trivial culture that voids both the deep realities (sex, death, failure, tragedy) and also the simple spontaneous pleasures. . . . The masses, debauched by several generations of this sort of thing, in turn come to demand trivial and comfortable cultural products." Van den Haag argues that "...all mass media in the end alienate people from personal experience and though appearing to offset it, intensify their moral isolation from each other, from reality and from themselves."
Critics have lamented the "... replacement of high art and authentic folk culture by tasteless industrialised artefacts produced on a mass scale in order to satisfy the lowest common denominator." This "mass culture emerged after the Second World War and have led to the concentration of mass-culture power in ever larger global media conglomerates." The popular press decreased the amount of news or information that and replaced it with entertainment or titillation that reinforces "... fears, prejudice, scapegoating processes, paranoia, and aggression."
Critics of television and film have argued that the quality of TV output has been diluted as stations relentlessly pursue "populism and ratings" by focusing on the "glitzy, the superficial, and the popular." In film, "Hollywood culture and values" are increasingly dominating film production in other countries. Hollywood films have changed from focusing on scriptwriting and dialogue to creating formulaic films which emphasize "...shock-value and superficial thrill[s]" and special effects, with themes that focus on the "...basic instincts of aggression, revenge, violence, [and] greed." The plots "...often seem simplistic, a standardised template taken from the shelf, and dialogue is minimal." The "characters are shallow and unconvincing, the dialogue is also simple, unreal, and badly constructed."
Folklore provides a second and very different source of popular culture. In pre-industrial times, mass culture equaled folk culture. This earlier layer of culture still persists today, sometimes in the form of jokes or slang, which spread through the population by word of mouth and via the Internet. By providing a new channel for transmission, cyberspace has renewed the strength of this element of popular culture.
Although the folkloric element of popular culture engages heavily with the commercial element, the public has its own tastes and it may not embrace every cultural item sold. Moreover, beliefs and opinions about the products of commercial culture (for example: "My favorite character is SpongeBob SquarePants") spread by word-of-mouth, and become modified in the process in the same manner that folklore evolves.
Owing to the pervasive and increasingly interconnected nature of popular culture, especially its intermingling of complementary distribution sources, some cultural anthropologists literary and cultural critics have identified a large amount of intertextuality in popular culture's portrayals of itself. One commentator has suggested this self-referentiality reflects the advancing encroachment of popular culture into every realm of collective experience. "Instead of referring to the real world, much media output devotes itself to referring to other images, other narratives; self-referentiality is all-embracing, although it is rarely taken account of."
Many cultural critics have dismissed this as merely a symptom or side-effect of mass consumerism, however alternate explanations and critique have also been offered. One critic asserts that it reflects a fundamental paradox: the increase in technological and cultural sophistication, combined with an increase in superficiality and dehumanization.
Examples from American television
According to television studies scholars specializing in quality television, such as Kristin Thompson, self-referentiality in mainstream American television (especially comedy) reflects and exemplifies the type of progression characterized previously. Thompson argues shows such as The Simpsons use a "...flurry of cultural references, intentionally inconsistent characterization, and considerable self-reflexivity about television conventions and the status of the programme as a television show." Extreme examples approach a kind of thematic infinite regress wherein distinctions between art and life, commerce and critique, ridicule and homage become intractably blurred.
Long-running television series The Simpsons routinely alludes to mainstream media properties, as well as the commercial content of the show itself. In one episode, Bart complains about the crass commercialism of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while watching television. When he turns his head away from the television, he is shown floating by as an oversized inflatable balloon. The show also invokes liberal reference to contemporary issues as depicted in the mainstream, and often merges such references with unconventional and even esoteric associations to classical and postmodernist works of literature, entertainment and art.
 See also
- Bakhtin, M. M. and Michael Holquist, Vadim Liapunov, Kenneth Brostrom. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (University of Texas Press Slavic Series). Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and London: University of Texas Press.
- Storey, John (2006). Cultural theory and popular culture. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-197068-7
- Hassabian, Anahid (1999). "Popular", Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, eds.: Horner, Bruce and Swiss, Thomas. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21263-9.
- Seabrook, John. NoBrow : the culture of marketing the marketing of culture, New York: A.A. Knopf, 2000. ISBN 0-375-40504-6
- Williams, Raymond (1985). Keywords: a Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-520469-7. Cited in Hassabian (1999).