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Tuesday, 4 January, 2005

Tips for Volunteers to Avoid Getting Sick

Two volunteers suffered amputation of their fingers. They were injured while helping bury the dead.The amputation had to be carried out because they were very ill (shakes and high fever etc).It is suspected that they were infected with the Clostridium Perfringens bacteria which inhabit dead bodies.The following are health recommendations to avoid getting ill:

  1. Prepare yourself spiritually, physically and mentally. Be sure you want to do this. There have been at least 32 cases of volunteers who have gone home because they have been vomiting. They also claim to have been disturbed by the spirits of the dead.

  2. Prepare essential survival equipment (flashlight, knife, cigarette lighter, umbrella, facemasks (type N-95). Bear in mind the masks you should get is the WHO standard (type N-95) and not a handkerchief, or, an operating theatre mask because these are not effective to filter out germs. Wear thick gloves like the ones used in mortuaries that do not tear when handling dead bodies.

  3. Wear a hat to prevent fluids from corpses trickling down your hair. If your hair is matted with such fluids, the fluids might trickle down on to your food.A few volunteers suffered diarrhoea because of such fluids.

  4. Wash your hands before and after touching a body. Wasteful? It is wasteful but it is better than having the volunteers falling sick or dying from fatal diseases. Use antiseptic soap like Lifebuoy, Nuovo etc. Wash for at least 5 minutes.It would be better if you have access to a scrub used by doctors before operations. Scrub folds of skins and beneath your nails.

  5. Keep the following with you always: betadine, 70 % alcohol, bandaid, a roll of gauze, daryanttulle, small scissors, scalpel (these can be bought at pharmacies), clean water, sugar, salt, mineral water, energy drink (Pocari Sweat). The energy drink is needed because the salt from the sea and the smell of the bodies forms a poison which forces us to urinate frequently and hence lose fluids and salts.Do not drink energy drinks which prevents you from sleeping because this will lower your resistance and energy levels. Sleep regularly.

  6. Wear cotton trousers and not jeans (the latter becomes very heavy when it gets wet and muddy). Do not wear anything that will make you hot and perspire a great deal. Wear sensible shoes and socks that cover your feet. Do not go barefooted. Snakes in the bushes have bitten a few volunteers when they went in to retrieve bodies. Bring at least two pair of shoes. There is no need for boots (but if you have them it would be great).

  7. If you suffer a cut, wash immediately with mineral water and antiseptic soap, scrub and report to your team member and doctor. If your wound is bloody, it is better to stop working until it dries up.

  8. Do not use mosquito repellent tissues because they cause abrasions to the skin.If you use mosquito coils, please ensure they do not affect your breathing. Malaria has already been reported.

  9. Drink malaria prevention medicine Chloroquine (Trade Name = Nivaquine/Malarex/Resochin) 2 tablets/week or if not allergic drink Fansidar [ (Sulfadoxin-Pirimetamine) 1 tablet/week. These tablets can be taken before leaving (if possible one week before). Continue taking them one month after coming home. If you suffer the following symptoms (shivering, fever, sweating profusely) please see a doctor immediately. If a doctor is not available take 4 tablets of Chloroquine on day one, 2 tablets on day 2, 2 tablets on day 3. Half an hour before taking the medicine, take one tablet of paracetamol/panadol and metoclopramide/primperan.

  10. Bring drugs like amoxicillin, tetracycline, oralit, bactrim, bisolvon, benadryl
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