Monday, June 26, 2006

Get smart about antibiotics.

Anyone who's worked with bacteria in the lab knows that antibiotic resistance occurs regularly. In the lab, this can be a good thing, depending on your experiment, but in public health and medicine, it is a very big problem:
Over the last decade, almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers - threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.

Perhaps you can see why antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's major public health concerns. For that reason, in 1995, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started a National Campaign for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in the Community that "promotes four strategies that clinicians can use to prevent antimicrobial resistance among different groups of patients.

1. Prevent infection.
2. Diagnose and treat infection effectively.
3. Use antimicrobials wisely.
4. Prevent transmission.

This post focuses on responsible public use of antibiotics. Here are five things you can do to reduce the growth and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (microbes):

--> Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

--> Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment. Don't share your antibiotic with others.

--> Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you or another.

--> Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, increase resistance, and allow bacteria to multiply.

--> Do not pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe an antibiotic. If your provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms.

So if you are going to take antibiotics, take them as directed. Get smart. Take antibiotics responsibly, not only for for your own health, but for that of those in your family and community.

"The misuse of penicillin could be the propagation of mutant forms of bacteria that would resist the new miracle drug." - Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, as quoted in a 1945 New York Times interview

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Practice random acts of kindness.

I love random acts of kindness. They are such a simple way to brighten someone's day. And I smile along the way two. Hopefully, you don't have too much trouble thinking of and acting on ways to be kind, but just in case, here are two sites devoted to spreading random acts of kindness:

* Random Acts of Kindness Foundation "inspires people to practice kindness and to “pass it on” to others. We provide free educational and community ideas, guidance, and other resources to kindness participants through our website at

* works to "encourage 'small acts with great love'" because "kindness is contagious."

Visit these sites and find:

--> Ideas for kind acts.
--> E-cards and smile cards to spread kindness.
--> Newsletters, inspirational stories, quotes and much more.

Inspired? Motivated to act? Let us know about your random act of kindness (given or received). And remember to spread the love.

"No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Read. SWCID reviews "The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World."

Readers of So what can I do know that this site is committed to helping each of us do all we can to make a positive difference in our world. That focus comes, in part, from my Christian faith. So it is fitting that I was asked to review The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World.

The Revolution" consists of twelve chapters, each written by a different Christian author on a different social justice issue. Topics include hunger, torture, gang violence, and human trafficking, among others. Contributers come from a variety of Christian traditions and work in the areas they write about. The essays are not only meant to inform, but also to motivate, and they do just that. The writers offer personal experiences, physical and spiritual, that help clarify the reasons for and value of their work. These essays, along with the accompanying motivational quotes and scriptural references provide a valuable resource for those who are thinking and praying about how best to do the work we are put here to do.

Since the book is aimed at Christians who are interested in living the commandment to 'love thy neighbor', the writers aren't out to convert anyone. That may make reading and using it possible for those who are committed to social change and are not Christian. I appreciate that since we're all God's children.

Each chapter has sidebars entitled Donate, Educate, Activate and Pray, which give short practical steps to alleviating the social problem discussed in the chapter. Three appendices list additional ways to act, scriptural references, and organizational resources. These are great but more information should be provided. For example, the appendix listing "More ways to take action" is a list of simple imperative sentences with no other details. The "Scriptures on Justice and Mercy" list only the chapter and verse, but don't quote the Biblical text. That said, one could argue that that encourages the reader to pick up the Bible and read the translation of her choice.

While I generally enjoyed The Revolution and will refer to it for new resources to profile in So what can I do, I do have one major concern. Each chapter opens with a colonial-era map of a country or region that is referenced in the text. I find it difficult to understand why out-of-date political maps were used, particularly since they allude to horrific activities that occurred world wide, often in the name of Christ. Many countries are identified by colonial names (for example, "Rhodesia" instead of Zimbabwe) and a Eurocentric perspective is strongly implied. This is unfortunate, since growing numbers of the world's Christians are not European or of European descent. Given the unjust and decidedly un-Christian roles of many Christians and Christian missionaries in imperialism and colonialism, the use of maps that reference these acts is troubling.

Whether or not you are motivated by faith, The Revolution is a valuable resource, especially for those who know that there is more we all can do to improve our world and are ready to get started in that work.

Heather Zydek's The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Your World is published by Relevant Books and is available for $8.99. (Thanks Susan!)

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -Jimi Hendrix, musician, singer, and songwriter (1942-1970)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Join Rock Corps.

Rock Corps works around a simple concept, "You've got to give to get." In this case, Give four hours of volunteer work, and get a ticket to a concert. There are some great bands on tour this summer and tickets can be hard to get and expensive. Why not join Rock Corps and do some good for your community and for your self? Visit to learn more, find your volunteer opportunity, and get your concert ticket.

Rock Corps hasn't spread all over the US yet, so contact Rock Corps at or 1 (888) ROCK - 889 to get it started in your area. Rock on! (Thanks Kwadjo!)

"Exuse me while I kiss the sky." - Jimi Hendrix