Friday, 15 September 2017

09:10 – It was 53.7F (12C) when I took Colin out at 0700, partly cloudy.

The Equifax breach just keeps getting worse and worse. First it was revealed that they’d waited almost six weeks after discovering the breach to make it public. Then it comes out that high executives with the company sold lots of their stock soon after the breach, supposedly not being aware of it. Yeah, right. Now it’s revealed that they were aware of the vulnerability for months, that there was a patch for it, and that they didn’t bother to apply the patch. Jesus.

And their response is pathetic. One year of free credit-monitoring service? How about lifetime free credit-monitoring service? And how about a significant payment to anyone affected by the breach? Say an amount equal to the combined credit line of each person. We have only two or three credit cards, with combined limits of maybe $50,000, but other people may have much more. Say the average is only $10,000. If 143 million people were affected, that would cost Equifax $1,430 billion, so it might put a crimp in their stock value.

But all of the credit agencies are in the wrong here. The default should be to freeze credit on everyone unless they specifically ask that it be unlocked temporarily if they want to apply for credit. It’s inexcusable that this is not the default, and even worse that they charge to freeze an account. At least North Carolina requires them to freeze an account without charging.

Email from a guy who’s pretty well prepared on the basics—water, food, shelter, cooking/heating, communications, etc.—but lacks antibiotics for his beloved decorative pet fish. He’s uncomfortable with the idea of buying antibiotics from Mexican or Canadian pharmacies, eBay, or other random Internet sources, but is comfortable storing Thomas Labs fish antibiotics, available from and many local pet supply stores. Interestingly, it appears that has stopped offering Thomas Labs fish antibiotics. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come. I’ll include only retail list prices below, but third-party vendors generally sell these products at a 15% or 20% discount.

He wanted to know that if I limited myself to these products, which one or ones would I stock, and how much of each per fish. With the usual disclaimer that I am neither a physician or a pharmacist (nor a veterinarian), and assuming that his fish have no drug allergies, I recommended the following, roughly in order of priority:

Note: All of these dosages assume that we’re treating a 160-pound (72 kilo) adult fish that is not pregnant.

1. Doxycycline, 100 mg tablets or capsules – This would be my top priority, as it is broad-spectrum and is generally tolerated well except by pregnant and juvenile fish. A typical course of treatment is one 100 mg dose every 12 hours for 7 to 10 days, so for one fish I’d want to have 14 to 20 tablets on hand. Thomas Labs sells a bottle of thirty 100 mg doxycycline tablets for $50 or 100 tablets for $150.

2. Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (SMZ/TMP), 400/80 mg or 800/160 mg tablets – This would be my second priority, assuming your fish have no sulfa allergies. A typical course of treatment is one 400/80 mg tablet every 12 hours for 7 to 10 days, so for one fish I’d want to have 14 to 20 of the smaller tablets (or 7 to 10 of the larger tablets) on hand. Thomas Labs sells SMZ/TMP as 800/160 mg tablets, which are scored and can easily be split into two 400/80 mg tablets. A bottle of thirty 800/160 SMZ/TMP tablets (equivalent to sixty 400/80 mg tablets) sells for $15 or 100 tablets (equivalent to two hundred 400/80 mg tablets) for $35. This stuff is cheap and is effective against many common serious infections, so there’s no reason not to have it on hand.

3. Metronidazole, 500 mg tablets or capsules – This drug was introduced as Flagyl in the 1950’s as an anti-protozoal and it was only discovered by chance in 1962 that it’s also effective against anaerobic bacteria. The other antibiotics listed here have little or no effect on either protozoal infections or anaerobic bacterial infections, so metronidazole is definitely something I want in my arsenal. A typical course of treatment varies, depending on the particular disease and its severity, but ranges from 2000 mg/day for five days up to 4,000 mg/day for ten days, so to be safe I’d assume one course is a total of 40,000 mg. Thomas Labs sells Fish Zole Forte as 500 mg tablets, at $45, $65, and $100 for 30, 60, or 100 tablets, respectively. A daily 2,000 mg dosage is therefore four tablets, and a 4,000 mg dosage eight tablets. You’ll want to continue this for up to ten days, so for the maximum 4,000 mg/day for ten days, you’ll need 80 of the 500 mg tablets. Go with a bottle of 100 to be safe.

4. An antihelminthic drug – This is not a Thomas Labs product, but it’s important just the same. Parasitic worms are probably responsible for more morbidity and mortality in fish than any other parasite, so you’ll want something on hand to treat them. My first choice here would be mebendazole, with albendazole a close second. Unfortunately, both of those are extraordinarily expensive in the US. (About $.01 to $0.10 per dose outside the US, but $200 to $400 per dose in the US. See the Wikipedia entries on those drugs to find out why.) My next choice would be pyrantel (50 mg pyrantel per mL as the pamoate salt), which is over-the-counter in the US, and sells for $0.50 to $4.00 per dose. It’s not effective against all types of helminthic parasites, but works for the most common ones–pin worm, hookworm, and roundworm. As far as I know, pyrantel is sold only as a suspension. Typical dosages of the 50 mg/mL concentration are 1 mL per 10 pounds of body weight, so you’d give your 160-pound fish 16 mL. Call it one tablespoon. A 16-ounce bottle—roughly 32 adult doses—sells for $15 or so, and a 32-ounce bottle for twice that. A course of treatment for any of these antihelminthics is usually just one dose, so a little goes a long way. The best-known version of this drug is Reese’s Pinworm Medicine, which sells for $7 or $8 per ounce ($3.50 to $4 per dose), but it’s also available as a generic OTC medication in pint and quart bottles for about $0.50/ounce.

If you’re stocking for a family or group of fish rather than just one fish, you won’t necessarily need to multiply the quantities per fish by the number of fish in the group. For example, for 25 adult fish, we’d keep 200 grams of metronidazole on hand, which is only five maximum to twenty minimum courses.

Keep these drugs unopened in their sealed bottles, and stick them in your freezer, where they’ll remain safe and potent for literally decades. The only exception is the one liquid drug on this list, pyrantel pamoate suspension, which should be refrigerated, where it’ll remain safe and potent for many years.