The Sick, The Elderly, & Human Burial

5:e:i) In Case of Illness

Twenty-four hour health stations are now set up in neighbourhoods throughout the city. Before waiting to become sick to see a medical professional, households should locate and register at the nearest clinic to give personal information and medical history so records are onhand and up to date in the case of accident, injury, illness or disease. Family first aid kits are available at these health stations, along with updated postings of current outbreaks of infections, quarantines and other community health news.

5:e:ii) Chronic Illness, Paleative Care, and Elderly Care

People suffering from chronic illness requiring special medications are at the disadvantage of a chronic shortage of prescription medicine. It is strongly encouraged to seek alternative medical advice, such as from naturopaths, acupuncturists and herbalists, to help minimize need for drugs while aiding in disease management or even help healing. For chronic illness it is also important to inform family, friends and neighbours about possible health crises (ie. Insulin shock in a diabetic) so quick informed actions can be taken.

The elderly and fatally ill (without infectious diseases) are best taken care of in the homes of their families or caregivers. Their main needs by the caregivers are comfort, company and conversation, along with physical support like feeding, grooming, bathing, and keeping track of any necessary medicines. As immunity is compromised in the patients, it is important to keep them as healthy as possible, away from sources of viruses, well fed, and engaged in light activity like walking, if possible. A relationship with a housecalling nurse or alternative health practitioner is recommended, with regular visits.

5:e:iii) Infectious Outbreaks & Quarantines

Many illnesses and diseases exist that can only be diagnosed and treated by a nurse, doctor, or natural health practitioner. Below are a few of the most common health issues.


Botulism is a rare muscle-paralyzing disease caused by a toxin made by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. The three types of naturally occurring botulism are foodborne botulism (occurs when eating contaminated canned food), infant botulism (caused when infants consume the spores of the bacteria) and wound botulism (occurs when wounds are infected with the botulism toxin).

People can get botulism by eating contaminated food - especially contaminated home-canned food -- that has not been properly cooked or reheated. Although not contagious, all forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating contaminated food.

Classic symptoms include: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Infants with botulism may seem lethargic, constipated, have a weak cry and poor muscle tone, and feed poorly.

Botulism must be treated as quickly as with an antitoxin. This can prevent the symptoms from becoming worse, but full recovery takes several weeks.


Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. The three forms of plague are bubonic plague (from rodent flea bites, causing painful swollen lymph node infections), pneumonic plague (fatal lung infection) and septicemic plague (fatal blood infection).

Initial symptoms are flu-like complaints: fever, chills, muscle pain, weakness and headache, possibly accompanied by a swollen and very tender lymph gland, accompanied by pain.

Pneumonic plague symptoms: rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough and sometimes bloody or watery sputum. The pneumonia may cause respiratory failure and shock. Fatal if left untreated.

Treatment includes antibiotics for plague, but people with pneumonic plague need to be placed in medical isolation as it is highly contagious.


Smallpox is a disease caused by Variola virus. The two forms of smallpox are Variola major (most common form) and Variola minor (less than 1% mortality rate).

Generally smallpox is spread by an ill person to others through infectious droplets from coughing or sneezing, or through contaminated clothing or bed linen.

Initial symptoms include fever, malaise, aching pain, backache and headache. A characteristic rash then appears two to three days later, mainly inside the mouth and on the face and forearms, spreading to the trunk and legs. A person is most contagious during the first week of illness. The rash may appear on all parts of the body, including the palms and soles, and eventually evolves into scabs. In contrast, chickenpox does not affect the palms and soles, tends to be concentrated on the abdomen, and may have eruptions that develop at different rate.

Although there is no treatment for smallpox, infected people can benefit from medicine for fever and antibiotics for any secondary bacterial infection that can occur.


Traditional methods of disposing of human corpses, namely burial and cremation, are no longer viable options for this city of limited land space and even more limited energy sources. Burials also require use of wood for building caskets which ultimately get buried and decompose, and cremation (or even ceremonial burning, Viking-style), require enormous amounts of energy through firewood. Nonetheless, a burial of sorts is the most sustainable method of disposing of bodies, both human and animal.

Humans, like all natural matter, decompose, and hence are compostable. Unlike in traditional casket burials, a corpse set for direct burial into the earth wrapped only in cloth or canvas, will decompose within a matter of years, allowing cemetery grounds to be reused in rotation. Burying 2 to 4 feet deep will allow for an aerobic breakdown and also feed the roots of plants at the surface as the bodies (organic matter) become soil.

Read the next section, Sewage...

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