What Can We Learn from the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918?

In my recent post, Pandemics in History, I, naturally, included the 1918 Flu Pandemic (also called the “Spanish Flu”) on the list. I want to expand on that part of our history for one very obvious reason; there are many parallels between the flu pandemic and the nightmare we have been living for the last 17 months.

First, allow me to be very clear; Covid-19 and the flu ARE NOT the same thing. Yes, I made sure to underline, italicize, bold, and color the “are not” because this is a crucial point. The “flu,” as we know it today, is hardly comparable to covid, but you’ll find that there are a not-so-shocking number of commonalities in government and public response.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the 1918 Flu Pandemic. How did it start and finish? What parallels can you pinpoint between this pandemic and ours? Maybe it can give us a little hope about the future…

a brief summary of the 1918 flu pandemic

Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas (1918). Original image from National Museum of Health and Medicine. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

As many as 50 million people died globally when influenza type A (subtype H1N1) hit western Europe in March 1918. It spread rapidly, and by August 1918, a second wave arrived. By then, it had mutated into a more contagious and deadly variant.

“For example, at Camp Devens, Massachusetts, U.S., six days after the first case of influenza was reported, there were 6,674 cases.”1

It reached every country in the world from the crowded train routes of Asia to the more secluded islands, like New Zealand and Samoa. India lost 12.5 million people in total; the United States lost 675,000. The majority of deaths occurred during the second and third waves of the pandemic, when the virus began to hit what was thought to be the most unlikely age groups the hardest.1

Healthy young adults were taken by the virus at unprecedented rates, and this was just one of many firsts in the flu pandemic. To date, historians and scientists continue to debate over the origins and consequences. As a result, there are many misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding the pandemic, including:

  • The flu originated in Spain. This is simply incorrect, and the name “Spanish flu” is largely misleading. The most likely explanation for this name is that it was a consequence of the First World War. The key countries involved in the conflict had every reason to downplay the effects of the pandemic in their countries. Spain, being neutral in the war, did not. As such, the pandemic appeared to be worse there; in reality, it was no worse than the majority of countries.
  • Treatments were just as lethal as the disease. Some argue that the death rate was exacerbated by the large doses of aspirin prescribed by doctors to treat the symptoms of the flu. It is certainly possible that aspirin poisoning was present (doctors were prescribing doses nearly eight times the safe daily amount); however, death rates in parts of the world without easy access to aspirin were just as high.
  • No one knows what made it so deadly. The virus was replicated in 2007 and studied in monkeys. They now know that the leading cause of death in healthy, young people was an overreaction of the immune system. They named it the “cytokine storm.”2

In all the precariousness, you may wonder how public officials handled this pandemic. Does it compare to how our leadership has handled covid?

Official response to the 1918 flu pandemic

“Public health officials, law enforcement officers and politicians had reasons to underplay the severity of the 1918 flu, which resulted in less coverage in the press.”2

The American Soldiers in Presence of Gas suring World War I (1918). Original image from National Museum of Health and Medicine. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

With the war in full swing, officials in the United States deemed it necessary to downplay the pandemic’s severity. They feared that acknowledging it globally would weaken their position in the war and embolden their enemies. They did, however, taken action.

Without proper treatment or vaccinations available, officials had to resort to preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus. Many of these will sound very familiar:

  • They pushed the use of disinfectants and regular sterilization.
  • Cities with larger outbreaks were placed under quarantine.
  • In some areas, public places were closed for extended periods of time.
  • They wrote legislation to stop the use of common cups and utensils in public places.
  • Masks were mandated nationally.
  • Schools shut down, but often opened too soon.
  • Committees were formed to canvas rural areas for unreported cases.
  • Health Departments released posters and imagery to educate the community on the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene.

Hospitals also had to adjust their practices to accommodate the influx of patients and contain the spread within the facilities. In keeping with the preventative measures for any contagious, airborne disease, they tried to utilize well-ventilated spaces, like large rooms with high ceilings and even outdoor areas.

Of course, just as we are seeing right now with covid, they experienced massive overflow in hospitals. Historical photographs show nurses attending to patients in rows of beds inside gymnasiums and on balconies. They practiced continuous disinfection and sterilization and “utilized scientific ideas of germ theory to reduce transmission.”3

Walter Reed Hospital flu ward (ca. 1910–1920). Original from Library of Congress. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

how did it end?

In fact, there was no definitive end to the 1918 pandemic, which is a significant bummer. Given that I spent nearly all of 2020 pregnant and worried and now all of 2021 a new mother and worried, a part of me is holding out hope for some miraculous day when I will walk out of my house without an N-95 and a bottle of Purell and just feel safe. I won’t hold my breath.

In 1919, they thought the pandemic had ended. Cases dissipated in the summer season when people were spending more time outside, but they shot back up in the winter when everyone was indoors again. Once so much of the world population had been infected and so many lives had been lost, there simply weren’t enough susceptible people left to create another pandemic. Of course, that does not mean there weren’t epidemics.4

Today we have the vaccine, and we simply live with the flu. It is what it is. You go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and stop by the pharmacy for a flu shot. Easy as pie. We have much bigger fish to fry these days.

what can we learn from the flu pandemic?

Women wearing surgical masks during the influenza epidemic, Brisbane (1919). Original image from State Library of Queensland. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

One key difference between the flu pandemic and the covid pandemic is the faith that the population had in science. In 1918, there was much more of it. When people were asked to put on masks, they did. When they were asked not to get too close to each other, they didn’t. When they were quarantined, they complied, and when kids didn’t go to school, parents understood.

The most important difference is the vaccine. It took several years to develop the flu vaccine, and even though we have it now, it did not play a role in the end of the pandemic. Now, more than 100 years later, medicine did what it always does; it improved. We can develop a vaccine more quickly because we have been developing vaccine technology for over a century. Vaccines eradicate infectious diseases. The proof is in our history.

Lastly, one key similarity is that people were shaken in the beginning and gradually started to break the rules. Without preventative measures and in the absence of a vaccine, of course the spread continued, and the flu came back in deadly waves because…surprise, surprise…”a pandemic isn’t over just because we’re over it.”

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Britannica. “Influenza pandemic of 1918-19.”
  2. Healthline. “1918 flu pandemic facts.”
  3. Stanford University. “The Public Health Response.”
  4. Time Magazine. “How Does a Pandemic End? Here’s What We Can Learn from the 1918 Flu.”

25 Interesting Hurricane Facts You May Want Not Know

Hurricane Ida is upon, so here are some facts about hurricanes that you may not have known.

Within a single second, a large hurricane will release the same amount of energy as ten atomic bombs.

  • Nearly half of the hurricanes that hit the United States, hit Florida.
  • Most deaths caused by hurricanes are the result of towering walls of water covering land.
  • Hurricanes can also produce tornados.
  • A hurricane can dump 2.4 trillion gallons of rain water in a single day.
  • Water must be at least 150 feet and over 80° for a hurricane to form.
Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com
  • More than 1/3 of pet owners do not have a disaster relief plan for their cats and dogs.
  • Hurricanes are made up of storm clouds that rotate counter clockwise around the eye. The storm clouds create the eye wall and produce high winds and precipitation. The eye, on the other hand, can be relatively calm with light winds and no precipitation.
  • From 1953-1978, hurricanes were given only female names (*eye roll*).
  • Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive hurricane, costing $108 billion in damages.
  • Hurricanes do not combine when they run into each other, but they will spin around one another.
  • Since 1944, four planes have been lost while flying over hurricanes (new fear unlocked).
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The largest hurricane ever recorded was called Typhoon Tip. It happened in 1979 and was roughly the size of half of the United States.

  • The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed. Tropical storms typically have 36 to 47 mph winds; whereas, hurricanes are around 74 mph.
  • The most dangerous part of a hurricane is the eye wall, which is typically made of clouds and thunderstorms.
  • The point when a hurricane reaches land is called a storm surge. As water levels rise, the force creates waves that can reach 20 feet high.
  • More people die from hurricanes than any other type of weather disaster.
  • One hundred fifty-eight hurricanes hit the United States in the 20th century.
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

The deadliest weather disaster in American history happened in 1900 when a hurricane hit Texas and killed 8000 people, but the deadliest hurricane ever recorded hit Bangladesh in 1970 and killed more than one quarter of a million people.

  • Despite their bad reputations, hurricanes are a necessary part of the Earth’s weather system. They carry warm air from the tropics to the poles and create temperature balance.
  • The average hurricane is about 2000 times wider than the largest tornado.
  • Hurricane Andrew in 1992 created 62 tornadoes. Hurricane Beulah in 1967 created 141.
  • Hurricane season is from May to November, but the busiest month is September. August comes in second.
  • Lists of hurricane names are repeated each year. Those that created the most death and destruction are retired, like Andrew and Katrina.
  • CLICK HERE to see the list of hurricane names from now until 2026. See if you’re on the list!

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Sources:

Does the “Cry It Out” Method Cause Psychological Damage?

If you simply type “cry it out method” into Google, the results are overwhelmingly contradictory and confusing. I’ve scrolled through social media and seen posts from child psychologists proclaiming, “the cry it out method is torture!” I’ve also seen articles online from pediatric neurologists saying that there’s no physical evidence suggesting that the cry it out method causes any damage, at least not the updated versions of it.

Who do we believe? Is the cry it out method damaging? Is it safe? Has it been improved upon, maybe? Do doctors against the cry it out method have an alternative suggestion for getting our kids to sleep independently? These are the questions I asked myself before researching this topic.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

I’ve been very fortunate to have a baby that is a fairly good sleeper. From the time he was born, I stuck religiously to a nighttime routine and never tried co-sleeping (out of pure fear and anxiety). I’ve shared my nighttime routine in this blog. You can read it here. Thankfully, he has slept well most nights without needing the cry it out method or any method for that matter.

However, we’re moving into toddlerhood very soon. Things can change and sleeping habits can regress. I’m not out of the woods yet, and mama needs her sleep. As such, I looked into this “cry it out method” question and tried to decipher some train of reason within all the disagreements. Most importantly, I wanted to avoid the really bad choices.

This is what I found. I hope it helps someone…

origins of the cry it out method

Buckle up, because part is kind of sad. We can trace the notion of letting babies just “cry it out” all the way back to the 1880s. The medical community was adamant about protecting infants from germs and advised against touching them too much.

In the early 1900s, a behaviorist named John Watson argued strongly his opinion on “the dangers of too much affection,” particularly too much motherly love. He suggested that a child with an affectionate mother would turn into a useless, dependent person with nothing to offer society. Of course, now we know that to be entirely false.

Around that same time, mothers were encouraged to hold their babies only when absolutely necessary and train them to sit silently in a crib by the middle of their first year…because, according to Watson, parents shouldn’t be constantly inconvenienced by the simple existence of an infant.

We hear that more often than we realize, even today. We’re encouraged to let them cry in order to teach them independence so that we can get our lives back. It’s natural, but I would argue, as I hope most would, that John Watson was a little extreme.

Finally, the cry it out method as we know it was made popular by Dr. Luther Emmett Holt over 100 years ago. His book, The Care and Feeding of Children, was the pinnacle of childrearing education. Of course, much has changed in 100 years.2

Two types of cry it out method

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was surprised to learn that there are actually two different types of the “cry it out” method. The extinction method and the graduated extinction method differ in the amount of attention you provide to the crying baby.

  1. Extinction: This is the most common CIO. This method instructs you to put your baby to bed and ignore his or her cries. The outcome is simple; the baby will cry until he or she literally can’t anymore. They typically give up out of shear exhaustion.
  2. Graduated Extinction: This version is more controlled. It’s sometimes called “sleep training” and is a gentler variation of CIO. Once the baby is put to bed and crying begins, you reenter to comfort your baby only every other time you hear cries, increasing the crying time with each interval.

The graduated extinction method has been adjusted in various ways over time to lighten the harshness of simply closing the door and letting your child just deal.

what are the arguments against cry it out?

Dr. Margot Sunderland, child psychotherapist with decades of experience, said:

“I would be very surprised if any parent continued to use ‘cry it out if they knew the full extent of what’s happening to their infant’s brain. The infant’s brain is so vulnerable to stress. After birth, it’s not yet finished! In the first year of life, cells are still moving to where they need to be. This is a process known as migration, and it’s hugely influenced by uncomforted stress.”

excerpt from interview by BellyBelly (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is a common argument against the cry it out method. Some research does suggest that excessive, prolonged crying caused by stress could be linked to changes in the brain during a period of vitally important growth.

Dr. Darcia F. Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of notre dame, said:

“One strangely popular notion still around today is to let babies ‘cry it out’ when they are left alone, isolated in cribs, or in other devices. This comes from a misunderstanding of child brain development.”

“Babies grow from being held. Their bodies get deregulated when they are physically separated from caregivers.”

“The brain is developing quickly. When the baby is greatly distressed, it creates conditions for damage to synapses, the network construction which is ongoing in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it’s a neuron killer but its consequences may not be apparent immediately.”

excerpt from Dr. Narvaez’s article in Psychology Today (CLICK HERE to read the article)

what are the arguments for cry it out?

The opposing opinions on the cry it out method tend to center around the variations of graduated extinction. Most doctors agree that putting your child in the crib and letting them scream until they fall asleep is not a good idea. However, they have differing opinions on alternative forms of sleep training.

Dr. Sujay Kansagra, pediatric neurologist at Duke University, said:

“Most of the debate around sleep training stems from the process of allowing an infant to cry. For those that are adamantly opposed to letting a child cry, but are frustrated by the lack of consistent sleep, there are other sleep training techniques that don’t involve simply leaving an infant in the crib to cry endlessly. Two examples of such methods are fading and scheduled awakenings.”

excerpt from article at Duke University of Medicine website (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is the general consensus from doctors that support sleep training methods. There are other ways to help your child sleep. “Sleep training” does not refer to the cry it out method. In fact, it is an umbrella term that encompasses an array of techniques that parents may try, most of which are approved by doctors.

The approach is much gentler. Here are some examples:

  • Place the baby in the crib and soothe him by rubbing or patting his back until he falls asleep. You then leave the room and come back only to soothe again when the baby cries, allowing them to crying a little more each time.
  • Another method, called camping out, involves sleeping next to the baby’s crib until they become increasingly more sleep independent.

If you are currently trying to get your infant or toddler on a better sleep schedule, talk to your doctor. Find out what options you have. You would be very surprised to learn that there are a plethora of techniques proven to be gentler and more effective than “cry it out.”

my thoughts on the subject…

Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

As a parent to an infant, I just can’t get on board with crying it out in basically any form. My gut tells me to get up and hold my son when he cries. Of course, there have been many times that he has awoken me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, and I would say that most of those times, my dazed reaction is frustration. However, I can’t fight the instinct. The science seems to back that instinct, so I’ll continue to lead with that.

Overall, the general consensus in the medical community seems to be that the antiquated method of just “cry it out” is just that, antiquated. It’s time to bury it. “This is how we used to do it” can be a dangerous game to play. Progress is necessary, and behavioral science is booming with progress everyday. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we, as a society, need a harsh lesson in behavioral studies.

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Belly Belly. “Cry It Out Method | 6 Baby Experts Who Advise Against It”
  2. Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR. “Sleep Training Truths: What Science Can (and Can’t) Tell Us About Crying It Out.”
  3. Sunjay Kansagra, MD, Duke School of Medicine. “Sleep training your child: myths and facts every parent should know.”
  4. Darcia F. Narvaez, Ph.D., Psychology Today. “Dangers of ‘Crying It Out'”

Blood Types and Covid: Does Your Blood Type Make You Less Vulnerable to Covid?

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

There are rumors floating around in the ocean of covid information and misinformation about the connection between COVID-19 and blood types. You may have heard that blood type O is less likely to catch covid. It certainly piqued my interest when I heard it. So, what’s true? What’s the science behind blood types and covid? Is type O safer? Says who? What about severity? Are any blood types more susceptible? I looked into it with all these questions about covid and blood types in mind, starting with…

What even are blood types?

To be honest, I didn’t know my own blood type until I had a baby last year. I’m O positive, by the way. Until recently, I never bothered to look up what that means. Fun fact for my fellow O positives, we are popular. Apparently, 37.4% of the population is O positive, making us the majority. If you’re curious about your blood type, here are the population stats:

Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
O+1 in 337.4%
O-1 in 15 6.6%
A+1 in 335.7%
A-1 in 16 6.3%
Source: Stanford Blood Center
Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
B+1 in 12 8.5%
B-1 in 671.5%
AB+1 in 293.4%
AB-1 in 1670.6%
Source: Stanford Blood Center

This chart does not provide any information about a connection between blood types and covid. However, it does speak to all the rare blood types out there, and it’s saying “please donate!” All you O negatives, you’re the most in demand because you are the only universal donor.

Speaking from personal experience...I lost one fourth of my body's entire blood content at once when I gave birth. I'm forever grateful to whomever donated that bag of blood used for my transfusion.

so, How do blood types relate to covid?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019, researchers have administered many population-based studies on the standard risk factors, including age, obesity, preexisting medical conditions, race, ethnicity, and sex. They have even investigated blood types as risk factors for covid.

This is not a new hypothesis to test, and blood type has been determined a valid risk factor in several disease processes, including infectious diseases. Blood types have been linked to bacterial and viral infections before; therefore, it’s not a stretch to assume that it might be a risk factor for covid as well.

What are people saying about blood types and covid, and what is true?

As everyone knows, social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok have algorithms, and those algorithms know what you like and how to show it to you. If, like me, you’re impatient and a fan of instant gratification, TikTok is the app for you. In 2020, the algorithm picked up, pretty quickly, that I was consuming covid news like chocolate cake.

For quite some time now, I have seen several posts, both serious and satire, talking about the link between covid and blood types. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that type O blood is significantly less likely to catch covid than the other blood types. Of course, there were a few posts, often from the POV of a hospital bed with captions like, “I’m type O, and I got covid” that stated the contrary. Now we should ask the very vital question, “where is the thin line of truth in the nonsense?”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study on July 18, 2021 from the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection about the relationship between blood type and covid infection (CLICK HERE to read). The question addressed was the same I’ve been discussing, the conclusion was (surprise, surprise!) significantly more convoluted than the videos on TikTok.

What do the studies say about blood types and covid?

What I learned is that there have been nine large studies on the correlation between blood type and covid-related illness, and most of them report that there is an association between the two. Eight of them reported association. Four of them found some blood types to be more severely affected by covid while five of them did not.

You may be asking, “what does that mean?” Well, it means that the studies were inconsistent. However, what they did find is plenty of very important information about covid and some overlapping trends. For example, several studies showed that type A might be more susceptible of infection while type O and Rh-negative groups may not be. Ultimately, the studies as a collective came to one important conclusion for now…

“At this point in time, there does not appear to be any relationship between blood type and COVID-19-related severity of illness or mortality. Current literature does not support blood type as a part of a predictive model of viral illness or mortality…”

PMCID: PMC8286549

is your blood type more or less vulnerable to covid?

Is type O less vulnerable to covid? The answer for now is no, and I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. If I placed all my trust in TikTok trends and shackled it to my mental vault as fact, I’d have assumed my husband, my son, and myself were all safe from covid because we all have O blood types, but I’d be wrong.

If you’re out there thinking you are covid-proof because you have a variation of the O blood type, please be careful. There is not yet nearly enough information on the blood types as a risk factor for covid, and no one is invincible.

Disclaimer: All the information in this article comes from a reputable, peer-reviewed source published by a medical journal. Nothing has been interpreted by myself or anyone other than medical professionals.

Click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Source:

  • Kim Y, Latz CA, DeCarlo CS, et al. Relationship between blood type and outcomes following COVID-19 infection [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jul 18]. Semin Vasc Surg. 2021;doi:10.1053/j.semvascsurg.2021.05.005

Welcome to PANDEMIC RESET!!!

Baby Products, Travel, Fitness Fails and Successes, Food, and Life

So, 2020 was rough. I’m not the first say to it, obviously. Like so many others, this pandemic turned my world upside-down. I started 2020 fresh out of grad school with a new career in my field and map of plans for my future. I ended the year on unemployment with a brand new baby.


Since then, I’ve had to adjust to a new life and figure out what the post-Covid world looks like for me. Going back to work in the hotel industry is not an option, at least not for now. Therefore, here we are. I’m going to use this opportunity to do and talk about what I know and love: writing, travel, health/fitness (love/hate), baby products, and history…yes, I love history…but fun history (maybe even strange history). I’ll briefly discuss below some of the things I’ll talk about on this website.


Please join me and talk to me. We all need friends right now!

For the New Moms: Baby Product Reviews and Advice!

I spent my entire pregnancy in quarantine, which means I spent hours upon hours scouring the web looking for the best of every baby product. It was overwhelming. It was confusing and frustrating, and ultimately, it led me in circles until I found a way to reign it in. I’ll talk about everything from car seats to toys to baby food.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Of course, after I bought products, I often found something better and bought that as well (bought a travel system for $350 before the baby came…had a baby that has been consistently in the 99th percentile for weight…had to buy a new car seat when he was only 5 months). Sometimes it worked out; sometimes it didn’t. Follow along, and I’ll talk about all the amazing “must haves” and “mistakes.”

For the Travel Lovers: Visit My Favorite Places, Like Morocco

Obviously, I haven’t traveled in a couple of years, but I’ve seen some amazing places. I happen to have married a Moroccan American, so I have had a few trips to the beautiful sights and cities of Morocco. Let me (or my husband, really) tell you about all the best towns, mountain villages, sights, souks, riads, and desert destinations to visit.

Photo by Kristan Jennings, Chefchauoen, Morocco


I can’t wait to show you The Blue Pearl of Morocco…a city called Chefchauoen that you honestly wouldn’t believe is real without seeing it in person. I’ll take you through the old medina (city in Arabic) of Marrakech, where you can stay in shockingly affordable places that you’ve only seen in movies.
In my heart, travel is life. When (not if) this pandemic settles and life goes back to normal, I will be directly on a plane to Europe and Africa for more adventures.

True Crime and Strange History Lovers: I’ve Got Some Stuff for You

Guys, this area is where I THRIVE, HONEY! If you love a creepy, true story or a some weird, little-known history, I’m your girl. I have a Master of Arts in US Social History because nothing settles my undiagnosed ADHD brain quite like some weird people doing weird stuff. Also, I love real people making change in the world, especially during times of major struggle (sound familiar?). I could literally write a book, so buckle up!

For the Health/Fitness Strugglers: Follow My Journey into Intuitive Eating

I spent my life overweight. I’m a stereotypical millennial, coming-of-age during the dawn of low-rise jeans (a felony, honestly), photoshop, America’s Next Top Model, and fat-shaming Jessica Simpson, who has never been fat. I’ve tried Paleo, calorie-counting, miracle drops and vitamins, pills that “stop fat absorption” but just really make you poop nonstop, and Keto. Frankly, I’m over it.

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com


I’m going to discuss my journey into intuitive eating and try to battle my horribly unhealthy relationship with food. I hope to find friends with similar food issues that also dream to break the cycle before we project more disordered eating habits onto our children.

Subscribe, Like, and Comment!

Please come along with me, and hopefully we can find a way to start healing together from the nightmare of the last year (ish). InshAllah, we can learn to trust other humans again.
All Love!!

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