Hospitals can heave a sigh of relief. The new and deadly fungal infection c. auris CAN be removed and eradicated.
Seriously ill and long-term patients are now better protected from this particularly virulent killer. Not yet on everybody’s radar, but with a 60% mortality rate, this deadly newcomer is rapidly causing concern.
Candida auris (C. auris) is also difficult to diagnose, often mistaken for something else. Particularly in blood tests, the usual screening for invasive candida infections. A specific laboratory test – MALDI TOF MS – is needed to make sure.
A maverick of its own, C. auris behaves more like a nosocomial bacteria than a fungus. It sticks easily to surfaces and transfers from patient or care-giver to patient. Contaminating chairs, bedrails, catheters and patient monitoring equipment.
Thankfully, like a bacteria, it can be taken down – effectively neutralised by advanced cleaning techniques such as UV radiation and exposure to hydrogen peroxide.
UV is an easy first choice because it is dry to use. Fungi are notorious for thriving in wet conditions. So liquid cleaners including hydrogen peroxide risk accelerating further growth as fast as they destroy it.
UV however does have the disadvantage of short range and only working in line of sight. Radiation units have to be moved close and frequently to be effective. And even then, cannot reach under or behind objects where spores can escape.
A better option is ionised hydrogen peroxide dry mist. Plasma treatment similar to the autoclaves used to sterilise surgical instruments. But, easily deployed by an automatic mobile unit, a lot less unwieldy.
A single press-button actively disperses the mist. A mild, non-toxic 6% solution similar to the over-the-counter type sold in Boots or Tesco as an antiseptic, skin treatment or mouth wash.
Ionising however turbo-charges its capability. Releasing further antimicrobials in the form of hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.
Charged particles jostle to escape each other – rapidly dissipating in all directions. They fill the air, ram hard up against all surfaces, walls, ceilings, countertops. And push actively under and behind, deep into cracks and crevices. If necessary, a separate nozzle can reach into tight places and ducting. Typically behind wash basins and scrub-up units.
Whole room sterility
Because of their charge, the hydrogen peroxide particles actively reach out and grab oppositely charged pathogens. Fungi, viruses, bacteria – everything is clamped in a death-grip, ripped apart by oxygen atoms and completely destroyed.
Forty minutes or so later, depending on room size, all that’s left is oxygen and a small quantity of water. So small that it evaporates before it even begins to fall.
The room itself is sterile – germ-free to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level. No more C. auris – no more pathogens of any kind. Safe and secure for those fragile patients so at risk to ANY kind of infection.
The mild solution ensures no damage or harm to any surface, however delicate. And the dry mist presents zero risk to digital and electrical connections, however sensitive.
The giveaway that it’s worked is that all smells are gone, easily confirmed by swab tests or ATP meter. C. auris is gone and not coming back. Nor is any other pathogen.
That’s what you’re stumping up when your best sales champ has a blinding headache – and makes a hash of that latest deal with your top client.
Plus the salary portion of them sitting at their desk while they’re doing it, feeling like all hell. At 40 – 50% of their capability maybe, when you’re paying for a full 100%.
Just one instance out of many, right?
Because how many others wake up feeling like the end of the world, but come to work anyway – to make mayhem where they’re usually top notch? Ill at work in action.
More than you think – because it’s off the radar
A lot of money to lose. And a lot of money you’ve already paid out. At best for less-than-perfect performance – at worst for a full-on train smash.
How much money?
Grab your calculator and check this out.
According to a healthcare survey some years ago, we each of us experience 124 ailments of some kind every year. That’s one every 3 days. Incidents of ill health ranging from minor like a bruised elbow – to major, like an infection that puts us in hospital.
On average, we get the physical delights of regular headaches, 80 bouts of back pain, continuous bumps and bruises, 3 sore throats, 4 cases of heartburn, 4 cricked necks, 5 cuts, 5 cramps, 6 upset stomachs, 2 shaving cuts, 3 stubbed toes, 3 bitten tongues, 1 loss of voice, 1 electric shock, 3 paper cuts, 2 pulled muscles, 2 stitches, 1 nosebleed, 3 falls, 2 bouts of blisters, 2 earaches, 1 eye infection and 3 colds.
At the same time, we are likely to have some kind of infection challenge with asthma, influenza, bladder infections (UTI), bronchitis, conjunctivitis, respiratory infections, sinus infections, migraines, heartburn or gastric reflux, and gastric infections leading to nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Most of these are borderline stay-at-home issues – particularly the physical ones. Too frequent and too minor to justify staying in bed, so we bring them to work and struggle on. These are your ill at work costs.
By now you’re probably looking at four and five figure numbers – the price of under-performance, mistakes and missed business. You haven’t even added in days off sick yet.
So to give you a better perspective, here’s a germonomics calculator to keep track of the spookier costs. We’ve left out the physical mishaps because they’re going to happen anyway – accidents from lack of attention, or just plain misfortune.
The infectious ones though, are something you CAN address. By ensuring that at least in the workplace, there’s less chance of catching anything or passing it on to others.
By getting rid of workplace germs, so they can’t happen. Most easily by adding to your nightly tidy up and vacuum when everyone’s gone home.
No germs, no illnesses to catch, everybody functioning at 100% – no mistakes, no oversights, no glitches – ill at work costs are reduced, you get all the productivity you pay for.
Bye-bye germs, hello productivity
It’s easily done too. By your cleaning service or an independent. Or even doing it yourself.
One press of a button mists up the place with hydrogen peroxide, which oxidises all the germs – viruses, bacteria, mould, fungi, the works. Forty minutes later and it’s germ-free – 99.9999% of all pathogens gone, to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level.
OK, it’s not going to stop all the cuts and scrapes – but most people can live with those. But it WILL ease all the head stuff that infections can cause. Get back to clear thinking, being alert, staying on the ball.
All things that high-powered professional staff are good at – WHEN THEY’RE FEELING WELL.
Plus there’s the revved-up feeling of going for it. Being motivated, committed, wanting to achieve – what kind of a bonus can you put on that?
Ill at work costs? No big deal. Not any more, at any rate.
Not good enough is why. Doesn’t do the job. If you want to bulk up proper, use antibiotics.
That’s what farmers do. Micro-doses of antibiotics in the feed – the most powerful growth boosters ever invented. To make animals WANT to eat more. And to make them absorb more food value than they normally do – which is how they put on weight.
Super-duper growth boosters
Works great with cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, even fish. From egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.
Overnight maturity. Instant obesity.
The same with plants. Faster seeding, stronger shooting, quicker yielding. From antibiotics applied directly, or absorbed from the soil in animal manure.
Oh sure, sugar has an effect – but mild alongside antibiotics. Feeble. The farmers’ secret to fast fat for at least the last fifty years. Exploding to industrial levels in the last twenty – with the introduction of factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Exactly when our current obesity epidemic got started. Two thirds of British adults now overweight or obese – and one third of children too.
But not from sugar. Fifty years ago we had sugary Coke and junk-food pizza, just like we have now – and people didn’t get fat. Now they do. From the same antibiotics that the animals get fed.
How does that work?
All in the poo
That’s the messy part. Very ewey.
You see, animals don’t absorb all the food that they eat. Around 80% is pooed out again as waste, nature’s way of providing on-going fertility to plants and smaller animals like birds and insects. And not just nutrients either, but residual amounts of those antibiotics.
Some of it falls on the grass in animal grazing areas, to enrich the soil and promote healthy growth. The animals eat it, re-ingesting those same antibiotics all over again. Or they eat cereal straw and grass dried after cutting – or silage made from cereal crops like maize and wheat.
Again, grown with fertile manure from those same animals. And again with residual amounts of antibiotics – exactly like the micro-doses added to their feed in the first place.
So even if antibiotics are withdrawn from their food because they’re getting ready for market, they’re still getting their daily hit. Still with their appetites turned full throttle.
Our daily dose
And still with antibiotics in their bodies. Which become the beef, lamb, pork and poultry offerings on our supermarket shelves – ready for us to eat, antibiotics and all.
With the same effect of making US want to eat more than we usually do – and absorbing more nutrients than normal. What works for the animals works for us, so WE get fat too.
Fatter and fatter. Because we don’t go to market at an early age – we’re here for the long haul. So we pile on the pounds – meal after meal, day after day without realising it. Until suddenly we look in the mirror and we’re a hulking Size 20.
Yes, sugar has a bearing on it. We eat too much of it, of course we bulk up. Two two-litre Cokes instead of the 350ml bottle our grand-folks chugged. Double burger with extra fries – and muddy Mississippis to follow.
Too much food altogether, that’s why we get fat.
But sugar’s not the cause. Not everyone who puts two spoonfuls in their tea is a porker. Nor is everyone who chows a Mars bar dangerously overweight.
The info that we’re over the top doesn’t reach the brain because the bacteria in our gut mix up the signals. We over-eat without realising it – until reality hits us in the mirror.
So putting a tax on sugar is not exactly going to help. It’s treating symptoms, not cause.
Yes, we eat too much sugar. And too much bread, and too many chips, and too much cheese, and too many eggs, and too much jam, and too much cake, and too much ice cream, and too much curry and rice.
It’s not the sugar that’s the problem. It’s the too much.
And the only way to stop it, is to stop us getting these micro-doses of antibiotics in everything we eat. Meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy – even water. Everything is laced with them – right through the whole food production chain.
With more coming all the time. 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics currently get used worldwide in agriculture – with totals set to hike nearly 70% by 2030.
Which means it’s not sugar we have to tax, it’s antibiotics.
Not exactly wise – because without them, world food production would stall completely.
From eating and absorbing too much, billions of people would starve and wither. And there would be nobody to eat the sugar anyway.
Ever get the feeling our “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about?
Once upon a time there was no such thing as antibiotics. No Plan B.
No superbugs to catch if they were resistant. People survived by living clean and healthy.
What kept us alive back then was clean water supplies, good sewerage, proper waste removal and high personal hygiene.
Kids went to school, washed and polished, hands and faces bright from brushing. All water was boiled. And washing got done the hard way – by hours of rubbing and scrubbing.
It worked too. People knew that living clean kept them safe from germs. Dirt made you sick.
Then antibiotics came along and people started taking chances. Dirt might make you sick, but antibiotics made you well again. Doctors could perform miracles without risk of infection. To infinity, and beyond.
Our great hygiene leap – backwards
Fifty years later, our water systems are older. Make that ancient – they were 100 years old in the first place. Pipes have rusted, other stuff has seeped in, leaks enough to fill 1,235 Olympic swimming pools a day flood our streets.
Our waste problems are even worse. For instance, in 2013 and 2014, 1.4 BILLION TONS of raw sewage were pumped into the Thames, far more than before our sewer system was even invented.
In the meantime, we’ve also become careless.
A little dirt in our lives? No problem, antibiotics will make us better when we get sick – wonder lifesavers for everything, so we gobble them down like sweets. And today we get away with chances our grandparents would never have dreamed of.
Except that germs no longer want to play that game. After 50 years of misuse and abuse, they learned how to survive antibiotics. To become immune. To stay alive, no matter what we chuck at them, resistant even to our last-resort triple-whammy specials.
Last resort drugs failure
Today, when all else fails, doctors fall back on two hard-core antibiotics they keep in the back of the cupboard. Carbapenems (actually a whole spectrum of antibacterials) and colistin. Our antibiotics Plan B.
Now here’s the bad news.
Carbapenems are already compromised by the emergence of a superbug more potent than existing villains like MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). Known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), around 50% of people who get it into their bloodstream die.
Very much the second choice because of its kidney-damaging side-effect, colistin is not much better. Chinese researchers first found a strain of escherichia coli resistant to it in 2013. Not surprising, since down the road is a factory producing 10,000 tons of it a year – as a growth promoter for pigs and poultry.
So that’s it for Plan B, then. What now?
Our horrible hygiene habits
Back to basics, of course. It worked for our ancestors, it can work for us too.
And keep us alive.
Amazing what you can do with soap and water, isn’t it?
Since we’re that dirty, our workplaces are not so clean either. All those things that never get cleaned – light switches, door handles, touch screens and keypads. Not forgetting our desks of course, with 10 million germs on average, just waiting to have a go at us.
Wash your hands – or else
Puts a new perspective on why we’re always coming down with colds and tummy bugs, doesn’t it? We’re lucky it’s not something more serious. Which, with something like sepsis and NO ANTIBIOTICS THAT WORK, it could easily be. A simple paper cut could be the infection that kills us.
Which is why we should be getting rid of the germs around us too – in the workplace, in restaurants and public buildings, in schools – even on public transport.
You leave home healthy, your hand grabs banisters, strap handles, escalator railings and door knobs. Then you pick up the office phone, which hasn’t been wiped since it was installed five years ago – and wonder where the tummy cramps came from that night.
So, get rid of the germs if we want to survive. Make it part of the daily cleaning routine so the place is always safe first thing in the morning. All it takes is a dose of ionised hydrogen peroxide every night and the place is sterile.
OK, so if antibiotics aren’t working, there are options besides Plan B.
Ramp up the hygiene and it’s back to the future – saving our own lives.
Doesn’t look like much, does it, this machine? A sort of high-tech wheelie-bin, maybe. But every bioterrorist in the remotest desert hideout will be cursing.
Grinding their teeth that even biological weapons can be thwarted – and their fall-out mostly neutralised.
Because there they are, hoping to unleash a fast-moving airborne pathogen like weaponised anthrax or smallpox.
Dread diseases that could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.
And this business must-have will stop their attempt dead in its tracks.
OK, it won’t STOP an attack. But press the button on this thing and it takes out ALL airborne germs in around 40 minutes – bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould.
Which includes anthrax, if you remember that US scare post- 9/11. Anthrax, bacillus anthracis, it’s a germ like any other.
So is smallpox, variola vera, another possible bioterrorist choice. Experimented with by scientists during World War II – and actually manufactured as a weapon by the old Soviet Union in Zagorsk during the 80s.
Both are pretty scary – one a bacterium, the other a virus.But both are destroyed with equal ease by this precision Hypersteriliser – in the air or on surfaces. The end of any bioterrorist threat right there.
Activating the machine mists up the whole place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – charged particles that grab at pathogens on the fly, oxidising them to oblivion. Oxygen atoms rip their cell structure apart.
All that’s left is oxygen and tiny quantities of water, which evaporate.
Oh, and an microscopic-thin film of colloidal silver on all surfaces – a barrier against further germ contamination that lasts for up to a week.
Ready for the worst
Could a bioterrorist attack really happen?
It’s increasingly likely, says Microsoft founder and world leader Bill Gates. A greater risk than a nuclear attack – and more deadly than a pandemic. Like the 1918 flu that killed 50 million people – three times the dead of World War I.
Actually stopping an attack though is near impossible. The first of the American 2001 anthrax incidents was triggered by spores released from an ordinary innocent-looking letter. Unpredictable even with the tightest security.
But neutralising the outcome is easy – as long as it happens indoors, the most likely target choice. Releasing a pathogen in open air is iffy and risks quick dissipation by wind – or even surging back and overwhelming the bioterrorist himself.
Indoors though is enclosed space. Safe from outside. Safe too from harmful pathogens because the Hypersteriliser makes sure of it. It just has to be deployed as quickly as possible – before any pathogen has a chance to spread or infect anyone.
Savvy organisations will already have a machine on standby – part of their regular cleaning and workplace hygiene routine. It’s not just bioterrorist attacks we have to worry about, it’s day-to-day germs as well. Like colds and flu for instance.
Sure everybody gets colds – and usually thinks nothing of it. An uncomfortable nuisance for a few days, not worth worrying about.
Unless you count the cost of wonky people trying to do their job when they’re not fully up to it. Far from skiving off from work, they’re doing more harm sitting there suffering and going through the motions.
They wouldn’t drive a car while drunk or intoxicated – but their infection impairs them more than they know. How many mistakes or oversights can they make without even realising it? And how many of their colleagues can they bring down with them, just by breathing the same air?
This article first appeared on the Vitamonk website It is republished here by kind permission of the author.
What do you know about blood sugar levels?
Depending on your experience, you may associate them with kids who have had way too much candy and are frantically running around the house.
Or, if you suffer from diabetes, you probably think of regularly jabbing yourself with a needle to make sure you don’t need to immediately consume a candy bar.
It can be a confusing topic if you don’t know the terms or what normal levels look like. That’s where we come in. In this article, we’re going to give you the what and why of blood sugar. We’re going to dive into what causes blood sugar levels to get high or low, and what what a normal blood sugar level should look like.
Consider this a layman’s guide. It won’t give you every detail (you really should talk to your doctor), but it will guide you through the major points and help you understand what to keep an eye on. Let’s get started.
What’s The Difference Between Sugar and Glucose?
What comes to mind when you think of sugar? Probably the white granular stuff that you would secretly eat when you were a kid, right? But it’s actually more complicated than that. Sugar is the general name given to sweet carbohydrates that dissolve in water.
There are a number of different types of sugars. Your body most frequently uses glucose. Fructose is found in fruit and lactose is found in milk. When you guzzle a big glass of milk or eat an apple, your body takes the lactose or fructose and converts it to glucose. Once everything is converted to glucose, your body can use it for energy.
Starches, like those found in white bread, are sugars stuck together and are converted by your body into glucose.
So far so good, right?
Now, this is important. When people say “blood sugar”, they mean “blood glucose”. The terms can be used interchangeably.
If you really want to be annoying, you can correct them every time they say, “Blood sugar,” and then proceed to give them the above explanation. You probably won’t have many friends after that.
How Is Blood Sugar Measured?
Now we need to discuss how blood sugar is actually measured. In the United States, blood sugar is measured in terms of milligrams of glucose per decilitre of blood (mg/dl). Why couldn’t they put it on a simple 1 to 10 scale or something like that? Because scientists wouldn’t be able to feel important.
But that’s beside the point.
A milligram is a tiny, miniscule amount, around 0.00018 of a teaspoon. A decilitre is only 3⅓ ounces.
In Canada and the United Kingdom, they measure things on a different scale. Of course they do. In the United States they do everything differently.
Canada and the UK measure blood sugar in terms of millimoles per liter (mmol/L). If you happen to be reading a comment or study from those countries, you can multiply the numbers by 18 to get the American numbers.
So, to recap:
In the United States, blood sugar is measured in terms of milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl).
In the UK and Canada, blood sugar is measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L).
Still with me?
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
Now let’s talk about normal blood sugar/glucose levels.
First, the levels will vary throughout the day. If you’ve been fasting or just woke up, your levels should be under 100 mg/dl.
Before a meal, your levels should be somewhere between 70-99 mg/dl. Two hours after meals, your levels should be less than 140 mg/dl.
(The UK recommendation for healthy individuals is between 4.0 to 6.0 mmol/L (72 to 108 mg/dL) before meals and up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) 2 hours after meals. For people with diabetes, that changes to 4 to 7 mmol/L for type 1 or type 2 diabetes before meals – and under 9 mmol/L for type 1 diabetes or under 8.5mmol/L for type 2 diabetes after meals.)
To state the obvious, eating increases blood sugar levels. After you eat, your blood sugar levels will be higher than before you ate. Failing to eat causes the levels to fall.
How Does Diabetes Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
To break down sugars and turn them into glucose, your body uses insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. In a person with diabetes, the pancreas either produces too little insulin or none at all. Or, the body is unable to use insulin effectively.
When this happens, blood sugar levels rise and the body is deprived of the energy it normally would receive from glucose.
If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you keep your blood sugar levels between 80-130 mg/dl before meals and under 180 mg/dl 1-2 hours after meals.
Ideally, you should try to keep your blood sugar levels close to those of a person without diabetes because it will protect your body against the complications often caused by the disease.
But (and this is crucial), you have to carefully measure and monitor your diet to accomplish this. This is possible but it probably means gorging yourself at the local Chinese buffet is out.
What Happens When Blood Sugar Levels Get Too High Or Low?
Is it really a big deal if glucose levels get too high or too low?
Yes. It really is.
If your glucose levels get too high, you’ll start to get inflammation in your blood vessels and nerves. The longer this inflammation goes unchecked, the more damage it causes to the body and the more complications it creates.
Those without diabetes are able to keep their glucose levels in check automatically through the production of insulin. If you have diabetes, however, your pancreas isn’t producing insulin properly, which means glucose levels can quickly get too high or low.
If your blood sugars fall too low, a condition called hypoglycaemia sets in. This can result in dizziness, confusion, and fainting.
The moral of the story? If you have diabetes, you really MUST regularly monitor your blood sugar levels. If they get out of control, it can cause serious damage to your body, or even death.
How Can You Monitor Your Blood Sugar Levels?
Okay, this is where things get a bit annoying for those who have to monitor blood sugar levels.
One option is to regularly use a fingerstick blood test, which involves pricking yourself with a tiny needle and then using a little strip and a glucose meter to test your blood sugar levels.
If the thought of needles sends you into a sweaty panic, you have the option of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A little sensor is inserted under the skin and constantly monitors your blood sugar levels to ensure everything is where it should be.
Neither of those options are particularly fun, but they’re better than the alternative, which is having wildly varying blood sugar levels.
The frequency of testing depends on your circumstances. If you take a fast acting insulin, you’ll want to test regularly. If you take the wrong amount of insulin, your blood sugar can drop too low, which can cause you to get dizzy, confused, or faint.
You don’t want to faint. Especially when driving a car and/or skydiving.
If you have Type 2 diabetes and aren’t taking insulin, it’s up to your doctor on how frequently you will need to test. If you’re trying to keep your blood sugar levels within a tight window, you’ll want to test in a variety of circumstances to see how they affect your body.
For example, test after eating a big meal, after exercising, and after sleeping. Keep records so you can compare these different situations.
If you make any big changes, such as taking a new medicine or beginning a new diet, pay close attention and always tell your doctor.
How Can Diabetes Be Managed?
Thankfully, diabetes isn’t the end of the world. Yes, it may mean you can’t eat an entire box of Milk Duds at the movie theatre, but if you follow a few specific guidelines along with the instructions from your doctor, you’ll be okay.
Pay attention to what you eat. Eat well-balanced meals and pay careful attention to how many carbohydrates you consume. Avoid sweetened beverages (sorry soda lovers) and be sure to carefully coordinate your meals and when you take any medications.
Ketogenic Diet. Many at risk individuals see great results when doing the ketogenic diet for a few months. (and here are a few ketogenic breakfast recipes for you)
Exercise regularly. Consistent physical activity causes your body use insulin more effectively and causes your muscles to use glucose. Talk to your doctor about an exercise plan.
Take medication with the help of your doctor. If you can’t manage your levels through diet and exercise, you can take insulin and other medications. Work closely with your doctor to ensure you’re getting the right medicine.
Avoid stress when possible. Stress can cause a rise in blood sugar levels and can also make it tougher to stick to your carefully planned diet and exercise routine. If you regularly encounter stress, be sure to learn effective coping techniques.
Be careful with alcohol. When your liver is metabolizing alcohol, it can’t counteract falling blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor to make sure it’s okay for you to drink.
See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you understand blood sugar levels, how to manage them, the consequences of not managing them, and how to manage diabetes.
Yes, it can be a pain to carefully monitor your levels, but it’s important for those with diabetes. Failing to do can create significant long term effects that can seriously damage your body.
Now, go eat that candy bar you’ve been craving. Or don’t. Measure your levels first and do what is best for your body.
A whole week after that nasty tummy bug. Sick like your whole insides want to come out. Fiery poo, squirting round like a hosepipe. Cramps like your tummy is broken into little pieces, all churning round.
Quarantine, Mummy calls it. But I’ve been OK for days now.
It’s because they can’t get the school clean.
Cheap cleanups won’t stop norovirus coming back
Those two Year 6 boys were sick all over the place – all down the corridor and right through Reception. It was on the carpet and splattered up the walls.
Then that stupid Mrs Ferguson let her class out and they ran all over it. Just the smell was enough to make you sick.
But being home and suddenly sick was worse. Just going to play with my Pokemon and my tummy exploded.
I cried ‘cos it went everywhere and Mummy made us all stay home. Even Daddy never went to work.
Anyway the holidays were horrible – and now school is closed. Why can’t they clean it properly?
Mrs Callum, she’s the bursar, told Mummy they had a whole team in over the break. Face masks, overalls and rubber boots, scrubbing everything with that ewey bleach stuff.
It didn’t work ‘cos the caretaker, Mr Absun, went in there and got sick, working in the hall. So Mrs Callum got cross and they had to do it again – then SHE got sick after going in to have a look.
Keeping paying until it’s right
Mummy says that’s when the Council sent in the steam cleaners.
Two days they were at it, then Mrs Callum got sick AGAIN. So now the school’s in quarantine, just like I am at home. They’re leaving it 10 days for all the germs to go away.
Except Mummy says that won’t work either – she looked it up on her iPad and this norovirus stuff can last for up to a month if they don’t clean it off properly. You pick it up on your fingers and pouf – it’s back!
Meanwhile I’m sitting at home every day and I’m bored. And Mummy’s very nice staying here to look after me – but she doesn’t want to be here either. What’s the matter with them, why can’t they make it go away?
Because it goes everywhere, Mummy says. In all the cracks where the cleaners can’t reach.
And I know she and Daddy are cross, because the school has asked them for money to pay for it. Daddy had his fierce look, asking why they should pay for something that doesn’t work. He wanted to throw things, but Mummy took them away from him.
Every year, again and again
It was the same last year when Linda Marshall came back from that holiday in the Caribbean. Their family got sick on a cruise ship and brought it back with them. Daddy got cross then too, ‘cos I didn’t get it, but Damon did – my younger brother in Linda’s class.
Daddy’s really fed up. Says the school should have something to cope with stuff like this. Or the Council should. It’s not like this tummy sickness happens every day – but three-four times a year somebody sicks up at school, then we all get sick or have to stay away, and nobody does anything.
They need a machine, Daddy says. Something that you press a button and it makes all the germs go away.* Otherwise they’ll keep paying money and nothing ever happens.
Oh I wish that school would open and I can play with my friends again!
*There IS a machine – and you can see it here. It kills all germs everywhere indoors in about 40 minutes. Sterile, so they can’t come back again. Grabbed out of their hiding places and oxidised to nothing by hydrogen peroxide.
Serious, yes, because she’s talking about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). One by one, savvy bacteria have developed immunity to our miracle life-savers. Modern medicine is at the brink of a new Dark Age. No more heart transplants, hip replacements, or even C-section births.
So doctors are scared, but not poop scared.
But they should be.
Because all of them – the government, Public Health England, the General Medical Council, the NHS, everybody – they’re already in deep poo, and don’t even know it.
Sure AMR is serious. But alongside other concerns with antibiotics, it’s only the beginning.
Dame Sally puts that on a par with terrorism too – though it’s actually worse. Obesity that leads to diabetes, heart disease and cancer – around 30 million deaths and accelerating like crazy.
Yes, fuelled by sugary drinks, junk food and a couch potato lifestyle. But not triggered by them.
Our current slo-mo tsunami of accelerating obesity is from antibiotics in the FOOD we eat. Micro-doses in everything we put in our mouths – meat, vegetables, milk, water.
Down on the (factory) farm
Because micro-doses of antibiotics are exactly what farmers feed their animals to bulk them up and make them grow quicker. To obese-ify them.
They’re not supposed to, of course. Overuse of antibiotics by agriculture is a major cause of antibiotic resistance. And farmers use 240,000 tons of them worldwide every year.
Which is why antibiotic growth promoters are banned in the UK and EU – to prevent AMR from getting worse.
And we can thank antibiotics for that too.
At the end of World War II there were only 2½ billion of us on this planet. Today we are 7½ billion. Antibiotics lowered the death rate so more of us could survive. No longer just the fittest – but also the weak, those rescued from disease and infection. Another 5 billion of us.
Which is why farmers NEED antibiotics. To produce enough food to sustain us in such numbers. Except the planet hasn’t got any bigger, there’s no new land they can use for farming. So the only way to go is industrial.
Enter the CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or factory farms. Thousands of animals, concentrated in every available space. So many of them on top of each other that antibiotics are essential for keeping them alive.
Antibiotics not as growth promoters, note – that’s illegal. Strictly therapeutic. Ultra necessary in the close and unsanitary slum conditions these poor animals have to live in.
The effect is the same though. Antibiotics fed to animals every day in regular doses. All above board and within the law. With exactly the same obese-ifying effect.
So we eat them and we get fat too – from the residual antibiotics in their bodies?
You got it.
Although actually, farmers are supposed to withdraw antibiotics from feedstuff up to a month or more before slaughter. And keep strict records that they’ve done it. To ensure no antibiotics get into our own food chain.
Except they can’t always do that, can they? Their animals might die.
So there ARE actually maximum residue limits (MRLs) of antibiotics in our food – tiny doses of course. But it’s tiny doses that get fed to animals to obese-ify them in the first place.
All of which is before the REAL poo happens.
You see, it’s a fact of life that animals do not absorb everything they eat. Around 80% of it is excreted as waste. Which is how come manure has high nutritional value – it’s full of unused food.
So here we are – up to our necks in manure.
Because manure is used to grow crops of all kinds – including feedstuffs for livestock. So even though animals might not be dosed with antibiotics along with their food, they’re getting them anyway – from the grass, hay, maize, soya or whatever it is they’re being fed.
Better include fruit and vegetables too – and everything else. The entire food spectrum we get in our local supermarket.
Plus of course, manure leaches into the soil and into the water table – eventually into our streams and rivers. Swig a glass of water out of the Thames and it’s also full of antibiotics.
Oh, you want to get rid of the antibiotics before you eat them? Aside from any cooking you might do, you have to boil everything for at least 30 – 60 minutes. Though what your cauliflower cheese will taste like after an hour on the gas flat-out is anybody’s guess.
All of which means that our obesity epidemic is going to snowball – not go away. And that’s on top of the AMR superbug casualties we’re already taking. Millions of us face a long slow death thanks to illnesses brought on by antibiotics.
Dark Ages 2.0
OK, so suppose we get tough and ban antibiotics altogether?
Straight away we get Dame Sally’s Dark Ages. Forget to wash your hands and you could die from a paper cut.
But how are farmers going to sustain enough production to feed 7½ billion people without the power boost of antibiotics? No more factory farms, no more mass production.
Looks like medics will have to add malnutrition and starvation to the presenting symptoms they have to deal with.
Up to their necks in the brown stuff.
So when Dame Sally says wash your hands, we’d all better listen. Our only defence with antibiotics gone.
Soap and water. More than at any time ever in our history, our lives depend on it.
Because being unwell at work is very often from germs picked up at work.
Large groups of people all working together – sharing the same space, the same air, using and touching the same facilities.
And not really protected at all, if you think about it.
Your cleaning crew come in every evening – and what do they do?
Vacuum around some, empty the waste bins, give the place a quick wipe-down. Nothing that actually gets rid of germs.
Yes, well OK – not in their remit, is it?
Lurking hazards – the downside risk
Meanwhile there’s germs there, all right. Plenty of them too. As scare headlines in the media keep reminding us. 10 million on every desk, for starters. More on the light switches, door handles, keypads and touch screens. You get the picture.
Plus the personal germ clouds that each of us carries around with us. Most of the time benign or harmless – but who knows what they might do to other people?
Plus the awkward fact that none of us are really that good about personal hygiene. If our hands don’t LOOK dirty, we reckon they’re clean. As if we could see a bunch of microbes so small that a billion could fit on the point of a pin!
It’s a financial nightmare. A school or public building shut down by norovirus. Seldom, if ever budgeted. Expensive because it keeps coming back. A hard lesson in germonomics.
Keeps coming back?
Time and again, that’s the curse of it.
All the costs of a shut down, staff and parents up in arms. The deep clean team going in. Scrubbing the whole place from top to bottom. Thankfully re-opening. And the first child vomiting and moaning within half a day.
Makes us learn the hard way, norovirus does. Totally unforgiving – ready to boomerang again and again if we let it.
Projectile vomiting that spreads everywhere – far beyond any accident points. Microscopic globules riding the air, reaching into the darkest corners.
The same with its diarrhoea – violent and explosive, dispersing to places we don’t want to know. Unreachable, un-get-at-able – which means un-cleanable. So that any clear up, however professional, doesn’t really stand a chance.
Sure the bleach is strong and potent. Corrosive too and unpleasant to use. So strong it has to be diluted to use – less effective, under-powered, not really performing.
Especially if it has to be done again. And another steam clean on top of it?
Which makes it, what – £30,000? £40,000?
Exactly the kind of cost this school on the Isle of Man are facing from their pre-Easter outbreak.
And exactly the kind of cost we face here from this potent illness that so easily breaks out – possibly FROM A SINGLE CHILD NOT WASHING THEIR HANDS.
A never event, right?
It’s not going to happen – because it hasn’t happened yet. But we’ll know all about it when it does.
Except it’s all largely preventable – even avoidable all together with the right preparation.
Because what kills norovirus better than bleach?
Hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies make to fight infections. Disinfectant, teeth whitener and beauty secret of blondes. Two minutes contact time with that stuff and norovirus is extinct. Germonomics in action.
Not just ordinary hydrogen peroxide either. But boosted with silver – another known natural germ-fighter – and ionised into a spray, so it’s an electrically charged mist.
All charged the same, the ionised particles actively push to escape each other – forcibly driving themselves in all directions. Lighter than air, they fill all room space, pushing hard against surfaces and deep into cracks – exactly where the norovirus cells are hiding.
No chance of survival
Like a magnet, that same charge grabs at oppositely-charged norovirus cells, clamping to them in a death-hold. Allowing 40 minutes dispersal time for the average room and the whole place is sterile – no germs of any kind, anywhere.
No norovirus, no colds or flu virus – no TB, no pneumonia, no diphtheria, no poliomyelitis – nothing.
No bacteria, no mould or fungus either. Sterile means sterile – all organisms dead.