Monthly Archives: May 2018

Viruses can’t be deadly if you destroy them first

Kitten hiding
Oh no! Germs are everywhere!

If we believed everything we read, we’d hide under the bed and never come out.

That’s not to deny that things can be pretty ropey. But it sure helps to throw a little common sense at the scares we see.

Like today’s paper has this report that the MERS virus might be airborne instead of transmitted by contact.

That makes it faster and easier to spread. Panicsville.

Well, no. But it’s worth thinking about.

What is MERS? It’s another flu-type bug, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – so far found mostly in Saudi Arabia. A particularly nasty thing to catch because it can kill you.

It’s a serious respiratory illness caused by a type of virus known as a coronavirus (CoV). Around 850 people have gone down with it in the last two years.

Another flu-virus? Imagine that running round our schools – like SARS and all the other scares we’ve had over the years. Are our kids safe? Should we be worried?

It bears watching, but no.

In the first place, it seems to have originated through contact with camels, not a regular occurrence on the M25. In the second place, 850 cases sounds bad, but it’s min. Two Boeing-loads. Half an hour’s traffic through the doors at Tesco.

The revelation here is that researchers now think that it may airborne.

At last!

Because if you think about it, ALL viruses and bacteria are airborne. They have to be because of their size. Even the biggest is barely a thousandth the size of a grain of dust. Which means these things are so light they may never settle.

Always in suspension, they’re free to float anywhere and everywhere on the slightest waft of air current. To see this in dynamic suspension, check the eye-opening animation on Cells Alive.

Which means that though infection may be accelerated by human contact – the germs like a nice warm body to make a home in – it may not be spread purely by coughs and sneezes, touching, or exposure to body fluids.

Those pathogens are up there hovering, all the time – and given the right chances, they’ll make something of it. Which explains how a lot of first cases may originate. How else, if there was nobody else around to catch it from?

Sound far-fetched?

Back in the 70s, South African botanist Lyall Watson wrote about spiders discovered in Antarctica during the summer. Not possible because there was no life-support – no trees, no insects, and temperatures that would kill as soon as the sun went. Yet the spiders were there.

Blown by the wind. From South America.

Now if spiders can blow two thousand miles to the southern ice-cap, what kind of bugs might we have floating around us here? In our homes, in our workplace, in our kids’ classrooms at school?

Relax. It’s possible to destroy all viruses and bacteria in the air within about 45 minutes. To sterilise the place utterly.

Your kids’ school might not have it, but there’s a dinky wheelie-bin sized auto-robot that sprays a micro-mist of hydrogen peroxide up into the air, oxidising harmful pathogens to nothing at a sterilisation assurance level of Log 6.

Behind the mumbo-jumbo, that means it kills 99.9999% of germs – ripping them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them. And that’s both airborne AND on exposed surfaces. Not just on top of, but underneath as well. The bits that don’t get cleaned because they’re out of sight.

So MERS need not be such a worry after all. Except to those poor souls who’ve got it.

To you and me though, it’s another thing to be watchful for. Camels aren’t particularly plentiful where we are. But you can secure the hydrogen peroxide treatment just by picking the phone.

Not a day to stay under the bed. There’s a whole wonderful world out there to enjoy.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:23:09.

Kitchen hide and seek – looks clean, but is it safe?

Germs in kitchen
War against germs – there is a way to win

OK, time out.

Pretend you’re a germ in a professional kitchen – one of those high-performance, quick-acting norovirus types – a food poisoning nightmare – where would you hide?

There’s no time limit, you start airborne, coming in on some posh lady’s red Christian Dior coat. Through-draft from the HVAC system wafts you across the dining room and the rubber seal on the kitchen door sucks you in. The kitchen, whoo-hoo!

It’s moist in here and warm, all those pots boiling and bubbling. You’re airborne, somewhere near the hood over the stove area. There’s prep stations on both sides, two big bain maries, and a massive deep tray of cooked vegetables. Take your choice.

A word of warning. Most places, they’ll come at you with professional cleaning liquids – spray surfactants that also disinfect. They’ll go at work tops and counters every few minutes – and the floor gets done four times a day. Tricky.

Or not. Clever thinking puts you on the underside of a prep station – basically a metal table top against one of the walls. It has a quick wipe-down surface and shows dirt instantly. But you’re right, nobody thinks about the underside – and sometimes they even put black rubbish bags down there.

Under the sink’s good too. You might like the moisture. They’re always washing in this place and ripples of water slop over all the time. Yes, it’s often got detergent but that never deterred you did it? Ha, ha. Moisture makes you grow!

Oh, you’ve gone for somewhere else – the ceiling! Good thinking, they’ll never get you there. Everything all gets wiped down and disinfected, but only the work surfaces. Nobody thinks of the air itself – that’s 80% of the room space – or those places normally out of reach.

But when you’re only 2 microns across, you can ride the air currents to wherever you like. The updraft from that pot of boiling courgettes should do fine. And you’re right in the middle, above all the action. Perfect.

Safe to breed and multiply. Ready for your future generations to drop down and ride to wherever. One of those house specials, for instance. Into the middle of that “terrine of foie gras and suffolk chicken, damson, celeriac hazelnut and toasted brioche”. Ever so posh.

That full-of-himself bloke in the Brunello Cucinelli wool suit, rabbiting on with “Anything but Chardonnay” is going to love you. The up-chucks and the runs. All that sitting on the loo. How many days will you give it? Five? Like your thinking. That’ll teach him to shoot his mouth off.

But oh, oh. There’s a problem. They’ve shut the kitchen down for the night and just rolled in this thing like an electronic wheelie bin. Some kind of sprayer, from the looks of it. Let them try. Up here on the ceiling you should be jake. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

Except it isn’t going to work is it? That spray-mist it’s putting out is ultra-fine, tiny molecules smaller than droplets of water. See look, it’s ionised, actually reaching out and grabbing hold of your buddies down there. What a way to go, ripped apart by oxygen atoms – these people are monsters.

And whoops! That stuff is rising too, spreading everywhere. It’s reached in under that prep station – thank goodness you didn’t hang out there. Up, up, nobody told you about mist rising, swirling across the ceiling. Better face facts, pal – you’re going to get yours.

Because it’s hydrogen peroxide is why – and no bacteria or virus comes back from exposure to that. And just to be brutal, it’s boosted with colloidal silver. You and your whole dynasty are gone, finished, kaput.

Sure, it’s a horrible death – but you know what? We never liked you anyway.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:19:55.

If you could see germs, you’d be scared too

Man surrounded by germs
Get worried – germs are all around

Harry Venables was still an intern when it happened.

They chose him because he was single, with no girlfriend or family connections. A loner working the night shift who could keep his mouth shut.

At least that’s how it occurred to Harry later, after the spooks disappeared back into the woodwork.

It was just after three, in the middle of the graveyard shift, and he was loitering in the ambulance loading bay at Coombe General. Loitering with a pack of twenty he was about to finish.

He’d just lit up when The Voice spoke to him. He thought of it as The Voice because he never saw the bloke. They only spoke at the ambulance bay and The Voice was always behind him.

Ten grand they offered him, a good step towards a deposit on a flat. He was young, he was observant, he was qualified, he had the nerve and stamina for long hours in A&E, he was a natural.

Nothing bad, they told him. Nothing to do with crime or terrorism.

Yeah, right. They “forgot” to mention terrifying.

They were sort of virtual reality goggles and he was to test them. Choose a quiet moment and walk through A&E with them on. Make a professional assessment without anyone seeing him.

Ten minutes, ten grand. A walk in the park.

They were made by the same people who invented thermal imaging surveillance for the CIA. The difference was, they were medical – to view and be aware of germs. All the pathogens and bio-crud in the environment of the hospital. Back at Vauxhall, they called them “biofecals.”

He put them on twenty minutes later, after the ruptured appendix and just before the three car pile-up on the M3.

Wow, but they shocked him. A horror movie with the aliens already infecting the planet.
The hospital had high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering in the aircon, so he thought the place was safe. When he saw the vents stirring around this film of bluey-pink stuff, he was not so sure.

Wherever he looked there was this haze of colour, darker in some places than others. He got it after a moment, different colours for different germs, he just didn’t know which was which.

It reminded him of something – swirls of dyed coffee crystals, but not so brilliant – caught up and moving in the air all around him, like stuff suspended in water.

The red stuff worried him most, at its thickest around patients with external wounds. He hoped it wasn’t MRSA, or clostridium perfringens, one of the bacteria that caused gangrene.

There was stuff on his hands too, though he washed them after the fag – and rubbed them off with alcohol gel. It wouldn’t wipe away, though more alcohol helped.

But the worst was the whole place infested with these tinges of colour. The hospital prided itself on its hygiene, it’s A&E was one of the most impressive in the country. Light tinges coloured the beds and the worktops around them.

The killer was the darker smudges of colour around the edge of the surfaces. Where the cleaning wipes hadn’t reached because the top was priority. The underside of things was grim too. And on the cables and tubes connecting equipment, a thick coating of coloured spider webs and dust.

It made him scared and it made him sick. He ripped the goggles off and just made it back to the ambulance bay before he threw up. Damn, and now he was out of cigarettes too.

The Voice reached from behind and took the goggles. Describing his experience was worse. As a practicing doctor he knew what the colours meant. By the time he finished, he was shaking.

No wonder people got sick and died – even in hospital, where they hoped to be protected.

Out of sight, out of mind, whatever our germ protection system was amounted to virtually nothing. And how bad could it be in the outside world?

He went back in and washed his hands again. He was a doctor, he had to do something about this. There had to be a way to keep patients safe and sterilised. And the greater public too. Another story that starts here.

He found the ten grand in his bank account. It felt dirty, diseased, like the germs that had put it there. Without even thinking, he donated the lot to cancer research.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:16:10.

Time to kick up stink about germ protection

Girl holding nose
There’s something rotten about our hygiene

What’s with the big shots who run this world?

People still catch germs, people still die – but we can stop viruses and bacteria any time we like, just by pressing a button.

It’s shocking, but it’s true.

Any germ you like, we can kill it dead, before it starts anything, right now.

So why are people falling ill and catching infections, when it’s all preventable?

Inertia.

It’s easier to do nothing. And save the money.

There’s no crisis to worry about, so why bother?

Unless you happen to be one of those with MRSA, e. coli, aspergillis, c. difficile, campylobacter, HIV-AIDS, or any of the other nasties that can kill you.

Because the cruel truth is, you didn’t need to be exposed to any of them in the first place.

Sure, medical science can do amazing things to help when you’re ill. But how many wash their hands of proactively staying healthy? Of preventing infections before they start?

It’s not difficult to sterilise the space around us. To kill all the germs and make sure it’s safe to be there. We’ve known how to do it since the Nineteenth Century.

The cheapest and easiest is to oxidise them. Out in the open, before they invade your body, viruses and bacteria are unprotected. Shove extra atoms of oxygen at them, and you rip their cell structure to pieces. They’re gone, permanently.

And with an oxidiser like ionised hydrogen peroxide, you can mist-spray a whole room to sterilise the moving space and all surfaces – tables, chairs, worktops, beds and floors – for around 80p. Not exactly buying an aircraft carrier, is it?

Or if you really want to blast germs out of existence, use ozone.

It works the same way, but is even more oxygen rich. Which gives you any level from simply removing smells and odours, to the industrial strength triple whammy that purifies chemical pollutants after shale oil fracking.

Too chemical for you?

Against viruses and bacteria, we even have a death ray – ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) it’s called in the trade. Five to ten minutes direct exposure and germs are history, their DNA twisted and reduced to nothing.

So why aren’t we using all these things? In hospitals, in restaurants, in foodstores, in schools, or even in our own homes? Do we have a death wish?

Because without them, we’re at risk every second of the day. Billions and billions of microbes surround every one of us all the time, yet we’re so full of ourselves we do nothing.

And all the while, doctors are going nuts because they know that antibiotics are starting not to work any more. The germs have found a way round them. They’ve developed a resistance. We’re back to the Dark Ages.

And you’d better believe it. Cut yourself making a sandwich and infection could kill you.

Except it’s totally unnecessary.

Where’s the sense in dying for a BLT?

Come on now, we’ve all grown up, haven’t we? We clean our teeth, use deodorant, and wash our hands before and after we do everything. Stay healthy, that’s all we have to do.

Dammit, why shouldn’t we make a noise until every public place is properly protected in the same way it is cleaned every day? And public transport too – buses, trains, planes, ships – everywhere.

Make a stink, write to your MP.

Give those germs the same stinking treatment they give you.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:12:33.

Now in your high street: the sterilised supermarket

Island in red germs
A sterilised oasis in a sea of germs

You know that sign you get in the loo at hotels and airports? The one that tells you when the place was last inspected?

Well, I was outside my local supermarket, waiting for the rain to stop, when I saw something similar next to the front door.

Except it wasn’t the same.

Instead of “last cleaned”,  it said “last sterilised”.

“Sterilised”. As in “all germs removed”. Like a hospital operating room.

And the sign meant the whole supermarket – plus the warehouse area and cold store – and the staff area upstairs. I know ‘cos I went in and asked the manager. A bit unusual wasn’t it, for a neighbourhood grocer’s?

The manager had this evil grin. They’re a family operation, holding their own in the war for the high street.

“It’s our secret weapon,” he said. “And we’ve got the big names cold. Next time you read about some fridge that hasn’t been cleaned, or mice in the meat section, you’re gonna remember this place and how we’re sterilised every night.”

Every night? I was surprised. Wasn’t it only necessary once a week or something?

The manager was amazing. Busy bloke, yet he took time to natter – “forward facing customer skills” I think they call it. Anyway he had ’em, in spades.

Yes, every night, because germs are all around all the time. You can fit a billion of them on the head of a pin, they’re too small to see. But we drag them around with us – on our skin, on our clothes, followed by a hovering cloud of hazard, wherever we go.

Which means that the store might be germ-free when they open the doors. But by the end of the day it needs doing again. Just like all the counters have to be washed, the floors swept and the shelves disinfected. The daily hygiene habit for business.

Then I asked him how it was done.

And that was amazing too. Because the whole thing was touch-free, nobody lifted a finger. They cleaned the place first, then rolled in this thing like an electronic wheelie bin, and hit a button.

Apparently what it does is mist up the place with hydrogen peroxide, clouds of it everywhere – all through the shop and the shelves and chillers – right into the cracks and crevices too.

Now I remember hydrogen peroxide. My gran used to put it on cuts and scrapes when we were little. Same story, to kill the germs. It used to fizz and foam like crazy. Kind of cool and it didn’t sting. Too iffy for today’s ‘elf and safety wonks.

This fog, it seems, is pretty high tech. It’s a super-fine mist, way thinner than steam or water vapour. And it’s ionised, so it attracts itself to airborne particles like floating microbes, clings fast to surfaces like worktops and shelves – underneath as much as on top – all the hidden areas that tend to get neglected.

It gets better. Cos the stuff is boosted with colloidal silver, another known germ-fighter from the old days. This boosts performance big time, because no known bacteria can survive against even minute traces of silver, especially in its colloidal state.

Forty-five minutes is all it takes. They have three of these machines misting up the place at the same time – the shop first, then the cold store, then the warehouse – in pace with staff clocking off to go home.

Impressive stuff. Which means the manager’s right. I’m not going to go spend my bucks in the superstore, even though they do cost less. I’m going to my local in the high street – a sterilised oasis in a sea of germs  – and I don’t have to use that self-service checkout which drives me crazy.

No point taking chances when I don’t have to.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:08:43.

The road to healthy business

Coach on Motorway
Everybody safe, sterilised from germs

Poor Mrs Bremridge.

She took ill on the way back from the matinée at the Royal Theatre. A one-man presentation of Gogol’s Diary of a Madman with James Tibbott – a bit high-brow for her companions but perfect for Molly B. She had quite a career in the West End until Russell swept her off her feet to Kenya.

Billy Young was the coach driver, standing in for Erin because he had the Transit licence and Erin only drove the Scanias – too big deal to handle a load of OAPs.

So it was up to him to do something when Mrs B had her attack.

He didn’t know what it was, but it looked bad, shivering and shaking like she was having a fit. And the moans. It was because she made so much noise that Billy stopped in the first place. Poor old dear looked like she might not make it.

So Billy took no chances. Drove straight to A&E, fighting panic all the way that the others would come down with it too. Some kind of bug, you never knew what it was – and suddenly you’re disabled in a wheelchair with half your gut removed.

Unbelievable, but having a busload of OAPs on their doorstep worked for Mrs B. The triage nurse had her put straight through for treatment without even waiting. Which was how come Billy knew what it was before they left. Malaria apparently – once you had it, attacks kept recurring.

Billy shivered. Not for him. So when he dropped the lot of them at the Civic Centre, he got the bus back to the yard and scrubbed it down with the first things he could find – washing up liquid and bleach from under the sink.

It got to him at home too. Poor Mrs Bremridge, shaking so violently. It spooked him bad and that was no lie. It set him thinking too. Maybe bleach wasn’t enough. What if he caught it, exposed to it all the time because it kept lurking in his bus?

Panic sent him to the Internet – where he found it. An aerosol bomb that misted up enclosed spaces with ammonium chloride. Killed all germs by oxidising them, it said on the label, knocked them down in mid-air. Shut the windows, put the thing in the middle of the floor, hit the button.

It sure misted up the place, a white haze that ghosted the whole of the inside. Trouble was, his Dad caught him at it – it was his company after all. Gave him an earful about filling a perfectly good bus with white smoke.

He calmed down when Billy explained though. Two pints of Best Bitter it took before the Old Man got it. Another two and he reckoned Billy was a genius.  Sterilise the vehicle was what the stuff did, made it safe from germs for everyone who stepped aboard. A business advantage, they’d be rich.

And how many times had Billy himself had to hop over to Germany or the Czech Republic because one of their other drivers had caught a bug from one of the passengers? A whole coach-load marooned in a hotel that they had to pay for, and then argue about with the insurance company.

They bought a job lot of aerosols after that. Enough for their whole fleet to carry every day they were away from home – Billy’s Dad, Len, Erin, Billy himself and Fagin – thirty-five bombs a week minimum.

Their accountant complained of course, but it was worth every penny being able to guarantee that every trip was sterilised. And business went boom, boom!

Then the Old Man got smart. Found a machine that worked cheaper and did the job automatically. Misted up all their buses every night in the yard – with hydrogen peroxide mist which was way more potent. And what the heck, they had to clean the buses anyway, so pushing a button was no effort.

Stopped a lot of people getting ill Billy reckoned. Him and the other drivers for a start. They didn’t seem to come down with the sniffles any more, at least not as much. Of course they still had people throw up on the road, school-kids with motion sickness or whatever.

But thanks to Mrs Bremridge, it was never anything serious. They had sterilised coaches now, the best service on the road. Let those posh London companies chew on that.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 17:04:15.

Fighting disease and infection takes serious firepower

Submarine attack
Serious about destroying germs

Soap and water is a first line of defence, right? Clean hands are critical to getting rid of germs.

Absolutely indisputably so.

Except soap and water doesn’t kill germs. It merely removes them – washes them away down the plughole.

Because all it is is water (H2 O) and sodium stearate (C18 H35 Na O2). Clever stuff for separating dirt and stuff from skin – but way underpowered at zapping germs dead.

And washing your hands only protects… your hands.

But viruses and bacteria surround us all the time – hands, body, face, mouth. They’re even inside us.

Most of the time we’re safe enough. Until the heavies show up: MRSA, c.difficile, salmonella, campylobacter – the usual suspects. Wash your hands of those, they’re still clinging on everywhere else. Murderers, if you give them half a chance.

Remember your hospital swab tests? In your mouth, your nose and your groin. Still not good enough is it? Because pathogens are up in the air too. Billions and billions of them. Wash them off, they’ll settle right back again. A never ending process.

Killing germs takes real power. And fortunately you’ve got it readily enough to hand – that amazing stuff from the Nineteenth Century, hydrogen peroxide.

How powerful is it? You’ve heard of peroxide blondes? This is the stuff that changes hair colour. Super-bleach, hyper-stripper, and powerful oxidiser.

Oxidiser – hold that thought.

H2 O2, like water with extra oxygen.

Oxygen powered. From ὀξύς, the Greek word for acid. The same stuff that we breathe. The same potent substance that attacks our bodies every second we’re alive, requiring our skin to regrow itself every 27 days. It burns by shoving oxygen atoms at things that come in contact with it.

It’s super powerful too. Back in the day, the Royal Navy built two experimental submarines powered by hydrogen peroxide. Called the Explorer-class, they were super-fast boats, with a speed of nearly 27 knots underwater on just one turbine.

Trouble was, at the super-concentration they were using it at, the stuff was unstable. Navy wags took to calling it the Exploder-class. Amazingly powerful, and only replaced when nuclear power came along.

That kind of oxidiser.

Now imagine that going up against C. difficile, MRSA, SARS, salmonella or E. coli. Out in the open – floating in air, on the skin, or on high-traffic contact surfaces – it is vulnerable and defenceless. It doesn’t have the human body to protect it.

Against a fine mist spray of hydrogen peroxide, there is only one outcome. The pathogens are ripped to pieces and cease to exist. All of them, not just one type. And the room is sterile. Not a source of infection anywhere.

Until one of us humans walks in, dragging a cloud of new microbes along with us.
But better protected than we ever were with soap and water – though of course, that is still necessary.

So the story continues.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 14:28:44.

Getting sick on the plane: the good news and bad news

Travelsick woman
Up and away – and down with a bug

So you’re off somewhere nice on one of those shiny new airliners – a Boeing 787 Dreamliner or and Airbus 380. Jet-set you, all ready to enjoy yourself.

Just possibly as you board, a little thought niggles you. These are long-haul aircraft – you’re going to be sitting here for eight hours or more. Breathing the same air, sharing the same space as several hundred other people.

What if you catch a germ?

Actually, chances are pretty good that you won’t. Not from the aircraft anyway. Up in the sky you’re breathing air that’s completely refreshed 20 times an hour, purified by hospital grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

Those cold or flu like feelings you sometimes get are nothing to do with infection. It’s just how your body reacts after several hours in a bone-dry, oxygen thin cabin atmosphere. Sometimes they linger, sometimes they don’t.

But the filters take out 99.97% of bacteria in your immediate area. In fact every seven rows has its own independent ventilation system. So if something makes you feel queasy on a flight, it’s not from the air being pumped at you.

Fellow passengers though, are another matter. Not from how healthy they are, but from what they do. If you’re going to catch a bug from the person sitting next to you, eight hours is still a very short exposure time. Unless of course, they’re sneezing all over you.

Consider though, the environment that you’re in. Sure, you’re going somewhere nice, but for the next eight hours you’re a prisoner to your seat. You might go to the loo to stretch your legs, but most of the time you’re just sitting there, you can’t really move.

OK, so what happens with trolley service and meals? You’ve had your drink, a good holiday vodka and orange juice – now they come at you with a full tray of dinner. So where do you put your plastic glass and drink can?

Only one place, the seat-back pocket.

Don’t go there. Because that is the place everyone puts everything. And if the cabin crew aren’t actually collecting trash at the moment you need them to, that’s where it all goes. Along with your tissues, your book, the well-thumbed magazine, the flight safety guide and…

Oh, oh, there’s the seat belt sign, just as Mum is changing a nappy. Into the seat pocket it goes, along with the half-finished Mars bar from a previous flight, an apple core and a wad of well-chewed gum.

Not from your flight of course. That stuff was lifted out before you boarded. But the residue is still there, the stuff you can’t see. And because nobody can wash their hands just sitting there, it’s on the tray table as well. On the armrests and seat back. Invisible MRSA and e. Coli. Or maybe worse.

And don’t even think about the blankets and pillows.

Yet all the while the HEPA units are pumping out fresh, filtered air. You’re safe, but you’re not safe, all at the same time. Though that’s mostly on long-haul. A lot of regional jets don’t have the same filter units. That quick hop to Ibiza or Magaluf might be more iffy than you’d like.

Which makes hygiene on the ground more critical than airlines think. A quick wipe down with an antiseptic cloth will not sort germs in the seat pocket or upholstery. Because research already shows viruses and bacteria can survive in those areas for up to a week.

There is one sure way to remove them though.

Sterilise the whole aircraft pre-flight.

Mist up the entire interior with a powerful oxidising spray of hydrogen peroxide in which harmful pathogens cannot survive. Dispersed by mobile auto-robots for the main cabin interior, with a generous squirt from hand-held units into every seat pocket.

All before anybody boards.

That mist kills 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria in the air – and on every surface it makes contact with – head cushions, armrests, hand rails, window covers, overhead lockers – everything.

Electrostatically charged, it reaches into corners and crevices too – especially tray tables, even though they’re folded away. Boosted by colloidal silver to perform better.

You want to eat off that? You can.

Just make sure though, that your airline actually does all this.

Otherwise, if you’re worried – sit tight, use alcohol hand-wipes – and save your appetite for when you’re back on the ground.

The HEPA units will keep you safe until then.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 13:58:23.

Coming home with bugs

Jumbo descending
Home, safe from germs – or caught a bug?

The euphoria is total, the excitement unbelievable. But now that the World Cup is over, we’ve got to get back to reality.

We’ve got to get home too – which can cause a lot of us plenty of adventures.

For instance, if you flew to Uruguay as well as Brazil, you would have been sprayed with insecticide on descent into Montevideo. The airlines call this “disinsection” (dis-insect-ing) and you’ll experience it entering various countries, especially the tropical ones.

That’s fine for killing ordinary bugs, but what about the kind you can’t see? The viruses and bacteria that all hot countries seem to have, often contagious and capable of making you quite ill.

Believe it ot not, there is no spray treatment or procedure anywhere. You’ve got to have your shots before you go – and that’s it.

So if you’ve got a bug – or are sitting next to somebody with one – you, and everyone else on your flight could be at risk.

Somehow we’ve all experienced it, haven’t we? “Aeroplane flu” is a fact of life. And it’s almost impossible to prevent. What are they going to do, refuse everyone with a sniffle who tries to board?

It’s a problem and no mistake. All kinds of people could unknowingly carry bugs – and at 600 mph, it’s the fastest way for any new disease to spread itself around the planet.

Six countries currently require pesticide spraying on all inbound flights: Grenada, India, Kiribati, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.

Another six; Australia, Barbados, Fiji, Jamaica, New Zealand and Panama require the use of residual pesticides – when every surface in the cabin is sprayed with a solution of 2% permethrin shortly before crew and passengers board.

But there’s nothing to stop germs. No spray, no anything to prevent the spread of the usual Brazilian villains – malaria, dengue, yellow fever, hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, and rabies. Or the more usual travel bug and everyone’s least favourite, norovirus.

It’s up to the airlines to decide what action to take. And because it takes time and money, the issue tends to be ignored. Even our own CAA are not too concerned. Yet every five years or so there is a global outbreak of something – and it’s jet travel that spreads it faster than anything else.

What can be done? Not much, if passengers are already carrying a disease or infection – and may not even know that they are.

But the issue can be minimised. Aircraft can be sterilised before every flight, so that at least cabins themselves are not the source of anything.

It may not happen very often at the moment.

But count on it, as we become more susceptible to bugs from elsewhere – particularly those that have developed resistance to antibiotics – it is likely to become the norm.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 13:50:37.

Super-healthy Super Kids

Look Ma, no germs! When you're healthy, the whole world is yours
Look Ma, no germs! When you’re healthy, the whole world is yours

As schools go, it’s not big.

350 kids – Year Three to Year Six.

Previous Ofsteds were “Good” and the last one “Outstanding”.

But the thing a lot of parents are starting to notice is, none of the children get sick.

On the wall next to the bursar’s office is a plaque. “For the safety of children and staff, the school premises is sterilised every day in rotation.”

They have to thank the Head Teacher for that. Pat Whatshername. Because she knew 350 kids together in one enclosed place was a sure-fire breeding-ground for colds and collywobbles.

She bullied and cajoled the governors to buy the four auto-robots that spray the place with hydrogen peroxide, four classrooms at a time, every evening after hours.

Buying them would have been a no-go. For a big capital expense like that in one hit, the County Council would have blocked it.

But the Head got smart. Found a way to lease them and got the parents to stump up the cash. Presented the idea to Mums and Dads in her red sweater and boots, with the Princess Grace hair from way back.

The Mums were a bit iffy in their tracky bottoms and sneakers – but the Dads lapped it up. Especially the bit about only £1 per child per month – less than the tea and biscuits they shelled out for every meeting.

So every night, Komnan – he’s from Ghana – sets up the four machines in a different classroom, shutting all the windows and doors. Each of them clicks on and mists the room for around 45 minutes. Toilets and changing rooms are smaller, they get 30 minutes.

The hydrogen peroxide spray is ionised and boosted with colloidal silver. It spreads up and out, destroying germs in mid-air, reaching deep into cracks and crevices.

At a 99.9999% kill rate, no viruses or bacteria survive. If there are any around, it’s when the kids bring in new ones from outside, next day.

Last thing before he goes home, Komnan puts all four machines in the hall – where assemblies, gym and school meals take place – nobody’s coming down with gastro in here.

An “Outstanding” Ofsted – and some really bright kids. With more bounce and go than most you might meet.

Being healthy has to be the answer.

Originally posted 2014-08-05 13:19:41.