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.
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?
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.