No, Ebola doesn’t know it’s Christmas

Black baby Christmas
Taking away love is the cruellest death of all

Among the lyrics nay-sayers are objecting to in the new Do they know it’s Christmas song just released by Bob Geldof  & Co is “Where a kiss of love can kill you…”

It’s a heart-breaking reality for the people of West Africa, whose love and compassion is denied them by the highly contagious infect-on-contact nature of the virus.

The dignity of dying

It’s been much reported that the custom of touching and kissing the dying and the dead is a major cause of spreading this dreadful affliction.

How dare we be so heartless and uncaring!

We would all be better people for demonstrating such humanity. To show love to the dying is one of the greatest gifts of all. Unfortunately, with Ebola around, it will kill you.

Except maybe we’re not that uncaring – just misplaced in our thinking and unobservant of the ways of others. And maybe a little insensitive.

Here to help

This week, more volunteers flew into Sierra Leone – thirty NHS professionals, advance guard of over 1,000 highly motivated and committed young people.

As trained medics, it will be ingrained in them that patients must be isolated and contact restricted to professionals wearing proper protection. Not wrong, but itself adding to the crisis.

To locals they are the “spacemen” who take loved ones away, denying them the care and support of their family when they need it most. To avoid such heartbreak, they hide sick family members from them, stealing into the jungle to even more remote havens.

But unfortunately not they’re havens at all.  How ever far they run, Ebola will kill them for their love. Giving and loving is not on the agenda.

Where’s the love?

That makes it a bleak Christmas for everyone. As a celebration of love and compassion it belongs to the world – for Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Hindus every bit as much as Christians. Love and compassion are qualities we all seek to show in our actions, 365 days a year.

In fitting tribute, in Germany, Japan and several other places round the world there are shops devoted to Christmas all year round. Such glitz and razzmatazz might overpower the underlying love, but the motive is still there. We care, we need to show it, Happy Christmas.

Which brings us back to Sierra Leone. If we need to show compassion anywhere, it’s here.

Yes, it’s amazing what’s happening. Professionals from around the world – particularly Britain – giving of themselves and risking their lives to be there. Money and resources can buy a lot of compassion.

But where is the love the locals need to show their own?

Well-meaning but insensitive

With our Western ways and perceptions, we steal it away from them just as surely as Ebola does. They can’t touch, feel, kiss, or be together. We rip them apart without knowing we are doing so. No wonder they flee to the jungle.

How would we feel if we were denied access to our own? Our own children, soul mate or parents taken away from us – as if we have committed a crime?

This is the REAL Ebola crisis, isn’t it?

How to let people show love.

And how to be genuine about it.

Big deal

So a bunch of pop stars get together to make a fund-raising song – they waive their fee but generate more publicity for themselves than they might otherwise have got on their own.

So the concerned among us make donations – dumping the guilt bucket and wallowing in feelgood.

So the gung-ho professionals arrive in West Africa – troops, medicos, nurses, gofers – boots on the ground, determined to stomp out this terrible virus once and for all.

But where’s the Christmas?

Where do the people of Sierra Leone get to show their love for the family who are suffering and dying? How do they show their love and respect for the dead?

Can we solve it with pastors, imams, rabbis and priests?

The hurt is in the heart

Have we any idea how hard it is to ask those people to let go? To get them to accept that it’s out of their hands, those lives are gone – unless by some lucky chance the medical professionals can bring them back again?

All we can do is think of them and try in every way we can. Recognise they all face the long good-bye and try to put ourselves in their position.

Because unlike them, we’re not good with dead bodies. They scare us, even when they’re our own family. A throwback maybe to 350 years ago, when we ourselves were faced with The Plague and in our ignorance we thought the slightest touch could do for us.

Be kind to these people, they’re humans just like us. Take them to your heart and love them in your own way. If the world shows love, maybe losing a loved one may not be so heart-breaking.

Love is the greatest gift of all and Ebola can’t have it.

Today’s health: queasy tum, germy, flu later

Deluge of germs
Look out! There’s a germ storm coming!

You wear a raincoat if it rains – probably carry an umbrella.

But how about a germcoat?

Every day, every one of us moves around with a personal aura of around 3 million microbes – smaller than raindrops or dust, hanging onto us by our own static charge.

Germ clouds gathering

Some of them are viruses, some of them bacteria. A few of them are even benign.

But count on it, the rest are out to get you any way they can – they just can’t reach you, floating around as individual cells. Your skin is too thick, you blink too often, your nose filters them out, and  you keep your mouth closed.

There’s more of them out there in clouds as well. Billions and billions. Norovirus, rhinovirus, e.coli, campylobacter, salmonella, c.difficile, AIDS – so many, some of them don’t have names yet.

Don’t worry though, as long as they’re not inside your body, you’re safe. Just don’t give them a chance by letting your hands get dirty or wolfing down some dodgy food.

Always at hazard

But it”s not that easy – things can happen.

That bloke next to you in the Underground suddenly explodes and a mist of vapour and ewwy bits flies through the air. Not single germs any more – just one gob of snot is loaded with millions – enough to gang up and enter your body if you’re careless enough.

Luckily you have handiwipes in your bag and can clean the stuff off. You’re only exposed for a few seconds, hopefully you’re OK. Not so easy with the stuff you might breathe, though. You’re right to try to move away.

Right to wipe your hands too. Unconsciously, most of us are always touching our faces – wiping eyes, rubbing cheeks, gesturing up to our mouths. Entry ports for germs if you just let them.

Never thought about any of this?

Out of sight, out of mind

Most people don’t. Out of sight out of mind.

Not like those dark winter clouds above, or the rain splattering down around us.

Germs, microbes, pathogens – they’re all too small to see. Several million could fit on the head of a pin – so to have 3 million or so always floating around us means they’re actually quite sparse – an empty day for them.

You’d freak if they were dyed with colour so you could see them though. Hit by the sudden reality that you’re not as safe as you thought you were. Threatened at every second.

Well, not exactly.

You’re not attacked by wild dogs every time you step outside your front door, are you? Creepy buzzards don’t swoop down from the sky.

The same with germs. Except they’re always with you on the spot and ready, waiting –  while the nearest pack of wild dogs could be several hundred miles away.

You’re no safer indoors, either. You can’t escape a germ cloud like sheltering from the rain.

Wrong.

Safe places

Indoors is the one place where we can make ourselves safest. But – out of sight, out of mind – we never do it.

Out in the open, there’s no holding germs back. And they’re out there all the way up to the troposphere – scientists have found bacteria happily thriving nine miles up and beyond, no problem.

Indoors is different. In a closed environment, we can control the air.

Look at hospital operating theatres, clean rooms and computer data centres. By pumping up the pressure greater than outside, no air or germs can get in, everything is pushed out.

The air can be filtered too. Protected by high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters that are fine enough to trap many of the pathogens that threaten us.

Protective measures

We can even sterilise the place – eliminate viruses and bacteria immediately.

The quick way is with short wave ultra violet light. A few seconds exposure at close range and BAM, it attacks the germ cells’ DNA and destroys them.

A whole room of course takes longer  – more time to reach places further from the light.

Better still is hydrogen peroxide, well-known as a germ-killer back in the Nineteenth Century. Souped up for the Twenty-First, it’s even more effective. Experiments have proved that in the gaseous state, it’s many times more efficient.

Difficult to work with though, as it decomposes easily. So the trick is to ionise it in liquid form and spray it out like a mist. Dispersed like this, its performance is formidable.

Ionising gives it a static charge that makes it spread more quickly, ultra-fine so it rises easily and reaches into cracks. The static charge also attracts it to germs, which it kills by oxidising – shoving oxygen atoms at them.

Neither viruses nor bacteria can survive this treatment – their cells are ripped to pieces. In twenty minutes – that’s all it takes – the average room is completely sterile. No germs, nothing.

Makes quite a difference to your health forecast, doesn’t it? If there aren’t any germs around, there’s nothing to touch you. You don’t get sick, you’re totally safe. And all it costs is about a fiver.

So why don’t hospitals, hotels, restaurants and schools use it all the time?

Well, why aren’t you wearing your germcoat?

Out of sight, out of mind. And most of the time, we’re healthy enough to get away with it.

Unless – cough, wheeze, sniffle – we’re careless or unlucky.

Yes Ma’am, this is a worldwide threat

Commando aiming
Malaria is a bigger killer than Ebola

Worse than Ebola? Yes, definitely.

But not so ugly. Not so compelling to our morbid fascination with blood and pain and suffering.

Yesterday, Her Majesty the Queen reminded us* that our top-of-mind preoccupation with Ebola is deflecting us from an even greater threat.

One that kills more victims every day than the current Ebola outbreak has in total.

Malaria.

A threat to us all

You see, Ebola might be lethal, but we CAN actually kill it.

As a virus out in the open, we can attack it by oxidising, which rips its individual cells to pieces. Or we can blitz with ultra violet light, which destroys its DNA.

But malaria is not a virus. It’s a parasite spread by mosquitoes.

And like Ebola at the moment, there is no vaccine for it.

Make no mistake, malaria is way more deadly.

In 2012 the World Health Organisation put half the world at risk from malaria with 207 million cases reported and 627,000 deaths. Most of these were children under 15 – from parasites passed on by their mothers.

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 200,000 infants die from it every year.

One child every 60 seconds.

So Her Majesty is right, we’re taking our eye off the ball.

We need to beat both Ebola and malaria in the same way.

Treat cause, not symptoms

Our mothers taught us this, but we never seem to remember – PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

Get to both of these killers before they get to us, and we’re safe.

In fact striking the first blow is fast becoming our most effective weapon.

Because right now, health professionals around the world are seriously worried about resistance to both these diseases.

Yesterday was European Antibiotic Awareness Day – underlined by the threat that more and more bacteria are developing immunity to treatment by antibiotics.

Widespread use, particularly through agriculture, has led to many antibiotics becoming completely ineffective. At a stroke, our major defence against infections – particularly in hospital surgical procedures – is gone.

Which means as soon as we find a cure for Ebola, it may be defeated. We need to clobber it first.

It’s the same with malaria.

Get those mosquitoes

Saturation use by agriculture of the insecticide DDT – originally intended as an indoor residual spray (IRS) – led to mosquitoes developing an immunity and a return to epidemic levels in poorer parts of the world like Ivory Coast, Angola, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Mali. The parasites are also drug resistant.

Sure mosquito nets help, especially those one treated with pyrethroids – made from an organic compound found naturally in the flowers of pyrethrum lilies. Harmless to humans, it attacks the nervous system of the mosquito and kills it.

Problem solved – but with a downside.

It’s also toxic to bees, fish and cats.

Bees pollinate the flowers of fruit trees and other food plants – and already this year bees in Britain are becoming scarce because of the warm, wet summer. Fish of course, are part of a whole long food chain. And cats have a whole army of people on their side.

So it’s back to DDT, as long as it’s used indoors. But pyrethroids work and are highly effective at killing mosquitoes. Along with other insecticides, they just need care.

Same thing with viruses and bacteria. They’re easily oxidised – particularly by ionised hydrogen peroxide. A quick spray of super-fine mist and ALL germs are gone – the whole place is sterilised.

Problem solved again – but also with a downside.

Oxidising kills ALL viruses and bacteria – including the useful ones. So again care has to be taken in how it’s done. Treating empty indoor areas room-by-room works best. Without people present there is no hazard and sterile rooms are safe to use afterwards.

Care and diligence

As long as we are watchful and careful, both Ebola and malaria can be overcome – and other dread diseases besides.

Thank you, Your Majesty, for bringing us up to the mark.

*At the launch a new leadership academy at Chatham House in London.

Don’t worry, it’s not Ebola – you just need a flu jab

Chicken running in snow
Brrr! Ignoring flu in cold weather could do you a lot of no good

The symptoms look the same in the first ten days. Headache, feverishness, sore throat, fatigue.

And make no mistake, flu CAN be a killer. More people catch it – and more people die from it every year – than all the Ebola cases put together.

Relax – there’s no need to suffer – you can get a flu vaccination just about anywhere.

Protection for everyone

It’s quick and easy too – just about anyone can have it.

And it’s not just the oldies who get it for free.

It’s anyone at serious risk of getting the the flu, expecting mothers, or people with a serious condition like asthma or diabetes.

Even your kids can have it – not from a jab, but a nasal spray.

So if it’s that easy, what are you waiting for?

Winter is coming

Because don’t be taken in by all this mild weather. It might be the warmest year in centuries, but this is Britain in winter – and it WILL change. And when those double figure temperatures dip, that’s when your body is vulnerable.

Your GP can do the jab and so can your chemist. If you’re over 65, you’ve probably already had a text message from the NHS, reminding you to book one.

Yes, you do need to book – there’s a few questions to ask first, to make sure you’ll be OK.

Get it done at your desk

You can even get it done at work. Every year, employers face a staggering £1.1 billion cost for lost working time, so maybe you can strong-arm the boss to have it on your company’s medical scheme like BUPA.

There’s also lots of companies that come in to the office and do it on the spot. A quick two minutes and a deserved coffee break.

If you pop into your chemist, reckon on it costing you about £12.

Some places do charge a bit more, but you’ll get extras like a nasal spray and vitamin C tablets thrown in as part of the deal.

Effective protection

Does it work?

Definitely – though since we’re all different, it’s better for some people than for others.

It depends on the type of flu too. The vaccine will cope with most, but there are thousands of varieties and new ones developing all the time. This year’s includes protection against:

  • H1N1 – the strain that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
  • H3N2 – a strain of flu that infects birds which was active in 2011
  • B/Massachusetts/2 – another strain that was active in 2012

It’s because these strains keep changing that you need to have the jab every year.

And it’s worth doing because flu can very quickly get serious if you’re not careful.

Don’t take chances

Risk going out when it’s cold and wet and it could turn into pleurisy or pneumonia.

In 1626, the famous philosopher Francis Bacon died from the after-effects of stuffing a chicken with snow bare-handed, trying to win an argument that cold preserved food better than salt.

The chill that he caught turned to acute pneumonia in a damp bed and that was the end of him. A ghost chicken reportedly haunts Pond Square, Highgate to this day.

Perhaps it’s a way of reminding you.

Don’t be chicken about getting your flu jab!

Vaporised vs Ionised – secrets of a super germ-fighter

Air contest 2
New technology, new performance – how ionised hydrogen peroxide outclasses other methods. Photo by Luis Soler on Unsplash

OK, so you know that misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide kills germs.

Yes, it’s effective – but you’ve probably heard it makes things wet and corrodes certain surfaces. Don’t take chances, step away from the risk.

Not wrong.

Except not exactly right either.

Getting it right

Because there’s hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen peroxide.

And ten-to-one, your experience is with hydrogen peroxide VAPOUR. (HPV)

Seriously potent stuff this, at 35% concentration. Pow!

It requires a vaporiser machine to disperse it into the room being treated. Plus a gaggle of separate aeration units to filter the hydrogen peroxide back out again – AND get rid of the moisture.

Lots of PT, but it works.

Kind of clumsy and time-consuming though. And you’re right to worry about computer connections and plastic finishes on all kinds of sensitive equipment.

Like we said, don’t take chances.

So you back away from it. Take second best with hand scrubbing and ammonium quats. Grind your teeth that there’s still places you’re not treating. Live with the doubt that you’re not fully sterilised, not germ-free.

Not safe, dammit!

But that’s the downside of hydrogen peroxide vapour. Great in principle, but just doesn’t deliver the way it could.

New dimension plasma

A whole new dimension though, if the hydrogen peroxide is IONISED. (iHP)

Same principle, different technology.

The whole place sterilised in one easy go – exactly the way you were hoping.

Potent against germs. Low concentration, so it’s safe with every kind of equipment. Quick and easy. One-machine, one-button effortless. All done and dusted in around 40 minutes.

So easy-peasy, what’s the catch?

Making it safe for starters. 6% against 35% – no longer needing that “Corrosive” hazard tag.

Getting it properly dispersed too, so it reaches everywhere. Germ-killing is only effective if it reaches ALL the right places. Underneath things, behind them, hard up against walls and ceilings – deep into cracks and crevices, where pathogens hide and breed.

And of course, really effective fire power, the full Monty. Germ-killing that takes out everything so there’s nothing left. Safe, secure, sterile.

Way different from the vaporised stuff.

Because you see, just spraying stuff into the air is only half the job.

The real deal

The real deal is engaging the germs. Going into combat.

First off, IONISING charges each hydrogen peroxide particle with the same charge. Like two same poles of a magnet held together, it actively shoves hard to get away from itself. No hanging in the air like air fresheners from a spray can – this stuff powers away in all directions, reaching in everywhere.

Ionising also gives it more oomph.

Sure it starts out as mild 6% solution, the same as you buy at the chemist. But ionising changes its state. No longer a gas or air-borne vapour, a PLASMA.

Which triggers the release of yet more germ-killers – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, rective nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

No more wuss bathroom-cabinet antiseptic – suddenly there’s a whole slew of anti-pathogens hundreds of times more powerful.

The charged particles actively reach out and grab oppositely charged bacteria, viruses and fungi – ripping them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them. Oxidised to pieces, no germs can survive.

The H2O2 particles lose their charge, revert back to vapour, decompose to oxygen and water in such small quantities they immediately evaporate.

No germs, no moisture, no nagging doubts about effectiveness.

So like we said, there’s hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen peroxide.

The hard way and the easy way.

Vaporised or ionised.

Which one will you be using?

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Over-85s rock night clubs, let’s party Big Time

Granny partying
ALIVE, baby! And no germs on me!

Non-stop parties, five nights in a row. Sex like rabbits never knew. Bonkers, the lot of them. So that kids of 50 have no idea what they’re missing.

It’s not just happening, it’s happening more and more. Currently, Britain has 12,000 people aged 100 and over – 191 of them with driving licences.

And why not? Death rates are coming down. Living expectancy is going up. Our seniors are fitter, more alert, and getting more out of life than ever before.

Super-oldies

Some of it is diet. Most of it is exercise. The driving force is attitude. But none of it would be possible without the dramatic rise in hygiene standards since World War Two.

More specifically, we human beings have developed better ways to protect ourselves.

Cars have seat belts and air bags. Ultra-light thermal clothing keeps out the cold. So does double glazing and central heating. Hats and sun-cream hold back harmful UV rays. We all have phones if we need to call for help.

Living fit and healthy past 100 is not just within reach, it’s already a reality.

And all about to go down the tubes.

Doomsday disregard

Because the one protection we have yet to secure for ourselves is against germs.

Oh sure, we’ve got hygiene practices and sterile procedures coming out of our ears.

Joseph Lister wised us up to washing hands back in the Nineteenth Century. Flame sterilisation was even practiced by the Romans.

And of course, we have the miracle of antibiotics. No worries about infection, the Doc has pills to sort it.

Or not.

You see, there’s a problem – antibiotics over-use.

We’ve been bingeing on antibiotics for nearly 100 years now – so that to your average virus or bacteria, they’re strictly ho-hum. Take the pills and nothing happens.

500mg three times a day? Been there, done that.

Killers and more killers

Result – there’s not just killers like MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) – there’s 270,000 different strains of it – particularly prevalent in hospitals.

Why?

Because that’s the most likely place you’ll have open cuts and airways – germ portals into the body. All that life-changing surgery we’ve invented – it could be life-ending overnight.

Scary, huh?

Because if these antibiotic thingies aren’t actually working any more, our life expectancy can sink back to 50 – or even 25 if your work is physical, prone to lots of cuts and scratches.

Well yes, but then antibiotics aren’t really protection are they? And right now there’s a bunch of super-docs working round the clock to make them kill germs again.

If you think about it, antibiotics are fix-its – intended as cures, restoratives to bring the body back to health, compensation for germ-strikes.

They don’t actually stop you catching a germ in the first place – like a crash helmet stops you getting a head injury.

Proper protection

But there’s lots of stuff that can. Germ-killers that can take out viruses and bacteria before they get anywhere near you. Carbolic soap, bleach, formaldehyde – or oxidisers like ozone and hydrogen peroxide. Ultra violet light is also like a death ray.

So what the heck are we doing, letting germs get to us – when we’ve already got all these weapons we can use against them?

Sticking our heads in the sand is what.

Except for health professionals, we all think of hygiene as a schlep.

Oh yes, we do – we’re a nation of soap dodgers. One in five of us doesn’t wash our hands after using the loo.

Even though, with the right mind-set, it can actually be FUN! (Thanks, Northampton General Hospital!)

Up to hygiene plus

On top of which, in just twenty minutes we can STERILISE any room so there’s NO VIRUSES or BACTERIA – all dead and gone – just by touching a button. An auto-robot mists up the place with hydrogen peroxide and makes it safe again.

Feel better? You should – as long as you up your hygiene habit.

Yes you, time to up your game.

Do you want to live to 100 or what?

Prepped for Ebola, wide open to MRSA

Disaster Man

Ebola in your home – unlikely to happen yet, or any time soon

Call it dumb luck. Call it misdirected. A growing number of “preppers” are making ready for an Ebola pandemic, but leaving themselves wide open to all kinds of other misfortunes.

“Preppers” are serious people, convinced they need to prepare for a dystopic future. “Ebola has broken out in the UK, there’s rioting in the streets and food is scarce” suggests the scenario of a background report on Sky News.

Ready for “What If”

Assuming the worst is going to happen, one “prepped” contingency is to be equipped with a gas mask and hazmat suit in anticipation of a pandemic. All manner of iron rations and emergency equipment are also at the ready – to be keep preppers as safe as possible.

The hazmat suit is a security blanket – but with every single one of us surrounded by upwards of 3 million assorted viruses and bacteria at any one time, not likely to offer much protection if hygiene levels are not equally secure.

Coping with poo

The preppers quite rightly imagine doom and gloom, but stop short of practical calamities that are likely to hit us as well. Like no electricity, no water, no sewage or waste disposal. A whole catastrophe of germ-generating situations just as deadly as Ebola, or worse.

Because Ebola, apart from being three thousand miles away, is hard to catch. So far it is not transmitted through the air, or by water, and cannot be contracted from someone not already sick.

But just imagine what happens in your household drain if the poo doesn’t go away. And how you’re going to sort it if there’s no way to wash your hands.

Which means it’s not just Ebola that preppers should worry about. It’s all the usual suspects – MRSA, campylobacter, norovirus, c. difficile, AIDS/HIV, e. coli, bird flu, salmonella and all the other nasties.

A hazmat suit is too little too late – after the event, not before.

Prevention, not cure

Because the name of game with any infection is prevention, not cure. Once something is in your body, it’s up to your Doc and luck.

There is of course a way out, assuming the preppers are thorough enough. A standby generator for electricity would be pretty basic – but vital if defence against germs is to be seriously addressed.

With power on hand, they could run an auto-robot to spray their quarters with hydrogen peroxide. The ultra-fine mist would reach everywhere, oxidising viruses and bacteria so that their cell structure was ripped apart.

Bye bye Ebola

And not just some of them either – there’s no pathogen yet that can survive being oxidised. Bye bye Ebola and all the others as well – before they even get anywhere near a vulnerable human body.

Of course we don’t have to wait for disaster to sterilise our surroundings. We can do it now, in twenty minutes, with exactly the same machine.

Just plug it it, hit the button – and whoosh, you’re safe.

As for Ebola – the preppers might have a point. But right now it’s as likely as a Number 9 bus being on time before the rain comes down.

Better not take any chances though.

Are antibiotics going to kill us?

Woman worried about pills
Will they save your life
if you need them?

Unlikely, but the pathogen they’re being used against might.

Because increasingly, antibiotics are not working. The virus or bacteria involved has developed a resistance to it.

So what defence to we have? What can we do?

Strangely enough, stop using antibiotics so widely.

And not just among humans. On farms across the UK antibiotics are often shovelled into livestock as fast as possible. They  protect animal health in high-density production areas – an uncomfortable reality causing a number of MPs to consider a ban.

But strict controls for animal antibiotics are already in place across the EU. They may not be used to boost growth for example, a big business motive for many producers.

Even so, pork producers say they cannot work without them, stressing to the House of Commons science and technology committee that a ban “would make pig production in the UK pretty much impossible“.

Poultry producers have already cut back, according to a National Farmers’ Union spokesperson – but to stop losing chicks, last year they had to raise hygiene standards to “better than hospitals”

And there is the direction we’ll eventually have to take – upping hygiene levels.

To underline it, only last week Scottish hospitals reported a virulent super-MRSA has crossed over from cattle to humans, possibly from dairy milk or undercooked beef.

The clock is ticking. Unless we move, antibiotics WILL kill us – not by themselves, but by not working when they are supposed to.

In China, where the avian flu virus H7N9 is a continuing issue, poultry houses are routinely fogged with disinfectant sprays to destroy germs before birds are infected. Hens can’t die if there aren’t any germs.

Which shows – as we’ve already known for yonks – that prevention is better than cure.

At Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester, NHS staff are proving it. With automatic robots that mist patient areas with super-fine hydrogen peroxide. Viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing – with a “significant decrease in infections.”

“I am not a qualified physician, and I don’t want to give this injection,” sang Lord Kitchener in 1963.

With germ-killers like hydrogen peroxide around, injections or tablets of antibiotics may no longer be quite so necessary.

Phew, the nasties won’t get you this time!

Is Ebola next door, under cover?

Crouching Man
What will you do if the unthinkable happens?

In front of the TV with a good cup of tea, it’s kind of hard to believe.

People in Africa are so desperate to improve their lives, they’re actually dying to get here.

Whatever it takes

A lot of them are genuine immigrants. Thanks to lapses by the under-staffed UK Border Agency, a lot of them are not. Half a million have already fallen off the list – and that doesn’t include the other half million or so living here illegally.

We seen it on the TV though – desperate young men, swarming aboard UK-bound lorries caught in tailbacks outside Calais. Crowds of them over-running the ferry terminals, badly-injured hopefuls hauled out from under Eurostar trains.

When you’re desperate, anything goes – including living as a fugitive once you get here.

Super risky

With luck and the right connections, a young man from Freetown in Sierra Leone might make it across Saharan Africa, over to Italy in a leaky boat, and north to Calais in as little as ten days.

A few hairy moments, scrambling aboard a lorry bound cross-Channel – and the dream world starts, living with friends and relatives in UK.

Dream or nightmare.

Without papers, signing on for any form of benefits is difficult. So is getting a job that pays. But with perseverance, a lowly washing-up job at an under-the-counter rate half the minimum wage is possible.

Which is when the problems start.

Is that the flu, or just getting used to freezing cold Britain?

More than a sickie

The fever, the chest pains, the loss of appetite and red eyes. Maybe it’s malaria. There’s lots of mosquitoes in Sierra Leone. Hard to stand for hours washing up when you’re sick – but you need the money.

Uh huh. Ebola has an incubation period of twenty-one days. A ticking time-bomb.

And look at the panic in New York.

Out of time

A young doctor, Craig Spencer, returns from Ebola relief work with Médecins Sans Frontières‎ in Guinea. He goes for a 3-mile jog, visits the local park, takes a ride on the subway, hails a taxi to a Brooklyn bowling alley. After six days the sickness starts – fever and diarrhoea. Ebola positive. Immediate isolation in Bellevue Hospital.

Not so easy when you’re illegal. So your friends cover up.

That nice African family next-door? Scared people with a guilty secret.

Out of luck

Because in the second week, it gets serious. Sore throat, headache, fatigue – you have to stay in bed.

But you’re not supposed to be here. You’re too ill to go to a NHS Walk-in and a doctor won’t come to you. Your friends care for you as best they can.

Reality hits. It’s not flu. It’s not malaria – you’re much too ill for that. And Ebola is haemorrhagic, you’re bleeding all over the place.

Your friends do their best. But they’re not doctors – and they dare not tell anybody. Your bloody towels and sheets go into a plastic bag in the wheelie bin outside. It’s a week before the council do a pickup.

Out of action

It’s a one-way ticket and you’re not coming back. But still nobody knows.

When the inevitable happens, your friends do they only thing they can. They’re illegal too and cannot risk exposure.

One of them has a car. At three in the morning, a bigger plastic bag is loaded up and dropped in the River Lee. It’s two days before police find the body, washed ashore in the Lockwood Reservoir.

Alarm bells

London’s first local Ebola case. A contaminated water supply. Where has the victim been? What contacts did he have? How many others might be infected? Where does anyone start?

Are we safe enough? Yes, probably.

Ebola spreads by direct contact and our medical teams are on the ball. And say what you like about the NHS, when the chips are down they’re as professional as anywhere in the world.

We shall overcome

We might not look like it any more – with so many of us also from other parts of the world – but we’re the Brits who stood up the the Blitz.

Next door, wherever – we can beat this thing and we will.

Welcome aboard! Gasp, is that Ebola sitting next to you?

Plane passengers
Let’s hope Ebola hasn’t got a ticket

Er, probably not.

Unless it’s an actual person who is infected.

But the actual virus, lurking in the cabin from an earlier flight? Hopefully not, though it’s getting to be a headache for the airlines.

You see, when you’re up there at 36,000 feet, you really are pretty safe. That air you’re breathing is totally refreshed 20 times an hour. Better still, it’s filtered and purified.

Running continuously under the floor is a set of hospital grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters – very effective at trapping microscopic particles like viruses and bacteria.

Because don’t believe that myth about aeroplane flu. If you get the sniffles, it’s more likely that the air is cold and dry – so that’s your mucous membranes  compensating.

So it’s not around while you’re flying.

Different on the ground though, when the aircraft powers down and the aircon goes off. That air is from exiting passengers. As your nose can sometimes tell you – if the turnaround’s a quick one and somebody forgets the air freshener.

And yes, you’re quite right – an air freshener won’t stop Ebola.

But hydrogen peroxide will.

Misted up so it fills the cabin, it takes out bacteria and viruses by oxidising them. They can’t survive the extra oxygen atoms, so their cell structure disintegrates. Bye, bye bad guys like Ebola.

Because it’s not just in the air that the hydrogen peroxide works. It settles on the seat backs, cushions, grab handles and tray tables. Zaps any germs that might be sitting there too.

Right now though, there aren’t too many airlines using the stuff. They’ve never needed to – and any vapour generating systems they might know about are big and clunky – massive trucks, manoeuvring on the ground. Not cheap or quick, either.

That may change real soon. Especially if health authorities start putting aircraft in quarantine. And not just parking in a remote part of the airport either – a complete lockdown for however long it takes.

Real quarantine.

Forty days that used to mean, when the word was first used back in the Fourteenth Century. From the Italian quaranta giorni – the time a ship would be isolated to prevent the spread of Black Death – a nightmare twice as deadly as Ebola will ever be.

But what airline can afford a fleet of multi-million pound Boeings, sitting going nowhere?

Especially when a couple of cans of aerosol ammonium chloride can do an emergency mist up in around half an hour?

Or a hospital-type auto-robot can be hauled aboard to do the same thing with IONISED hydrogen peroxide? Ten times more efficient than the vapour job – and done in half an hour at a cost of around a tenner.

A couple more scares and what’s not to like?

99.9999% germ reduction. No more Ebola. Gone.

So no, that’s not Ebola sitting next to you. Or MRSA, c. difficile, HIV, bird flu, norovirus – or any one of possibly thousands of bio-nasties.

More likely it’s the start of an on-board romance. Or a business deal. Or that well-deserved holiday that you owe yourself.

Enjoy the flight.