Norovirus: how to stop repeat outbreaks before they start

Norovirus misery
Being sick is bad enough, even worse with a norovirus repeat, over and over again. Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Norovirus, ugh! Not only does it feel like the end of the world – seems nothing can stop the dreaded repeat outbreak.

Repeat, repeat and repeat – it boomerangs back and back again. Highly contagious, seriously pernicious – despite the most meticulous deep clean procedures.

Which either means it really IS impossible to beat. Or whatever we’re doing to stop it simply isn’t good enough.

Harsh truth when a thorough job usually involves ripping the place apart. Head-blowing bleach stink with hard scrubbing everywhere for hours – and STILL the bug comes back again.

Know your enemy

Yes, but norovirus is no ordinary stomach bug. It’s the ultimate survivor.

For a start, it only takes ten microscopic particles of the virus to start an infection. Compare that with flu, at maybe between ten and forty times that – and you’re looking at a much more vicious enemy.

Vicious is right.

It’s also why norovirus is so violent – crippling cramps, projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhoea.

Exactly right to spread itself as far and wide as possible – the widest opportunity to start new infections with any newcomers who unsuspectingly chance along.

Plus of course, it might only infect on contact – but it DISPERSES through the air.

Well sure, each particle is barely 2 microns across – light enough to ride the air currents in any room for hours or days. Breathe in just ten of them through your mouth, swallow – and chances are you’ll be hanging onto the loo in utter misery, just 12 hours from now.

And those horrid upchucks?

Yes gruesome, but think of how far they reach and spread.

Across the impact area on the furniture and floor, obviously. Exactly the right place to move in with mop and bucket. But how about underneath? Or behind?

And those are just the big gobs of stuff.

How about the individual particles swirling around – settling everywhere or still riding the breeze? Reach those with sponge or squeegee too?

Wipe down the surfaces, yes – but how about in the coils of power cables, or down the back of electronic equipment? How about the sheets of paper lying on the nearest table – the first thing to be removed by unthinking hands?

The floors get scrubbed. The walls too. Every surface is rubbed down within an inch of its life.

But seldom underneath. And seldom in those hard-to-reach places that nobody thinks about. Cracks, crevices – tiny places where a 2 micron particle might survive for weeks on end.

Which means deep clean or not – the infection never went away in the first place.

Start using the room again, and those norovirus particles are only too ready to come out and do their thing. Not gone. And certainly not forgotten. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

Not good enough

And anyhow, how effective is the stuff we’re using?

That bleach solution might be strong enough to rip your head off, but how does it stack up against a survivor like norovirus? A wipe with even a concentrated solution won’t crack it – to kill norovirus, bleach has to be in continuous contact for at least TWENTY minutes.

So even though a surface is treated, it still might not be safe.

Same thing with steam.

You can give yourself a nasty burn if your not careful. But to kill norovirus, even that kind of heat takes TWO minutes of constant contact or more to do the job. Like bacteria, viruses can survive in the frozen Antarctic, or live happily in a seething volcano. What’s a little steam bath, now and then?

And how are you applying it? With a waving hosepipe?

Well, yes. Because if you did apply superhot steam to everything continuously for two minutes, it would be sodden through and probably useless – shorted out or fused, if it’s anything electric.

And have you seen what bleach does to surfaces with prolonged contact? Shrivelled up or corroded very quickly.

Which puts us where? Hours of work down the drain and the bug still present. Repeat, repeat and repeat.

We think we’re safe, but norovirus is just biding its time. Ready for its repeat performance, just when you thought it was safe.

Money, money, money – not just health

Don’t worry, we’re not the only ones. How about an expensive investment like a cruise ship? Hundreds of passengers, sick and ready to sue.

Thousands down the drain and STILL norovirus comes back – like Fred Olsen Line’s Balmoral, struck down SIX times since 2009.

Or Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruise liner Amsterdam – having to cancel four trips in succession because of repeat outbreaks in 1982.   It got so bad, the ship had to be taken out of service to ensure thorough decontamination – and new passengers were even warned before embarking that the ship had previously had problems it couldn’t get rid of.

All of which says, if you want to get rid of norovirus, there’s no pussy-footing around.

Conventional cleaning just won’t work. And that’s all it is anyway – cleaning.

It’s not actually sterilising – making germs dead, so they can’t infect anything.

Repeat, repeat and repeat

The job’s not done and norovirus is still lurking.

OK, so get unconventional.

Think killing germs, not just cleaning.

Especially getting to the airborne stuff that never gets treated anyway. Yet 80% of pretty well every room we live in is nothing else!

You can throw technology at it, like ultraviolet radiation – that will at least do something.

But there’s a downside to that too. Light can’t go round corners, unless you have lots of mirrors. So blitzing a room with UV means either a lot of exposures in different positions – or manhandling great unwieldy pieces of shiny metal (glass would break).

Oh and yes – a variation on the contact time. The potency of UV as a germ-killer falls off rapidly with distance from the light source. Unless everything’s within about ten feet, those pesky norovirus particles won’t be cashing in their chips just yet.

Which leaves fogging.

Like the insect control people do when they fumigate a house – pump a load of germ-killer into the air and let it swirl around. The usual choice is hydrogen peroxide, an effective germ killer and less toxic than most alternatives.

But also fraught with a few problems.

Just getting it into the air doesn’t make it reach behind, underneath or on top of things. There’s nothing to push it into cracks or crevices either.

It will kill the germs alright, norovirus included. But without effective dispersal to reach everywhere, there’s still nothing to prevent repeat outbreaks.

And just consider fogging the place up with a vapour. Lots of moisture to play havoc with sensitive equipment and paper. Enough that a second machine is necessary alongside the fogging one – to dry everything out after the vapour has done its work.

Plus there’s the old question of contact time. As a vapour the stuff is heavier than air, so doesn’t stay airborne long.

To compensate, a strong solution is necessary – 32%, about the maximum permissible without being totally toxic. Yes it kills, but it’s also pretty corrosive – not good on plastics or sensitive surfaces – and certainly not good for computers.

So what, repeat norovirus outbreaks are inevitable – even with technology?

The RIGHT technology

Depends on the technology.

Because it IS possible to mist up the place with a safe solution of just 6% hydrogen peroxide. And have it spread everywhere by ionising it – so it tries to escape from itself, yet reaches out and clamps hold of germs as it does so.

Contact time is less than 2 minutes – because ionising changes the stuff into a plasma, which multiplies its oxidising power several times over. Forty minutes tops, and the whole place is sterile – no germs anywhere, not even norovirus – repeat or no repeat.

OK, yes, this a blatant plug. But if you’re as sick of one norovirus repeat after another as we are, you’ll be glad to know there’s a system that works.

And not just on norovirus either – on everything.

Your way of giving germs the same dirty treatment they give you.

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

Originally posted on 3 April 2018 @ 8:04 am

The real inside story on our unstoppable obesity

Peephole - unstoppable obesity is coming
However you look at it, unless something amazing happens, our obesity epidemic is unstoppable. Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Unstoppable and accelerating every day. Obesity already traps two thirds of us in its coils of fat  – and one third of our kids.

Health watchdogs are in a tizz. We’re irresponsible, can’t manage our ravenous appetites. Food producers should be penalised – forced to make portions smaller, with lower food values. And we ourselves, culprits that we are – we should be controlled, limited to what we should eat.

PHE’s new numbers game

400, 600, 600 the new mantra goes. The number of calories we should be “allowed” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Plus, on top of that, food producers must reduce the calories in foods eaten by families by at least 20% by 2024.

Otherwise – smack-handy, naughty – Public Health England will send us to bed without any supper for the next 50 years.

Spotted the mistake yet? That PHE maybe haven’t thought this through?

All punitive, isn’t it? Dire consequences if we don’t conform.

Yet not a dicky bird about why we’re obese in the first place. Why there’s so many of us – two thirds of adults makes it an epidemic. And why, despite all PHE’s magic numbers, the continuing onslaught of obesity is so relentless and unstoppable.

Jail for fatties

Consider for a start, how the 400, 600, 600 rule might be enforced.

Note the implications – “rule” and “enforced”.

Do PHE think we’re all obese from choice – that we LIKE to go through life looking like a lump of lard?  And what are they going to do – arrest us for being fat?

It’s all our fault, of course. The sedentary lifestyle, pigging out on junk food, never any exercise except for what we lift to our mouths.

Easy to play the blame-game when you’re publicly funded and don’t have to answer for anything – or even produce results. Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities?

Excuse us, but people have to eat. It’s how their metabolisms work. So how does our new one-size-fits-all 400, 600, 600 rule contribute to our health and wellbeing when our whole equilibrium is balanced to working higher?

Does PHE intend we should impair our capabilities and continue through life as less than we are? Not so fat, but not so smart either. Impaired in the brain department – with no chance ever against the world’s whizz kids of Singapore, Japan and South Korea?

The blame game

Yeah, the blame-game. But we can all play that too.

Because we never used to be so fat, so why are we now?

Twenty years ago obesity was not the unstoppable monster it is now, so what’s different?

And if protecting the nation’s health and wellbeing is so paramount, HOW DID PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND LET US GET THIS WAY?

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back.

Because PHE well knows that the world’s most effective FATTENING RESOURCE is antibiotics. Just a small dose every day promotes growth in food animals by 5%, 10% and more.

It’s why they’re so up in arms about it too. With 240,000 tones of antibiotics shovelled into cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry every year, drug-resistant superbugs are developing so fast, modern medicine could fail completely within five years. No more infection control – back to the Dark Ages.

Oh sure, sure.

It’s precisely because of superbug resistance that antibiotics were banned as growth promoters in the EU from 2006 and in the US from 2017.

PHE in the poo

Except world use of antibiotics in agriculture isn’t coming down, it’s continuing to explode. Because since 50 years ago, food production has had to increase five times over, just to keep up with population growth – from 1½ billion then, to 7½ billion today.

Which makes intensive factory farm methods almost essential to provide enough food – the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that the world consumes annually.

Animals living on top of each other – unsanitary, easily susceptible to all kinds of infections – and in dire need of regular antibiotics, just to stay alive. Which of course, for therapeutic reasons, they are allowed – in both the EU and US.

No growth promoters – but the animals get their fattening-up pills anyway.

And that puts PHE right in the poo.

You see, food animals might be fed all kinds of enriched feedstuffs to make them plump and juicy fast – but it’s a fact of life they don’t absorb all the nutrients they eat. Far from it. Beef cattle for instance excrete 80% to 90% of the nutrients they consume.

Not just nutrients either. It’s everything else their bodies need to get rid of, macro- and micro-minerals, physiological active compounds such as natural and exogenous hormones – and of course, antibiotic residues.

The manure that PHE is mired in.

Highly fertile, animal manure is used across the board to enrich forage which the animals munch right back in again. Plus of course cereal grains, vegetables, fruit and all types of plant crop – directly applied, or absorbed through the soil from manure-laden water seepage, right down to the water table and the streams it feeds.

More antibiotics in – more fatteners included in the foods we eat. Meat, veg, fruit – you name it, chances are it’s got antibiotic residues in it – the world’s most successful growth promoters.

Back in the day

And let’s see now, the first fast-processing American-style broilerhouse for chickens was opened at Aldershot in 1959. By 1990, a quarter of all meat eaten in Britain was poultry.

On top of this, government  campaigns – that means PHE or its predecessor – urged people to eat less red meat, pushing chicken to No 1 on British dinner tables and triggering a 26% rise of intensive farming, particularly in the last six years.

More factory farms, more foods containing antibiotics residues, the world’s top growth promoter. More people getting more obese – and PHE never saw it coming. Never saw to this day the connection between antibiotics fed to animals and an unstoppable obesity epidemic among people.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. Yeah, right.

And it gets worse.

One of the reasons antibiotics are so good at boosting growth is that they cause the digestive system to absorb nutrients better. Beef cattle might only retain 20% of the nutrients they eat, but a higher proportion goes into making them bigger and fatter on antibiotics than if they’re not.

Same thing with people.

An absorbing problem

Depending on the state of our metabolism, how healthy we are, how hungry we are, how well-built we are, how active we are and a host of other variables – our absorption capability can range anywhere from 10% to 90%.

Which is where the 400, 600, 600 rule begins to make no sense.

In a nutshell, thin people are undernourished because they don’t absorb enough. And fat people are underfed because their bodies aren’t satisfied enough – one slice of bread won’t do the job, so they’ll have two.

And how will PHE police otherwise, lock everybody up?

Check out prisons like HMP Addiewell and inmates take photos of the food they eat. Fish and chips, steak and chips, chicken and chips – slightly more than 600 calories right there.

So is our obesity epidemic completely unstoppable?

From personal experience, the weight can be dropped – at least if you’re strong willed.

Others would certainly find it a lot easier if they had help. A lot more understanding from PHE, a lot more sympathy – and some serious policing of getting antibiotics out of our diet.

Protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.

How about it, Public Health England?

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

Originally posted on 13 March 2018 @ 6:36 pm

The virtual pay rise: without paying extra, how everyone reacts as if you have

Business team celebrating
Giving everybody feelgood is just like a pay rise – and you save thousands!

It’s feelgood all round. Extra enthusiasm, extra commitment, extra effort – and all on the same salary everybody’s getting now.

Your team are switched on and going for it – pushing productivity through the roof.

Too good to be true?

Actually no, it’s achievable right now – and easier than you think.

The pay rise that costs nothing

Without stretching anybody either. They’re all on the same workload, working the same hours – no slaving into the evening or taking stuff home. Doing exactly the same thing, but doing it better.

You see, it’s not MORE that they’re giving – more effort, more concentration, more input.

The difference is that you’re removing the gremlins that HOLD THEM BACK.

You read that right, HOLD THEM BACK.

Because you might think your team are giving their all – and they might too.

But reality is, they’re underperforming. Always have done.

And always will, unless you do something about it – an experience shared by every business.

You are your own example

You’re even underperforming yourself. You’re a human being, just like them, so you personally feel the same hindrances.

Humour us, and just pause a while.

How do you feel?

A bit of a sniffle because it’s winter. Head a bit stuffy in the heated office. Muscles still twingeing from the weekend’s DIY. Which means you’re not exactly 100 per, are you? You’re a bit down, but you ignore it. Put it to the back of your mind, so you can get on with things.

Full marks for commitment, but how about concentration?

That razor sharp mind that got you where you are is not as quick as it might be, is it? OK with routine, but dragging its heels on the real stuff. Straining for that competitive edge where it counts.

No, it’s not a criticism. And you’re not alone. So don’t worry, we all feel like that.

Not all the time, obviously. But often enough that our functioning is under par a lot of the time, not fully capable of giving our all.

And this might be us on a good day. On a bad one, it’s more of a struggle.

Like when that cold or flu really takes hold. Not so bad that you can’t come to work, but enough to make you seriously miserable inside.

Uh, huh.  So how good is your concentration now?

The world is not co-operating, is it? Making everything more difficult.

For instance, how much longer does it take to do things? How sure are you that you’re doing everything accurately? Bit ratty are you, with colleagues and customers – rubbing a few of them up the wrong way?

There’s a price tag to all that, and it’s impaired productivity. Not up to standard, not up- to scratch, a possible loss-maker on top of the wheelspin that impaired concentration has already caused.

Presenteeism

Presenteeism, it’s called – the downside of being unwell at work. And it happens to all of us more often than we think.

Our own perception is we’re on top of things pretty well all the time. Reality is, research has us underperforming every three days or so.

And right there is why presenteeism costs probably TEN TIMES MORE than absenteeism – £290 billion vs £29 billion. 57.5 days of lost productivity for every employee, every year – almost three working months.

Which is where we come from with a virtual pay rise.

If you could take away the gremlins that make people feel off colour every few days, they would immediately perform better. Instead of being three months short of effort for every salary, you’d get full twelve months’ ration. Productivity up a third, just by removing the hindrances.

In other words, by removing the causes that make people feel off colour in the first place.

By removing the germs that make them feel so challenged.

Take away the gremlins

Germs?

Oh yes. Like it or not, with lots of people working on top of each other, all in the same space, every workplace is riddled with them. We just don’t see them, so we don’t recognise that they’re there.

Meanwhile

Our own personal germ count is even worse, for the same reason – we can’t see germs, so never think that they are there. So gruesome as it is,

OK, so how do you get rid of germs?

That matronly voice is your mother and your mother’s mother, telling you to wash your hands. On top of which, going over your desk with antibacterial wipes is a step in the right direction.

But how about all the high touch objects that everyone shares – light switches, door handles, touch screens, keypads? Start wiping those and you’ll never get any work done, the whole day will be charring out the place.

Which is how it’s done of course, piggy-backed with regular office cleaning outside hours. And done properly, a procedure that eliminates ALL germs completely – the whole place sterile and totally safe, every morning when the team arrives for a new day.

The productivity prize

And here we go with the pay rise again.

Because what happens when there’s no germs around to make the team feel unwell?

  • They feel better, yes – so they’re better able to concentrate. To do it for longer and more incisively.
  • They’re bright-eyed and positive – more in harmony, finding it easier to do things.
  • Holding back? Most of them are quite the opposite – gung-ho and wanting to do things. They have their own careers to push , and can feel themselves doing it.

Which means a whole attitude shift. From bumbling along as normal to wanting to win and going for it.

So ask yourself, what is the quality of their work now – the level of their productivity?

And all without a pay rise – just looking out for their workplace health protection and showing your team that you care personally.

Three working months per team member that could be – in additional work capability. Effort and input you’ve never had before, but been paying for all along. Enough to bankroll a real pay rise if you’ve a mind.

Maybe you should go ahead and give it to them. They’ve earned it.

And with a real pay rise out of the blue, there’ll be nothing to HOLD THEM BACK then.

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

Originally posted on 1 March 2018 @ 3:05 pm