Lonely and scared? Never with ambulance crews

Woman crying
Relax, it’s going to be alright – the ambulance crew are here

When did our world become so cruel?

People don’t care. They’re rude and greedy. Shove you aside to grab for themselves.

A shocking example, set from Westminster on down. You can’t blame the yobs when the toffs are doing it too.

Nobody wants to know any more. Love is dead.

Until you call an ambulance

You might have to wait a while though, these NHS ambulance guys are busy.

So busy, those parliamentary do-gooders are falling over themselves to complain about how long it takes.

They’ve never had to queue, nine deep, to deliver an code-blue emergency to an over-worked A&E. Never faced grid-locked traffic, or Lord Muck in the Roller, refusing to move over for lights and siren.

Or been so hard-pressed and over-stretched that London Ambulance have had to fly in a relief squad of 175 paramedics from Oz.

Yeah, they’ll get to you – in maybe more than the 4 hours officially designated. A wild thumbsuck target set by Westminster wonks who never drive themselves.

But what can you expect when traffic in Central London is only 8.98 mph?

They never learn, do they? That’s the same speed as a horse-drawn carriage in 1830.

Dedication and respect

But at least the ambulance people get to you!

And that’s when you find out – they’re the only people in the whole world who care.

Who treat you with respect and consideration.

There you are, terrified, with a rib sticking through your chest.

Who else in the world is so calm, so soothing, so skilled that every movement puts you at your ease? (Tweet this)

You know you’re in good hands.

Even the Aussie blokes say so – top paramedics, selected from Sydney’s best.

Because London is the busiest ambulance service in the world and that’s why they want to work here. 5,000 calls a day is a challenge they can’t resist – remember Crocodile Dundee?

It’s OK

They’re here to help you. To reassure, to care, to get you towards feeling better.

They’re dedicated and professional too.

But who teaches them that wonderful compassion and the skill to restore confidence, only a few short years out of school? The Aussies, the Kiwis, the Poles – or our own home-grown heroes, right here in the Old Country?

Nobody else in the world can care for you better.

Not even your GP, who’s swamped with patients now out-of-hours work is stopped.

And it’s a terrifying world when you don’t know what’s happened to you.

Especially at 2.00 in the morning, when NHS paramedics are the only people on the planet who are concerned that you’re having a panic attack.

They don’t call it love, but that’s what it is.

Compassion and care for fellow human beings, totally selfless and unreserved.

So the NHS is the biggest waste of money in the UK is it?

Political rethink

Try remembering that when you’ve fallen down the stairs and you think you’re going to die.

The only people who are going to help you are wearing NHS badges – and they’re in the middle of a 12-hour shift.

You slag them off, but they still love you.

Even enough to save you from yourself.

Originally posted on 20 August 2018 @ 3:17 pm

Think nobody cares? How about ambulance crews?

Lizzy Pickup
Paramedic Lizzy Pickup pulled an unconscious mum from a blazing house (with thanks to Gazette Live)

Time to review your belief in saints.

There’s two in your rear-view mirror, coming up fast – Mercedes Sprinter, blue lights flashing.

On a shout for some bloke who fell down the stairs at a stag do. Broken collar-bone, nasty head gash, heavy bruises and unconscious.

Real live care

Or they could be on the way to your place – your wife can’t breathe and she’s having a panic attack.

Real people with professional skills and bucket-loads of a quality no-one else has got. (Tweet this)

Compassion.

The only people in the world who give you time when others turn away.

Well think about it.

Two in the morning, who do you call?

Your Doc doesn’t do call-outs any more. The help-lines don’t understand you – or you can’t understand them. Online stuff is confusing – and you’re getting more worried by the second.

Thank goodness

Then the knock at the door.

Relief, reassurance, confidence.

Solid professionals with an easy feel.

World-class paramedics who know what they’re doing.

Strangers who do more to help you than the rest of the world combined.

Because two in the morning is a very scary place when things go wrong.

You need your Mum. You need your Dad. You need a doctor, medicine, encouragement, help.

And here’s two of them all in green – all these things and more.

Ordinary people like the rest of us. But with a caring feel and commitment  no-one could ever teach – kind-heartedness straight from the soul.

Yes, they’re quick. But they take their time. Rushing a patient creates problems.
You’re panicky, your wife can’t talk – so the first thing they get is garbled, disjointed, and not very accurate.

They do the checks – blood pressure, temperature, breathing. Step One, assess and stabilise.

They put her on oxygen, wrap her in a blanket – why didn’t you think of that?

Steady does it

Will they take her to hospital?

Quiet voices, steady, calming.

Colour in her cheeks now, no more gasping for air.

They take their time, but the clock is ticking. There’s a radio alert, tense, urgent.

Your wife smiles. You know the signs. Time to put the kettle on.

The two saints decline – the blonde girl with the pony tail, younger than your daughter. And the dark one with rosy cheeks.

So grown-up, but just kids – looking after the whole world.

Your wife gets tablets and a shot. More like herself and breathing easy. Back to bed, less distressing than A&E.

The two saints go. Twenty minutes and the world returns to normal.

Back to confidence. Back to being you.

They leave without lights or siren. Another ten hours ahead of them before they’re off shift.

The only people in the whole world who care when nobody else does. (Tweet this)

Harder worked than any of us will ever be. More stretched, more challenged. Yet by some miracle, totally dedicated to looking after you and me.

Think about that next time some wazzock bad-mouths them on TV.

They’ll help him too, if he needs it.

Nice to believe in human goodness again.

Originally posted on 14 August 2018 @ 12:06 pm

Red-faced Rudolf forced to take a rain check

Sneezing Santa

Christmas emergency: a serious infection alert has cancelled this year’s traditional delivery

Sorry folks, that famous and long-awaited sleigh ride won’t be happening this year.

Seems that red nose of Rudolph’s is causing major ructions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alarm bells are going off that it’s a warning symptom of H5N1 or other avian flu – one of the nasty ones.

Pandemic alert

With only days to this year’s round-the-world distribution trip, the whole delivery team – Rudolph, Santa and all the helpers – are under lockdown. Strict quarantine against any new pandemic breaking loose.

Despite high expectations and the world-famous nature of the trip, looks like the CDC has had Santa and Rudolph under surveillance for a long time.

Germ-spreading fomites

High on the list of worries is the huge sack of fomites – objects or substances which are capable of carrying infectious organisms from one individual to another.

Though each is individually gift-wrapped and addressed, there are no facilities aboard the sleigh to ensure they are properly disinfected and pathogen-free.

The lack of washing facilities aboard is also identified as a major health risk.

Asked for comment, Santa was overcome by a coughing fit, but did manage to identify that a back-up system was in place.

UV protection

Prior to departure, presents will be sterilised by longer than usual exposure to the Aurora Borealis at the North Pole. The ultra violet light present in the phenomenon will ensure all viruses and bacteria are removed before take-off.

Actual delivery will be by a fleet of high altitude NASA Global Hawk drones. For Santa watchers, high intensity white strobe lights will substitute for Rudolph’s more familiar red glow.

The whole journey can be tracked as normal via the official NORAD Santa Tracker website.

Hike hygiene levels high

Advice from the Santa Corporation is that children should be sure to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or opening presents – and be sure to follow proper hygiene when going to the toilet.

An upgraded delivery system is already in preparation for next year.

Merry Christmas everyone – and keep well!

Originally posted on 10 August 2018 @ 9:59 am

Open wide… no chance of infection here

Dental checkup

No chance any infection will get you while you’re here

Terrified of the dentist? You shouldn’t be. These days it doesn’t hurt – and when your mouth feels healthy, so do you.

Unless you’re worried about infection of course. That Nottingham dentist did nothing for anyone’s confidence.

Strictly come clean

But your own dentist has strict hygiene rules to follow – and you can bet he does. With around 20 billion oral microbes living in your mouth – more than the number of people living on earth – no way he’s taking chances.

If you think about it, a dentist’s surgery is like a hospital operating room, so some basic rules apply:

  • All surfaces are disinfected between patients.
  • Hands are washed and new gloves pulled on between patients.
  • All instruments are heat-sterilised between patients.

UV in the OR

Plus, after the Nottingham case, you might notice your dentist has a new toy. A schnazzy new ultra violet light generator.

Because in a hospital you personally get prepped before any operation – cleaned, disinfected, sterilised – made safe.

But dental patients walk in straight off the street. And every single one of us wears an aura of at least 3 million viruses and bacteria all the time – every one of them looking for a way into our bodies to start their mischief.

OK, so you’re at the dentist.

Then what happens? Your dental operation starts bang, straight away.

But you’re still in your street clothes, with slush on your shoes, no opportunity to wash your hands – you touch the dentist’s chair, the armrest and maybe something else – what sort of things are you bringing in for the next patient to run the risk of?

Well, none.

NONE.

Because you’ll notice that when the patient before you comes out, so do the dentist and the nurse –they don’t want to be exposed and things are about to happen in there.

Death ray for germs

They close the door. The dentist presses a remote control – not for catch-up TV, but for the ultra violet generator.

ZAP!

Inside the surgery the machine goes into action, blitzing every germ dead  – in the air, on surfaces – destroying their DNA by irradiation. Pumping out high intensity ultra violet light in the shortwave C spectrum, pulsed in concentrated flashes to minimise human exposure.

5 minutes and it’s safe. The room is sterile. No germs for you to catch except those you brought with you. And you’ve survived the day so far, ain’t nothing going to happen now.

You go into the surgery with the dentist and nurse. No germs, no nothing, the whole room is 99.999% free of them – what they call Sterility Assurance Level 5 (ever so posh).

Still worried about the dentist?

Don’t be.

If you’ve ever had raging toothache at 4.00 in the morning, you’ll know he’s on your side.

Originally posted on 7 August 2018 @ 8:37 am

Please, please, help our paramedic heroes

Fallen down stairs
Always there when we need them – just call 999

Temperatures are plunging, but the NHS is in meltdown.

There’s massive and unprecedented demands on the service all over  – ambulance services, A&Es, treatment centres stretched to the limit as if it’s New Year’s Eve.

It might be an ordinary week in the run up to Christmas, but more people are feeling the sudden cold and succumbing, more victims are being felled in norovirus attacks, and more people are drinking themselves silly – more arguments, more fights, more injuries, more accidents.

Pre-Christmas crisis

With 11,008 call outs last week, London Ambulance Service has raised its service status to critical.

The rest of the country was equally scary – West Midlands 3,550, North West 3,973, East of England 3,278.

Scarier still is that around 1 in every 10 call outs is alcohol related – a legacy of low prices that encourage drinking at home before a night out – straight into a drinking culture fuelled by festive season bonhomie and extended opening hours.

Many other calls are unnecessary, paramedics responding to patients who should have gone to their GP.

But many people can’t get to their GP. With many surgeries only open during business hours, waiting times for an ordinary appointment can be a week or more. Not good when you’re hurting and need attention NOW.

Going to A&E has the same problem. First priority is of course to more serious cases – but even for acute pain you can expect to be triaged to a standard 4-hour wait.

Paramedic superstars

So it’s the ambulance crews who take the brunt – long 12-hour shifts with no let up from pressure.

The stress is amazing. Response time for a life-threatening emergency is supposed to be eight minutes. Not easy when traffic congestion alone could make journeys ten times longer.

A bottle-neck in many A&Es ramps up the pressure. They’re busy in there.

Backed up when they should be on the road, ambulances might queue four and five deep to reach a hospital bay – and during that time the patient is the crew’s responsibility – along with pressure to cope with still more incidents happening out there, round the clock…

Across the board the NHS is receiving £700 million to cope with this year’s pressure. It’s not enough and all of it should go to the ambulance service urgently.

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, life isn’t as easy as it once was. GPs no longer make house calls. And when you finally do get through to an appointment, five minutes consultation time is your lot – next please, there’s people waiting.

But call 999 and the ambulance service comes running. Which means that paramedics are way more than the frontline emergency teams they’re trained to be. And as the sharp edge of the NHS, their work takes the heat off right through the whole system , not least through overworked A&Es.

In safe hands

You see, to Tom, Dick or Harrys like us, getting sick or having an accident is a major drama. We’re scared, we don’t know what’s happening to us, we anticipate the worst.

Which is where the training of our paramedics is so amazing. And why they get called so often.

Theirs is the calm, confident voice of the professional. Reassuring. Soothing. You’re obviously in the hands of experts. You can relax.

You’re in your own home too. Not the daunting environment of a hospital. Familiar things surround you while practiced hands provide care. You’re going to be OK. No panic attacks. No nervous reactions. No complications.

If you’ve ever been cared for by an ambulance crew you’ll know the quiet sureness, the easy confidence – already three-quarters of the way to feeling better.

Meet your new GP

Which makes them our new GPs – and then some. And every year 1 in 20 of us will call urgently for their services.

Not for “take two aspirins and call me in the morning” either – but for serious needs like segment elevation myocardial infarction – a type of heart attack.

Anything in fact, from minor injuries to cardiac arrest, to multiple casualties from serious road accidents. How many GPs can handle that?

Our paramedics are still in the hot seat though. The NHS is a big place and £700 million doesn’t go very far in a country that needs expert care 24/7.

More ambulances, more crews, more systems to handle them, they’re urgent now.

Because come rain or shine, our paramedics are always there when we need them – no matter how tired, hungry or rushed of their feet they are.

Genuine heroes.

And they deserve better than 10p in the pound for saving our lives.

Originally posted on 6 August 2018 @ 8:18 am

Your life is in your own hands

Beauty pose
You touch your face 3,000 times a day – and what else?

We control our own destiny more than we think.

Yes, we choose our own directions – and yes, we drive ourselves at our own pace. It’s by our own efforts, or not at all.

But pretty well none of it is possible without hands. They are the do-ers that make things happen – that turn ideas into reality.

Amazing things, really. They do everything, go everywhere.

And that’s the problem.

Dangerous touches

Because the things they touch are seldom pure. Like everything else in this world, they’re covered in bacteria – some good, some bad. Many transferred on contact to our fingertips or palms.

Germs, right? Invisible microorganisms that can make you very ill or kill you. Impossible to avoid and a continual mission to get rid of. Which effectively means you’re at hazard all of the time.

Well, sort of.

World’s smallest killers

To a virus or bacteria that’s barely a thousandth of a micron across, your hand is an armour-plated tank. Tough and chemically hostile, it offers no way in to the body – an impenetrable no-go barrier to infecting a meal-ticket host.

Ain’t nothing to do with a surface like that except hang on. Which plenty of germs do – upwards of three million of them, around us like an aura every day.

Smart move.

Because it’s what our hands do next that matters.

Touching other stuff.

Beware fomites

Keyboard, phone, door-handle, document, money, clothing, loo seat, poo, wee, Coke bottle, chips, tomato sauce – these are all what are called “fomites”, made famous by Kate Winslet’s character Dr. Erin Mears in the movie Contagion.

Fomites are substances or objects that can transfer germs – your handbag, keys, scarf, watch-strap – triggering a whole roller-coaster ride of infection – where germs get to meet other germs, and gang up together for fun, fun, fun.

Spot the missing touch?

You got it. Your face. Otherwise known as germ heaven. The guaranteed way in for infection – through your mouth, up your nose, in the sensitive bits round your eyes, even your ears.

And without thinking of it, we touch our faces two or three  times a minute – that’s up to three thousand times a day! Three thousand germ-entry opportunities every day of your life.

The missing obsession

Which kind of emphasises the other missing touch – soap and water.

Most of the time we’re so full of ourselves rushing around, we don’t really think of washing hands. Yet if you think of the fomites we encounter doing that, we’re at hazard all the time.

Yes, it is possible to get some protection. Wash everything – tables, plates, knives, forks. Disinfect everything – loos, wash basins, kitchen sinks. All the schlep of daily life.

It’s even possible to sterilise all around us. A dose of UV radiation or misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide will clobber all viruses and bacteria down to nothing – even killers like bubonic plague and Ebola.

But it’s all kind of useless if we traipse into our specially sterilised room and shake hands for an interview straight after a nervous but necessary dash to the WC.

At your peril

Washed your hands?

Er, yes, but that quick rinse under the tap doesn’t crack it. And using the pull-down towel doesn’t help. When the roll is finished, everybody’s germs all wind up on the same piece of cotton.

Ask any medic, and they’ll tell you that a proper scrub-up to get rid of germs takes at least five minutes. And that’s a schlep too – seriously hot water, scouring underneath and scrubbing your nails, getting right down between your fingers – then disposable towels or an air dryer.

And it all needs to be done again as soon as you touch something!

So the Hand Hygiene brigade are not so paranoid after all. This is the flu season, with all kinds of other nasties lurking out there as well – norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter. You can blame other circumstances just so far, but you’ve got to come to the party as well.

Just like everything in life, isn’t it? Keep your hands clean, or it will come back to bite you.

Because it’s pretty silly to die for something that isn’t necessary.

Originally posted on 2 August 2018 @ 7:09 am

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.

Originally posted on 30 July 2018 @ 6:01 am

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.

Originally posted on 30 July 2018 @ 6:00 am

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.

Originally posted on 29 July 2018 @ 5:57 am

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!

Originally posted on 26 July 2018 @ 5:22 am