Persistent and multi-drug resistant, the new candida auris superbug is not a pandemic yet, and despite fears of its rampant onset, is not going to be.
Worrying because unlike most funguses, it seems to spread from person to person – a yeast that colonises the skin and therefore transfers on contact.
It’s also nosocomial, particularly present in hospitals where it targets the already ill – those patients with surgical incisions or intravenous feeds, apertures in the body that provide the way in.
That makes it a real hazard to patients and health care givers – easily contaminating clothing, linen, bedrails, chairs, catheters and all kinds of surrounding equipment. A “touch it if you dare” situation requiring isolation if possible – a strain on already stretched NHS resources.
Hard to come clean
To make things more difficult, candida auris is also resilient against the usual cleaning agents. Recommended is chlorine-based treatment at 1,000ppm dilution – as strong as can be risked without harming surroundings.
Even so, the bug persists, frequently demanding action the hard way – repeated deep cleans and the closing down of ward and ICU facilities among the 35 hospitals affected.
One of them however knows it’s got the bug beaten – showing the way for others to get themselves candida auris-free. We can’t tell which hospital it is, as all work of this nature has to be confidential.
Suffice it to say though, that after two deep cleans and much worry, one particular hospital has solved the problem overnight and banished candida auris from its corridors.
Clearing up with mist
Misting up affected areas with ionised hydrogen peroxide – a quick and effective way to neutralise ALL germs immediately.
This process does require facilities to be completely vacated – though it is possible to section off areas with protective PVC sheeting and handle the job piecemeal.
Once clear, the hydrogen peroxide is released into the air, to spread in all directions and against all surfaces. The ionising forces wide dispersal and electrostatic attraction to pathogens – clamping to them like magnets and ripping them apart by oxidising them.
The hospital involved made one phone call and 24 hours later the job was done – all clear and back to normal, ready for the onset of winter. No candida auris, no anything – sterilised, safe and secure.
Good to know we have effective defences – especially with authorities like Forbes magazine and America’s CDC regarding candida auris as a global threat.
Put the two together, and you get £123.061 billion.
Double it, and that comes to £246.122 billion.
OK, so putting the NHS to one side for a moment, how about this?
The fact that being sick off work costs British employers a monumental £29 billion, according to business experts PWC.
And even worse, that “presenteeism” – when people are unwell but come to work anyway – costs TEN TIMES that – a mind-boggling £290 billion.
More than double present NHS bankroll needs – with around £44 billion in change – about what British businesses pay in corporation tax.
Reaching for the impossible
So what kind of magic wand would it take to disappear Britain’s combined off sick and unwell at work costs? Impossible, right?
Sure, it’s not just germs that make people take off sick – or struggle through the working day. There’s musculoskeletal problems, like back pain and neck ache. Stress, depression and mental anguish. All medical, but not germ-related.
But around 85% of us agree that the major cause of working life grief is minor ailments. Colds, flu, tummy bugs, that sort of thing.
And 85% of £290 billion is..?
You guessed it, £246 billion. The cost of launching a whole new NHS twice over – all caused by germs.
Which says, stop the germs – and we stop £246 billion every year going down the plughole.
Yeah OK, people bring in fresh germs with them. On their skin and clothing, from whatever they might have wrong with them – and their own personal germ cloud.
But the germ threshold is zero at start the day, so any cross-contamination is minimised. Fewer germs to catch, less chance of feeling off colour – productivity nudges closer to 100%.
Press button easy
And the miracle machine that does all this?
It’s not a miracle at all, it’s a Hypersteriliser. A wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that ensures maximum dispersal of safe, low concentration, germ-killing hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection.
And it spreads across all surfaces and behind them, into all cracks and crevices, and throughout all airspace. Actively forced there by electrostatic charge.
Contact time for destroying germs is only seconds, though dispersal does take time, depending on room size. Forty minutes usually, and you’re done. The whole place is sterile.
Clawing money back from germs
Which neatly plugs productivity losses caused by absenteeism and presenteeism together. Effectively releasing one-third more work capability without extra cost.
The trick now of course is to persuade employers to donate all this money to the NHS.
They can certainly afford it.
And with sick leave absences down by 85%, the demands on the system will be so much less too. Shorter waiting times in A&E. More beds available. Adequate time for intricate surgery. Generous time for recovery under care.
So if a staff member does go down with something, they’ll be treated quicker and back sooner. And that goes for all the other ailments too. The musculoskeletal jobbies and that lot. Because we’re all of us susceptible.
Including that heavyweight MD with the bad back that puts her out of action three days in ten. There’s a whole new NHS waiting ready to look after her. In fact, two for the price of one.
And then we show up. Ordinary Tom, Dick and Harriet people – and probably the worst threat yet to catching germs in hospitals.
It’s easy to see why.
What sanitising station?
When we get to hospital, we go blundering in – hey, ho, here we go – what do you mean germs?
Yeah, well. If any doctors or nurses did that, they would get the chop. Busy like you can’t believe, but not one of them goes on duty without a good scrub-up.
They do it again between patients too – proper hot water, soap and brush, the full five-minute job. And with responsibilities pulling them every which way, they’re horrified if they ever get stampeded past it in the heat of the moment – but at least there’s sanitising gel stations everywhere.
Not like us.
There’s in-your-face sanitising stations everywhere you look in hospitals these days – but none of us seems to use them. Blind as a bat and full of ourselves, we never even know they’re there. With one or two exceptions of course – like grandma and grandad, worried about doing the right thing.
No, in we go – each trailing our bio-aura cloud of accompanying bacteria. Hands unwashed, untreated or anything. Straight off the street from whatever we were doing. Anything up to 10 million germs on each hand – dirt, food and faecal matter. Not a care in the world.
Then it’s hugs, kisses, holding hands, refilling the water glass. If we knew any nurses did that without washing their hands, we’d kick up stink all the way to Westminster.
So is it any wonder that patients stay in longer and get complications – that Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) are on the up?
There’s the professional medics taking flak for lapses in procedure and hygiene – when all the time we’re this bunch of uncaring bozos, infecting the place left, right and centre and not even knowing that we’re doing it.
Check it out, it’s a hospital. Most of the time always meticulous about hygiene, guarding against germs and keeping things clean. Yes, there are lapses – as always when people are rushed off their feet, doing multiple jobs at once. Too many patients, too many complications, most of them from germs which WE put there.
And then there’s us.
Coats and scarves spread over the bed. Coughing and sneezing because it’s winter out there. Hands unwashed since breakfast or before – not even after the loo.
Filthy mitts (yes filthy because you can’t see germs, they’re too small) all over the high-touch areas that patients touch too – bedside cupboard, bed table, grab rails. Re-adjusting pillows that they’ll breathe into later, pulling up the blanket that their hands rest on, reading.
If matron had the slightest idea how we’re contaminating her patients, she sling us out on our ear.
She does of course, but she’s not allowed to. Misplaced courtesy and tolerance. Ideally, she would lock her patients away – restricted visitors – like in ICU. Not to penalise patients, but protect them from us – walking germ factories with our sloppy hygiene.
Think we’re kidding? Hospitals are where people are already down, resistance low from whatever their condition. Any hole, any incision, the slightest break in the skin and they’re vulnerable to infection.
And have they got holes. Wounds from surgery, tubes, pipes, wires into the body – even a simple drip puts a cannula on their wrist.
You can see it happening, can’t you. Tolerant Mum with her newborn second, letting her first-born explore all the tubes. Germs straight in, intravenously. Whoops – staphylococcus aureus, or a urinary infection. Another week in hospital. More headlines about inadequacy.
Unclean like the plague
Yeah, we’re bad. So bad we shouldn’t be allowed in.
Not without a facemask and hands gelled so they show up under UV light – just like getting into nightclubs. No stamp on your wrist, you can’t come in. No glow on your hands, stay out of the ward.
But it won’t happen, will it? We already don’t wash our hands and then wonder why we get gastro after eating a burger. The penny never drops.
And so we go on. Visitor monsters.
Do we have to become patients ourselves to learn about proper hygiene?
More like an aching nag as you go through the day. It even disappears when you’re not thinking about it.
Hardly there at all.
Yet you’re one of the 138 people who crowded into your local A&E this morning – and grinding your teeth as the four-hour waiting period winds on and on.
But just look at that crowd.
Desperation stakes, right?
Just trying to keep pace with a mob like that is why the NHS is hiring overflow doctors at £3,200 a shift and nurses at £1,900 a day.
And before you throw a blue fit, the kind of shift these people are in for is twelve hours. Half a day on your feet, snatched moments for a bite to eat, no chance for coffee – and what do you mean, time to go to the loo?
Well how else to solve the overload except throw money at it?
Your money when it comes down to it – it comes off your taxes.
Yes, it’s damn stupid – but just be careful where you point that finger in choosing why this is happening.
Not enough doctors, why?
Too many patients, why?
Bored, selfish, couldn’t care less
Because all this heaving mass of people reckon A&E is where they need to be.
Accident and Emergency – excuse our snigger.
Not crisis handling centres of last resort but first stop for minor worries and social difficulties.
A call to the local Doc reveals – Missed Appointments for February:
Blood Tests 55
Too busy with Turkish dancing classes. Or Pilates. Or bridge at the Leisure Centre.
T&N, not A&E
Twinges and Niggles, more like.
And failure of everywhere else to take care of the problem.
No sticking plasters in the bathroom cabinet. Too lazy to go to the chemist. Not prepared to wait at the GP’s clinic. So mosey on down to A&E.
It’s the same with all the emergency services.
They’re there to handle real issues – people dying or under bodily threat.
But ask the cops or the fire brigade.
Overwhelmed by trivia or mischief-making nonsense.
Yet every one of our hospitals is jammed packed with people anxiously seeking attention.
Anyone would think we’re a bunch of fraidy-cat hypochondriacs.
Maybe we are.
But the people crowded into waiting rooms up and down the country are mostly there because there’s no place else to go.
Their GP won’t see them, he’s closed after-hours and they can’t get an appointment.
The 111 service can’t sort out the problem, so it’s referred them to A&E.
Their pharmacy is concerned about symptoms and has done the same thing.
Which puts a whole bunch of people in a queue, all waiting for one thing.
Well actually, for somebody to tell them what’s wrong, with a suggestion of how to fix it.
“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”
And because they’re ordinary non-medical folk, half of them are convinced their condition is more serious than it is. There’s no family Doc with “There, there, it’s all right. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning”.
All they know is, they don’t feel well.
Which of course, can be caused by a whole slew of things.
But unless it’s an accident or an underlying condition, it’s probably germs.
Somehow, they’ve come down with a bug.
Which nine times out of ten, should never have happened in the first place.
Sloppy hygiene. Hands not washed. Gunge from the underside of the sink.
Or just plain unlucky – a nasty stomach-heaving bug floating around at head height in the living room – which wafted in on the coat of the vicar who dropped in for tea , two days ago.
But bugs can be stopped.
DEAD. IN. THEIR. TRACKS.
Because it’s possible to sterilise every room in the country to hospital operating-room levels – no germs at all, anywhere. (Tweet this) Finished. Gone. A total germ desert.
And that’s germs in the air, germs on your clothes, germs on furniture, drapes, carpets, walls, ceilings, light fittings, everywhere – you name it. Total room sterility.
The only place germs can’t get clobbered is outside in the big outdoors. Or inside somebody who’s already got them. So if Hooray Harriet sneezes all over you, chances are you’re going to come down with it.
But not if you walk into a room where the germ threshold is zero.
And that can be any room in the house, your office, the restaurant in the High Street, and the council offices round the corner.
Safe as houses
How’s it done?
Good old Nineteenth Century hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff you can buy in the chemist for less than a quid a bottle. Grandma used it for disinfecting stuff and sterilising her teeth.
Maybe even put some of it on you when you grazed your knee – fizzing round the edges while it KILLED THE GERMS.
Yes, but this is hydrogen peroxide with a difference. Souped up with Twenty-First Century technology.
A nifty electronic machine about the size of a small wheelie-bin sprays an ultra-fine IONISED mist of it up into the air so it spreads everywhere throughout the room.
All the air space – under, over, behind and round the back of stuff – all surfaces, everywhere.
Good ol’ aitch-two-oh-two
Ionised means it’s active. It reaches out and grabs things – drawn to them by static charge. But harmless once it’s done its work.
Twenty minutes later, all germs are destroyed. Because hydrogen peroxide works by ripping them to pieces with oxygen atoms. Blown apart in millions of microscopic explosions.
All viruses, all bacteria. Even the dreaded Ebola, in the unlikely event that you’ve got it lurking.
And they can’t come back if they’re busted to bits.
Which is how we take the heat off hospitals.
We just don’t go there, because there’s no need.
We’re too busy being healthy.
As long as everywhere is treated with this stuff, we’re all OK.
Because it takes a long time for us to learn.
Look how long it took before double glazing and central heating took centre-stage in our homes.
Ah well. But we do know some folks who are working on it.
It’s on the front panel of an automated room steriliser. A thing that looks like a small stylish wheelie-bin. Press it, and you have 30 seconds to leave the room – before it starts spraying an ultra-fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide.
Yes, the same hydrogen peroxide from yonks back that you might use to treat wounds and disinfect.
Ionised, that fine spray is significantly smaller than drops of water mist. So light, it rides easily into the air, spreading upwards and outwards. Under things too – and behind – and deep into crevices where normal cleaning doesn’t reach.
Except this isn’t a cleaner. It’s a full-on Log 6 steriliser.
As a powerful oxidiser, hydrogen peroxide is a killer for viruses and bacteria. All of them.
It’s electronically charged too, so it physically reaches out and grabs pathogen cells, releasing oxygen atoms that rip their cell structure apart. A dry mist that evaporates as it works.
And to make doubly sure, that mist is boosted with another known germ-killer from way back – colloidal silver.
An ultra-thin residue of it is left on surfaces, a sterilising layer for on-going protection.
Safe and secure
No germs can survive this double onslaught. They’re gone on contact. No more norovirus, no more e.coli. No more Ebola either, if you were ever unfortunate enough to face that challenge.
And the stuff reaches everywhere, including places that never normally get touched. The underside of beds and trolleys, the keyboards and cables of electronic equipment, behind and on top of cupboards.
And the one place that never normally gets treated – the total room AIR space.
Worth remembering, that.
Because since all microbes are smaller than the eye can see, they’re mostly airborne anyway – even if that’s not how they’re contracted.
It’s in the air
Normal sterilising takes care of surfaces, but not the air. So as soon as you’re done, the bugs settle back – and you sit with a re-infection problem. (Tweet this)
Twenty minutes, forty, and you’re done – it depends on the room size. Totally safe too, hydrogen peroxide decomposes in action to just oxygen and water, which evaporates anyway. Then, just in case, say another ten minutes to vent.
Less than an hour and you’re back in business.
The entire place is sterilised, just by pressing a button.
Ask the folks in the haematology department at Salford Royal, they’ve had their machine for two years now – and infections are seriously down.
Under sixty minutes
So, less than an hour. Didn’t think it could be that quick? Well, with all the pressure on NHS right now, who can afford to close a ward for a week, let alone A&E?
If it’s super urgent, call Jon Knight on 07776 451222 or click here. A hit team can be rolling ASAP, often within the hour.
Easy-peasy, and you’re sorted. No more norovirus. Or anything else.
Except there’s nothing routine in cutting your body open and sewing up a few repairs.
Invasive surgery they call it. Like being carved up on the battlefield, but under anaesthetic.
Always a risk
Yes, it saves lives – in this case, yours.
But all the time your body is at hazard, and it’s only the skills of the experts that keep you alive.
Not just experts with a scalpel either.
The mop and bucket brigade are also keeping you from death.
Because of the germs.
Billions and billions of viruses and bacteria floating around all of us every day – in the air around our bodies, in our homes – and in the hospital where they’re going to do the op.
It IS a battlefield too – right across the consulting room, the operating theatre, the recovery room and the observation ward. A constant war to prevent infection getting into your cut. The cut that saved your life, but could still kill you if the germs get in.
HAIs they call them – Hospital Acquired Infections. And you might wonder how such disasters are possible if medical professionals are doing their job properly.
The truth is that they are – to higher standards than any other occupation. If the world ran to the demanding requirements of the medical profession, we’d all be living in perfection.
Thing is though, that HAIs are not just a medical issue. They’re a hygiene one.
There are more people in hospital with cuts and tubes and wires into their bodies than anywhere else. And every breach in the body defences is a chance for germs to slip in.
Stopping them is next to impossible. Like the air we all breathe, they’re a fact of life.
Which is why post-op, you drift out of the anaesthetic pumped full of antibiotics.
No significant surgery of any kind is possible without them. The germs are so pervasive and fast, every patient would die on the operating table.
Which makes every hospital a war-zone. A constant onslaught against viruses and bacteria – hostile organisms so small they’re invisible – you can never tell whether they’re there or not.
But count on it, they always are.
So hospitals don’t just need to be clean and KEPT clean. They need a special kind of clean. Because the enemy is everywhere – on surfaces, furniture, drapes, skin and clothing. Swirling through the air too. If you’ve ever watched minute motes of dust floating in sunlight, you’ll understand.
A hospital is a huge place too – requiring a monumental effort to keep clean.
Doing it all to the same standard is impossible, but this is where miracles happen every day.
They need them too.
Antibiotics are vital to saving your life – but fifty years of depending on them more and more has led to overuse. Result – mutating bacteria have found a way to become resistant to them too.
So HAIs are increasingly in the news. Today the No 1 villain is MRSA – Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – the surgeon’s nightmare. The No 2 is Clostridium Difficile.
You will be tested for both repeatedly – before, during and after your procedure. Between them they kill around 2,000 people a year in the UK, just these two.
Against the enemy
Fortunately you’re not totally dependant on Mrs Mop to keep you safe. Hospital cleaning is science and there’s more to it than disinfectant and detergent.
Operating theatres have HEPA filters – High-Efficiency Particulate Air scrubbers so fine they can remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.03 of a micron – a single MRSA cell is 0.06.
Increasingly, ultra violet light is used too. In high intensity pulses generated in the short-wave UV-C band, the light attacks viruses and bacteria by destroying their DNA. All germs within range are dead in around ten minutes.
Hydrogen peroxide is even more effective. No shadows, no “dead” areas. Misted up into a super-fine ionised spray it reaches everywhere, drawn by static charge. Germs are destroyed by oxidising them – ripped apart by oxygen atoms and destroyed down to just 1 microorganism in a million.
Yes, your surgery is a serious thing, but your body will pull through – the doctors and nurses will make sure of it. Your narrow escape is in avoiding the germs – always a risk, even with defences in place.
Somewhere out there, according to a recent study by the BMJ, around one in every 2,000 Britons is a carrier of CJD proteins – the building blocks of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and human form of “Mad Cow” disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Cast your mind back, and you’ll recall BSE was a disaster for British agriculture that led to a 10-year ban on British beef across the EU and 4.4 million cattle being destroyed.
But right now it’s not BSE that’s making cows mad. And believe us, they’re not just mad – they’re out-of-their-skulls furious.
Seems we human beings cannot stop ourselves messing around with things beyond our control – especially the way we use antibiotics any time a biological challenge pops up to test us.
Antibiotics again, huh?
Give it five years, they’ll be our biggest health problem. Across the world, doctors are tearing their hair out because a whole slew of these vitally necessary wonder-drugs are just not working any more.
Using them for everything has triggered a new wave of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics – and all of a sardine, doctors are thrown back into Nineteenth Century treatment methods.
Which is exactly why the cows are mad.
We should be too – mad at ourselves at being so stupid. Because over-reliance on antibiotics is coming back to bite us, big time.
All that panic about Ebola because there’s no cure? The day is coming when you could die from a paper cut. Because it’s not just our stupid selves who keep insisting on antibiotics – it’s the whole farming industry worldwide.
For instance, five years ago, 80% of the antibiotics sold in the US were used on farms. Today, it’s even more.
So we bring it on ourselves.
Because, right on cue – surprise, surprise – it now seems that a livestock variant of the MRSA superbug has jumped from farm animals to hospitals and baby clinics, with three instances recently recorded in Scotland.
Now MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) itself is bad enough – major grief for hospitals trying to prevent post-op infections and other medical uphill.
But this is strain CC398, a particularly nasty variant – a super-MRSA – way more virulent and certainly life-threatening. You’re right to be mad about it, just like the cows.
Especially when you realise that antibiotics are so widely used on farms, they’re regularly included in feedstuffs to boost easier production of healthier animals without the hassles. Not just for when they’re ill, but every day for breakfast, lunch and supper. No wonder it’s 80%.
And a lot of the time, completely unnecessary.
Symptoms, not cause
You see, chucking antibiotics into feedstuffs is treating symptoms, not cause.
It’s no even treating – it’s anticipating. Pouring antibiotics down the poor animals’ throats because they MIGHT develop an infection.
Talk about compounding the problem.
Because it’s not just strain CC398 – just to put your mind at ease, there are 270,000 strains of MRSA, each potentially harmful.
Yet without using antibiotics or chucking anything down their throats, it’s simple enough to treat the same animals’ living quarters so they’re completely sterilised – to lower the infection threshold to nothing.
No germs, no infections. What’s the problem?
We can do exactly the same with our own environment too – reducing our own dependence on antibiotics. It’s attacking the problem BEFORE anything happens – treating cause, not symptoms.
Before, not after
There’s lots of ways to do it.
With Ebola in the news, a lot of action is happening around hospital robots that irradiate UV light, destroying viruses and bacteria in the air before they get near the patient. Expensive, but effective.
A lot of other places in the US use ozone generators, particularly in old age homes. It destroys pathogens by oxidising them to nothing – ripping them apart with extra oxygen atoms.
Even better is hydrogen peroxide, another super-oxidiser. By ionising the stuff into an ultra-fine dry-mist spray, it spreads upwards and outwards, actively grabbing at pathogens by electrostatic charge.
It reaches everywhere too. Up to the ceiling, into all the cracks and crevices. Sterilising the average room in around twenty minutes flat. No germs, no anything – especially MRSA.
So if you had that available in your hospital, wouldn’t you be mad if they didn’t use it?
It’s not just the cows – it’s all of us. We need to take our hygiene habits up a level.
Then we know we’ll be safe by prevention, antibiotics or not.