Category Archives: Hygiene Focus

People make themselves sick and it’s YOUR fault

You mean me
Suddenly you’re in trouble – even though you’ve done nothing

Of course it’s your fault, you’re not doing anything.

Nothing for your customers, nothing for your staff.

They’re getting themselves infected and you’re just letting them.

Get ready to be the victim

Which means any minute now, they’re going to clobber you.

Duty of care or some such… you didn’t stop them.

So now they’ve got sick in your place, so of course it must be your fault. Give them a chance and they’ll sue you down to the ground for generations to come.

After all, you let them walk in with unwashed hands and didn’t make a fuss. You didn’t nanny them into using soap and water, giving themselves a good scrub. You just let them sit there at your restaurant table or office desk and carry on regardless.

And how do you know where they might have been?

Clutching handrails on the bus or supermarket trolley. Those grubby railings out in the street. Not forgetting the escalator, or the touchscreen on their phones – all kinds of germs out there, heaving on everything.

Who knows what they might have picked up? E.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, flu viruses and norovirus are usual suspects. Any one of which could give them collywobbles, or something more serious.

Germs everywhere

Don’t believe it?

Just ask yourself – out and about, doing things in the city, when was the last time you washed your own hands?

Can’t remember? Neither can most of us – because we don’t think of it. Which means most of the time, our personal hand hygiene is non-existent. Most of us don’t wash our hands at all, so there’s all kinds of bugs crawling on there – including poo from the loo for at least 28% of us.

So check out these people – what are they doing? Tucking into your menu specials? Using a knife and fork, or their fingers?

Oops, there you go, a piece of bread roll straight out of their hand. Bread, butter – and norovirus – down the hatch. It only takes 10 norovirus particles to be infected – and there’s probably several thousand in each mouthful.

Give it 24 hours and the phone’s going to go. Cramps, vomiting and the world’s worst diarrhoea – after eating at your place and they’re calling their lawyers.

And you did nothing.

Nothing to cause them being ill – but nothing to stop them either. So now you’re going to get it.

Guilty because you’re innocent

Same thing if they’re working in your office. Unwashed fingers on the keyboard, then touching themselves round the eyes and mouth. Or eating a sarnie at their desk, just to make sure.

Not at work tomorrow. Sick as a dog and unable to move. But they’re onto the union rep about work-place germs – how dare you run an unhealthy environment!

Your fault again for doing nothing. Not rescuing them from themselves.

So what to do?

You can’t force people to wash their hands. They’ll get offended and give you more grief than you already have. And their sloppy hygiene could cost you plenty.

Not fair, is it? You already provide washrooms and loos – your place is always spic and span. Yet it’s you that gets hit for THEIR negligence.

Time to do something to protect yourself – duty of care – duty of bottom line.

By making hygiene much more assertive.

Because at the moment, it’s just passive, isn’t it? If they don’t wash their hands after the loo, that’s their indaba – but it’s you that gets it in the neck.

Pro-active hygiene

So put a bottle of hand sanitising gel on their desks – or offer them each individually packaged antiseptic wipes.

It’s a courtesy, right? How are they going to refuse you?

And how many are likely to think about suing you if they STILL come down with some bug? You’ve visibly demonstrated you care for their well-being. Yeah they’re still suffering, but more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

OK – and you can take it a stage further too. Not just sanitise their hands, but sterilise the whole place – get rid of the residual germs in the air or on surfaces, some of which can survive for up to two weeks or more.

Duty of care – duty of bottom line. Because what is the cost if they sue? Or the down time if they’re not working? The loss of trade? The loss of goodwill? The loss of reputation?

Norovirus alone costs the NHS £100 million a year. Get unlucky and it could put you out of business.

Yeah, look after your people – and protect yourself too – belt and braces.

All it takes is a Hypersteriliser – and around 40 minutes every night, part of your normal cleaning operations.

Press a button and it mists up deserted rooms with ionised hydrogen peroxide – which spreads everywhere through the air and into cracks and crevices, oxidising germs to nothing on the fly.

The result? A Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – in non-medic speak, that’s 99.9999% of all viruses and bacteria gone.

No way anything can be your fault after that.

Picture Copyright: atic12 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-02-05 13:59:38.

Giants clash over chicken: Dame Sally vs the FSA

Threatening Heel
Right or wrong – there’s only one way with hygiene

Looks like the FSA is washing its hands of the food poisoning campylobacter issue.

They want to duck the cost of monitoring birds for this naturally-occurring bacteria and shove it onto industry.

Oh woe is us, woe is us, we’re all going to get sick.

Misplaced objectives

Not if proper leak-proof packaging is in use across the industry we won’t. Most birds have this bacteria in their gut – just like we have over 100 trillion bacteria in our own gut. They’re supposed to be there. Take one away and the balance between all of them is disturbed.

In birds’ metabolism, campylobacter is passive and benign. It does them no harm, and occurs in probably two-thirds of all birds farmed in the UK . Far from a scandal – and not “contaminated” as media hysteria would have us believe, these birds are colonised with it naturally. Because its presence may be necessary, like a catalyst for OTHER positive bacteria to do THEIR job.

For instance, campylobacter is closely related to helicobacter pylori – itself once even called “campylobacter”. Research shows helicobacter pylori to be a key cause of ulcers and stomach cancer. But eliminating helicobacter pylori is also linked to an increase in oesophageal disease and asthma.

Swings and roundabouts. Take away one element and you trigger another. Even one that looks hazardous – at first appraisal. So surprise, surprise, as long as it’s not activated, helicobacter pylori in the body may actually be necessary.

And anyway, if two-thirds of all birds in the UK have this dreadful campylobacter, why aren’t two-thirds of us ALWAYS moaning and groaning with stomach cramps and earth-shattering diarrhoea?

Reality check

Because – and maybe the FSA don’t know this – nobody eats raw chicken. And cooking chicken completely eliminates campylobacter. The whole KFC fast-food franchise succeeds because of it. So do a lot of Sunday lunches, kids lunch boxes – and let’s face it – household budgets. Chicken is probably our No 1 food staple.

Uh huh. But the FSA actually DO have a point about chicken being a health hazard – because campylobacter frequently crops up on the outside of packaging in the supermarket. It’s even known to leak out, dripping onto shelves below and contaminating other products.

The same thing happens at home too – cross-contamination in the refrigerator. Get campylobacter on your lettuce and your stomach will soon know all about it.

Yet for all this, the FSA never says anything about packaging. On the one hand they clobber the producers to reduce a naturally-occurring bacteria. And on the other they hector the rest of us not to wash chicken. Back-splatter will contaminate everyone’s kitchen – and foops, everyone will be writhing and groaning.

Yeah, right. But have you looked at chicken packaging in your supermarket lately?

The El Cheapo stuff is just wrapped in cling-film – yer pays yer money…

Pick it up and it’s dripping all over the place, particularly the whole birds. The premium stuff – and most of the cut choices – goujons, drumsticks and the rest – are packed on foam or polyethylene trays, then vacuum sealed. So leak-proof packaging does exist – why doesn’t the FSA enforce it?

And to prove that the industry is on side, in some supermarkets, there is even a prominent sticker DO NOT WASH – the FSA war-cry for at least the last two years.

Collision course

Which is exactly where our crusading Food Standards Agency runs head-on into the stern and often dire warnings of Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer.

Yeah, do not wash chicken, you can see the logic.

But consider the whole principle of DO NOT WASH – and you can feel the hackles rise.

Because Dame Sally’s rapidly snowballing headache at the moment is antibiotic resistance – the fact that a whole slew of killer superbugs are becoming immune to whatever miracle drugs we might throw at them. The Drugs Don’t Work is even the title of her book on the subject.

Without effective antibiotics to protect us, modern medicine comes to a shuddering, grinding stall. Slightly more of a crisis than food poisoning from chicken.

Which is why Dame Sally is tirelessly at it, warning us of the over-dependence on antibiotics – and urging us all to do the one thing that can minimise our exposure potential to deadly superbugs – WASH EVERYTHING.

The ew factor

With good reason. Dame Sally knows that day-to-day, our own sloppy hygiene is probably the biggest hazard we face. The facts are horrendous, yet we all smile sheepishly and shrug them away. A&E will sort it. A quick shot of amoxicillin or whatever and we’ll be right.

As if.

Kinda critical handling chicken.

And there is no way to avoid handling it – like getting it out of the packaging for a start. Then chopping it, trimming it, slicing it, whatever the recipe calls for.

Don’t wash the chicken, right. But if you want to avoid the tummy cramps, better scrub that chopping board, counter top, serving platter and trimming knife within an inch of its life – and your hands of course.

Which you should do anyway. Because it’s not just possible campylobacter you have to scrub off, it’s the likelihood of all the other bad guys as well – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or just plain norovirus – take your pick.

Rediscover hygiene

So – wash or not wash?

Frankly, our money’s on Dame Sally.

If we’re going to get through this, we’ve got to be germ-free and clean. No way we can achieve that without soap and water. But there isn’t any available in most supermarkets.

OK then, carry antiseptic wipes – and hope the FSA gets on the packaging case soon.

Just don’t hold your breath.

Picture Copyright: konstantynov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-02-02 14:49:56.

Norovirus tummy bug – always the blame game

Woman - arms folded serious
Yeah right, norovirus is always somebody’s fault – and never the person who comes down with it

Reality is, there’s only ever one cause for norovirus.

Somewhere, someone doesn’t wash their hands.

Then they touch food, somebody else swallows it – quick, call the Doctor, I feel terrible!

Accusations, accusations

Your fault or theirs?

Never anybody’s.

It wasn’t me.

Yeah, right.

But make no joke, whoever it happens to, norovirus is always the pits – really unpleasant, the end of the world – and in bad cases, life-threatening.

It’s the end of the world if you’re running a business too.

Lots of fingers pointing – negligence, carelessness, unhygienic conditions – no matter how spotless your place or professional your staff. Difficult to prove anything otherwise.

Somebody on your side

So here’s a little common sense, to help you figure whodunit. Because if it is your fault, you’ve got to take action fast. Norovirus and bad press can put you out of business.

OK, reality again – who did, or did not, wash their hands?

Your customers will deny it, but them’s the usual suspects. Check the evidence:

Uh huh. And if you think about it, when was the last time ANY of your customers might have washed their hands before they came to you? Five minutes ago? Before lunch? If at all?

Now the common sense bit.

So someone’s moaning norovirus. Is it one person or a handful?

If it’s just one person, you can suspicion a mouse.

Customer Zero

Like how come, if you serve several chicken liver pâtés over a day, that only one was off? You’re a business, right? So most of your stuff to some degree or other is all made in batches – it saves time and stops the customer waiting.

So if one of your pâtés was off, they all should have been, right? You should have a dozen complaints about tummy cramps and upchucking, not just one.

And if all the others were OK – batch-made, remember? – why was that one portion different? They were all the same when they went to table, the only difference was the customer they went to. You can’t prove it, but that one customer’s norovirus misery was probably self-inflicted.

Same thing if it starts with just one customer – and then a handful more, hours or days later. Norovirus spreads by transfer. So your customer had his mitts all over the butter knife or salad servers and the rest of his table picked up the bug.

Bad this, because the ripple effect can spread wider. A few hours more and a whole stack of customers are moaning and clutching their tummies. Either by touch, or through the air, the norovirus has got to them and is giving them hell.

A whole lot of people out of action, but all triggered by Customer Zero – the common denominator.

When you know it’s you

Because if everybody all comes down with it at once, you know it’s YOUR fault. Something or someone engaging with your customers is contaminated – they’re all exposed at the same time, they all come down together.

OK, you know what to do – or do you?

Maybe you’ve read about those hospitals and cruise ships where norovirus keeps coming back. The same will happen to you if you’re not careful.

This stuff is highly contagious and VERY efficient at spreading. With violent vomiting particularly, norovirus gets everywhere. It’s a virus too, don’t forget. Which means every cell is tiny. Small, as in, it can fall THROUGH a roofing tile without stopping.

Which means among all the other things it is, it’s airborne. It rides the air – swirling, twisting, spreading, turning – so light that it may never reach the floor. So it’s on the walls, on the ceiling, on the light fittings, and under the tables all at once. In the air throughout your whole place too. Blown around by the air conditioning, the rush of air as people come in the door.

And it can survive in all of these places for up to ten days or more.

Impossible, impossible

So you scrub the place down with carbolic and everything – and next day one of your waiters walks into a floating cell that takes him in the eye. Four hours later, he’s vomiting too – and you’ve only just re-opened after clearing up the last lot.

Or it could be somewhere else. On the maître d’s lectern, all over the PDQ machines. First person who keys in a total – boom, they’ve got the runs within hours.

And if not there, there’s plenty of other places. All unreachable or just never thought of. Brushing against people as they walk through the curtains. Among the cushions on the banquette. Or the one everybody forgets, all over your stack of menus.

How long is it going to take to clean all those places? Can your cleaning cloths reach into those cracks where a virus only 2 microns across might lurk? There’s millions and millions of places, can you be sure to catch them all?

Eliminating the odds

Actually, yes, you can. With a Hypersteriliser.

Press the button and it mists up your place with an ionised cloud of hydrogen peroxide – electrostatically charged to spread everywhere, actively reaching out and oxidising viruses and bacteria as it does.

Forty minutes, an hour, and the place is sterile. No more norovirus. No more repeat infections either.

Until the next customer breezes in straight off the street and climbs straight into the stuffed olives while the table’s main course is processing.

There’s a cure for that too. Don’t put anything on the table until every customer is handed an antiseptic hand wipe, courtesy of the house.

OK, now let them blame all they like.

Ooh my tummy, I’m going to hurl, blame, blame, blame.

You’ve taken the precautions and you know.

It isn’t you. Never, never and never again.

Picture Copyright: brendan80 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-01-29 15:26:27.

Killer poison on hands – saved by Cornish pasty

Hungry miner
Thirteenth Century rescue from death – the crimped pastry edge of Cornish pasties was effective protection against arsenic poisoning

It’s a fatal choice to make.

Your lunch, or your life.

Because down in the dark of a Cornish tin mine, those hunger pangs could be the end of you. No chance of getting back topside to eat, your shift is all day. Time is money. Stay down till you drop.

Dirty and deadly

Hard work this, deadly too. Tin ore produces arsenic dust. Which of course gets everywhere – on your clothes, on your skin, in your hair. There’s no such thing as an OLD Cornish tin miner.

Pickaxe, shovel, crowbar – the blokes are all starving.

“Oggy, oggy, oggy!”

(Pasty, pasty, pasty – the real D-shaped Cornish jobs – potatoes, swedes, onions, chopped beef, salt and pepper – with thick pastry and a heavily crimped, curved edge.)

It’s the wives and sweethearts up top, ready with hot Cornish pasties. They lower them down and the smell drives you mad. The lads’ mouths pucker in the flickering lamplight.

“Oy, oy, oy!”

The answering yell rings off the rock face.

Yum, pasties.

But your hands are filthy as hell, already going yellow. Arsenic trioxide – deadly if you swallow it. Stomach troubles, prostate, all kinds of cancer.

Nowhere to wash though, down here underground. Except seepage down the one wall, deep yellow in the light of the candle. More arsenic in the groundwater, the deadliest wash ever.

Like your mates around you, you grab for the basket.

Heb grev. No problem, as they say in Cornwall.

Poison protection

The deeply crimped pastry edge down the side of the pasty allows you to snatch it up with poisoned fingers without touching the meaty middle.

High-tech Cornish cooking – Thirteenth Century style.

You eat your fill of the middle and throw the pastry crust away. It’s your gift to the Knockers – the little folk who live in the mine and make mischief if they’re forgotten – like a rock-fall on a man’s leg.

You get the message.

Eight hundred years ago we already knew that eating with dirty hands could be fatal. And our thanks to the Cornish pasty experts at Ginsters for bringing this to our attention.

Doesn’t look like we’ve learned though. Just about everything we count as a favourite is finger-food today – burgers, pizzas, pies, rolls, wraps, sandwiches, fish and chips.

Scoff any of that lot and you’re a shoo-in for norovirus – the Don’t Wash Hands Disease.

Four days of cramps, runs and upchucks – all self-inflicted because soap and water is not on the radar.

Well it’s not, is it?

The price of dirty hands

How many times a day do you wash your hands? C’mon now, don’t be shy. We’re all just as bad – thinking we’re safe, when we’re setting ourselves up for misery.

For instance:

Try that in old Cornwall and you’d be dead.

Because how many other fast foods are smart enough to have grab handles, so you can eat them with polluted paws and not come unstuck? Or are you going to tell us you sit at your iPad and actually eat with a knife and fork?

Yeah, pull the other one. We’re quick enough to point the finger and say “food poisoning” – when all the time we’re probably the victims of our own carelessness.

OK, norovirus is not arsenic – but it CAN kill. And there’s plenty of other nasties out there that can do the same.

Campylobacter for instance, next stop irritable bowel syndrome – and a life-time of embarrassing discomfort. Or salmonella, with high expectations of diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure.

Yeah, enjoy your meal!

But if you’re not going to poison yourself, you might want scrub up first.

Picture Copyright: siberia / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-01-28 15:37:13.

Contagious, infectious, why you’re gonna catch it

Unhappy woman in viral mask
They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere! And germs aren’t picky who they infect

What goes around, comes around, right? Which is why you’re gonna catch it.

Because we’re not all hermits.

We need to be with each other and share things – at work, at home, or out enjoying ourselves.

Get a life and keep it

Otherwise, avoiding bugs is easy – we stay in splendid isolation and talk to nobody.

Not much of a life though, hey?

So we’re out there with everybody else – and sure as little apples, if there’s a bug going round, we’re ALL gonna catch it.

No, no, it’s not going to be because someone coughed over us, or sneezed in our direction. It’s not going to be because somebody honked their guts out on the office carpet either.

We’re careful, we keep away. We’re sympathetic, yes – but we don’t let that stuff touch us.

Besides, the place LOOKS clean and our hands aren’t dirty. If whoever it is stays away from work, we’re laughing.

If only we knew.

Because they could stay away for a week and we still might catch it.

Telling ourselves we can’t SEE germs doesn’t mean they’re not there. And germs, believe it or not, can survive for weeks clinging on to whatever – not the same as a nice, warm bod, but do-able.

So yeah, they’re there alright, all around us – like raindrops in a rain storm… No, hang on, that’s not all-embracing enough – like steam particles in a sauna.

SURROUNDING us.

Our own bio-aura

For starters, we each of us trail a cloud of germs – actually a cocktail of bacteria, skin and hair debris, viruses, fungi particles and dust all around us wherever we go.

There’s more in the air too, swirling and floating in every space on Earth. Too small to see so we don’t even think that they exist. Good germs, bad germs – so universally present it’s almost impossible to avoid them.

Only by washing them away are we momentarily safe from them – or eliminating them from the space around us, which amounts to the same thing.

Otherwise, we’re at risk, every moment of our existence.

We’ll touch something that somebody else has touched – a door handle, a light switch, a salt shaker or a phone. Next minute, because we do, we’ll touch our face and that’ll be it – bacteria will get in through our eyes or mouth – we’ve got the bug.

Yeah OK, most of the time it doesn’t happen.

Careless hygiene costs health

Our life and its surroundings are clean enough and hygienic enough for us to get away with it.

Which means we get forgetful. Careless because we’re always on the go. We don’t clean things, because they don’t look dirty. Or we get Harry casual when we do, choosing a wipe instead of a proper scrub with soap. And as for disinfecting… not even on the radar.

Want an example?

Look no further than your favourite coffee hangout.

More especially, watch the barista make your start-of-the-day cappuccino to go. See that steam pipe on the Gaggia machine? That’s to bubble the milk, give it that distinctive foam al perfetto.

Uh huh.

Now watch the J-cloth that wipes the pipe, then into the plastic jug, waiting for the next order. Watch again. Same wipe action, back to the jug. Over and over – all morning if you watch long enough.

Not exactly hygienic, right? Shouldn’t that be a fresh cloth every time? Or a tear-off paper towel?

Yet who else is watching? Not even an inspector is likely to pick that up. Unconscious habit – and so perfectly normal that nobody sees a thing.

And that’s how it happens. Sleep-walking ourselves into sickness.

A little bit of soap

Like, be honest, when was the last time you washed your hands? Before you left home? When you reached work? After you hit the loo? Before your ritual ‘cino and Danish?

Don’t worry if you feel a twinge of conscience at the last two. Most people forget either of them are so vital – a wonder we don’t fall down dead with so many germs around.

Makes you think twice about the office though, doesn’t it?

Perhaps not as safe as you think.

Especially when Harry from Sales upchucks after the staff party.

All those germs floating around. Billions and billions of them. Often only 2 microns across – small enough to fall THROUGH an unglazed terra cotta plate.

Ew! Because it only takes around ten particles of norovirus – our favourite winter vomiting bug – to infect someone. And one droplet of vomit can contain 100,000,000,000 particles.

OK, so Harry stays away – and so do you. Except it’s near the photocopier, an area you can’t avoid.

Germ defence force-field

Nae problem, your work has got you covered with a Hypersteriliser.

You go home last thing – and the chars move in, right? And last thing when they quit is press the button on the machine.

Hisssssssss!

That’s ionised hydrogen peroxide misting up the place. Penetrating everywhere through the air space and oxidising germs on the fly. Over, under, behind, through – into all the cracks and corners. Over every surface too.

Forty minutes later, the place is sterilised. No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.

Next day, Harry is safe, home in bed.

And you’re safe with your ‘cino and Danish – after a turn by the wash basin. No point taking needless chances.

Except what? No Hypersteriliser, it was only on appro?

Better book your own sickie off now, it’s only a matter of time. And get the boss to order one fast.

Because you’re going to catch it.

So’s he.

Originally posted 2016-01-12 16:27:37.

Avoid norovirus or worse as flood waters drop

Rain girl
Just remember, germs are like raindrops but smaller – up in the air and all over the place until you get rid of them

Goodbye Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank.

You weren’t nice and we never liked you – good riddance.

Likewise storms yet to come – Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake and Katie.

We know you’re coming, but don’t expect us to roll out the welcome mat. You and the rest of your Named Storms mob have done enough damage already.

The long road back

So now it’s the heartache and the clear up. Putting your life back together.

But be careful.

There’s sickness in that water – and sickness where it’s been.

Up to your ankles in the kitchen, even more in the street. With the over-run sewer system four feet below that. Which means there’s poo in that water, nothing about it is safe. And as the level goes down, that yuck is going to be everywhere.

Be safe, don’t touch it, or risk getting it on your skin. Norovirus could be lurking there – or even worse, cholera. For sure, there’s nothing healthy.

So whatever you do, wash your hands if it gets on them – or if you’ve touched anything lying in it. Norovirus spreads on contact – and it only takes a dab. You don’t want that misery on top of everything else. Cramps, runs, upchucks – no thank you.

Wash your hands properly too, this stuff is pernicious. Find yourself some hot water – as hot as you can stand – and give yourself a good going over. Soap and scrubbing brush. Under your nails and between your fingers. Like you’ve got plague on them and you can’t take chances – which if you think about it, is true.

Proper hygiene is everything

And which of course means your place will need the same treatment.

After days of immersion in poo, sweeping out the mud and hosing everything down is not going to be good enough – not even with a turbo-wash. It’ll be in the wallpaper and the plaster – in the concrete and even the bricks. Going to have to be brutal.

It’ll be UNDER the floorboards too – in the crawl space around the foundations. By the time you get to it, a kind of sludgy, gooey gunge. Norovirus in there – and all other kinds of nasties. Squirt it out if you can, possibly forcing it out through the air bricks. You don’t want the drama of ripping everything up to get rid of it.

Yes, it’s a health hazard, but if you can get rid of most of it, it’s possible to neutralise the rest with hydrogen peroxide or some other oxidising steriliser.

Misting up the under-floor gap with a Hypersteriliser is a good choice – any airborne germs will be clobbered immediately and the stuff is good at forcing itself into difficult nooks and crannies. Any viruses or bacteria it comes in contact with will be dead in around 40 minutes.

Likewise any mould. The hydrogen peroxide won’t physically get rid of it, but it will kill it dead – you can tell in two ways. It won’t be that horrible black any more, but a pale grey. And whatever smell there might be – if it’s anything organic – will have disappeared.

That hydrogen peroxide mist will work well in the rest of the house too – especially at getting rid of the smell. But remember it’s only a vapour – actually a super-vapour called a plasma, which is why it’s so effective. But it won’t physically clean or scrub, so any smells could come back when the stuff wears off after a week or so.

It pays to be thorough

To do the job properly, you’ve got to chuck away all the carpets, lino, wallpaper and plaster so you can scrub down with disinfectant right to the bare walls and floor. Your place won’t look pretty, but at least it will be safe. Mist it up again with hydrogen peroxide and chances are good any smell is gone permanently.

The no-smell thing is important, because that means any microbial action has been stopped – there are no more germs breeding in there to come and get you. If the smells come back it either means you missed a bit and the germs break through when the hydrogen peroxide wears off – or the place isn’t fully dry and mould is reforming. Another mist-up will give you a quick fix, but the real answer is to get down and dirty all over again – this time, with a more eagle eye.

Look after yourself while you do all this, because don’t forget you ARE exposing yourself to germs – and nasties like norovirus are airborne as well coating everything, so you could by mischance breathe some in. To be really safe, Public Health England have this excellent guide – useful and easy step-by-step stuff anyone can follow.

There, all done – and well done you. A real schlep, but you don’t want anyone coming down with anything serious on top of all the other setbacks.

Welcome back to the land of the living.

Originally posted 2016-01-07 16:22:45.

Which gift will be yours: cramps, runs or barfs?

Santa doctor
Nobody wants to be ill at this time of year – wash your hands and you should be fine

Yay, festive season!

Jollies and super-grub. Ripping into gift-wrap and cramming our faces. May it all be wonderful and great for every one of you.

It isn’t always though, is it?

Not so nice

Because those tummy rumblings are not always from over-eating. Yup, from Noel to norovirus in just hours. The twelve days of cramps and misery – and all we want to do is die. What evil-minded soul lucked this onto us?

Actually, probably ourselves.

The odds on it being proper food poisoning are pretty remote. Both at home or in a restaurant, most food is prepared and cooked properly enough so that germs are eliminated. Though yeah, norovirus is highly contagious – and yeah, it’s probably from something we’ve eaten.

Except our own fingers put it there.

That’s the trouble with this dratted tummy bug. Most of the time it’s undoubtedly self-inflicted – a reality we tend to avoid, except it’s true – because norovirus is the undisputed No 1 Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Because our hands touch everything, right? And most of the time we think they’re clean because they look it, so it never occurs to us to wash them.

The invisible nasty

Not good when norovirus is so small it’s only 2 – 5 microns across. You couldn’t see that, even with a magnifying glass.

But it’s so easily there – picked up from high-contact locations like door handles, light switches, grab handles and keypads. And when you come down to it, when WAS the last time you washed your hands? Some time after breakfast? When you went to the loo?

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t remember, a shocking lot of us forget altogether. Would you believe that most of us never think of it after going to the loo – and pretty well all of us never wash before eating?

Now how about the things you touch that NEVER get washed, or never seem to – grab-rails on buses and trains, escalator handrails, just about anything walking down the street – even the inside of your own gloves.

Oops! But our hands don’t LOOK dirty, so we take a chance without knowing it. And the norovirus transfers when we touch our face – which we do 3 or 4 times a minute without thinking – or when we grab a pretzel, piece of stollen or turkey drumstick.

Don’t want the bug – or the cramps? Wash your hands whenever you think of it and you’ll probably be OK.

Second nasty

A word of caution though, about the turkey drumstick.

Gnawing on it at table is probably OK – but turkey needs care in preparation, like any poultry.

That’s because most birds are naturally colonised with a bacterium called campylobacter. It’s harmless to them, but to us humans it’s a villainous carbon copy of norovirus – brings on the cramps, the vomiting and the diarrhoea – exactly what none of us need in the festive season.

Fortunately campylobacter is destroyed by cooking. When that bird is a delicious golden brown, all trace of the bug is gone.

There is a but. Which is that it spreads easily from uncooked meat, so that knives, chopping boards, plates – and of course hands – are easily contaminated during preparation. Wash everything thoroughly and the problem goes away.

Seasons greetings!

So now you’re safe. All set to enjoy every second of the celebrations.

We wish you a very happy and pleasant time – and all the very best for the coming New Year.

With any luck, somebody will give you a nice-smelling soap as a thoughtful reminder.

Go well, and don’t over-eat!

Originally posted 2015-12-18 13:54:20.

Why pay to keep warm, but not to keep healthy?

Sweater girl
Warmth is even nicer…
when there aren’t any germs around

Winter’s coming.

Cold’s, flu – and all kinds of sniffy nasties.

So what do we do about it?

Not a lot.

Paracetamol, a blanket – and turn the heating up. Ah, lovely warmth!

Bills, bills, bills

£1,000 a year for a two-bed-roomed house. £5,000 and more for the office at work.

Worth every penny, right?

It won’t stop the sniffles – but goodness, how it feels to be human.

Unless you DO have the sniffles of course. Not human at all, however high you turn the thermostat. And so difficult to breathe when you feel like you’re boiling.

Open a window, let’s please have some air!

Shut the stupid thing quick – do you want us to catch our deaths?

Yeah, right. All those germs circling round. In the air conditioning, out of the air conditioning – spread evenly round the whole staff, so they all get a go. Cough, splutter, EXPLODE!

Fat lot of good paracetamol does when you’re feeling like death. Time to pull a sickie. That stuff on your desk can go to hell for a few days. Forget the heating, time to go to bed. Ironic too, that you’re running a temperature.

Germs, germs, germs

So what about those germs from whatever you’ve got? Still festering in the office, waiting for another victim. Because forget whatever we breathe in or breathe out, we all of us trail around a whole bio-aura of personal bacteria, dead skin cells and body detritus wherever we move.

That’s lingering in the office too. A whole different health hazard to your colleagues – who might have a condition or sensitivities vulnerable to your normal bio-balance. Harmless to you, a possible threat to them.

Plus of course, there’s whatever germs might be hanging around from everyday office activities. Lots of people eat at their desks, so there’s food fragments and attendant bacteria – and all kinds of stuff loitering about in the dust bunnies under keyboards and behind plasma screens – more microbial mayhem for the office germ threshold.

And most of all this stuff is floating around in the air. In that feel-good warmth the company’s paying £5,000 a year to generate. All that money to warm it, but nothing at all to take the bugs out.

Which is crazy, because for not much more than £4 a pop, that whole office space could be sterilised every night – all germs oxidised to nothing by misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide – safe, secure and totally neutral for when your colleagues arrive in the morning.

So what is wrong with this picture? £4 a room (depending on the room size) – around £1,200 a year for the days the office is in use – say, quarter of the heating bill.

Health, health, health

The difference between running a temperature and costing money in sick leave, or feeling that luscious warmth wrap around you in another illness-free day, doing what you do best and MAKING money for yourself and the company.

All it takes is one press of a button on the front panel of a Hypersteriliser machine after everybody’s gone home – and ffffsssssss!

A super-fine all-penetrating mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads everywhere throughout the work area, actively grabbing at viruses and bacteria in mid-air or on surfaces, ripping them to shreds till there’s nothing left.

How can you tell?

Well that two-week old chicken mayonnaise sarnie might still be tucked down the side of Fred Nurk’s desk, but you won’t be able to smell it. The bacteria that caused the stink are dead and gone – the place is pong-neutral until new bacteria start up again. Or Fred Nurk finally sees the remains and chucks them in the bin.

Warm air, good. Healthy air, even gooder.

And yet we never even think about it. We’re not a hospital. We’re not sick. So it never occurs to us about how we GET sick.

Because now we don’t have to. With no germs around, that doesn’t happen any more. No absentees, better productivity, more bonuses, greater profitability.

So why are the brass still moaning about a £5,000 electricity bill?

Originally posted 2015-12-03 16:20:21.

If you buy someone a burger with dirty hands and they die from it, isn’t that murder?

Fingers pointing at woman
You did wash your hands, didn’t you? Didn’t you? DIDN’T you?

Can’t happen, right?

And at least it can’t be you.

Death by misadventure, more like. Just Fate.

Like, here’s this van parked up in a lay-by selling burgers and you’ve got the munchies, why not? A burger for your friend and bacon butty for you. Looks OK, lorry-drivers all use it, what could be wrong?

The price for not thinking

Food poisoning is what. The worst kind.

Only twenty minutes to kick in too. Doubled-up with cramps, explosive vomiting, cold to touch like you can’t believe – in a coma before you even get to A&E. Another hour and the worst happens – staphylococcal poisoning and some underlying condition nobody knew was there.

Your best friend – gone. Dead from a burger.

Not your fault, right?

How could you know that burger van was suspect? Could happen to anyone.

Yeah, but – even a burger van has to conform to standards.

Public liability insurance, health and safety, health and hygiene certificates – there’s a whole load of legal stuff they have to satisfy before they can hit the road.

Operating regulations too – buying from safe supply, clean preparation area, regulated cooking time, washing hands, covering hair, wearing aprons, handling food with gloves – they can’t just willy-nilly flip burgers.

Which means that burger was probably OK when they handed it to you. The bacon butty too – nothing happened to you, did it?

Yeah, that burger van’s hygiene standards were most likely 100% up to scratch. Those lorry drivers would complain like hell otherwise – and they’d soon go out of business if they weren’t. Fines, criminal charges – lots of nasties to avoid.

So how did it happen?

One finger pointing, three pointing back

You took the burger and the butty back to the car, she opened the door, you gave it to her – has to be the burger van.

Uh huh.

And just for the record, when did you actually wash your hands before all this? What were you handling? Did you touch or talk to anyone who had an infection? Did you handle their clothing or bedding?

Oh, sure. You MEANT to wash your hands. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t – most of the time we all THINK we did. Anyway, what does it matter?

Staph contamination on your hands is what.

We all KNOW we’re supposed to wash our hands after handling stuff – and we all KNOW we’re supposed to do it again before handling food.

It’s like a responsibility to ourselves, to keep us safe from anything happening. Basic hygiene we learnt as kids.

OK, but what about other people?

If we forget to wash our hands and then handle THEIR food, isn’t it our fault?

And isn’t that what happened?

Staph bacteria transferred to the burger, instant food poisoning – game over.

But nothing happened to you, because most of the time it doesn’t. Staph can grow naturally on the skin or in the nose of around 25% of us – all quite safe unless it gets on food.

Which is what hand washing is all about.

Death by negligence

So if you didn’t wash your hands, isn’t that negligence?

And if somebody dies because of it, isn’t that murder?

Not intended or pre-empted or anything, but a cause of death nevertheless.

Death by negligence. Murder, right?

At the very least manslaughter, or culpable homicide.

Yes, culpable – because we all know about washing hands before touching food, don’t we?

A doctor could get struck off for that.

And friends can die from it.

It’s not some ritual we can shrug off, or a matter of conscience. It’s a vital safety measure.

Like turning off power, keeping matches in a safe place, locking the front door, using a seat belt, wearing a crash helmet, checking a gun’s safety catch is on. Forget the last three of those, and we could wind up in court.

So why not washing hands too? It’s not a game or some silly habit. Nurses and doctors prove it every day in hospital – WASHING HANDS SAVES LIVES.

Or not washing them kills. Guilty, or not guilty? Murder or no?

Hold that thought – nag, nag, nag.

The life you save may be your own.

Originally posted 2015-12-01 15:31:30.

OK, scumbag norovirus, now the gloves are off

Aggro bizwoman
POW! Straight disciplined hand hygiene wins every time

So you’re the winter vomiting bug, huh?

Big deal.

Reckon we’re not wise to you, hanging out on ATMs, door handles, handrails and shopping trolleys? You and your mates, coronavirus – aka SARS and MERS – flu and staph?

OK, so we touch all of these things all the time anyway. Covered in germs like you.

Winter germ traps

So now it’s freezing cold and we’re wearing gloves, you’re trying to kid us that we don’t know you’re there.

Nice try, dirt-bag – but it won’t work.

Those gloves are getting the treatment with antibacterial wipes after every outing – then they’re coming off. Straight onto a desk or table to dry, so you guys don’t get a chance.

No breeding, right? This means you!

You know what happens then?

Yeah, you think we’re lulled into a false security, don’t you? The gloves are off, now we’re safe.

But the joke’s on you, germ-brain. We’re going to wash our hands straight away too. Handling gloves transfers you to our fingers – so it’s the big bye-bye, we’re giving you the wash-off.

And you know what?

Hands always clean

We’re giving our hands ANOTHER wash or the gel treatment before we put those gloves back on too.

Because, yeah, we know you hang about on surfaces and in the air indoors too – riding in on our clothing, or the bio-aura of personal bacteria we all carry with us.

Uh huh. So we know if there’s low-life germs like you on our hands when we put our gloves on, you’ll be waiting for us INSIDE next time too.

Not smart enough, bozo.

With near-sterile hands, the inside of our gloves stay near-sterile.

And count on it – with a BOLO always out for you and your kind at this time of the year – those gloves are going in the wash just as often as regular clothes.

Thought we’d forget, eh?

Just shove the gloves in our pocket and never think about them from one day to the next? Never wash them, never anything from one year to another. Unless we get yuck on them, lose one, or get a hole in the finger.

Scarves too, you think we’re stupid?

Or you think because we wear classy gloves to work or out on the town, we’re too scared to wash them because they’re made of suede or leather?

Wash and re-wash

Hoo boy, don’t you know we’re on to you?

Thanks to your other pals like MRSA, e.coli and the rest of the mob, we know our meds aren’t working as well as they used to. Antimicrobial resistance, it’s in all the papers. No-go antibiotics, yeah we know about them – why do you think we’re washing our hands every two seconds – because we’re OCD?

The Docs have been warning us for years us about hygiene standards with you lot around – that staying clean is now our best defence, like back in the old days.

And finally, FINALLY, we’re wising up – going back to the old way of doing things. Soap and water, rub and scrub.

Like cleaning leather gloves? Easy-peasy. Leather, silk, suede – we know how.

Even those super-warm Thinsulate gloves too.

AND scarves. AND turning out coat pockets – jackets, skirts, trousers, everything. Clean is the new cool.

Yeah, plus our timing is spot on as well.

Here comes the festive season with everyone anguishing over what gifts to buy…

For her, for him

BOOM! Extra gloves, extra scarves – so there’s always a pair to wear, a pair in the wash, a pair air-drying, and a pair waiting for next time.

And always clean hands to go inside them.

So you’re the famous norovirus. Well bully for you.

Yah, boo, sucks – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Just because it’s winter, you can’t fool us any more.

The gloves are off.

 

Originally posted 2015-11-30 14:28:05.