Category Archives: Hygiene Focus

Good germs, bad germs – we need both to survive

Before-after girl's face
Don’t worry, everything’s OK –
just as long as we keep the balance

This whole page exists because we have a problem with bacteria.

More correctly, we have a problem with hygiene.

If it wasn’t for bacteria we wouldn’t exist – and most bacteria are benign anyway.

Yes, bacteria are dangerous. Yes, they can kill.

Most of the time we co-exist in balance – and maintaining that equilibrium is what keeps us healthy.

Bacteria prejudice

Because we’re psyched to believe all bacteria are bad, it’s creepy to be reminded that they’re crawling all over us – inside and out. We wouldn’t last long however, if they weren’t there.

Our whole digestive system depends on them to extract nutrition from food. One of our key needs is nitrogen, which our bodies are totally unequipped to process. Which is why a bunch of bacteria sits in our gut, munching through nitrogen sources to power us up.

So how about the bad buys?

Time to stand our preconceived thinking on its head.

Our whole existence works on the synergy our bodies have with bacteria – a tit-for-tat relationship that most of the time works just fine. But there are billions and billions of bacteria types – and not all of them work best with humans. The soil might be better, or some kind of tree.

Right and wrong

And that’s when things go pear-shaped. They can’t co-exist because they’re in the wrong place. Wrong reactions happen, things get out of kilter and the body suffers – the bacteria start eating or changing the wrong things and some kind of infection usually results.

In the wrong place? Get rid of it – which is what antibiotics are for.

And since we don’t have any mechanism for encouraging these bacteria to leave peacefully, the only thing we know how to do is kill them. Wrong bacteria out of the way, we start getting better – or more appropriately, we return to balance – over the worst, we’re convalescing.

But killing those wrong bacteria can be brutal, with punishing results for our bodies. One well-known side-effect of antibiotics is diarrhoea. Way out of balance, we get the squitters, which the body voids as harmful waste – including the wrong bacteria. Like norovirus, say – or even nastier – gastroenteritis.

Not nice, being ill

Yes, it happens to all of us at some time – and we know it takes time to come back. The body has to repair the damage before the good guys can get to work. The collywobbles settle down and we’re back to normal.

Or take the other bad guys of the moment, MRSA – methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus to be exact. At any one time, staph bacteria is all over our skin – its function, to keep OTHER harmful intruders out. OK José, everything fine.

But get a cut that lets it into the wrong place and boom! – the body has a problem that the Doc has no medicine to fix. Why? Because with overuse of antibiotics for every little thing for the last 50 years, certain bacteria have learned how to resist them. The price of antibiotics-abuse.

Outside our bodies, of course, is another world. Some environments are safe, others have hazards – wrong bacteria, unable to find the right host, so they choose you and throw your balance out.

Again, we don’t have the mechanism to politely tell these bacteria to go away. We only know how to kill them. And experience has shown us that if we don’t get rid of all of them, they still keep coming. So we hit them with whatever – bleach usually – sodium hypochlorite, formaldehyde, whatever might work.

Brutal tactics

Trouble is, we have to spread it everywhere in our surroundings to clobber them all – good, bad together, we’ve no way of telling the difference. Just so long as we don’t affect anything INSIDE our bodies.

Brutal yes, but this is war – germ war. And we have to protect the bacteria inside us that help us live.

Kinder to practice better hygiene. To wash our hands every time we do stuff that lets the wrong bacteria get to us. But not just for five seconds. Properly, to make sure they all get away – about as long as it takes to sing “Row, row, row your boat” in your head.

After all, we’re all in this together.

Originally posted 2015-04-24 12:30:22.

How your child can survive iffy kid hygiene

Dirty hands around boy
Kid hygiene – you really don’t want to know

Time to start winning the battle.

Though you may have to concede the “Go, clean your teeth” issue.

A minor setback. Serious Colgate moments will start happening from the first date.

Out of your hands

It’s what you can’t supervise that’s the worry. Out of sight and running free, the last thing on their minds is washing their hands or watching how they eat.

Like the stomach-wrenching bout of gastro after comidas rapidas from that street vendor in Spain?

No es su culpa – that was eating with dirty hands from not finding the loo after watching Darth Vader in Guerra de las Galaxias.

Kid hygiene. Out of sight and out of control.

Where they’re vulnerable

Especially at school.

350 like-minded young terrors all bigging it up, defying authority, avoiding soap and water – ‘cos it’s sissy.

All together under one roof. 30 to a class – all breathing the same air, touching the same things, sharing the same space.

Tough creatures, yes. Cast-iron immune systems from eating dirt as toddlers. But growing up fast – increasingly vulnerable to viruses and bacteria their systems have never confronted before. Or coming down with bugs they somehow got away with last time.

Iffy, all right. Not safe at all.

Because sure, the school gets cleaned every night. Tough regulations, class-rooms vacuumed out, basins and toilets wiped down with bleach, all rubbish taken away.

But what about the things kids touch?

Invisible risk

Pencils, crayons, paper, text books, computer keyboards, door handles, taps, loo flushes – and the favourite, underneath the desk where the used chewing gum gets stuck?

What about the classroom air-space – still lingering with somebody’s coronation chicken stashed away two days ago, and uncontrolled farts from baked beans in that day’s school lunch?

What about the things you can’t see too? Invisible viruses and bacteria – as many as 30 billion to a cubic foot – floating on the air and riding the draughts.

Waiting for the kids to come back tomorrow. Waiting for the two or three who will touch their faces once too often.

Rhinovirus – so tiny, a single cell can drop THROUGH a terra cotta roof tile. Or norovirus, the holiday favourite – highly contagious by the slightest skin contact.

The classrooms might get cleaned, but the germ threshold stays the same. A lurking threat unchecked by iffy kid hygiene. Luck of the draw who gets infected next.

Hospital-grade protection

Unless the school is using a Hypersteriliser.

In just twenty minutes, ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma reduces that germ threshold to zero. (Tweet this) Oxidising viruses and bacteria to shreds. Reducing the iffyness somewhere closer to safe. No germs, period.

Not compensating for unwashed hands after using the loo, of course. Or chewing pencils that have been on the floor. Or any other party tricks of kid hygiene.

Log 6 Sterility Assurance Level

But it is a safety net. A reassurance that your kid’s classroom is sterile to hospital operating room standards when everyone enters in the morning.

After that, it depends on how persuasive you are at encouraging life habits.

Nerve-wracking, yes. But WE got through it.

So will they – with much better odds in their favour.

Originally posted 2015-04-22 11:16:59.

Not off work again! Could be infected office

Unhappy businesswoman
It’s not you, it’s the office – repeated illnesses coming back over and over

What is it – cough, sniffle? Or heave, upchuck?

You have our sympathy either way. It’s never nice to be out of it.

And this is a repeat performance?

There’s a lot of it going round, as they say.

Not your fault

Sick building syndrome maybe – when your workplace environment develops an unpleasant and growing condition that can affect people in all kinds of way – headaches, nausea, or even more serious.

Lots of things can cause it – poor air circulation, damp, dust, chemical pollution. Many of which can never come right for structural reasons.

Mould on the walls for instance means water seepage somewhere, and not always a busted pipe. The only thing is to rip the place down and start again.

The price of being social

But not always.

A lot of our ailments are a legacy of working in groups, sharing enclosed spaces – an open-plan office, school classroom, lecture theatre or catering area. Enclosed because it’s cold and wet and dark outside – we need the central heating and electricity.

How many of us are there? 20? 30?

All together in one place because it’s easier to work that way – to talk to each other, interact, stimulate and motivate ourselves. Good thinking, Jim.

Except that pushes up the germ threshold. At least half a dozen of us will have some kind of bug at any one time – either about to knock us out, or wobbling back through recuperation. WAIs – Work Acquired Infections.

Some of us will be more sensitive than others too – more easily clobbered by anything going around.

And yes, it does go around. Not because we’re breathing over each other and touching shared objects (fomites) during the day – the phones, keyboards, documents, coffee machine, whatever. If we’re smart we already know that and wash our hands often.

Oh really? If only that were true.

Against office illnesses

OK, so somehow we all make it through the day – and then we go home.

If we’re working late, we might see the cleaners at their job before we do.

See them vacuum the floors, empty the waste baskets, take out the trash, wipe down the desk tops, spray air freshener. Nice and tidy for the morning.

Hold it right there.

Just because everybody’s gone home doesn’t mean the germ threshold’s gone down.

Whatever viruses and bacteria there are – and there ALWAYS are – are still lingering.

Still on the phones, keyboards, documents, coffee machine, whatever. Still hanging in the air which is around 80% of the room space. Still waiting around for everybody to come back tomorrow.

Uh huh, an infected office and we don’t even know it.

Waiting to get you

Maybe tomorrow we’ll all come down with something – maybe we won’t. A risk we get away with most of the time because our body resistance is good and we lead healthy lives.

It’s still an infected office.

Because vacuum, wipe, spray does nothing to get rid of the germs. The standing germs that are always there. Mostly in the air too. Waiting to be breathed in. Or to grab hold on contact as we walk through them.

Why not? They’re so light they could ride the air for weeks. And even an average bacteria can survive without a host body for anything up to a month.

An infected office, waiting.

So what happens when for some reason our body resistance is down? The baby kept us awake last night, or we had to work seriously late, or we ran 10 kilometres with the lunch-time keep fit mob?

But get rid of the germs and the threat goes away.

No infected office, nobody pulling sickies all the time.

Bunking off now is back to “the dog ate my homework” excuses.

It’s the easiest thing in the world too.

Press button easy

The cleaning team come in, trundling a Hypersteriliser with them.

They swamp the place out as normal, close all the windows and doors, hit the button and leave.

Sixty seconds later, the machine starts misting up the place with ultra-fine ionised hydrogen peroxide – so fine and light it takes on bacteria at their own game.

Because they’re ionised, the fine molecules of hydrogen peroxide spread rapidly – all with the same highly charged energy forcing them to separate from each other.

Super-excited and buzzing, they reach everywhere – driven hard to fill up the entire space – jammed against walls, floors, ceiling and furniture, shoved fiercely into cracks and crevices, trying to get away from each other.

That same charged energy actively attracts them to the opposite charge of viruses and bacteria.

In mid-air, on the fly, or wherever they happen to be, the hydrogen peroxide molecules grab at these germs, thrusting oxygen atoms at them to destroy their DNA and rip apart their cell structure.

World War Three, billions of times over – in a microscope.

Forty minutes later, the place is sterilised safe. The Hypersteriliser shuts down. The mist dissipates into oxygen and water, which promptly evaporates. Eco-friendly natural.

No more infected office. No more bugs to knock you back when you come in in the morning.

Beautiful on the balance sheet

Better still, if you’re the boss – no more absentees, better productivity, a fatter bottom line.

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

Originally posted 2015-04-21 12:07:47.

Whole rooms sterile safe like surgical instruments

Girl student raises hand
Safe from viruses and bacteria – in this room the germ threshold is zero

Hotels know the concept.

It’s why glasses in the bathroom are wrapped in paper – and why there’s a band across the loo.

Sanitised for your protection.

Feel-good reassurance that your room is safe and free from germs.

If only

Wouldn’t that be great?

Thing is though, that “sanitised” only means clean.

And there’s a huge difference between clean and safe.

Sure it smells clean. Except all an air freshener does is mask odours.

But hey, clean is good. It’s the first part of setting your mind at rest.

Because better still and right now, sterile surroundings are possible. With scares like Ebola and MRSA around – they’re rapidly becoming part of our everyday. Real hospital operating-room sterile, the same as a heart surgeon’s instruments.

Hospital safe

Easy too – much simpler than the sterilising autoclaves you’ll find in hospitals – which typically require high temperatures and partial vacuums to make them work.

OK, the business of cleaning still has to be done. Dirt is dirt, that requires physical scrubbing, wiping and vacuuming to be removed.

But microscopically small, germs still remain – less than before, but still a hazard. And because you can’t scrub air, they’re still filling the empty space that is most of a room – lighter than air and able to survive for weeks or more.

Time to bring in the Hypersteriliser – about the size of a small wheelie-bin, and just as manoeuvrable. Ready to sterilise your room to the same Log 6 Sterility Assurance Level that hospitals demand. All at the touch of a button.

Like hospital sterilisers, the Hypersteriliser uses ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma that destroys virus and bacteria cells by oxidising them into oblivion.

Low temperature ionisation

The difference is ionisation by electricity instead of heat – kinder to sensitive materials, generating less moisture and leaving no residues. And of course, instead of a small cubby-hole, the entire room becomes the sterilising chamber.

The ionised hydrogen peroxide is released into the room in an ultra-fine mist – a safe and ultra-low 6% solution, the same as you might buy in the chemist to whiten your teeth.

The cloud of molecules disperses rapidly in all directions – repelled from each other by the negative charge they all have – forcing them to the far limits of the enclosed space, hard against furniture, equipment, walls, floor and ceiling or any other objects in the room.

And of course, deep into any cracks or crevices that let them escape each other further.

The charge also energises them, releasing ozone, ultraviolet light, hydroxyl radicals and highly reactive oxygen species – oxidising atoms that actively seize harmful pathogens, attracted by their positive charge – latching onto them and ripping them to shreds.

This action dissipates the charge, the hydrogen peroxide reverts to oxygen and small amounts of water, which immediately evaporate.

How do you know it works?

You can’t see germs anyway, so you can’t see when they’re not there either.

But here’s a clue.

One indication that bacteria are active is the smell caused by infection or their reaction with organic substances. After hydrogen peroxide treatment, all odours should be gone.

The other giveaway is mould.

Dirty black and difficult to remove when active, it subsides to a pale grey as its cells die off with oxidising. Its discolouration is still there of course, but now an easy wipe should take it off – job done. No mould, no germs.

What haven’t we told you?

Ah yes, if you’re worried about using chemicals to make the room sterile, remember that hydrogen peroxide is manufactured by the body as its own germ-fighting defence. It’s a chemical yes, but occurs naturally to do exactly the same thing.

So there you have it. A way to make rooms safely sterile in around 20 – 40 minutes, depending on size.

It doesn’t kill the germs we might carry around on our bodies, or inside us.

But it does reduce the germ threshold to zero so we can’t catch anything new when we walk in.

Yes, prevention is better than cure. So here’s a hospital-type way to stay out of hospital and stay healthy too.

Should help with all the pressures they’re having right now. Phew!

Originally posted 2015-04-20 12:11:06.

UV pulse blitzes whole rooms sterile in minutes

Surprised doctor
Making safe and sterile
is a lot faster than you think

Looks are deceptive.

Here’s this machine that, for all the world, could be a compact office photocopier.

Except this particular box of tricks takes out viruses and bacteria – attacking like a death ray to destroy their DNA.

Safe, fast, sterile

Five minutes later, all germs are gone. Everywhere the death ray probed is sterile.

A death ray that is, for viruses and bacteria.

Potent for humans too, as we all know. The energy that powers it is the same that gives you sunburn – ultraviolet light. Overdo the exposure, and you’re in for an uncomfortable time.

But with this nifty Hyperpulse machine, you’re the one calling the shots.

Ultraviolet to the rescue

OK, apart from sunburn you’ve probably experienced UV before – the teenager’s big giggle. It makes that cool purple glow on the dance floor in discotheques – triggering bright fluorescent colours and showing white underwear under dark clothing.

Ah yes, but that’s not the same UV.

Also known as “black light” the show-biz version is longwave ultraviolet – UV-A. Pretty well harmless and very popular for special effects.

The stuff the Hyperpulse emits is way more powerful. Which is why it needs care.

This is UV-C – very short wavelength – on the fringes of becoming X-rays.

And no wonder it kills germs.

No wonder you should stay out of the room when it’s in use too. You don’t want to risk eye or skin damage. But if you’re curious, you can watch safely through a glass window. The short wavelength UV cannot pass through.

HIgh intensity energy

Start the machine with its remote control – and first thing a glass tube pops up out of the top, like an extending periscope. Inside is the xenon light source, the secret of the Hyperpulse’s efficiency.

Back in the good old days, germ-killing UV-C rays were generated by mercury vapour lamps – the same light source as in those ultra-bright streetlamps. The silver ones, not the orange – those are sodium vapour.

Continuous light from the mercury vapour lamps exposed the room being treated to UV-C, killed the germs and the place was sterile. Except it took several hours to do.

Technology has moved on from there, which is how the Shield Hyperpulse gets its name.

Split-second power killing

Like lightning or a photographer’s flashgun, the powerful 200 watt xenon lamp discharges UV-C energy in split-second concentrated bursts – pulsed at one second intervals to regenerate the charge.

It does the same job as the mercury vapour, but in 5 to 10 minutes, depending on room size.

That makes the Hyperpulse perfect for situations demanding rapid turn-around. A super-busy A&E, or a dentist’s surgery. Quick sterile blitz between high volume patients – 10 minutes and the facility is ready for use again.

Impossible by hand in the same time – not even just the high touch areas, like bedside rails, over-bed tables, television controls, bedside and bathroom grab-bars, or the toilet seat in the patient’s bathroom.

Which means, working under pressure in time-crunch conditions, that any form or sterilising doesn’t get done beyond a very quick wipedown. Less than perfect in a world where HAIs are an increasing concern.

Time vs efficiency

There is of course, a downside. A trade-off between quick results and maximum effectiveness. Hence the machine’s only 99,999% germicidal performance or Log 5 kill rate.

Like any light, the pulsed xenon rays cause shadows – areas where the UV-C does not penetrate – the reverse side of beds and treatment room furniture, behind or under objects in it.

One way round this is multiple exposure from different positions, moving the machine in between. Another is to position mirrors where regular coverage is required. Both extending the time to make sterile.

Better still is to supplement Hyperpulse sessions with a nightly follow up by Hypersteriliser – full Log 6 treatment with fine-mist hydrogen peroxide plasma to ensure the entire room is 99.9999% sterile.

Hiking hygiene habits higher

Expect to see more of the Hyperpulse. With antibiotics become less effective as pathogens become resistant to them, preventative hygiene is becoming more vital daily.

Over-stretched A&E working flat out, with worries about c.diff, MRSA, VRE, CRE, or acinetobacter?

99,999% gone in ten minutes.

Originally posted 2015-04-16 11:57:26.

Why go sick when you don’t need to?

Cruise ship passengers
All that money – and the best time of your life – don’t let a bug ruin it all

Think of it as a warning.

As the weather warms and thoughts turn to holidays, the first of this year’s cruise ship tummy bug outbreaks hits the headlines.

Two San Diego-based cruises to Central America and back at £1,000 a pop just for starters. Sick at sea again.

The onboard tummy bug

Norovirus again – and from the looks of it, full-on gastro. Holiday dreams of a fortnight afloat, sunk in a gut-wrenching nightmare. The price of an unguarded moment maybe in a super-cool cantina in Puerto Quetzal or Puerto Vallarta – where the locals have cast-iron tummies and the turistas drop like flies.

Avoidable, yes. The tacos de frijoles have a certain reputation.

But more likely hygiene issues in an misadventure off the beaten track.

And norovirus is highly contagious.

Get back to the ship before the symptoms set in – an enclosed space shared by 3,000 people – and the inevitable happens, everyone is sick.

Because who remembers to wash their hands and take precautions when you’re having fun? And when it’s difficult to find a place at all until you get back to your cabin?

By then of course, it’s too late. Whoever you touched, whoever you shared food and drinks with – the gastro takes hold like wildfire.

Stop it happening again

OK, the cruise people can’t stop the wayward adventure.

But they CAN minimise the outbreak and control the spread – prevent it reaching all 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew. Fewer people need to fall sick.

All it takes is a number of onboard Hypersterilisers – the whole ship sterilised by hydrogen peroxide plasma – a zero germ threshold throughout, no viruses or bacteria anywhere.

Because this is not the first outbreak on either of the ships, Celebrity Infinity or Legend of the Seas. And gastroenteritis is a major recurring onboard sickness as stressed in the US Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) own schedule for Vessel Sanitation.

A weighty document, it details exactly how a cruise ship should be sanitised after an outbreak. The hard way, by rubbing and scrubbing.

“After both ships docked, crews went to work scrubbing down every inch of the cabins and common rooms.”

Not necessarily that effective. If you think of all the inaccessible nooks and crannies that exist on a cruise ship, there are thousands of places a virus could lurk, even after a deep clean sanitation blitz.

Reinfection threat

Nor can the ship’s HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air conditioning system do much to filter out the virus. Norovirus cells measure 0.04 microns, but the minimum size a HEPA system can filter out is only 0.3 microns.

Even though the ship has been thoroughly processed, norovirus can survive on hard surfaces for seven days or more.

By which time the ship is back in Central America in the middle of its next cruise – all ready for the new crop of passengers – with no clue where the new outbreak is coming from.

Which is why the Hypersteriliser is so vital.

Force-fed dispersal

The super-fine plasma airborne mist it generates is ionised.

Actively charged, every molecule is vigorously trying to escape from its neighbour. It spreads everywhere by force – the molecules rushing to fill the whole air space and jamming up hard against every surface – underneath, behind, everywhere.

And of course, deep into cracks and crevices.

Even better, the actively charged mist is attracted to viruses and bacteria like a high-powered magnet – grabbing them and ripping them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them.

No germ can survive, the ship is sterilised. Any source of infection now is brought on board as food or cargo – or on the persons or in the baggage of newly joining passengers.

No bugs next time

No norovirus, no bugs of any kind. Nobody coming down sick. Your holiday is safe.

You might want to mention that to your cruise line before you embark.

Two weeks is a long time to be ill when you’re not seasick.

Originally posted 2015-04-15 11:01:37.

Kiss goodbye to sepsis – today and every day

Lips
For the love of life,
we all need to show we care

Let every pair of beautiful lips remind you.

How beautiful life is. How much love there is in the world.

And how easily it is all taken away – with a simple scratch, a little cut, one of those nothings we never think about.

Infection – kiss of death

Because, little scratch or no, if ever the germs take over, suddenly you’re faced with raging illness.

What’s happening to you, is it a major disease? Ebola, malaria, or polio?

You can’t talk. You can’t stop shivering. Your muscles ache. You can’t go to the loo. You can’t catch your breath. You’re convinced you’re going to die. And your skin suddenly looks awful.

It’s major all right – a major infection called sepsis.

Never heard of it?

One of our biggest killers

Neither had the 37,000 other people it kills every year. Dead from infection that ran out of control and took over their bodies. Dead because antibiotics didn’t work – the bacteria that triggered everything is immune to them.

But that’s why the lips.

A beautiful girl called Emma Straker loved wearing red lipstick. Out of nowhere she came down with sepsis and died, only 19. Red lips are how she’s remembered.

Since then, concerned people everywhere have helped raise money to fight this dreadful affliction. They show their support by taking a selfie with red lips – and posting it with a donation to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Even more so today – because all over the country, it’s Kiss Goodbye to Sepsis Day.

Because with care and early enough treatment, sepsis can be beaten.

Prevention is better than cure

It starts with a simple infection.

So the best possible defence is to avoid contact with germs in the first place – not always easy, not always possible.

But at least germs can be stopped dead in any room BEFORE you step into it – sterilised with hydrogen peroxide.

Zero germ threshold, zero exposure.  All it needs is a Hypersteriliser. Daily treatment so that nothing ever gets a foothold again – in schools, hotels, restaurants, public offices, buses, trains, planes, work places, hospitals, care homes, everywhere.

So that any cut or chest infection or other minor ailment isn’t escalated by other bacteria into a raging, out-of-control monster.

People do survive sepsis. Some completely, some with a lasting disability.

Hygiene – kiss of life

Those lips can remind us that it’s possible – with kisses all over the hospital wards where sepsis is treated – kiss-marks to mark successful recovery.

Just like the walls of palm prints in Africa which proclaim “I survived Ebola”.

Sepsis is whole body infection run out of control. All of us can get it, if we’re unlucky or careless.

And all of us can avoid it – by upping our hygiene habits. (Tweet this)

That really is the kiss of life.

Originally posted 2015-04-10 16:49:32.

Wash your hands, good. Dry your hands, whoops!

Girl washing hands
Pull your hands out,
but don’t shake them all about

Ever noticed how you can be right and wrong, both at the same time?

Like, we all know we should wash our hands – but how about drying them?

Yeah, you say to yourself, as you pull the plug. Bye-bye germs, so long suckers.

Washing is only the start

But what do you do with your WET hands?

Ah, no problem – there’s a high-powered air dryer on the wall.

No touch, nice and hygienic, sorted.

Er, not exactly.

Because that high-powered air gets blown somewhere – and it’s all round the washing area. You can often feel it on a cold day – nice warm air, to take the chill off.

Nice, warm bacteria-loaded air – because not everything got washed down the drain. Some of it’s in the water drops on your hand. Some of it won’t come off with a blast of air. You know how a wet leaf can stick to you? Well, a pernicious bacteria can do the same.

We’re all scrubbers

Yup, to be sure everything comes off needs friction. Which means a towel.

But not one of those cloth towels that gets used over and over. That’s a growing collection of germs – not just yucky, but seriously deadly. Like that kitchen wiping-up cloth for the dishes – double yuck.

Not one of those dispenser roller towels either. The idea is that you get a dry unused bit for you to use – but reality is, you grab the wet bit to pull the roll down, collecting germs on the way. And, sod’s law, it’s probably all used anyway, with no more pull-down left. Deadly deadly.

The best is paper towel. Use once and chuck. (Tweet this) No germs to transfer to anyone – plus you get the wiping action that scrubs off residual germs hiding in the damp.

Conserve, avoid waste

There is, of course, a whole hoo-hah about how many you use. Don’t waste, conserve.

Totally agree. And the best way to do that is shake off excess water before you start. Excess GERMY water – which you don’t want to go spattering in all directions.

This demo by Joe Smith gives you a good lesson on avoiding wastage. But you’ll have to think twice about how briskly you shake your hands outside the basin.

Think hard about the hazards of public washrooms too. The build-up of germ threshold from one day’s usage could be substantial.

Let’s hope the service people are using a Hypersteriliser. Otherwise it will be there till tomorrow, ready and waiting to build up some more.

Let’s be careful out there.

Originally posted 2015-04-09 15:51:15.

Germ Wars: auto-sterile defences move closer

Asking doctor
Emergency time is short – how long do we have to get completely sterile?

HAIs on the increase.

Antimicrobial resistance more unchecked than ever before.

The beginning of the end?

Not if Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn have anything to do with it.

They’ve just taken delivery of one of those American UV sterilising jobbies for evaluation. The thing that zaps pathogens with a blast of pulsed xenon.

Turning the tide

Way to go, QEH.

ANY move against infections is hugely good for all of us.

Especially the automated kind.

Because disinfecting and sterilising by hand is not just a thankless labour intensive schlep.

It takes forever and it’s too easy to miss bits.

High touch surfaces and work tops of course – but what about underneath things? Or behind medical equipment with all those coils and tubes and wires? Or the massive bit that never gets done because you can’t scrub empty space – the surrounding air in every room?

Zap! The American jobbie will do most of it. The UV rays attack virus and bacteria cell DNA, destroying it almost immediately. So it’s quick too, everything in sight sterilised in under ten minutes.

Short, sharp hits in places with a time crunch, wow.

But not everywhere.

UV’s Achilles heel

Because the UV rays only work in straight lines radiating out from the machine. Underneath and behind things still need attention. Follow-up hand-wipes on grab-rails and handles for instance.

A mega-step in the right direction though. Nailing anywhere from 60 – 80% of pathogens dead in minutes.

Especially those in the air. So microscopically small – but floating around – lying in wait in the biggest undefended space in any hospital room – more than 80% in some high-ceilinged wards.

Zap! Sorted. Zap! Sorted.

Imagine one of those in a hard-pushed A&E. No time to catch your breath, the next patient is in for treatment stat – and at least most of the place is sterilised. A fleet of smaller, inexpensive versions like the Hyperpulse, could chop infections massively.

So is 100 percent auto-sterile possible? Yes, with hydrogen peroxide plasma. (Tweet this)

Total room sterilisation

Ask the team in the haematology unit at Salford Royal NHS. For two years now, they’ve been holding infections in check with Hypersteriliser machines.

OK, they do take forty minutes to do a room, not ten.

But the ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide plasma mist that they disperse clobbers all viruses and bacteria completely. Any room treated with these things is sterile to Log 6 – 99.9999% of all germs totally annihilated.

Like a kind of super-gas, the hydrogen peroxide ions are charged – each molecule actively trying to get away from the same negative charge of all its neighbours. This spreads the plasma everywhere, forcing it hard against walls, ceilings, beds and furniture. Deep into cracks too, where hand-wipe cleaning cannot reach.

In the same instant, the negative charges actively reach out to grab positively-charged viruses and bacteria, releasing oxygen atoms at them that rip them to shreds. Boosted with silver, this action is multiplied three times over and more.

Forty minutes and it’s all over – any remaining mist reverting to harmless oxygen and water, which immediately evaporates. It can’t cure the patient, but at least you know the room you put them in is safe and totally sterile.

The war of course, never stops.

But it’s reassuring to know we have some effective weapons.

Originally posted 2015-04-01 14:18:30.

Yes, dirt can save lives

Baby smiler
Growing immune systems need to learn about germs too

Amazingly resilient, kids.

They get chickenpox, measles, mumps – and never get them again.

Or at least only rarely. Catch something once, they develop an immunity – which seems to protect them for the rest of their lives.

Not just illnesses either.

They might look weak and fragile, but kids have built-in resistance to all kinds of things, particularly allergies.

Brilliant survivors

Like it or not, it’s good for your kids to eat dirt.

Not that any of us believe it of course.

We’re so paranoid about germs and dirt and keeping clean, we wrap our kids up in cotton-wool and shut them away from anything bad.

Which could be the worst thing of all.

Overdo the sanitising gels, wipes, soaps, sprays, pasteurised milk, irradiated food and antibiotic everything, and we accelerate auto-immune disease.

Because we prevent the body from learning what is good and what is bad and developing defences for it.

Makes sense if you think about it.

Learning about germs

A baby explores everything with her mouth.

The most yucky stuff goes in there and we’re horrified at the possibilities.

But how often does something bad result – and how else can her immune system become attuned to the challenges around her if it doesn’t know what it’s up against?

So eating dirt is actually good, not bad.

Up to a point.

There is still a need for preventative hygiene. And the older kids get, the less likely they can get away with not washing hands, cleaning their teeth or all the other good habits that exist to keep them healthy.

Sure, kids who grow up with allergens and household bacteria wind up stronger than kids who don’t. But not when exposure is constant and excessive – like living in damp conditions surrounded by mildew and mould.

TB and asthma are not nice for anyone. And childhood afflictions tend to be life-long, or with recurring symptoms later in life.

Good dirt, bad dirt

Which means as a parent, you need to balance good dirt and bad dirt.

You can’t watch them every second of the time, but you can make certain whatever they get their hands on is not full of dog poo or overflow from the drains.

And you can insist on common sense as they get older, shifting them from exploratory habits to safer ones as their baby systems develop, teaching basic hygiene as you go.

Besides, when it comes to nosh, kids quickly get the picture anyway.

Here comes the aeroplane, full of yummy prune and butternut. Open the tunnel, all that good stuff going down inside, to make you strong and healthy.

More fun than clods of earth or mud pies.

Been there, done that, got the immunity.

Originally posted 2015-03-30 17:13:30.