Another cruise ship?
A holiday Boeing crammed with used air-sick bags?
Unkindest of all, this time it’s the Royal Navy – 70 of our finest youngsters struck down with norovirus at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall. Been going for ten days too, difficult to get rid off.
Which means it’s serious. Because when the Navy deal with medical issues, they do it properly. Isolate the victims, blitz their quarters with disinfectant, restrict all contact.
The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease
But that’s norovirus for you. Or the vomiting winter bug, whatever you want to call it.
More accurately, the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.
Because that’s the biggest cause. And the surest way it spreads. From unwashed hands.
Highly contagious and at home on the perfect environment of our slightly moist hands at a pleasant 37 degrees Celsius – a guaranteed outbreak every time, simply because our personal hygiene is dangerously slapdash.
Oh yes, it is.
A staggering percentage of us NEVER wash our hands after going to the loo. 68% of men, 40% of women.
Even more shocking, NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of us don’t wash our hands properly. A six second rinse under the tap and we reckon we’re done.
Actually worse than useless.
Because though we let germs thrive on our hands by not washing them, WET hands amplify the risk. And there’s nothing like a pair of warm, wet hands for germs to increase and multiply.
What’s wrong with us,? Do we have a death wish?
It’s not just that we don’t wash our hands. We then go right ahead and use those same hands to eat with. Transferring the germs onto our food – and then deliberately ingesting it.
Not just norovirus either. It could be whatever our hands have come in contact with. Salmonella, campylobacter, c. difficile, e. coli – any one of which could kill us for our carelessness.
Or if not kill, be very unpleasant. A nasty 6 hours in the barf-room, cramps like you can’t believe, the never-ending runs, and headache from dehydration. Two or three days of the end of the world with your bum on fire all the time.
And we actually WANT this?
We already half-know that norovirus is behind around 50% of all tummy bugs – and we still don’t wash our hands.
We’re even in denial – a lot of the time blaming the cause of our sudden sickness on something else. Exactly why we call it the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.
Take any visit to a restaurant – posh nosh or fast food, it makes no difference.
Just to stay open any of those places has to satisfy pretty strict hygiene laws. They get inspected too. Anything wrong and the place gets shut down.
Which means that in most food places, all of the professionals running it are unlikely to take chances. The kitchen will be meticulously clean and the staff will wash their hands regularly. So will the serving staff, with the maître d’ watching them like a hawk.
Quite possibly the place is sterilised every night too – with one of those Hypersteriliser jobbies. Every day when they open for business, it’s totally germ-free. No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
It’s the diners who don’t wash their hands. The eaters.
Straight in off the street and sitting down at the table with never a thought of hygiene.
With hands that maybe haven’t been washed for hours. Strap-hanging in the tube, pawing escalator hand-rails, in and out of the loo, shaking hands with others doing exactly the same thing.
Which means it isn’t necessarily the pâté de foie gras that’s off. It’s the germs from the breadstick clutched by the grubby paw of the big deal who rocked up by taxi and demanded the table with the best view.
Self-infected – with Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease. How stupid is that? (Tweet this)
The blame game
And then of course, it’s bad-mouthing the restaurant which had nothing to do with it. One accusing finger pointing – and another three pointing back.
But it could be any of us. Because when was the last time you washed your hands in a restaurant before eating? And in a fast food joint?
No, it’s not a joke. In fact chowing down a take-away burger is even more of a risk, because what else are you touching while you do it?
Over-reacting? Don’t count on it.
These days if you come down with anything serious, they’ll bung you on antibiotics.
Only, in case you haven’t heard, the Docs are getting shy of doing that because the bugs have developed resistance – they don’t work any more.
Back to the Dark Ages before antibiotics were invented. All you need is for your norovirus to develop complications, and you’re on a one-way ticket to oblivion.
Life and death
Not worth it for a little soap and water, hey?
Or some of that disinfecting gel, if you can’t get to a bathroom.
Nobody’s going to laugh if you sit at the table and treat your hands. And it works better than those hot towels the posh places offer – safer too.
It might seem like nothing, but it’s actually life and death.