It’s the panic of the moment – and that’s why.
For the first time in forever, people are concerned about their level of daily hygiene. And they’re right to be scared.
There’s a huge difference between the daily shower and brushing your teeth to the full-body bio-hazard protection suits worn by Ebola care-medicos.
It is a good parallel though. Day-to-day, we go through life without any protection – constantly surrounded by billions of microbes, many as deadly as Ebola.
A recent BBC report cites “The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world’s deadliest to date.” Deadliest among Ebola outbreaks, that is.
Not a new disease
There were others: in 1976 (Sudan, Zaire and 1 isolated case in UK), 1977 (Zaire), 1979 (Sudan), 1989 (Philippines), 1990 (USA – 4 cases caught from monkeys in quarantine), 1994 (Gabon and Ivory Coast), 1995 (Zaire),1996 (Gabon and South Africa), 1997 (Gabon), 2000 (Uganda), 2001 (Gabon and Congo Republic), 2002 (Congo Republic, 2003 (Congo Republic), 2004 (Sudan and 1 case in Russia from laboratory contamination), 2007 Congo Republic, 2008 (Uganda and Philippines), 2009 (Congo Republic), 2012 (Uganda and Congo Republic), 2013 (current outbreak – Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, United States and Spain).
But Ebola is by no means the deadliest. In the Fourteenth Century, mortality from The Plague was 95%. In the Twentieth, 300 million people died from smallpox. Every year, 100,000 people die from cholera. Anthrax, once inhaled kills 93% of victims. HIV/AIDS kills 80% and upwards if untreated. There are plenty of others. Spanish Flu, for instance, which killed 50 million people at the end of World War One.
And that’s why people are scared.
With so many dread diseases out there, what protection do we have?
The body at risk
Against direct contact, not a lot – physical touching, exposure to body fluids, contamination from coughing and sneezing, an open wound. Once any germ gets INSIDE the body, you are at risk. Which means care and consideration in our relationships with others never goes away.
But look at the Ebola protection suits. They’re out of body protection – admittedly against extremes.
Out of body protection
Day-to-day it’s a lot easier. Because on top of all the cleaning and janitorial we routinely do, there are varying degrees of sanitising and sterilising we can apply.
Most of us use disinfectants or have them handy in the event of hazard. Bleaching agents are also a tried and tested way of getting rid of germs. Unfortunately they only work on surfaces.
Because slowly but surely, the world is waking up to the reality that ALL Infection can be airborne.
But we’re not dead yet.
There’s a whole stack of ways to clobber pathogens in the air – viruses and bacteria both, including Ebola. All of which destroy their actual cell structures so they cannot survive.
Our pathogen defence weapons
Most effective of these is undoubtedly ozone, which kills by oxidising – shoving oxygen atoms at the microorganism and ripping their cells to shreds.
The downside is, it’s too powerful. Though it’s like oxygen with one extra atom, ozone is poisonous. It kills germs, yes. It also kills people. Which means wherever it is used, the place has to be evacuated first.
That is of course, ozone in its natural concentration. In milder doses, it’s used extensively as a kind of room freshener, particularly effective at getting rid of odours – which are in turn caused by germs. An effective defence against sick building syndrome and keeping infections at bay in old age homes.
Hydrogen peroxide is another effective oxidiser. It sterilises an average room in as little as twenty minutes. And as reported extensively in the fight against Ebola, ultraviolet generators are in increasing use, particularly in American hospitals.
We’re not yet at the stage where every home has an oxidiser. But it’s coming. Expect to see all of these defences in increasing use in the near future – in hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants, public transport – everywhere the people come together in large groups.
Ebola is dangerous. It’s also a life-saving wake-up call – to do something about our hygiene defences.
Originally posted 2014-10-14 12:22:48.