It can’t happen.
But it has.
For whatever reason, you’re not eating right now.
Nil by mouth – you’re going for blood tests, trying to lose weight, or simply purifying your system.
And now out of nowhere comes the cramps and the vomiting. Some kind of gastro, probably norovirus.
The family all went out for eats, but you stayed home. Not off your food or anything, just not eating now.
So they came home full of the joys, but 24 hours later were all as sick as dogs.
You too, though you never touched at thing. Anyway Mexican disagrees with you – all those jalapeños, burn your insides out.
Ah, but you touched them, didn’t you – the rest of the family? And they touched you.
It’s on your fingers
And that’s all it takes when there are germs about, especially a potent nasty like norovirus. Like the lady who came down with it from NOT eating oysters.
Norovirus spreads on contact – and it’s highly contagious, 1,000 times more virulent than flu.
A hug or a cuddle, and you’ve got it too. Transferred from skin or clothing – or something others have handled. Irises from the florist they brought back for you. The mobile with the pictures they took to show who was there. The car keys in the dish in the hallway.
Could you have stopped it?
But like most of us, you don’t think you’re under threat until something happens. And with norovirus – which takes 24 hours before it shows itself – it’s too late when it does.
Which is always the thing with germs.
They’re there all the time, even though you can’t seem them. Too small, unless you have a very powerful microscope. Out of sight, out of mind.
And your immune system kicks in most of the time, before they do damage. Day-to-day, you have no idea there’s a war on.
But, being so potent, norovirus only needs a touch. And it’s lighter than air molecules, so it could be floating around in suspension too. Somebody pulls off a heavy sweater and a whole cloud of microbes is flung off – to breathe in, catch on your skin, lodge in the soft tissue round your eye
Or simply get swallowed.
Same thing if it’s on your hands – the hug, remember?
And your hands touch everything.
Which is why we call norovirus the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.
Because it is.
We don’t see germs, so we’re not worried about them.
And there’s a kind of shared grudge against having to wash our hands all the time.
We know we should. But we seem to be in denial. Even the fussiest of us kicks at always charging off to the washroom every five minutes.
Fact is, our hygiene habits are so sloppy, it’s a wonder we’re not sick more of the time.
- 62% of guys and 40% of girls NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of us don’t even wash our hands properly.
- Only 12% of us wash our hands before eating.
Which straight away shows how easily food poisoning happens.
And how easy it is to avoid.
Wash hands, use an antibacterial gel, use antibacterial wipes – whatever. It’s better than being ill. Better than the pain and discomfort of the cramps. Better than the indignity of vomiting and diarrhoea.
OK, we’re lazy, but norovirus is not a bug to play games with. In the US, around 20 million people come down with it every year – 10% of all Americans. 400,000 of them wind up in A&E and 800 actually die.
All because we’re afraid of soap and water?
That doesn’t wash, does it? If it’s so easy to be safe, why the heck aren’t we?
And if we backed up washing hands with a Hypersteriliser, we’d be even safer.
It makes rooms sterile by destroying all viruses and bacteria – oxidising them to nothing with hydrogen peroxide plasma.
OK, you can start eating again.
With your hands clean and the germs gone, you know you can safely enjoy it.