Antibiotic resistance: take better care of ourselves, or we’re dead

Girl in shower
Without antibiotics, keeping clean becomes our new lifesaver

Dead, as in destroyed by ourselves. Like suicide out of ignorance.

Because if we contract a bug that resists antibiotics, dying is a high probability.

We take the medicine, hoping it’s going to work – and it does nothing at all. We get sicker and sicker – and either our bodies are strong enough to fight it off by themselves, or we get unlucky.

Better not to take that risk.

Which means a whole attitude change to everything we do. And a level of watchfulness we’re not even close to right now.

Rediscover hygiene

Take personal hygiene. Keeping ourselves clean as much as possible, so germs don’t get a chance. Hands especially, the easiest way for germs to enter our mouths, or our eyes. Kinda basic, but just suppose your life depended on it – because it does.

If antibiotics don’t work – and ask any Doc, we’re getting close to that – any germ you catch is free to run riot inside your body. Unstoppable, unless you avoid it in the first place.

Duh, soap and water is not rocket science.

Same principle applies to anything you eat. Is it fresh, is it clean, is it germ-free? Don’t eat it if it’s not – because again, if you get sick, antibiotics won’t save you.

Rediscover awareness

Same thing, even if you’re just walking down the street. Be careful, avoid accidents.

If a bus hits you and you need surgery, antibiotics won’t stop infection. The bugs are resistant and you’re a goner – unless your Doc has a brilliant Plan B.

So be super-observant, all the time. Watch what you’re doing. Avoid accidents. So you don’t get cuts, you don’t get bruised, you don’t break a leg – and you don’t needlessly breathe in someone else’s germs.

Takes all the fun out of life, huh? Or kinda demonstrates how careless we normally are.

Because pretty well every ailment or accident that happens to us is preventable – if we see it coming in the first place and avoid it.

Rediscover survival

Exactly what we must learn to do, if we are to survive without antibiotics.

And yes, we’re going to have to.

Because bacteria keep evolving all the time – have done so successfully for billions of years. So even if medical science comes up with the most amazing antibiotic yet, give it five years and bacteria will always find a way to become immune to it.

Which applies to all our drugs now, and any new ones we might develop in the future – fighting off bacteria is a never-ending battle against a constantly moving target.

Ah, but antibiotics are not the only way to kill bacteria.

They might be the most effective INSIDE your body, but OUTSIDE there are options.

The super germ-killer

And OUTSIDE is where we can get to them before they get to us.

About the most effective way is to oxidise them. Shove oxygen atoms at them that rip their cell structure apart and destroy their DNA.

Which is what hydrogen peroxide does – particularly airborne IONISED hydrogen peroxide.

Composed only of oxygen and water, hydrogen peroxide is the same all-natural germ fighter the body makes for itself. And the concentration we’re talking about is a low, non-toxic and non-corrosive 6%, the same as you can buy in the chemist for bleaching your hair – though the way we use it makes it way more potent.

It’s therefore a good idea to vacate any room being treated – though it’s environmentally friendy, the stuff can cause irritation to the eyes and throat.

Why ionise? Because that enables a very mild solution, AND changes a mild and harmless solution into a super-performing giant.

Plasma performance

Remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas?

Well, ionising a dry mist of hydrogen peroxide metamorphoses it to a fourth state – from a gas to a plasma. This charges it electrostatically, so that all the particles physically repel each other – they spread actively in all directions, forcing themselves to fill the airspace, hard up against every surface, and deep into every crack and crevice. Complete and penetrating dispersal everywhere.

The change to a plasma also releases MORE antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

The negatively charged hydrogen particles reach out and grab positively charged viruses and bacteria like a magnet grabs iron filings. Locked together, contact time needs only to be a few seconds and the deed is done. ALL viruses and bacteria are destroyed to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Uh huh. You’ve taken precautions to protect yourself, the hydrogen peroxide protects your surroundings – the room you’re in is now completely sterile. All with just one button push on a Hypersteriliser machine.

Essential?

Rescued, safe, healthy

Hang on to your hat, because it’s going to be. Already the medical heavies reckon we could be only months away from total antibiotics failure.

Except we’re ahead of the game, right? Forewarned is fore-armed.

So no, we’re not dead yet. We’re going to get clean away with it.

Picture Copyright: choreograph / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-18 16:37:45.

“Handed out like sweets.” Useless antibiotic fat pills

Large lady
Look what antibiotics can do – and you never even knew

Fat pills? You bet. They’re called antibiotics and they don’t work.

Except to make you fat.

They don’t work for your cold – and they’ve stopped working for more serious stuff too.

So if you’re dying from some superbug illness, the Doc can’t help you.

Miracle drug failure

They’ll make you plenty big though, without even trying.

Because that’s what they do on the farm – fatten up animals big and fast, for a quick buck on the market. Which is why it happens to you. You eat them, you get fat too. Very.

Which is why two-thirds of us are already overweight and the rest are following.

Don’t believe it? We’ve already got ourselves a Size 26 supermodel – and she’s not the only one.

And because so many of these same pills get shovelled into so many farm animals, the bugs they’re used against have become resistant. They are immune. However many you take, nothing happens.

Except you get fatter.

Agricultural ban

Which is why the powers that be want to restrict use of non-medical antibiotics, or get them banned altogether. The few antibiotics we do have left that work will be overwhelmed otherwise – total collapse of the modern medical system.

Of course, across the EU, antibiotics are banned as growth promoters – have been since 2006. Still allowed for health reasons though. Which with animals farmed intensively 2,000 or 3,000 together in tight spaces and nowhere to exercise or escape their own dung, becomes vitally necessary.

Which also explains why world use of antibiotics is currently around 240,000 tonnes – and set to grow 70% by 2030.

Killer drugs

Better believe it, we’re going to get even fatter. With all those one-way disorders to look forward to that being overweight brings – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma. Slow, debilitating illnesses that take years  to claim you.

So it’s not just that antibiotics don’t work any more.

They’re actually going to kill you.

Picture Copyright: stphotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-16 17:22:28.

Are you germ war terrorising yourself?

Girl with gun to head
Avoiding soap and water is suicide too – and just as effective

Frightening prospect, germ war. And it’s nearer than we think.

Right at our fingertips. Which puts us on the edge of suicide.

Deadly dangerous

Well we wouldn’t step in front of a bus, would we? Or a train. Or step into an open lift-shaft.

But that’s the chance we’re taking every time we forget to wash our hands.

To clean away the germs lurking there, just waiting to find ways to invade our body.

Not always our fault of course – unless we deliberately avoid it.

We use our hands for everything – touching, holding, carrying, smoothing, squeezing, grabbing, pushing, pulling – our physical contact with the world. And every single action involves germs – on every surface around us, in the air, already on our own skin.

Most of these germs are harmless. We have our own germs to protect us – bacteria outside and inside our bodies that keep harmful invaders away by crowding them out. Our own personal germ war.

But our bacteria can’t do everything – including fight the germs on our hands in concentrations greater than they can handle.

Endless numbers

A single germ cell can’t do very much. But ganged up with others they can invade very quickly. It only takes 10 cells of norovirus to trigger a miserable stomach upset – and 10 of these tiny microscopic cells are easily scraped together by our fingers moving over something.

Next thing we touch our face and a seriously unpleasant experience becomes inevitable.

Which means washing our hands – particularly before touching our face – is our most effective way of avoiding suicide. A germ war we can win.

We look both ways before crossing the road – soap and water does the same thing. We avoid being hit by a bus – and we avoid being hit by typhoid, both of them likely to be terminal experiences.

Yeah sure, we can take a chance – and cross the road anyway. But that’s the thing about suicide, you only have to do it once.

And it’s a dangerous world out there to take chances.

Medical disaster

You may have read recently that modern modern medicine is on the edge of collapse because our wonder-drug life-saving antibiotics are beginning not to work any more. Superbug bacteria are developing that are totally resistant, our miracle medicines do nothing.

Put that together with the rise of unexpected allergies and other disorders – and suddenly the road we’re trying to cross isn’t a quiet suburban street any more – it’s a high-speed 8-lane motorway.

Keep putting off washing your hands – and sooner or later you WILL get hit.

You might be lucky, a minor blow like norovirus or a common cold. Or you might be flattened by a pantechnicon – a small cut at first, that suddenly becomes the hulking eighteen-wheeler of sepsis – full on shut-down of the body as the immune system attacks itself, and the only way out is feet first.

So practice your kerb drill. Always wash your hands before eating food – and after going to the loo. Better still, never touch your face unless you know your hands are clean.Wash Hands Logo

Just because you can’t see germs doesn’t mean they’re no there. They certainly are – and a way more unpleasant at doing yourself in than jumping into the Thames. They take time, they hurt, they destroy the person that you are – until you pass away, a sorry shadow of suffering and misery.

So yeah, it’s a germ war. And yeah, it’s going on all the time.

Sure you can get unlucky. But when it’s so easy to be a smiling survivor, why put yourself at risk? Why wait for cholera, TB or pneumonia to come busting in with a gun to your head – and your whole world goes for a loop?

Rediscover hygiene, wash your hands thoroughly, keep yourself clean – and live to a ripe old age.

Yeah, win.

Originally posted 2016-05-13 14:02:21.

Worried what to do about antimicrobial resistance? Start at your supermarket

Trolley of pills
We’re part of the problem — everything we eat already has antibiotics in it

Trundle down the meat aisle at your local supermarket.

Just about anything you choose will have antibiotics in it.

Not a big dose, no more than a smidgen. But chances are high that they will be there.

Industrial abuse

Inevitable really. When you consider how much antibiotics are used by farmers around the world. Estimates vary from 65,000 to 240,000 tonnes. Set to grow around 70% by 2030.

All pumped into animals as part of their feed – deliberately added to make them grow faster. And bigger. Ready for market in a quarter of the time. A miracle side effect of antibiotics.

In fact antibiotics boost growth so much, the world can feed 5 billion more than 50 years ago. Three times more off the same land area – a money-making goldmine.

Which is how come we’re ingesting antibiotics too. And highly likely, antibiotic resistant bacteria with them. Superbugs that have grown immune to the wonder drugs being chucked at them. Untreatable, unstoppable and living in our own gut right now – ready to take us down at any sign of weakness. Or maybe already doing so.

Every little helps – a little too much

You see, it doesn’t take much to get antibiotics to boost growth. Much lower doses than curing an illness. Sub-therapeutic amounts that cost less and go further.

Uh huh. Doses too small to kill pathogenic bacteria completely. The hardy ones survive and become resistant. And it’s the resistant ones that breed, whole colonies immune to treatment.

Worse, bacteria have the ability to pass on their characteristics. They can teach others how to become immune too. In a few generations – which can be as soon as twenty minutes – a whole slew of other bacteria develop antimicrobial resistance, more and more and more. Equally untreatable, equally unstoppable.

And that’s what you’re buying when you visit the meat counter.  What you’re taking home to feed your family. So they ingest antibiotics-resistant bacteria too. Which maybe they’re strong enough to withstand, or maybe not.

So when the Doc diagnoses their illness and prescribes a particular antibiotic – absolutely nothing happens. Down in their gut, the bacteria laugh it off.

No escape for vegetarians

Don’t think that going vegetarian will help you much either.

Pretty well most plant crops are treated with antibiotics of some kind or other – to boost growth or reduce disease or both. And if that’s not enough, they’re probably fertilised by manure from animals that have been fed antibiotics anyway. The stuff is so fertile because most of them only digest 80-90% of what they eat, the rest is excreted as waste.

Super-grow wonder-poo laced with antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria both. Which is ingested by plants, fed back to animals in specially grown feed crops, leaches into the ground to enrich future crops – and runs off into our waterways to wind up in our taps.

Get the message?

Whatever you choose from the meat section – or poultry, or produce, or dairy, or even bakery, is almost certain to contain both resistant superbugs and traces of antibiotics.

All this and obesity too

If you don’t get ill immediately, your body may develop resistance to certain medicines in the future. And of course, since every mouthful doses you with proven growth boosters, there’s every chance that you will start getting fat – even though you work out like crazy, eat very modestly, and watch your health like a hawk.

But don’t go bashing your supermarket. Quite probably in the entire organisation, nobody will have any idea that superbugs are an issue, or that antibiotics are contained in almost all the foodstuff they sell.

What can you do?

Well, you don’t know whatever’s grown on the manure-chain, so even going organic might not help. Nor going 100% vegetarian. About the best will be to grow your own veg – and switch to ocean fresh fish, the kind that can’t be farmed. There may be other pollutants in there, but hey, we’re so careless about the whole planet, that’s inevitable. It can’t be as bad as the constant dosing we’ve all had up to now.

Global headache for medics

Makes you appreciate how worried the Docs are from the medical standpoint.

Seen today’s news? In Thailand they’re already talking about a “collapse of the modern medical system” staring us in the face. And our own Dr Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, is warning that with the drug companies reluctant to develop new antibiotics because there’s no money in it, then this is a problem that is for ever.

Yeah, well. Excuse us, Mr Moneybags Drug Company, but if you’re already producing 240,000 tonnes a year, how much profit do you need to make?

And when are we going to stop also being part of the problem, all by our little selves?

Here we are, worried to death about the abuse of antibiotics, and yet we demand 10 MILLION prescriptions a year are written for conditions where they’re absolutely useless.

Self-prescribing amateurs

We’re not doctors, so what do we know?

But that doesn’t stop us demanding antibiotics for colds and minor infections where they would actually do more harm than good. We kid ourselves we know best and put the strong-arm on the Doc – who caves in to the aggro, so that 97% of us get the unnecessary meds we’re hucking for. And if we can’t get it that way, we run off and buy it on the Internet.

Is this a death wish, or what?

One thing’s for certain, it’s we ourselves who have to take action. The global problem is so big, it may never be resolved in our lifetime.

Picture Copyright: cherezoff / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-12 13:57:36.

Yes, total room sterilising can always be safe

Positive doctors
No germs, no smells, no headaches, no problem!

Yes, be safe.

Because this is one of those “not any more” stories.

Not any more the nasties, not any more the miseries.

Because not so long ago, getting rid of germs was more like getting rid of you.

No more schlep

It took hard scrubbing to get the place clean. With stuff so strong it took the top of your head off. Your eyes ran. You coughed and sneezed. Plus your back ached, your fingers were rubbed raw, exactly as if the germs had got you.

Yeah, well that’s what slaving away with bleach will do. And the place always smells terrible afterwards. Headaches, itchy skin – we’ve all been there.

OK, so the wise guys decided to fog the place up. You still had to scrub, but the germ-killer was spread through the air, hopefully reaching everywhere – especially all those hidey-holes no-one could reach.

Trouble was, that stuff was potent too. Toxic de luxe.

Doing your head in

Have you ever smelt aerosolised formaldehyde? Or those quaternary ammonium compounds? Which is why the CDC recommend not to use them.

Not just yuck. You’d die too, if you were a germ.

Except they don’t, do they? Germs, that is. Not in serious enough numbers at least. The place just stinks and there’s still the risk of infection. But that was back then.

Next thing they tried was ethylene oxide – EtO to the initiated. It killed germs better but was way too potent. A bit too toxic too. Still made you think your head was going to burst.

Hi, hydrogen peroxide

Then somebody had a brainwave and chose hydrogen peroxide – high powered, a known oxidiser, decomposed to just oxygen and water afterwards – what was not to like?

Too watery was the first part. It needed special dryers to get rid of the damp. Which made it dodgy with electrical stuff and computers. Short circuits and things. Risky.

Still too strong was the second part. Sure you can buy hydrogen peroxide at the chemist in a 3% solution. Safe to use at home. But way too weak to spray into the air and clobber nasties like clostridium difficile or MRSA. To do that, you had to rack it way up – 32% and even higher.

Back to the watering eyes and sore throat. And a bit more than that.

Did we mention strong oxidising properties? Because at 32% it’s a bit iffy – strong enough to eat plastic and chew certain metals, a bit too enthusiastic on all kinds of surfaces – especially with repeat treatments.

Ah, but that’s vaporised hydrogen peroxide. Mixed with water and sprayed as thin as possible. That’s why the 32%. Spread out into little tiny droplets it needs all that oomph to be sure of clobbering the germs. And it certainly does that – all viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing.

Except 32% is way too hazardous for general use. It needs specially trained staff, work areas have to be evacuated, and everybody needs to wear protective clothing.

Hello, ionised alternative

The revolution is ionised hydrogen peroxide. A safe process that makes it way more effective. And allows it to be milder – only a 6% solution instead of 32%, same as you can buy in Boots for doing your hair. Remember peroxide blondes?

There’s two ways to ionise the stuff – heat or electricity.

Heat is preferred because it is cheaper. All them hydrogen peroxide atoms get hot under the collar until they develop a charge, usually negative – which makes them reach out and grab at pathogens, usually positively charged, like iron filings to a magnet.

Electricity is the clever alternative – and it also means low temperature operation, no risk of melting anything the stuff come in contact with.

At the sprayer nozzle a great fat electric arc charges the parting atoms, forcing them to spread apart from each other because like charges repel. This means the hydrogen peroxide actively spreads itself out and away, reaching deep into cracks and crevices trying to escape from itself. Positively forced dispersal unlike of the vaporised stuff, which just billows like steam.

This spreadability means the droplets can be smaller, finer and ride the air better – especially with the lighter load of the 6% solution. Drier too. No moisture to mess up keyboards or cabling. And of course, too mild to attack surfaces, even sensitive ones.

No compromise on performance though. Ionising physically changes the state of the hydrogen peroxide from a gaseous vapour to a plasma – a charged gas. The effect is like hitting the turbo button. Even more antimicrobials are suddenly produced – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, super-oxidising ozone and ultraviolet – all of them potent germ-busters. 6% running on steroids.

Souped up performance

A word of caution though. Yes, it’s safe. But this IS hydrogen peroxide and it IS potent, unless you’re wearing protection, stay away. Hoicked up with radicals and stuff, its oxidising strength is way more than the 32% version.

OK, so ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads better, uses a weaker solution, kills germs more effectively, is drier and gentler to surfaces, and still becomes harmless after action, reverting back to just oxygen and water – so little water that it evaporates before it touches anything.

Easy, huh?

And push button simple with a Hypersteriliser. Just wheel the thing in, connect to power, press the button, and get out of Dodge. Allow forty odd minutes for the average-sized room  and the place is totally sterile – Log 6 kill to be precise, 99.9999% of germs utterly gone.

So now you’re safe. From germs, from nasty smells, from carry-over effects.

Totally sterile, yeah!

Picture Copyright: justmeyo / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-11 16:53:57.

Why soap and water will soon be saving your life

Teddy in washer
So simple – soap and water is a lot easier than going to the Doc all the time

Count on it, in the very near future, your life will depend on soap and water.

They will be the only thing between you and certain death.

Good old lifesavers

So how you use them  – or whether you use them at all – is already a lot more critical than you might ever imagine.

Because in your lifetime – and sooner rather than later – our wonder-drug antibiotics will no longer work. Bacterial superbugs will have mutated to become totally resistant to them.

Which means – going back to the dark ages before penicillin was discovered – that no longer will we be protected from our own adventurousness, recklessness, clumsiness, or foolhardiness.

Our new killers

Overnight, almost everything and anything could be the death of us.

  • Eating meat — bacteria in meat is increasingly resistant to antibiotics and can kill us.
  • A cut or scratch — before penicillin, 1 in 9 skin infections killed.
  • Any surgical cut or incision — openings for even minor ops leave us open to infection.
  • Dialysis or blood transfusion — any open blood vessel is susceptible to sepsis.
  • Insect bites — especially the itchy ones, leading to infections from scratching.
  • Colds or flu — even mild infections cause pneumonia. Without antibiotics, 30% of cases kill.
  • Childbirth — which used to kill 5 mothers out of 1000, and more by Caesarean.
  • Any cannula, ventilator or catheter.
  • Surgical implants like artificial hips or pacemakers.
  • Burns of any kind —the most infection-prone type of wound.
  • Cosmetic surgery — without antibiotics, even Botox injections is no longer risk free.
  • Tattoos — even the slightest skin blemish is open to infection.

So if anything happens to us, anything physical that is, about the only thing we’ll be able to do is wash it clean with soap and water. And properly, not just waggling around under the tap. Because if we’re suddenly socked by bacteria threatening enough to need antibiotics and soap and water is our defence, we’ve got to relearn everything there is about proper hygiene.

And here’s why. Right now:

Make no mistake either, it’s ONLY soap and water that will do the job.

Why wipes wipe out

Antibacterial wipes are out of it – for the simple reason that bacteria are able to resist them too, as researchers at Cardiff University have recently demonstrated.  And if MRSA, clostridium difficile and acinetobacter are able develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR), so can others. Worse, the wipes transfer resistant bacteria from one place to another, SPREADING contamination further.

Antibacterial soap suffers the same defect.

Why?

The triclosan ingredient mostly widely used to deter bacteria is shown by the US Centers for Disease Control to be itself prone to AMR, to the extent that major manufacturers are voluntarily withdrawing it and hunting for alternatives.

How about antibacterial gel?

Same only different. The active ingredient is alcohol, which breaks down the proteins of bacteria and some viruses, but not all of them. And without antibiotics to protect us, we don’t want something which does half the job.

Low tech and easy

Which brings us back to soap and water. Low tech, yes, but maybe cleverer than we think.

For one thing, most bacteria are either harmless or benign. So although we’re surrounded by them, we don’t want to wash off all of them – some of our usually resident “citizens” might actually be doing us some good. Soap and water action lets us keep these guys, but gets rid of the toxic “tourists” who might be threatening us.

Yeah, so rediscovering hygiene is not exactly going to kill us. Quite the opposite.

And as we’ve probably heard endlessly from our grandmothers, a little soap and water never hurt anyone.

Picture Copyright: kalcutta / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-10 17:24:53.

What if norovirus was a deadly killer, would we wash our hands then?

Dead patient in OR
Dying is a hell of a price to pay for eating with your fingers

We mean seriously deadly, like cancer,  typhoid, or the Black Death.

Would we see still loads of cruise ship passengers repeatedly coming down with norovirus?

Again & again, norovirus 2.0

Because it’s happened again – and keeps on happening. The latest “Old England to New England” voyage of a lifetime by Fred Olsen Line’s cruise ship Balmoral has just docked Stateside with a report of hundreds down with this pernicious vomiting bug.

Predictably because it’s the most likely cause, the cruise line reckon the virus was probably brought on board by a passenger. In the close quarters of a cruise ship, any outbreak is difficult to contain, with the result that 252 victims have been reported – slightly more than the 7 claimed by the cruise line.

We say predictable because norovirus is highly contagious and spreads most easily by direct contact. It only requires 10 norovirus cells to infect someone – so anyone coming aboard a ship after a long day’s sight-seeing, touching all kinds of things with little or no opportunity to wash hands, could be Patient Zero.

Always the blame game

That said, Balmoral’s operators may also not be entirely blameless. The vessel is old by cruise ship standards – launched originally in 1988 as Crown Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line – and has been hit by norovirus six times since 2009.

Yes, norovirus could quite easily have been brought on board by any passenger over the years – anybody eating a sandwich ashore with unwashed hands could have been the carrier – but repeated outbreaks every year begin to look like the ship itself could be cause, despite intensive “barrier cleaning” between voyages.

Check out any ship at the dock and maintaining hygiene is an immediate and obvious problem. On every mooring rope are cone-shaped metal plates – rat guards to prevent disease-carrying rodents stowing away.

Sure those sweeping angular lines are impressive, but inside the hull they mean all kinds of tight, irregularly shaped spaces that are difficult to access and even more difficult to keep clean. Of necessity, some spaces are not accessible at all – like deep down under the deck plates, where oil-laden water sloshes round the bilges.

The ultimate survivor

No good against an adversary like norovirus – able to survive for days and even months on hard surfaces. Or even years in still water – perhaps not the bilges, but how about the drinking water tanks?

And just how thorough are those between voyage “barrier cleans” anyway? A cruise ship costs around £1.5 million per day just to keep afloat,  so how much time can its owners afford to have it docked for cleaning?

Bear in mind that turnaround time between cruises can be as short as eight hours – in which the ship has to be cleaned out, re-victualled, refuelled, new linen loaded and  made up, the works.

Come on gang! The meter’s running, let’s get this sucker back to sea ASAP.

Hmm, makes you wonder what “barrier cleaning” is, hey?

How clean is “clean” in 8 hours?

There is also “terminal cleaning” which looks the better option – variously defined as removing all detachable objects, cleaning lighting and air duct surfaces in the ceiling, then cleaning everything downward to the floor.

Items removed – fomites such as furniture, carpets, drapes, table cloths, cutlery, taps, basins, playing cards, poker chips, books, bottles, glasses, coasters and all bar hardware – are thoroughly sanitised before being returned.

Uh huh, not exactly easy in eight hours.

Then there is the issue of HOW the ship is cleaned – how long exposure time the disinfecting agents have to be sure of killing the norovirus. From studies by the CDC, not everything works – not bleach, not glutaraldehyde , not ethanol, not quats, not steam.

Nor do all techniques – not applied everywhere, not enough contact time, not effective at killing the microorganisms involved.

You missed a bit

Take just one instance.

Handrails.

Passengers spend a lot of time clutching the ship’s rail, excited about arrivals, excited about departures – or simply hanging on to look cool, sipping their piña coladas in the sunset. Does someone really go round and wipe down all the ship’s rails – and all the deck chairs come to that – or do they get forgotten, being outside on the deck?

Why does no-one seem to be taking this seriously? Norovirus is ALREADY a killer that takes down 200,000 people every year – usually through dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Imagine it up there with cancer, typhoid and Black Death.

How would it be if we saw some heavyweight death numbers – mostly from people not washing their hands – and the rest from things not being cleaned thoroughly enough?

Because norovirus is not going to go away. It’s going to continue to mutate and proliferate – until in nuisance value alone it does the numbers, clobbering productivity and generally making life unliveable.

Sorted, sort of

OK, so the ship sort of gets cleaned and goes back into service – and another outbreak happens ten months from now – dirty hands coming aboard, or spreading out from the unprocessed air gap under the linen storage on “D” deck?

So they scrap the ship and build a new one, the problem isn’t going to go away.

Not unless we learn to wash our hands before they ever go anywhere near our mouths. And we start using properly effective measures to eliminate all germs from enclosed spaces – including under linen storage and in bilge openings.

All it takes is to mist up the air space with ionised hydrogen peroxide penetrating everywhere – and germs are electrostatically attracted like iron filings to a magnet, oxidised to nothing in seconds flat.

Maybe they’ll even get sensible and build a spray system in – exactly like the sprinkler system already used for fires. Imagine that, a self-sterilising cruise ship – able to decontaminate itself completely in just hours while in port for turnaround – or disinfect selected areas completely at will, while still out on voyage.

And if we still haven’t learned to wash our hands?

Feed everybody Cornish pasties. That thick crust round the edge was invented specially for tin miners to grab hold and eat safe – even though their hands were coated in deadly arsenic from the tin ore.

Not so deadly any more after hydrogen peroxide, no norovirus either.

Though pasties might get monotonous on a seven-day cruise.

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-09 17:31:06.

Safer from terrorists than germs on your own hands

Girl on escalator
No terrorists here – but just starting with the handrail, there’s billions and billions of germs

Look around the room you’re in. How many terrorists do you see?

None, right?

Not surprising, since only 3% of all deaths by terrorism have occurred in the West.

Which means less than that in the UK – averaged at five deaths a year according to a report.

Even less in the town you live in. And probably zero in your street.

Out of sight, out of mind

OK, now how many germs do you see?

Also none, right?

But they’re there, alright. Just too small to see .

A single cell of norovirus, everybody’s favourite cruise ship vomiting bug, is 3 microns across – a 5,000th the width of a human hair. A single cell of that other tummy bug regular, escherichia coli, is even smaller at 2 microns – the same as rhinovirus, the common cold bug.

And it only takes 10 norovirus cells, ganged up together, to infect you if they get in the right place. The kind of thing you do rubbing your skin – they scrape together, 5,000 could fit on a hair – next thing you touch your eyes or your mouth, and they’re in like Flynn.

Four hours later the cramps start – and the upchucks – and the runs. Worse than any terrorists, more like the end of the world.

And these germs are floating round you EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Everywhere you look

For instance, just by being in the room, you yourself are contributing 37 million germs an hour  – just from the cloud of them that we all carry around with us.

That doesn’t include the germs already in the room either – left behind on countertops and work surfaces, clinging to cleaning cloths and sponges, piled up on phone keypads and light switches, or just floating through the air on the tiniest breeze, waiting for you to breathe them in – lighter than dust, lighter than smoke, lighter even than oxygen particles.

Which means everything you touch, you pick up more – your hands are laden with them. And you don’t want to know what happens if you don’t wash them off when you go to the loo – most of us have such bad habits, we should be vomiting our guts out every day.

Horrible hygiene

Seriously. And here’s why.

Gruesome, huh?

But even washing our hands is not enough. Because there’s viruses and bacteria still coating everything around – still breezing along through the air.

Next thing you touch, next breath you take – and they’re at you again. And it’s luck of the draw if your immune system deals with them or not – guided by the 100 trillion or so NECESSARY bacteria that you have in your own gut.

Usually these bacteria gang up together and crowd those pesky interlopers out. But not if your system’s down – you’re stressed, you have a cold, or indigestion from eating too fast, or a headache pressing in from work piling up.

Sussing the odds

So what are your chances?

In any home there are around 8,000 different TYPES of germs hanging about – in numbers from thousands to millions. Which is how come, at any one time, that there are around 300,000 germs on EACH of your hands.

300,000 times more than the number of terrorists busting in through your bedroom window.

And make no error, some of these germs are deadly. Even norovirus, usually just a few days discomfort, hospitalises 3,000 and kills around 80 people each year – from complications with severe dehydration.

Flu bugs of course, can kill even more.

So can sepsis. Never heard of it? Get complications from a simple paper cut and your whole body goes into immune system meltdown. Annual death toll in the UK, around 44,000.

And germs can cause other complications like cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory or liver disorders – accounting for 150,000 deaths a year.

More dangerous than terrorists

All of which means you’re half a million times more likely to die from germs on your hands than from terrorists attacking you.

If that happens of course, there’s not much you can do. At the end of a gun, you’re basically stuck with whatever the terrorist asks for.

But germs you can fight back against – even take them out of existence altogether.

All it takes is the push of a button on a Hypersteriliser – and a fine, dry mist of hydrogen peroxide oxidises ALL virus and bacteria to nothing.  No chance of any infection, everywhere around you is sterile.

The cops have nothing like that to deal with terrorists. But at five deaths a year on average from terrorist acts, there’s more of us die from bee stings.

OK, so you’re safe enough – at least from terrorists.

Just make sure your hands are clean before you do anything.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-06 13:20:49.

Ooh! Fatness is catching? How can we ever escape?

Beautiful girl running
ANYTHING can be catching – if you’re not specially careful

Oops. For the first time, researchers suspicion that fatness can hit you, just like catching a bug.

Until now, getting fat happened only to individuals, one at a time.

Obesity beckons

Something upsets the balance of our gut bacteria – and our hunger control goes wild. Without even being aware of it, we start gorging ourselves compulsively. We’re on the slippery slope.

Villain of the piece is usually antibiotics. The Doc prescribes them when we’re ill and they go to work, killing the bacteria that causes it.

Trouble is, they kill a lot of good bacteria too – like the ones that keep us fit and trim. With nothing to stop us getting fat, we bulk up incredibly fast – Size 16 in weeks.

Farmers use exactly this method to fatten up animals and make them grow faster. Which is why antibiotics are used on the farm in massive amounts worldwide – anywhere between 65,000 – 240,000 tonnes a year and rocketing.

Which means there’s antibiotics in the food we eat too, explaining why so many of us are tending to fat. Two thirds of us are already overweight or obese – an epidemic that is slowly killing us, nudging us steadily towards diabetes, heart disease and cancer – all consequences of being fat.

Come clean, stay slim

But overnight, these latest findings bring a new urgency to cleanliness and personal hygiene.

Because they show that one third of the bacteria in our gut can produce spores, kind of like dormant seeds. The bacteria can’t exist outside our bodies, oxygen will kill them. But the spores can.

And being able to survive, these spores are free to disperse and float around all over the place. Released in our poo, coughed up or breathed out – for any other one of us to pick up by touch, swallowing or breathing in – just like any regular germs, which is of course exactly what they are.

Zap, and it happens.

Unless we all keep ourselves scrupulously clean and wash our hands every opportunity we get, these spores can relocate easily. From healthy person to healthy person – or from fat person to thin – transferring the same hunger control defects to our own good bacteria. With the same results.

Our bodies no longer know when we’ve had enough – inevitably, we get fat.

OK, so we can’t go around not breathing or eating anything for fear we’ll take spores in. The world is too big, plus there’s other stuff out there– airborne exhaust fumes, smoke, dust, germs and the very oxygen we breathe.

Obesity protection

Ah, but we can protect ourselves INDOORS – which, because of the cold and our chosen lifestyles, is where we spend 90% of our time.

All we need is to keep our hands clean – and treat the air around us with hydrogen peroxide mist so that all germs are oxidised to nothing.

Not ordinary hydrogen peroxide mind, but ionised.

Charged through with electrical energy that changes the mist to a plasma, releasing additional antimicrobials like hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. More than a match for any microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores.

Yes, it can be done – and yes, the technology exists now.

So there’s no reason why your home or workplace, or any other enclosed surroundings, cannot be kept sterile – safe from fatness or any other kind of microbial threat, from day-to-day contamination or transferred from anyone you might share your space with.

It’s up to you though to eat sensibly and exercise.

Look after your bacteria and they will look after you.

Picture Copyright: aleshyn / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-05 12:21:43.

Good, healthy dirt? Never, ever, with our lifestyles

Muddy Girl
Good, healthy dirt – try it and see how ill it can make you

Some people reckon we need dirt to be healthy. To be exposed to it, particularly when we’re kids – so it activates our immune systems, builds up our defences against infections in later life.

Hygiene hypothesis

The hygiene hypothesis, it’s called – the notion that being obsessed with cleanliness is the trigger cause for allergies like hay fever, eczema and asthma.

Uh huh. Here’s a reality check, in case you were wondering – especially if you’re among the gung-ho keep-fit brigade.

We spend something like 90% of our time INDOORS.

So if you’re thinking good old-fashioned mud and grass and dew water, you’re already on short rations. Outdoors is so last Century.

Unclean within

Now Google “time spent indoors” and see how many hits you get for indoor air pollution, sick building syndrome, exposure to contaminants and all that how’s-yer-father?

Never normally think about it, huh?

Doesn’t even occur to us.

Stack the dishwasher, hoover the floors once a week, the odd bit of dusting – what’s the problem?

Yeah?

So where do we come with our usual colds, flu, tummy bugs and bits of us that go septic from mishaps doing stuff around the place?

And if we’re so healthy, how come we’re screaming up to the Doc every five minutes for yet another scrip load of antibiotics?

Healthy dirt? With the way most of our bodies are these days, one mouthful would put us in intensive care without even thinking about it. Six days on drips, digestive system up the pole, shaky and nauseous for weeks afterwards.

Norovirus and other friends

Exactly like a bad case of norovirus.

But we don’t need to eat dirt to catch that. Just eat something with our fingers without washing our hands – burger, fish and chips, kebabs, whatever. Well, our fingers LOOK clean, don’t they? How are we supposed to know there might be germs on the countertop, or desk, or telephone keypad, or wherever?

It’s a fact of life though, that there are. Everything everywhere, even our own bodies – is teeming with billions and billions of bacteria, inside and out. Our own gut is home to over 100 trillion of them – vital to helping us digest, and even keep our immune systems going.

And remember that Google search? The whole air around us is full of them as well. With the other usual suspects in any enclosed space – germs, chemicals, dead skin molecules, dust, all kinds of stuff. On our skin, breathed in, swallowed down to our innards.

Protected pathogens

Our own stuff and everybody else’s too – nicely cross-contaminated and hemmed in around us. Protected by the double glazing and insulation we need for ourselves. Kept alive by the central heating and our own unbelievably sloppy hygiene, it’s a wonder we’re not running to the Doc every day.

Healthy dirt? Do us a favour! We’ve got all the germs we could want – literally at our finger tips.

Which means slightly more than just hoovering if we’re going to survive, right?

Our daily threat

Because every one of us today faces an increasingly deadly challenge to our health and we can’t afford to take chances any more. Our bodies are continuously under threat and we don’t even know it – every bit as lethal as smoking 60 a day and not giving a damn.

Twenty years ago even, and we stood a better chance. Our bodies were stronger, we were more resilient – and yes, we used to spend more time in the Great Outdoors. Before the couch potato existence of computer games, box-set binging and door-to-door pizza delivery.

Look at us now. Two thirds of us overweight or clinically obese. A third of our kids visibly overweight too. Ten ton porkers, all of us – what the hell’s happening?

Exposure to antibiotics is what. Our regular runs to the Doc, yes – but also daily in our food.

Because you see, twenty years ago is around the time that antibiotics took off Big Time as animal growth promoters on the farm.

Fat, fatter, fattest

Dose ’em up with every meal and cows get bigger in quarter of the time, and chickens, and pigs, and fish and everything – including vegetables and fruit and grain crops. El Dorado every day, better than winning the lottery.

Yeah, so cows get fat – but so do we. Ingesting the same growth promoting antibiotics drip, drip from everything we eat – laced through either directly from feed, or from richly nutrient and antibiotic laden manure used to fertilise everything and grow other feedstuffs.

Thing is though, that antibiotics don’t just make you fat. They work by killing bacteria, it’s what they’re designed to do. And inside your gut they kill good bacteria too – plus damage a few billion or so more that might be vitally needed for immune system work or simple house-keeping like regulating hunger.

We’re fat because antibiotics damaged our hunger control OFF switch – made us resistant to the leptin our own gut bacteria produces to tell us that we’ve eaten enough – just like the cows and pigs and sheep – dosed with 65,000 – 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics worldwide every year.

Itching, gasping, swelling up

There’s other damage too. Immune systems going nuts about conditions that aren’t there – glitched so they read phantom challenges, firing up the troops to fight infections that don’t exist. Otherwise known as allergies – asthma, rhinitis, food intolerance, dermatitis, eczema, hay fever, dust, mould, nuts, coeliac disease. How many were so widespread, twenty years ago?

OK, so our systems are weakened, we’re more at risk to dirt of any kind. Plus there’s all the downside that our being overweight epidemic brings – the slow road to an even unhealthier lifestyle.

  • The number of people with diabetes in the UK has tipped the 4 million mark.
  • Deaths from cancer in the UK in 2012 totalled 161,823.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide – responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Yeah, the writing’s on the wall people. Hike up our hygiene levels seriously or we might not be around much longer. If there is such a thing as healthy dirt, we’re way too far gone to take advantage of it.

Scrub up, or else

Which means: wash our hands every opportunity we get. And keep washing. They might be clean momentarily – and then we go and touch something which isn’t.

Which takes us to the next step: sterilise the place so the germs are gone.

They can’t touch us if they’re not there. And we can take them out just by touching a button. Next second, our living space is misted up with dry all-penetrating hydrogen peroxide. Germs are oxidising to nothing on contact – in the air, on every surface, in ever nook and cranny.

Whew! Safe at last.

Now to get back outside and work some weight off.

Run, walk, cycle, swim – who needs TV?

Picture Copyright: diogoppr / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-04 13:24:30.