Tag Archives: aura

Yes, we NEED germs – but only in the right place

Girl with glow
With germs, the impossible could be closer than we think

Start with the mirror.

You think that’s you, don’t you?

Well y-e-s, but not entirely.

In fact, far from entirely.

Because our own human body cells are outnumbered by bacteria more than 100 to 1. Every one of them living inside us and actually helping us live. If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t survive.

Not who we think we are

Surprised?

Yeah well, the entire world’s like that. Every living thing is home to whole hosts of bacteria essential to existence. Which makes bacteria way more important than most of us ever think. We’re not infected with them, we’re colonised by them.

So our paranoia about destroying them is most unwise.

Uh huh.

Think again

So how come this blog is called Back Off, Bacteria? Isn’t that about getting rid of microorganisms?

Far from it.

Reality Number One. Bacteria are vitally necessary for every living function.

But not ALL bacteria are appropriate in every situation.

Campylobacter for instance, occurs naturally in poultry – 75% of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and wild birds have it in their gut. Somehow it helps in the digestion of whatever they eat – processing the grit perhaps, or balancing natural sugars.

In humans however, campylobacter is highly pathogenic – the most common cause of food poisoning. In the UK alone, 300,000 people die from it every year.

OK, you can see the connection. Chicken is a highly popular source of cheap protein – so the whole food industry is up in arms about the contamination of our top of the pops menu choice.

Contamination, schm-ontamination.

It occurs naturally in birds, right? It’s SUPPOSED to be there.

So what’s the problem?

Everybody, the Food Safety Agency, producers, supermarkets, chefs, restaurants – all know that if you cook chicken properly, all campylobacter is destroyed. Those wings, drumsticks and nuggets are totally safe to eat.

And again

So, Reality Number Two. Bacteria are only beneficial when they’re in the right place.

Which is why this blog is called Back Off, Bacteria!

Back Off, Bacteria! Get back to where you belong.

There are over 500 microbe types that colonise our gut – bacteriods, peptococci, staphylococci, streptococci, bacilli, clostridia, yeasts, enterobacteria, fuzobacteria, eubacteria, catenobacteria, etc – we don’t need a rogue outsider coming in and upsetting the apple cart.

As long as a bacterium is in the right place, that’s OK.

But the wrong place needs action if you don’t want to sicken and die.

Which is why – first line of defence – you should wash your hands so you don’t ingest some harmful killer bug you can’t see.

And second – you should sterilise your surrounding environment so any other dangerous pathogens can’t invade you any other way.

Out of sight, out of mind

No, it’s not rocket science. But since viruses and bacteria are too small to see, they’re just not on anybody’s radar. Nobody sees any danger, so there isn’t any.

Mistake. The wrong bacterium in the wrong place can kill you as efficiently as any bullet. And just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there – how about cholera, tetanus or TB?

So back to earth. Bacteria are simple, not second-guessing the whole universe all the time like we do.

All they do is eat. And when they can’t find the right food, they eat us – which is what infection is.

They’re also programmed to survive, just like we are. Except they work in minutes and hours, not decades. And they’ve been around for billions of years longer so they’re a hell of a lot better at it.

If one cell dies off, its offspring will carry on. And on, and on, and on – more persistently than we humans ever even get close to.

And you’d better believe it, since they outnumber our own body cells more than 100 to 1, they’re the ones calling the shots, not us.

Who’s the boss?

Think it’s your brain telling the body what to do?

Where do you think we get gut feel from, or the physical symptoms that are triggered by stress?

Butterflies in your tummy? The bacteria are apprehensive, they want to survive. They’re warning you. Don’t do whatever you’re planning to do because there’s danger or unpleasantness ahead.

Yeah, your brain can override them, but at what cost? Acid tummy, shaking muscles, nerves shot to pieces. These guys know which strings to pull – and they do.

Again, Back Off, Bacteria – we’ve got other priorities to satisfy. Like getting through that interview, or proposing to your sweetheart – not all going into combat, or jumping off a cliff.

Magical powers

Bacteria may even have “magic” qualities that makes us think of the supernatural.

As regular readers of this blog will know, bacteria carry a tiny electrical charge positive on the outside, negative on the inside.

It’s this charge that enables negatively-charged ionised hydrogen peroxide molecules to latch onto them only the fly – oxidising them to oblivion in one of the most efficient room sterilising procedures ever.

Researchers have also found that the electrical charge in bacteria like e. coli can actually generate light – creating flashes like Christmas tree lights.

Put that together with the fact that we’re always surrounded by a “bio-cloud” of billions and billions of bacteria all the time – and it’s possible that under the right conditions we really do generate a visible aura.

Better still, as bacteria respond to our changing body conditions, the electrical charge they put out could vary, changing the actual colour of this aura. Maybe not a myth any more, but genuine reality.  All those child prodigies, swamis and spiritual mediums might have been right all along.

So yeah – germs, we need ’em.

Let’s just make sure we keep them in a safe place.

Originally posted 2015-08-19 18:32:28.

As deadly as any terrorist, and in our workplace now

Killer in keffiyeh
The enemy within – we never know where they’ll strike – but they will if they get the chance

They’re right here, all around us.

Milling about, following our every move. No just stalking us – hanging on to our clothes, our skin, our hair, the immediate air around us.

Horror in the air

If you’ve seen the horrific pictures in the paper recently, you’ll know what we mean – the spray clouds of droplets and snot violently discharged by an ordinary everyday sneeze.

Germs, right? Billions and billions of them. Gross.

Except what we don’t see are the billions and billions more ejected in the “invisible gas phase” – tiny drops full of pathogens, hardly 10 micrometres across – small enough to spread 200 times further than previously thought, enough to cover any room and reach the ventilation ducts meant to purify them.

Yeah, shocking. We should all carry handkerchiefs. Stop this spread right before it starts.

Except it’s not just droplets from sneezes that are billowing in our office air.

Germs, germs, everywhere

Every one of us trails an invisible but teeming aura of microbes – bacteria, yeast, cells, and cell parts constantly given off by the body. A hodgepodge of good germs and bad, our own personal bio-signature.

All of which are in addition to the germs already in our office – lurking on desks and phones and everything else. As many as 10 million of them on every surface. A seething morass of common viruses and bacteria – e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, cold and flu viruses and norovirus – any one of which could put you in hospital or kill you altogether.

A daily threat just as deadly as any terrorist bullet. And we don’t even know it’s there.

OK, fine – the body’s immune system is hard at it, keeping all these bugs at bay. Most of the time nothing happens.

Until you start wondering why just about everybody in the office goes off sick four or five times a year – always an empty desk, colleagues out of action longer than their holidays – with a sick bill for country of £29 billion a year.

Uh huh. Worse than any terrorist opening up with an AK47. 1.8% of the population out of action – that’s 1.17 million people – and anything upwards of 2,000 deaths.

All-out counter attack

So what do we do about it?

If yours is the average office – vacuum the floors, empty the waste-baskets and wipe down the desks – that’s it.

Yeah right, we’re going to stop a terrorist attack with a dirty rag?

How about we bring in a Hypersteriliser and do the job properly?

Get everybody out at the end of the day – then mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide, so that all those viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing.

Forty minutes a room, that’s all it takes. After which the whole place is sterile. No hovering bugs to breathe or touch – no residual sneezes to take us down.

Every surface – even the air itself – is totally germ-free. Including all those nasties left behind from greasy fingers (burgers for lunch, cream doughnuts at coffee break) on keypads and light switches.

OK, so we’ll bring a whole load new germs with us when we waltz in tomorrow – our personal bio-cloud never leaves us.

But we won’t catch any bug left behind from yesterday’s work session – not even from the unlucky ones who caught one already and aren’t making it in today.

Yeah, take that, terrorist germs!

We aren’t scared of you – get lost!

Suddenly smitten by co-worker haloes?

Business angel
Temperatures rise, pulses quicken – somebody call a doctor

No, it’s not love in the air – however hard you might wish for it.

Reality is even weirder – an invisible halo round each of us.

Researchers have found that it’s billions and billions and billions of tiny microbes, way too small to see. Our own personal aura of bacteria that surrounds each of us day and night.

Not very heavenly

Ew, bacteria!

Floating all round us?

Gross!

Er, actually they’re supposed to be there. Like bacteria are everywhere. On every surface, round every living thing, even inside us.

Remember your dentist? Lecturing you about cleaning your teeth?

Totally outnumbered

Well according to Sigmund Socransky, associate clinical professor of periodontology (study of teeth structures and diseases) at Harvard University: “In one mouth, the number of bacteria can easily exceed the number of people who live on Earth (more than 6 billion).”

OK, and like everywhere, there’s good guys and bad guys. Cleaning your teeth takes away the food traces the bad guys feed on. Bye bye, bad guys – let the good guys stay to protect your teeth.

There’s even more bacteria in your gut – over 100 trillion. Seems we can’t live without them. They outnumber us more than 10 to 1. Helping us digest stuff, producing proteins to power our systems, leaving us to take a back seat. All perfectly natural.

Feel easier now?

And since we’re colonised so heavily within and without, having a personal halo following us around everywhere doesn’t seem so freakish after all – millions of bacteria, particles of skin cells and little pieces of fungi that break out of our hair – our own unique signature.

Our unique biological ID

This halo of bacteria literally makes itself at home wherever we are. Within minutes, any space we’re in is occupied by our aura. When we leave, traces of it are still there. And so are everybody else’s.

Good guys and bad guys, right?

Our good guys get on with other people’s haloes fine. They give the bad guys a tough time of it too, crowding them out so there’s no place to go – even eating them if they’re bolshy enough.

Trouble is though, we’re not all as perfect as we’d like to be.

A surprising number of us have underlying conditions that weaken us in some way – a previous injury or illness, asthma, TB, any number of digestive disorders. Our good guys have their hands full. Which means if the bad guys get to us, we’re in trouble.

Not the same as coughs and sneezes through the air conditioning is it? Though that happens too.

Without us being aware of it, we could be smitten by a co-workers halo. Picking up a disease or infection just because it was there among the bacteria of somebody else’s halo – staphylococcus or streptococcus possibly, both common in the nose or mouth.

Send in the troops

What defence do we have?

Not a lot in the average workplace. Vacuumed out at the end of the day, waste bins emptied, a quick wipedown with a cleaning cloth – mostly to clear off dust.

When the lights go out, the bacteria stay – waiting to catch us with another dose tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Good bad guy bacteria can survive for weeks if necessary. But they don’t have to if one of us has low resistance. Their new home.

Unless of course, we take the bad guys out.

That means all bacteria of course, good guys too – there’s no way to separate them. Making the whole place sterile so there’s nothing there. Exactly like in hospital. No bacteria, no viruses, no fungi. Completely germ-free and safe.

All it takes is to mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – an antimicrobial that destroys germs by oxidising them, ripping apart their cell structure with oxygen atoms.

First off, we have to get out of there. Don’t want any harm to our personal bacteria – we NEED them to keep living.

Then a Hypersteriliser generates the mist, ionising it so it spreads everywhere, giving it a charge that snatches at microorganisms on the fly, grabbing hold like a magnet. (Appropriately, they call this machine a Halo in the US).

The stuff penetrates everywhere too, driven by the same charge – round the back of the computers, behind the filing cabinets, under the photocopier.

Safe at last

On every surface as well. Desks, cupboards, walls, ceilings – keyboards, phones, desk organisers – everywhere. Leaving a thin antimicrobial barrier on everything that lasts up to a week – no germs from buttered scone fingers on the keyboard that didn’t get wiped. Forty minutes, job done.

What’s that? You’re still smitten?

Not by bugs, you’re not.

But you know what they say about romance in the office. Better be careful, people will talk.