Tag Archives: bubonic plague

Good germs, bad germs – just make sure you’re safe

Good cop - bad cop
Invisible good and bad – one 10,000th of a millimetre in size

A bit of a head-scratcher this. Since our body cells are outnumbered by bacteria 10 to 1.

That’s 100 trillion microbes in the average HEALTHY body – believe it or not – bacteria and human beings getting along just fine.

Which raises a whole issue about keeping safe from germs.

Killing ourselves

Anything we might use to sanitise, disinfect or sterilise could actually attack us – killing some of the very bacteria we need to keep healthy.

You see, we’re not infested by these germs – like free-loaders out for what they can get. They pay rent to be with us. Especially with food intake and digestion.

That first hunger-driven chomp into a juicy burger meets over 7½ billion bacteria in the first second in your mouth – more than the number of people on Earth.

With every chew and swallow, a whole mess of processing takes place, preparing your food for being turned into energy – by the two to three POUNDS of bacteria that live in your gut.

Without them, no digestion. In fact you’d be pretty ill, all that food with nowhere to go, eventually poisoning your system.

Living with germs

So yeah, germs in our bodies.

Better take it easy with that chlorine bleach in the kitchen. That could bring big trouble – as your nose tells you by the way it bites. The body knows it’s harmful – and the smell you experience is a warning.

But you’ve got to get rid of germs, right? The bad things that kill.

The body is under threat when stuff decomposes or putrefies – blitz it fast, before you get infected!

Actually, there’s a whole bunch of experts who reckon we’re wrong to keep zapping germs. That our paranoia with pathogens indiscriminately kills good and bad alike, destroying useful microbes and upsetting the natural balance.

OK, we’ll buy it – but not all the time.

Away in the Great Outdoors, there’s not much we can do anyway. The wind blows, germs come and go – we could get infected any time.

Except we don’t usually – and one microbe by itself is not enough to take on the whole human body – unless it gets awful lucky. And ordinary air movement disperses germs anyway, so they don’t stand much chance.

Indoors, in danger

Anyway, we don’t live like that most of the time, do we?

We’re indoors, in our “built environment”. Enclosed air spaces, shared living areas. Our bio-auras of germs – the surrounding cloud of microbes we all carry around with us – all intermingling and mixing.

And if any of us happen to be infected with something – contaminating each other.

Which is what happens in a classroom full of kids. Thirty of them together, for up to six hours at a time. Breathing the same air, touching the same objects and each other – bio-auras fully exposed.

So two of them have rhinovirus – perfectly normal variations of the common cold – sneezing and coughing, but determined to stay in the loop. Yeah, well. Most of the other kids are healthy enough – a few days of discomfort if they come down with it. Nothing to worry about.

Except we’re not all equal are we? And we don’t all have the same health levels.

In any group of people you like, a large proportion invariably have some kind of underlying medical condition. Two or three in our classroom of kids – as high as 10% – asthma, TB and one of them with early cancer.

So how fair is it on them when rhinovirus hits – as it probably will, at six hours exposure per day, every day? And how sick will they be with the complications a common cold can bring?

Sure, let’s not destroy all germs everywhere willy-nilly because we’re paranoid about getting sick.

Protection where it counts

But doesn’t it make sense to treat selected areas where we’re more at risk?

With more people on top of each other at school than at home, school is a more likely place to pick up infection.

So is the office, or factory, or supermarket, or train, or bus – higher germ concentrations from a greater number of sources. More infections to choose from, higher odds of catching one.

But one disinfected school room – or even a whole school – does not destroy the eco-balance if it is treated to protect the weak. The greater world is too big – and goes on being just the same outside.

Besides, once our kids move back into their school room after treatment, their own bio-auras will re-populate the “germosphere” very quickly. A tummy bug like e. coli for instance, can double its bacteria every 20 minutes.

Yeah, the kids are still exposed – but not to the same level.

Mist up that schoolroom with sterilising hydrogen peroxide gas plasma from a Hypersteriliser and the germ threshold falls to zero – no viruses, no bacteria, totally sterile – in 40 minutes.

The kids start from totally safe – no lingering germs from yesterday, or the day before – not on surfaces, and not floating around in the air either – the room is totally NEUTRAL.

Germ zero

A lot safer than letting things ride – because some pathogenic nasties can survive outside a body for weeks or more. And wouldn’t it be luck of the draw if it was YOUR kid that came down with it?

Your own flesh and blood – in an isolation ward with with the first case of bubonic plague for 300 years – chance infection by an 8-year-old new kid – an immune carrier from Madagascar, where the disease still affects hundreds, every year.

Good germs, bad germs. Life and death.

Why take chances?

Originally posted 2015-06-30 11:17:48.

Hygiene is two thirds of health – so why do we keep dicing with death?

Tightrope
It’s only soap and water, but deadly if we forget it. Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

It’s an old Lebanese proverb, that hygiene is two thirds of health. More accurately, hygiene is the one thing we can all practice that keeps us from death.

The truth of this is everywhere. Look no further than the Great Plague or Black Death – in Fourteenth Century Europe, the greatest health catastrophe ever.

Poor hygiene, certain death

Bubonic plague, yersinia pestis, was thought to be spread by rats and the fleas that infested them. More recent studies suspect humans themselves, through “ectoparasites”, such as body lice and human fleas. Exposure to any of them – together with the low levels of hygiene that prevailed at that time – and you were lucky not to be a goner.

Because rats were common in Fourteenth Century Europe. So were all manner of diseases and illnesses. Poor hygiene guaranteed it. People crammed in cities on top of each other. Few sewers. Pretty well zero sanitation. Human excrement dumped straight into the streets, then into the rivers that provided drinking water.

Not at all a healthy place to be.

Which is how the Black Death killed 50 million people, 60% of Europe’s population. Three to five days to react to a flea bite. Three to five days breaking out in suppurating buboes – and an 80% chance you would die within hours.

Goodbye cruel world. The end of everything through poor hygiene. Halted only by three days of germ-killing, purifying flames in the Great Fire of London, September 1666.

Halted, but without any advance in hygiene. Still the same lack of sewerage, no access to running water, wearing the same clothes for the whole winter, not even a bath once a year. And all the while, everybody’s body waste and faecal matter was discharged into the Thames.

The Great Stink

So that inevitably, nearly two hundred years after the Great Fire, came the Great Stink.

By that time, London had doubled and quadrupled, then quadrupled again. Newly-laid drains took away the never-ending effluent – increasingly from flushing toilets, the new invention of the age. Flush it away, get rid of the smell, out of sight, out of mind.

Except of course, it still wound up in the Thames. And surprise, surprise, Londoners still weren’t very healthy – the river was still the major source of drinking water.

Exactly how it was before the rats arrived, with cholera from drinking contaminated water back in top spot as the Number One killer. 40,000 died from cholera between 1831 and 1866 – most lethal killer since the Black Death itself – with infant mortality hovering at 50% and children under five not much better.

The summer of 1858 made it even worse. With a once-in-a-century drought and corresponding heatwave –temperatures climbed day after day to 48°C, as hot as North Africa. The Thames shrank to a trickle – and as water levels dropped, exposed more and more layers of faecal matter on the riverbed, baking and fermenting in the summer sun.

The smell, accumulated from hundreds of years of raw sewage, was unbearable.

People avoided the river, now a disgusting brown slurry of poo. The posh and aristocracy moved out of town. MPs abandoned the Houses of Parliament, newly rebuilt after a fire in 1834. But not before passing long-overdue laws for a massive new sewer scheme.

Down the drain

It took twenty years, but thanks to the brilliant engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette – the unique and awe-inspiring Victoria, Albert and Lambeth Embankments were the result, with yawning great sewerage tunnels concealed underneath. All supported by 82 miles of main intercepting sewers, 1,100 miles of street sewers, four pumping stations and two treatment works.

Slowly, the Thames revived, to become one of the cleanest cityscapes in Europe.

The water became safer too – with the discovery by physician Sir John Snow that cholera was spread by polluted water, not airborne. Famously, he persuaded the local authority in Soho, St James Vestry, to remove the handle of the public water pump in Broad Street, identified as the source of the most recent cholera outbreak.

Today London’s drinking water still comes mostly from the Thames, but only after screening, clarification, filtration, aeration, removal of pesticides and organic compounds by Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), ozone dosing, disinfection and ammoniation to ensure its purity.

And in case of another hundred-year drought like the one that brought the Great Stink, London’s water is further supplemented by the reverse osmosis treatment of sea water in a massive new processing plant at Beckton.

All of which keeps us a lot safer than the way we were in Victorian times. So safe that we seldom bother about it. We live in a clean, well-kept environment where the thought of germs is far away, unaware of our lucky escape from the clutches of bubonic plague and cholera.

Both are still around of course. Cholera ready to break out wherever flooding contaminates drinking water. And the plague still lurking in Madagascar, where 2,348 case were confirmed just last November – a mere 13½-hour hop away by Boeing.

Out of sight, out of mind

Our thoughts might be far away, but germs aren’t. Viruses, bacteria and fungi are part of our daily life and all around us. We’re even half bacteria ourselves, microorganisms in our gut helping us digest food, create proteins and even manage our immune systems.

So we take chances. Every day dicing with death without even knowing we’re doing it.

We KNOW about germs and how dangerous they are. But because we feel safe, we don’t think about them. So every day we put our lives at risk, as surely as back in Victorian times.

At work we’re careless, heads full of business, too busy to worry about hygiene. Which is why we take no notice that our workplace is teeming with health hazards.

Our personal attitudes aren’t much better. We might have a bath more than once a year, but you’d never think so from the research on our hygiene levels.

Bubonic plague and cholera haven’t gone away, they’re just held back by massive hygiene defence systems.

Even so, from our own behaviour, there’s nothing to stop us from coming down with tummy bugs like norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter and e.coli. Or respiratory illnesses like Aussie flu, MERS, SARS, TB or pneumonia. Any one of which could be the death of us, if modern medicine wasn’t there to catch when we fall.

Makes you think twice about keeping ourselves clean, doesn’t it?

Two thirds of health?

It never feels like it, but forgetting to wash our hands is just as deadly as playing Russian roulette.

May you live long and happy.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.