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.
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.
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.
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?