Tag Archives: Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease

How to eat nothing and still catch food poisoning

Disagreeing woman
It’s not just what you eat – it’s everything you touch as well

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.

Why me?

And now out of nowhere comes the cramps and the vomiting. Some kind of gastro, probably norovirus.

Weird though.

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?

Probably.

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.

Invisible killers

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.

Sloppy hygiene

Fact is, our hygiene habits are so sloppy, it’s a wonder we’re not sick more of the time.

Which straight away shows how easily food poisoning happens.

And how easy it is to avoid.

Wash Hands LogoWash 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.

Originally posted 2015-09-29 13:44:16.

You’re actually suing the cruise line for norovirus? Seriously?

Doubtful doctor
Norovirus? Most of us are so careless, we give it to ourselves

You might just want to re-think that.

Because you know it’s a virus, don’t you?

Like a common cold – and just as easy to catch. Just as common too.

You even catch it the same way. No, not by breathing – by contact.

Spread by touch

Not necessarily from someone who’s got it either. But by touching anything with germs on it that might give it to you.

Like door handles, hand rails, ATM keypads, mobiles, vending machines, PDQ card machines, access panels, serving tongs, self-service coffee flasks, turnstiles, keys, light switches, pens, shopping baskets, clothing racks, jewellery trays, salt & pepper shakers, menus, table mats, audio guides, poker chips, playing cards, billiard cues, bowling balls… you get the picture.

All fomites – the things we touch, that other people touch, that transmit germs. And our faces too – like 3,000 times a day.

Uh, huh. So it’s on your hands, right?

And when did you last wash your hands before getting on the boat?

So that you washed off whatever might have contaminated you before you touched your eyes, your nose or your mouth – the usual way that germs enter your body.

Or after using the loo?

Uncomfortable facts

Because 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Is that you?

And even if you did, 95% of people don’t wash their hands properly.

Is that you too?

How about that only 12% of people wash their hands before eating?

If you can honestly say that you washed you hands after touching all of these things – and after going to the loo – as well as before you ate anything – you might just have a case.

But we don’t just mean before you boarded the ship. We mean EVER.

Because norovirus takes anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to show itself.

So unless you can guarantee that you washed your hands before you ate anything, or touched your face for the two days before you got on the boat – AND kept them washed while you were on board – AND made sure they were washed during your shore excursions – you’re telling porkies.

Who’s really to blame

Sure it’s not nice when the cruise you paid all that money for is cut short with norovirus. But that’s not necessarily the cruise line’s fault – in fact it seldom is. Wash Hands Logo

You got it, most cases of norovirus are caused by the victims themselves. That’s why we call it the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – and if anyone should take blame, it’s the person in the mirror.

We’re all too slap-happy, aren’t we? All too used to this casual lifestyle that allows us to get away with pretty well anything – including liberties with our health.

We could avoid the common cold too, if we washed our hands more often. OK, we could get sneezed at, but that’s not how most of us catch it. So we pay for our dirty hands with germy misery.

Lengthening the odds

Which means if you’re suing the cruise line, that it’s not just you that has to take precautions against norovirus. It’s your 1,350 fellow passengers as well – double that, if you’re on one of the big jobs.

1,350 people who can genuinely promise that they washed their hands carefully at the right times for the two days before embarking – and the whole duration that you were on the water.

You’re all together, see? Literally in the same boat – lots and lots of you sharing the same enclosed space, almost on top of each other – in close contact for weeks, or even months. A travelling hygiene hotspot if ever there was one.

Which makes it amazing that cruise lines are so successful at keeping illnesses away as much as they do. Out of hundreds of cruises every year, carrying upwards of 20 million passengers, only a handful run into norovirus or other illnesses – less than 1%.

Meanwhile, back here in UK, we’re still waiting for the sun to shine.

Atishoo!

You still sure you want to sue those guys?

Originally posted 2015-06-19 11:34:26.

Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease ships into So’ton

Sad sailor
Cheer up, this is a cruise –
you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself

They know this bug in Southampton.

Seems every few weeks there’s another cruise ship in to be deep-cleaned and fumigated – another hospital ward closed and out of action.

This time it’s Fred Olsen’s flagship Balmoral again, back less than a month after the last norovirus hit. A setback this fine Norwegian cruise line does not deserve – especially when it looks like a passenger brought it on board with them.

No cure, no warning

But that’s the thing with norovirus – the complete lack of warning. Today you’re right as rain, 48 hours later you’re as sick as a dog.

That poor passenger walked up the gangplank, all fine and dandy – to be struck down with cramps and endless hours on the hopper. And endless more, driving the bus.

Not fair.

Er, almost. At least it’s not the cruise line’s fault.

But that’s the other thing about norovirus. Most of the time we bring it on ourselves.

Oh yes, we do.

Because without a doubt, the biggest cause of norovirus is not washing our hands – which almost all of us forget to do when we’re having fun. Or avoid.

Not a wise mistake to make. Norovirus is easily spread and highly contagious. The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

All those things you touch

You pick it up slamming a taxi door – next moment you’re wolfing a chicken and bacon baguette between meetings and – boom! You didn’t wash your hands, did you? You swallowed the germs. Two days time and you’re hurling your guts out.

Maybe not even a taxi. Between us we have scary bad habits.

So it’s not IF you get norovirus, but WHEN.Wash Hands Logo

Unless you wash your hands – get rid of the germs that surround you every day whenever you can. Otherwise, you get on a cruise ship and it goes round like wildfire.

Well of course it does – there’s thousands of you all living close next-door to each other, sharing the same bathrooms, eating in the same space. It’s a wonder they ever stop it at all.

Unlucky for some

And just occasionally they don’t – like on this latest cruise with the Balmoral.

They could have been unlucky though, as happened to Holland America Line’s Amsterdam, back in 2002. The stuff lingers, you see – can survive on all kinds of surfaces for weeks. And cruise ships are usually turned round in just days – they can’t afford myths.

Four times, one after the other, Amsterdam set out on a new cruise – and four times, one after the other, norovirus made her turn back, hardly into the voyage. There are so many nooks and crevices on a cruise liner, even deep cleaning may not get all of the bug out – they even had to scrub individual poker chips in the casino!

A more effective way

Easier to use Hypersterilisers – a whole batch of them ganged together can do the ship overnight.

They work on ionised hydrogen peroxide, see. Negatively-charged microscopic molecules all repelling each other, forcing themselves into the tightest, smallest, most out-of-the-way places, trying to escape each other.

Riding up into the air too – and hard up against every surface. Underneath and behind too. Actively dispersing like no ordinary disinfectant spray ever can – a supercharged gas plasma grabbing at positively charged viruses and bacteria it meets on the way and oxidising them to destruction.

All viruses, all bacteria – norovirus too. And Ebola, if you’re cruising West Africa.

And safe too – reverting back to just oxygen and water when it’s done. No need for masks like they had to wear on Balmoral – though it can catch your throat when it’s working, so best to stay away for the odd hour.

No smell either – no chemical after-pong or nothing.

A good thing too. Smell is a good give-away that germs are still working – the easy way to tell that food is off. It’s why the loo pongs too – if it’s not clean.

But with hydrogen peroxide, you get zut. Sweet nothing at all.

No norovirus either. All ship-shape and shiny fresh.

Enjoy your trip.

Originally posted 2015-06-18 17:35:08.

PM’s pandemic hit squad forgets prevention need

Skeptical woman
Pretty impressive – but a bit like bolting the stable door after the horse has scarpered

Nice one, Dave.

Yes, the next pandemic is going to be worse than Ebola, and probably some kind of flu-based virus.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is a good candidate – already running amok in South Korea after an opening zoonotic hop from camels in Saudi Arabia.

The plague is coming

But we can’t wash our hands of the fact that these hit squads medics won’t stop pandemic pandemonium – fantastic and state-of-the-art though they might be.

The clue is “wash hands” – and we’re none of us very good at it.Wash Hands Logo

But that’s exactly how any new virus is most likely to accelerate into a pandemic. Through sloppy hygiene and poor standards of personal cleanliness.

Direct contact is how Ebola did it – touching victims out of care and love – or contamination from their bodily fluids.

And yes, you’re right Prime Minister – if the next super-bogey is flu-based, it’s likely to be airborne. “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases” territory – spiralling out of the air around us, just waiting to be breathed in.

Sloppy hygiene

And yes, it’s going to be seriously bad – until we get our hand-washing act together. Plus defend our environment against airborne invaders.

Fact: 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly. Five seconds shaking them under the tap won’t stop any self-respecting coronavirus.

A lot of us are also super-yuckists – because Fact: 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands at all after going to the loo. (Tweet this)

Five minutes later, they might be eating. Or scribbling notes while they’re on the phone. The germs from their bum are on their food – or on the pen they’re chewing while they think. Usually they wind up with norovirus, the usual Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

But pandemic pandemonium is more serious, right?

Self-infecting

Which is why we’ll need the hit squads, Mr PM sir – these super-yuckists are sending a message direct to germ headquarters – INFECT ME NOW. When your super-virus actually hits, we’ll be going down like flies all over.

Because – Fact again – most of us touch our faces 3,000 times a day – most germs’ favourite way into the body, through the soft tissue openings of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Our own stupid carelessness, not so? Actually sitting up and asking for illness because we’re too lazy or forgetful to take the right precautions.

Because you watch, when the panic starts stampeding us, how many will there be running round with surgical facemasks, completely neglecting that our hands have traces of poo all over them? Suddenly, our Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease has notched itself up to a whole new level.

Cruise ship virus

Yup, Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – a.k.a. norovirus.

That’s the one that keeps popping up on cruise ships – a bad place to have a virus going round. Lots of people living close together, sharing the same food and hygiene facilities, in direct contact with each other and breathing each other’s air.

No wonder it spreads like wild-fire.Rediscover Hygiene logo

Which is what our new super-virus is likely to do too, because that’s exactly how we live day-to-day, isn’t it? Particularly in the colder countries – indoors in the central heating, sharing the same space – at the office, wherever we eat, on buses and trains, in schools, sitting together watching a show.

All those unwashed hands, applauding together – what kind of chance do we have?

Double defence

Actually, better than we might think. Because though we might be at hazard all clustered together by our lifestyle, we can sterilise these communal spaces before we enter them. Ensuring all viruses and bacteria are gone before we set foot in the place.

Conventional cleaning and disinfecting though, is not going to crack it. We can rub and scrub all we like, treating surfaces is not good enough, we’re expecting an airborne virus, remember? And normal procedures do not touch the air, even though it’s 80% of our enclosed living space.

To do the whole lot, we need a Hypersteriliser – about the size of a small wheelie-bin – the one sure way to destroy all viruses and bacteria in any room space completely.

This clever gadget works by misting up the entire room with ionised hydrogen peroxide. This causes the mist molecules to repel each other – driving them as far away as possible, hard up against walls, ceiling, floor and everything in the room – and of course, deep into any cracks and crevices.

At the same time, those charged particles actively reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria, attracted by the same magnetic charge. On contact, oxygen atoms, hydroxyl radicals and even ozone is released, oxidising all germs to destruction – on surfaces; under, over and behind things; and everywhere throughout the air.

High-level hygiene saves us all

Together with careful and consistent hand-washing, these two defences should keep us safe from pretty well any harmful pathogens, the super-virus as well . Fewer of us to catch the bug – less of a pandemic – more like isolated outbreaks, a more controllable size for the PM’s hit squads to handle.

A real pandemic of course, would swamp them entirely. So it’s up to us to make sure we’re properly protected – prevention being better than cure. Thanks, Prime Minister, we’ll take it from here.

Yup, you guessed it – it’s wash-your-hands time.

Originally posted 2015-06-08 14:11:55.

Hand wash ritual to save us all from vomiting bug

Girl showing hands
Super clean, before every meal – super healthy, every day

Know that expression, “if you can’t beat them, join them”?

Applied to the awkward fact that 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly after going to the loo, we don’t like the way it’s looking at us.

Especially when that kind of carelessness brings so many of us down with the vomiting bug, norovirus – aka Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

So our suggestion is to turn it around – “if you can’t join them, beat them.”

Reverse psychology

Because frankly, there’s no way we’re going to risk our health out of aversion to a little soap and water. Not if it means stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea – where’s the sense in that?

And it makes least sense of all when we go out for a meal.

A special moment, special food, special friends – suddenly cut short by the awful vomiting bug.

Except it’s our fault, isn’t it?

Grubby paws

When was the last time we washed our hands before we sat down? And all that yuck on them from the loo two hours ago? Small wonder that our tummies go heave-ho as the first mouthfuls go down.

Nicely contaminated by our grubby fingers – they don’t look it, but they are – covered in norovirus or salmonella, too small to see so we kid ourselves that they’re clean anyway.

Next stop, A&E to have our stomachs pumped out.

Or not.

Blame the restaurant

Because no restaurant wants a bad rep for food poisoning when the real cause is so often customers with dirty hands.

So if you can’t join them, beat them, make a ritual out of it – a special hand washing ceremony before anybody eats.

Far-fetched?

Not a bit of it. In some restaurants, it’s already the practice to provide finger bowls – a ritual by themselves. So the idea of washing your hands at table is not so foreign.

And though it’s unusual, they’re not so crazy in popular restaurants either – nobody minds the focus on hygiene, it’s just unexpected.

Which leaves plenty of scope to take it a lot further – if nothing else, people will like it for the novelty.

And though it’s really a serious thing, you can even make it fun. (Thanks again, Northampton General Hospital!)

Halfway there already

On some airlines already, a sealed courtesy-wipe is provided to do hands and face with a meal. Biz-class and above do the same with hot towels.

And in the more exotic Turkish restaurants, part of the whole character is a huge copper basin with hot water brought to the table – and a copper jug to pour water over guests’ hands in a welcoming ritual.

Add scented soap and complimentary towels, and you have a whole hygiene procedure. A restaurant with unique, memorable character too.

Seems other countries have a better take on hygiene than we do. Go to Malaysia, and you’ve got to try “street food” – real, intricate, restaurant quality meals served out in the open, at the roadside.

Scrumptious yes, with your crockery and cutlery brought straight to your table in a basin of boiling water. Haul out your handy tube of gel that you carry always, and your hands are just as safe and sterilised.

A new ritual

Which is why we’re suggesting that a ritual is the thing. We’re already halfway there with the ritual of the phone. Look around you next time you’re out. Everyone on other tables always starts with Facebook or Twitter or something.

OK, so do the same with the gel. Haul it out, pass it round. Make it a feature of being out together. Everyone will know it’s good and hygienic, so there won’t be many refusals.

And if anybody asks why, simply say that nobody’s going to catch Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease if you can help it – not on your watch.

Which is why you do it at home too. These days, folks tend to sit round the TV more than the dinner table. But it’s the easiest thing in the world to pass the gel around.

Habit forming

Before you know it, a quick squidge before eating becomes everyone’s habit – and Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease becomes a rarity more than the norm.

Easy-peasy, huh?

Didn’t know staying healthy could be so simple?

Sure beats being ill when you don’t have to be.

Originally posted 2015-05-20 13:56:09.

Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease strikes again

Hazmat researcher
It could make you hurl, or it could kill you – not worth the risk of not washing your hands

Another cruise ship?

A holiday Boeing crammed with used air-sick bags?

Unkindest of all, this time it’s the Royal Navy – 70 of our finest youngsters struck down with norovirus at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall. Been going for ten days too, difficult to get rid off.

Which means it’s serious. Because when the Navy deal with medical issues, they do it properly. Isolate the victims, blitz their quarters with disinfectant, restrict all contact.

The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease

But that’s norovirus for you. Or the vomiting winter bug, whatever you want to call it.

More accurately, the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Because that’s the biggest cause. And the surest way it spreads. From unwashed hands.

Highly contagious and at home on the perfect environment of our slightly moist hands at a pleasant 37 degrees Celsius – a guaranteed outbreak every time, simply because our personal hygiene is dangerously slapdash.

Oh yes, it is.

A staggering percentage of us NEVER wash our hands after going to the loo. 68% of men, 40% of women.

Even more shocking, NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of us don’t wash our hands properly. A six second rinse under the tap and we reckon we’re done.

Actually worse than useless.

Because though we let germs thrive on our hands by not washing them, WET hands amplify the risk. And there’s nothing like a pair of warm, wet hands for germs to increase and multiply.

Self-destruct reflex?

What’s wrong with us,? Do we have a death wish?

It’s not just that we don’t wash our hands. We then go right ahead and use those same hands to eat with. Transferring the germs onto our food – and then deliberately ingesting it.

Not just norovirus either. It could be whatever our hands have come in contact with. Salmonella, campylobacter, c. difficile, e. coli – any one of which could kill us for our carelessness.

Or if not kill, be very unpleasant. A nasty 6 hours in the barf-room, cramps like you can’t believe, the never-ending runs, and headache from dehydration. Two or three days of the end of the world with your bum on fire all the time.

And we actually WANT this?

We already half-know that norovirus is behind around 50% of all tummy bugs – and we still don’t wash our hands.

We’re even in denial – a lot of the time blaming the cause of our sudden sickness on something else. Exactly why we call it the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Everyday risk-takers

Take any visit to a restaurant – posh nosh or fast food, it makes no difference.

Just to stay open any of those places has to satisfy pretty strict hygiene laws. They get inspected too. Anything wrong and the place gets shut down.

Which means that in most food places, all of the professionals running it are unlikely to take chances. The kitchen will be meticulously clean and the staff will wash their hands regularly. So will the serving staff, with the maître d’ watching them like a hawk.

Quite possibly the place is sterilised every night too – with one of those Hypersteriliser jobbies. Every day when they open for business, it’s totally germ-free. No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

It’s the diners who don’t wash their hands. The eaters.

Straight in off the street and sitting down at the table with never a thought of hygiene.

With hands that maybe haven’t been washed for hours. Strap-hanging in the tube, pawing escalator hand-rails, in and out of the loo, shaking hands with others doing exactly the same thing.

Which means it isn’t necessarily the pâté de foie gras that’s off. It’s the germs from the breadstick clutched by the grubby paw of the big deal who rocked up by taxi and demanded the table with the best view.

Self-infected – with Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease. How stupid is that? (Tweet this)

The blame game

And then of course, it’s bad-mouthing the restaurant which had nothing to do with it. One accusing finger pointing – and another three pointing back.

But it could be any of us. Because when was the last time you washed your hands in a restaurant before eating? And in a fast food joint?

No, it’s not a joke. In fact chowing down a take-away burger is even more of a risk, because what else are you touching while you do it?

Over-reacting? Don’t count on it.

These days if you come down with anything serious, they’ll bung you on antibiotics.

Only, in case you haven’t heard, the Docs are getting shy of doing that because the bugs have developed resistance – they don’t work any more.

Back to the Dark Ages before antibiotics were invented. All you need is for your norovirus to develop complications, and you’re on a one-way ticket to oblivion.

Life and death

Not worth it for a little soap and water, hey?

Or some of that disinfecting gel, if you can’t get to a bathroom.

Nobody’s going to laugh if you sit at the table and treat your hands. And it works better than those hot towels the posh places offer – safer too.

Your choice.

It might seem like nothing, but it’s actually life and death.

Originally posted 2015-05-18 12:26:12.

Why cultures that eat with their hands are more germ-safe than we are

Indian family eating
More to savour, more to enjoy – and ALWAYS washing hands before anything

Germ-safe and healthy, despite what you might think.

Because whenever did you hear of a norovirus outbreak in India? Or Morocco? Or Thailand? Or Indonesia?

Not very often, right?

Not that it doesn’t happen.

Delhi belly is a world famous killjoy. But not always caused by overpowering curry.

More frequently, it’s accepted as as a lapse in ritual.

Hand hygiene is a way of life

Because the unbreakable etiquette in all countries that eat food with their fingers is – to always wash your hands first.

Not exactly what we do is it?

Though our whole lifestyle often involves eating with our fingers – sandwiches, wraps, pizza, burgers – hardly ever do we remember to wash our hands at all. Always assuming we can find a place to wash them in the first place.

It’s not in our culture, it’s not in our lifestyle.

And thanks to messy eating options like Nando’s or Sticky Fingers, we even get it backwards. That hand basin in the middle of the restaurant is for after, not before. Sticky fingers, smeary mouth. Right in front of everybody.

Weird.

Which shows just how iffy our knife and fork thinking is.

How can they be safer to eat with, or keep germs away, when our hands might have gone a whole day without washing? Office, bus, taxi, tube – plenty of places to pick up bugs. And pick them up off the fork into our mouths as we eat.

Respect your body’s temple

In Muslim countries, wudu or washing hands is pious ritual, far more than hygienic necessity. Being clean of body and mind is essential in all things about life. Hindus call it abhisheka . Among Jews it is netilat yadayim. All of them remove germs.Ritual washing

Not so ourselves, with our cruise-ship virus, our Don’t-Wash-Hands-Disease, our norovirus.

Beyond good, basic hygiene there is nothing in our culture to require us to wash our hands before meals – or at any other time. Hard statistics bear this out:

Unthinkable in cultures that eat with their hands. Probably even sacrilegious. Which when you reflect on the philosophy of My Body is a Temple makes a whole lot of sense.

Much better than writhing in agony with tummy cramps, violent vomiting and unbearable dairrhoea.

And look at the feel-good  people get from eating with their fingers. All senses working together to enjoy – seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing the sounds inside your mouth reminding you this is fun.

Wash our hands and we can have fun too.

Without the all-too-often queasy feeling that all is not well.

Enjoy!

Picture Copyright: Copyright: szefei / 123RF Stock Photo and alefbet / 123RF Stock Photo

Which gift will be yours: cramps, runs or barfs?

Santa doctor
Nobody wants to be ill at this time of year – wash your hands and you should be fine

Yay, festive season!

Jollies and super-grub. Ripping into gift-wrap and cramming our faces. May it all be wonderful and great for every one of you.

It isn’t always though, is it?

Not so nice

Because those tummy rumblings are not always from over-eating. Yup, from Noel to norovirus in just hours. The twelve days of cramps and misery – and all we want to do is die. What evil-minded soul lucked this onto us?

Actually, probably ourselves.

The odds on it being proper food poisoning are pretty remote. Both at home or in a restaurant, most food is prepared and cooked properly enough so that germs are eliminated. Though yeah, norovirus is highly contagious – and yeah, it’s probably from something we’ve eaten.

Except our own fingers put it there.

That’s the trouble with this dratted tummy bug. Most of the time it’s undoubtedly self-inflicted – a reality we tend to avoid, except it’s true – because norovirus is the undisputed No 1 Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Because our hands touch everything, right? And most of the time we think they’re clean because they look it, so it never occurs to us to wash them.

The invisible nasty

Not good when norovirus is so small it’s only 2 – 5 microns across. You couldn’t see that, even with a magnifying glass.

But it’s so easily there – picked up from high-contact locations like door handles, light switches, grab handles and keypads. And when you come down to it, when WAS the last time you washed your hands? Some time after breakfast? When you went to the loo?

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t remember, a shocking lot of us forget altogether. Would you believe that most of us never think of it after going to the loo – and pretty well all of us never wash before eating?

Now how about the things you touch that NEVER get washed, or never seem to – grab-rails on buses and trains, escalator handrails, just about anything walking down the street – even the inside of your own gloves.

Oops! But our hands don’t LOOK dirty, so we take a chance without knowing it. And the norovirus transfers when we touch our face – which we do 3 or 4 times a minute without thinking – or when we grab a pretzel, piece of stollen or turkey drumstick.

Don’t want the bug – or the cramps? Wash your hands whenever you think of it and you’ll probably be OK.

Second nasty

A word of caution though, about the turkey drumstick.

Gnawing on it at table is probably OK – but turkey needs care in preparation, like any poultry.

That’s because most birds are naturally colonised with a bacterium called campylobacter. It’s harmless to them, but to us humans it’s a villainous carbon copy of norovirus – brings on the cramps, the vomiting and the diarrhoea – exactly what none of us need in the festive season.

Fortunately campylobacter is destroyed by cooking. When that bird is a delicious golden brown, all trace of the bug is gone.

There is a but. Which is that it spreads easily from uncooked meat, so that knives, chopping boards, plates – and of course hands – are easily contaminated during preparation. Wash everything thoroughly and the problem goes away.

Seasons greetings!

So now you’re safe. All set to enjoy every second of the celebrations.

We wish you a very happy and pleasant time – and all the very best for the coming New Year.

With any luck, somebody will give you a nice-smelling soap as a thoughtful reminder.

Go well, and don’t over-eat!

How using your phone on the loo could cost your job

Girl phoning on loo
You don’t want to know what could be on your phone

Look away now if you gross out easy – this one’s not for the squeamish.

Though you might squeam loud when you realise the consequences.

You see, your phone’s got poo on it. Dinkum.

Some researchers reckon it’s not every phone, it’s only one in six.

Yeah, right.

You’re sitting on the hopper, you get stuff on your hands – impossible not to. And your phone’s in your hands, so it’s got poo on it. A no brainer.

Forgotten hygiene habits

So maybe you’re one of that amazing minority who does actually wash your hands after going to the loo. Most people don’t, in fact they’re real chance-takers.

Uh huh. Even celebs like Jennifer Lawrence fess up that she doesn’t wash after taking a dump. She denies it now, but we all tell those kind of porkies, don’t we?

But let’s get real now, who in the world washes their phone?

Nobody, right? Water and phone batteries don’t get on.

But even if you did wash it, the stuff comes straight back onto your fingers next time you use the thing. And keeps transferring to everything you touch afterwards.

The stuff on your desk? The lift buttons, light switches, door handles and all? 10 million germs on it according to research.

And how do you think the stuff got there?

Your job on the line

OK, so totally gross – what’s this got to do with losing your job? ‘Elf & Safety poo police going to get you fired or what?

A lot worse than that.

Because with stuff on your hands and your desk and your phone, it’s inevitable you’re going to transfer some to other people – the people you work alongside, your colleagues.

And as you’ve probably experienced yourself many times in this life, Sod’s Law always applies.

So while most of the time nothing happens with all this stuff on your hands – just when you don’t want it to, things go pear-shaped. Like the faeces literally hit the propeller.

Most likely calamity choice? Norovirus – the most common cause of gastroenteritis world-wide. A.k.a. gastric flu or food poisoning – or as regulars of this blog already recognise, the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Translate that as severe cramps, projectile vomiting, violent diarrhoea and days of on-going misery. Strikes in as little as twenty minutes, twelve hospitals in Scotland already smitten with it, 3 million cases annually and around 80 deaths.

The UK’s top sickie

Yeah, a major player. Get norovirus in the office and it goes round like wildfire – seen what it does to cruise ships? But at least they’re ready for it – with doctors, nurses and a whole crew standing by with disinfectant sprays and the works. Back home, all anyone’s got in the office is Band-Aid strips.

OK, so you’re playing with fire. And with poo on your hands, sooner or later something WILL happen.

Like when that make-or-break project comes in, and it’s all hands to the pump. Concentrated 24/7 to get it done. The one critical shot at fame and fortune – or the company goes to the wall.

Think it can’t happen? Ace consultants Pricewaterhouse Cooper put the cost of sickness absence in the UK at £29 billion annually. Top accountant gurus Sage put it at three times that, topping £100 billion. Plenty of companies better than yours go bang against money like that.

Facing reality

So how’s it going, with everyone at home, groaning and clutching their gut? Networked on the laptop, sitting on the loo, nobody’s brain more than mush for longer than five minutes – what chance do any of you have?

Yeah, the writing’s on the wall. Take chances and there might not BE a company left to work for.

So them’s your marching orders.

Don’t take your phone to the loo and ALWAYS wash your hands. Wipe the phone regularly with antiseptic wipes – and everything on your desk too.

If we’ve made you paranoid – and with so many germs hazards around it’s difficult not to be – you can even sterilise your office nightly with a Hypersteriliser. Germs oxidised to zero by ionised hydrogen peroxide – all surfaces and the air itself – the whole place, safe and secure.

Anyway, who wants to talk in the loo? Whoever’s in the stall next to you starts blabbing and it’s all over town, like a virus of its own.

Better to keep schtum – and hold your job.