Tag Archives: flu

Obesity and superbugs: our desperate denial of lethal antibiotic trigger

Girl blocks ears
We don’t want to hear – because who wants to know our glittering heroes are actually merciless serial killers?

Desperate because we don’t want to know. Denial because it involves antibiotics, our miracle life-saving drugs for the last 50 years.

Obesity and superbugs – caused by antibiotics?

Impossible!

Because antibiotics save lives, right? Brings us back from the jaws of death. Fix every little ailment whenever we run to the Doc. Turn us into invincible Twenty-First Century living beings. No illness is ever going to get us.

As if.

No longer the angels’ touch

The sad thing is, top medics are already know otherwise and are getting worried. Desperate even.

They’ve already made the connection with superbugs – antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cannot be treated. Unstoppable diseases already immune to our most high-powered drugs of last resort.

Check it out – both supposedly last-ditch fail-safes colistin and carbapenem  are starting to conk as bacteria get wise to them, mostly from over-exposure in the agricultural sector. There’s nothing more in the cupboard.

Fall ill from a simple paper cut now and it’s already possible that no medicine on Earth may be able to save us. Which means keep on with the Harry Casual, happy-go-lucky lifestyles we’ve become used to – and we’re all goners.

Yeah, so superbugs. MRSA, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae and that lot.

Without antibiotics they wouldn’t exist – which means our best-ever, triple-whammy, cure-all drugs are increasingly useless. Or more realistically, they don’t give us any protection when we rely on them. We expect them to save us, help, help!

Fat chance.

Battle of the bulge

Which brings us to the obesity disaster. More desperate than ever.

Yeah maybe, just maybe, medics are starting to recognise that antibiotics MAY  be influential in causing obesity – particularly in children.

Meanwhile, it’s an inescapable fact that antibiotics have been shovelled into farm livestock in industrial quantities over the last 50 years – BECAUSE THEY STIMULATE AND ACCELERATE GROWTH.

In other words, they make them fat. Antibiotics are the Number One growth booster in food production all round the world.

OK, so remember all those scares about how food has got unhealthy preservatives, colourisers, stabilisers, flavour enhancers, too much sugar, too much salt, and all manner of bad things in them?

Pick up whatever you like off the supermarket shelf, modern foods are all laced through and through with antibiotics.

Uh huh. Every meal you eat, every mouthful, contains a sub-therapeutic dose of antibiotics in it – exactly the same growth boosters, administered in exactly the same way, as farm animals being fattened for market.

And we wonder how it is that two-thirds of our adult population are overweight or obese – and accelerating! Desperate de luxe.

Better, back in the day

Worse, we keep kidding ourselves that it’s from not enough exercise, too much junk food or other such rubbish – when all the while, we’re dosed to the gills with the world’s Number One growth booster.

Yes, rubbish. Back in the 50s and 60s, people platzed in front of the TV just as much as they do now – they weren’t stupid, it was cold out there.

They didn’t exercise either – gyms were for weight-lifting freaks, jogging hadn’t been invented and pilates classes weren’t even heard of.

Nor was diet much better. Where do you think our traditions of fish and chips, pies, or the Great British Fry-up all came from? Yeah, it was the War and desperate days of rationing and powdered eggs. But they had burgers and Coke too – just ask your grand-folks about Wimpy, the mooching greedy-guts from the Popeye cartoons.

But THEY WEREN’T FAT.

THEY didn’t chow antibiotics with every meal.

THEY didn’t eat the growth boosters because back then they didn’t exist.

But yeah, they had killer illnesses. Like TB, polio, pneumonia and flu – which in 1918 killed more people in six months than in both World Wars.

Just getting started – the slo-mo pandemic

A drop in the ocean today. Because THEY didn’t face the long-term misery of obesity and all the desperate complications – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, limb amputation.

Desperation stakes for sure – because ALL of us face them.

ALL of us ingest antibiotics in some form or other – a long-term phenomenon in meat, diary, vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, cereals, grains, you name it – right across the food chain.

Except we’re all going to deny it to ourselves.

Our mind-set can’t accept it. Antibiotics are good – they save lives, they keep people healthy.

If only.

Because reality is, for all the good they appear to do, antibiotics are bad – they kill us slowly, they trigger illnesses we never had.

OK, so how many of us are going to die before we decide to get real?

Picture Copyright: vgstudio / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-08-31 14:07:37.

Should your boss penalise you if you bring a cold to work?

Sceptical lady
Good hygiene is good business – and shows on the balance sheet

Yes, penalise.

You’re not off from work, so you can’t claim sick leave.

But since you’ve dragged yourself in, what are the implications?

Never mind that you feel like grim death. You shouldn’t be showing yourself at all.

Sneezing all over the place, all round your desk littered with tissues – could be that penalising you is right.

Most obvious of course is, you’ll give your germs to everyone else.

So it’s not just you under-performing, it’s the whole office. Not good.

Especially on the boss’s calculator.

Do the math

Start with efficiency and productivity.

You might be at your desk, but is your job getting done? Your head’s like boiled knitting, so how good are the decisions you take? Are you really on the ball, or a blundering loose cannon –colleagues chasing after you for damage control?

All by yourself you could be costing a bomb.

For instance, if you get things wrong, they have to be done again – paying for the same thing twice.

And how about if they’re at the negotiation stage, or subject to a time crunch? Business lost altogether, more red ink on the balance sheet.

And when everybody else comes down with what you’ve got, what then? Two, three days at the wrong time and the place could go bankrupt.

At least if you stay away, the boss is only paying for your empty desk. And staff absences are probably already factored in – part of the cost of doing business, a staggering £29 billion a year for the whole country.

Which means you owe it to yourself and your work mates to steer clear of the place if you’re not well. Your work ethic is admirable, but more liability than asset.

Or if your conscience is troubling you, you’re probably in the wrong job anyway.

Where from the guilt-trip of having to work extra hours and weekends or when you’re feeling sick? If the work can’t be done in the proper time allowed, there’s something wrong with the management.

A business partnership

OK, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

So here’s a poser for you.

Shouldn’t the boss penalise you for allowing yourself to get sick in the first place?

Colds, flu, tummy bugs and a lot of others are all mostly self-caused.

Oh yes, they are. Just think about how they’re spread.

Mostly by contact, right? Either direct touching, or from fomites – common objects that all of us handle – light switches, door handles, keypads, documents, phones, money, keys.

Which makes hand washing the single most effective way to prevent the spread of your cold or flu, or whatever it is you’ve got – hopefully not norovirus, that’s the pits for everyone.

Yeah, so why don’t we do it?

Because if the boss made 1p from every time staff forgot to wash their hands, there’d be enough for everyone to do a company jaunt to Venice all expenses paid – flights, two nights in a hotel, dinner–dance, special concert and guided sight-seeing – at least once, or maybe twice a year.

Think we’re joking?

Get the picture? We are our own worst enemies at making ourselves sick.

So why shouldn’t the boss DEMAND that all staff wash their hands whenever appropriate – or be penalised?

Payback time

Yeah, well like we said, there’s two sides to every relationship, including business ones.

Because while the boss is jumping up and down, saying “wash your hands” – you’ve got the goods on her with how dirty the place is. Dirty and germ-laden.

So no sooner have you washed your hands than they’re contaminated again – from all the day-to-day filth and detritus gathered throughout the office and on everyone’s desk.

Despite an every day swamp out by cleaning teams, most office desks still harbour around 10 million pathogenic bacteria – in the dust bunnies under and behind keyboards – and the hard-to-reach places that never get touched.

That next attack of norovirus could come from no further away than the latest memo in your IN-tray.

Uh, huh.

So don’t staff and management owe it to each other to get this right?

Germs at work are unproductive, unprofitable and no good for anybody.

Which means staff owe it to themselves and everyone else to wash their hands regularly – always after the loo and always before food as the very minimum discipline.

To maintain momentum, management can also put hand-wipes or gel on every desk, every day, so there’s never a time anyone’s hands should stay contaminated.

At the same time, management owe it to staff and the balance sheet to eliminate germs in the workplace. Easily accomplished by a nightly mist-up with a Hypersteriliser – sterilising the whole place and destroying germs on and behind surfaces, in the air, everywhere – all in one go.

Nobody penalises anyone, everybody wins.

Easy to keep justifying the Venice trip too – check the profit figures and decreased downtimes.

See what we mean?

Picture Copyright: devas / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-13 13:28:23.

Vital wake-up call behind this year’s flu-jab flop

Ready for injection
So what’s our Plan B when the medicines don’t work?

It’s not just vital, it’s absolutely crucial. A just-in-time reminder that both viruses and bacteria are living things, exactly like us.

More to the point, they are the most successful life-forms on the planet since the dawn of time. Survivors that adapt and change to suit conditions around them. Mutating to something entirely new in just minutes

Anatomy of a disaster

Which is why the flu-jab went wrong.

Every year, the most dangerous and virulent flu viruses mutate into a new strain. Every year, medical experts develop a new vaccine to clobber them. A moving target, because the viruses keep mutating all the time. So researchers have to predict which way they will develop before they actually do. Then work like mad to produce an effective serum before the opportunity passes.

Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t. The viruses zig when they were expected to zag – sending that year’s protection plans down the drain.

Guess and super-guess

Which is what happened this winter. The A(H3N2) flu strain used to make the vaccine became sidelined when the main H3 virus developed in another direction. Result, 28,189 more deaths than the previous year – and a whole witch hunt about who is responsible and why.

Except nobody’s learning, are they?

Nobody is heeding the vital message – that viruses and bacteria mutate. That no matter how damn good we think we are, these small organisms – too tiny for the eye to see – can and will mutate into new forms impervious to whatever we throw at them.

Immune to antibiotics, immune to vaccines, immune to anything any health spokesperson might say, no matter how good they look on television.

Smart bugs

Time get real.

Because it’s not just the flu-jab that’s failed, it’s a lot of other meds besides. That have failed, or are going to fail, however we try to second-guess them.

Already there’s a whole slew of antibiotics that don’t work – vital drugs that could once save our lives from anything – now not even worth their weight in second-hand toffee paper.

For instance penicillin, the original wonder cure, was discovered in 1928, but resistant staph started emerging in 1940. Same story with erythromycin, launched in 1953 – with resistant strep occurring in 1968. Or methicillin, launched in 1960 with the dreaded tyrannosaurus rex MRSA rearing its head from 1962.

Bacteria have plenty of time, they can wait.

Which means we’re possibly only months away from total antibiotics failure altogether – slightly more significant than a flu-jab that doesn’t work.

But don’t take our word for it, no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, identifies it as a threat on par with terrorism. Absolutely vital.

Microbial exit strategy

OK, so the flu-jab is a flop. Yet it shows us an out, even though it’s useless.

Because if we know the flu is coming but we have no defence, we still ought to be smart enough to avoid it. Same with any other bug, come to that – norovirus, Black Death, typhoid, Ebola.

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. Vital self-protection.

Step One, wash hands – before and after any activity. Our fingers touch everything, often in quick succession – from filthy public loo because it’s an emergency – to Welsh Wagyu burger with onions and extra Stilton – because use a knife and fork and it will fall apart. How do you think norovirus happens?

Step Two, get rid of the germs around us. They’re always there, billions and billions of them – on every surface, in the air – we’re continually exposed, all the time.

But not if the place is sterilised. Not if the rooms we live in are sterilised free from germs before we enter. No viruses, no bacteria – zero opportunity for infection or disease.

All it takes is forty-odd minutes with a Hypersteriliser the night before. Misting up offices, classrooms, restaurants, waiting areas – everywhere with super-dry ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to reach into every crack and crevice, actively grabbing at germs and destroying their cell structure.

Safe and secure

No germs, no problem, problem solved.

Which works for flu as well as any other bugs that might threaten us. No need for the jab, we’re safe.

We just have to wake up first.

Rediscover hygiene, or take our chances.

Picture Copyright: svetography / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-04-11 15:37:33.

Would your staff sue you if they caught the flu?

Work Team
Healthy staff and a healthy balance sheet – protecting your assets

Sue? For flu?

We’re joking, right? They get flu, that’s their problem.

Except maybe you want to revise that. Because wasn’t it your idea that everyone had the flu jab in the first place? So you already had concerns about keeping them healthy.

Sod’s Law

Yeah but, if they’ve had the flu jab, you’ve done your bit. It’s not your fault this year’s vaccine doesn’t work so well. Too many different strains – the medics can’t always get it right.

Sure, but it’s still a worry. You can’t run a business with loads of empty desks. Which is what you get when flu strikes. Never a single hit, eh? Always a whole squad of people down at once – usually at the most critical moment. An evil kink in Sod’s Law.

It’s your duty of care too. So that working conditions are safe and secure. Which often means issues you never thought of five years ago now have to be addressed.

They sure cost a bob or two. HVAC systems don’t come cheap, but they keep staff motivated and comfortable, working in their shirtsleeves. Or how about anti-terrorism? Coded pass cards, keypad entry, bullet-proof glass, ex-SAS guards – it takes a lot to protect people.

You bend over backwards for them, how could they possibly sue you for flu?

Protection from themselves

Yeah well, increasingly people need protecting from themselves. More specifically, from each other.

Like flu. One of them catches a bug, they give it to each other. It happens, they’ve all had the jab, a few days and it’s over, so what? Another inconvenience on top of all the others.

But what if it was more serious? Like one of them does a sales trip to Africa and comes back with cholera? Or typhoid? Or worst case scenario, Ebola? Round the office with any of those would land you in big trouble, possibly even criminal negligence, so where do you draw the line?

An iffy question. And these days, getting iffier.

You may have read somewhere that office desks are a breeding place for anything up to 10 million germs. Sure, you have the regular cleaning services, but most of these breeding places never get touched by typical valeting, so the germs continue unchecked. Noxious germs in the workplace, you could be liable.

It gets worse when you consider staff hygiene – no, not anything you’ve done – their normal day-to-day behaviour. A quick look at the figures is shocking:

OK, so dirty desks, unwashed hands, somebody comes in with Ebola (which they’ve no idea they’ve got ‘cos it can take weeks to show) – big trouble, right? Law suits almost certainly, failure to protect, not a headache anyone wants.

Due diligence

So what makes flu so different? Can you prove due diligence that staff were not exposed to contagious pathogens? More to the point, can you prove that you did everything you could to prevent possible infection? Especially the air space, which is 80% of any room – remember germs are microscopic so they’re up there anyway, brought in by the personal cloud of them we all walk around with.

Which means a nightly wipe-down with a damp cloth is not enough is it? Or vacuuming the floors and emptying the waste paper baskets. Like it or not, your workplace is probably teeming with germs just waiting to cause an illness.

The only reason they don’t is that most of the time staff are healthy enough for their immune systems to prevent it. But that doesn’t include tiredness, stress, or any of the other everyday challenges of working life. It’s only a matter of time – and yes, you could be liable.

Because it IS possible to neutralise all germs in your workplace inexpensively. Certainly for less than the cost of an HVAC system or putting in full security.

Total sterility

Wheel in a Hypersteriliser at the end of the day when staff have gone home, and germs can be eliminated altogether.  It generates an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, destroying viruses and bacteria on contact, sterilising the entire room. Forty minutes or so and all germs are gone – flu, common illnesses, tummy bugs, even Ebola.

Staff of course you can issue with antibacterial wipes or gel – put a pack daily on each desk and you’re in the clear. So is the air and every surface in your workplace, a fresh page to start the day, free of any health hazards.

No law suits likely after that.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-03-30 14:32:08.

Workplace germs: a loaded gun on every desk

Gun
Invisible – and make no mistake – deadly

Try this, right now.

Lift your keyboard and look underneath. Pretty yuck, huh?

Everyday killer

Where did all that come from? How long has it been there? What kind of germs might be living in it? Are you safe?

The short answer is, that’s all you – and ANY germs can make you sick if you’re unlucky.

The usual bad boys are flu and norovirus – the most potent, meaning they’re easiest to catch. And the most common – ready to bring you down over and over again, several times a year.

Oh yeah. And just so you know, flu kills around 14,500 people a year – most of them elderly, but you only need one complication to be included in that number.

Norovirus is even easier to catch (20 particles is all it takes) and makes you wish you were dead – those cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea are the end of the world. If it’s bad, dehydration sets in – and if that goes pear-shaped too, it’s curtains. Around 80 people die from it every year, but diarrhoea can do that all by itself.

Norovirus is a major cause of gastroenteritis world wide, alongside the main villain, the salmonella family of 2,500 bugs. Both are usually to be found on your desk along with campylobacter – another family of horribles, escherichia coli, the shigella tribe of nasties, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus cereus and clostridium perfringens.

Invisible health hazard

That gun is loaded alright – and pointing straight at you.

So how come your desk is so dangerous – up to 400 times more bugged than a toilet seat?

Ah, but we know the toilet is a hazardous place for germs – so the facilities management people are in there like clockwork, cleaning and scrubbing several times a day, sometimes even once an hour.

But they don’t come anywhere near your desk, do they? Never anything more than a quick wipe – with the same cloth that does all the desks. All that confidential stuff, projects on the go – don’t touch or else.

Plus you eat there too – like nearly two-thirds of us do.

Which is where all those crumbs and dust particles come from – last week’s fish and chips, smears of dressing from yesterday’s salad because you were on a health kick, today’s pizza. All over the desk, too small to see – under the keyboard is just where they collect most easily, behind the screen too.

Now try this.

It only takes twenty minutes or so for bacteria reproduce itself. So after a couple of days that germ population has doubled. After a week or so, it’s doubled several times over.

One touch and all kinds of things transfer to your hands – which then touch your face, your eyes, your mouth, because so many of us rest our chin in our hand when we work. Infection by fomites.

Inevitable illness

Sooner or later you’re going to get it, even if you’re meticulous about washing your hands. And you really don’t want to know how bad we are about forgetting to do that – let alone how to do it properly.

There’s more germs in the air too, stirred up by us moving around. Also brought in by each of us as part of our personal germ-cloud.

We can’t see these either, but we all have a constant aura around us of billions and billions more bacteria, some good, some bad – neutral to us maybe, but a possible health risk to our colleagues with different sensitivities and immunities. Even if we’re well, we can make them sick.

And that doesn’t include the have-a-go heroes among us who drag themselves into work when they ARE sick – driven by pressure of work, or job anxiety, or simply unable to stay away. Gone to work with illness, ready to infect us all.

Looks like there’s more than one gun pointing at us.

Time to get bullet-proof. Strike back at these germs before they get us.

And there’s only one way.

Fight back

A mop and bucket won’t crack it, especially with all those computers around. It won’t touch the air either, 80% of any room space, where most of the germs are.

It has to be a Hypersteriliser.

Never heard of it? Get ready to kiss sickies goodbye. You might even be able to bundle your sick leave together with your holidays. Take a month off Pingsonbury, you’ve earned it.

The thing looks like a posh wheelie-bin with a nozzle and lights on it, ready to spray the room with hydrogen peroxide – one of the most effective germ-killers there is.

Posh is right, the thing is state of the art. Because it ionises the hydrogen peroxide as it sprays – changing it from an ordinary vapour into a plasma – boosting its performance by releasing hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Give it forty minutes, and the room is totally sterile. No viruses or bacteria, all gone – even on your desk.

Yeah, the dirt and crumbs and dust bunnies are still there – you’ll have to swab those off yourself – with the wipes you keep around so your hands are always clean.

But now there’s no gun – and anyway the bullets are unloaded. You’re safe and so are your colleagues. Breath easy.

Now all you have to worry about are those lunatic drivers on the roads.

Originally posted 2015-11-27 14:44:59.

Not washing hands more dangerous than terrorism

Man with AK
Deadlier than you know.
His gun might jam, he could miss altogether – but a virus won’t

Read the headlines, and the world is a scary place.

Not as scary as everyday living though – and a lot more dangerous than we might like to think.

Yes, terrorism is awful – and yes, it is deadly. Last year it claimed the lives of 32,727 people worldwide.

Bad & badder

But no lesser person than President Obama claims that global warming is MORE dangerous. Well yes, if you think in natural calamities like hurricanes and tsunamis – the jury is still out long-term.

Closer to home, European statistics put road accident deaths at 25,700 last year – not far off the total for UK deaths from sepsis, a form of blood poisoning that nobody’s heard of, but which is a major killer just the same.

Scary, scary.

But still chicken-feed against what COULD happen. Even obesity is scarier – like two-thirds of adults and a quarter of children.

Look no further than the government’s National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies.

Top of the list is not terrorism, war, or even natural catastrophe. It’s pandemic influenza – the same killer that wiped out 50 million people in 1918 – more than all fatalities in the whole of World War One.

Our worst nightmare

And it could happen tomorrow.

Lesser outbreaks have already shown how such viruses can spread around the world.

Bird flu, Hong Kong flu, MERS – they just hop on a Boeing, courtesy of some unsuspecting traveller – and they’re there in eight hours, twelve tops.

And beware. As we already know flu viruses are super-CONTAGIOUS.

Yeah, yeah – you know all that stuff about coughs and sneezes.

About the handkerchief to – and trapping germs in your tissue.

But that still leaves your hands – which handle the tissue and dispose of it.

And do everything else for you as well – feed yourself, do things, get you through the day. Including touch your face maybe 2,000 or 3,000 times.

Which is where the pandemic bit really starts – from the shocking facts of life that:

Kind of inevitable, no?

Uh huh.

The ultimate killer

Slightly more menacing than a crazy with an AK47.

And the world has got bigger since 1918. When the world population was 1.8 billion and flu knocked out 1 billion, killing a third of the world’s population – all within the space of 8 weeks.

Now, today, nearly 100 years later, we’re 7.5 billion and counting – do the math.

Better get the soap. It’s a lot easier – and safer – than chasing bad guys.

Originally posted 2015-11-23 17:14:21.

Rhinovirus: why this tiny germ is one of our biggest headaches

Rhinoceros girl
Make no error, this is a mean, bad-tempered problem

It’s that time of the year again.

As soon as temperatures begin to dip, people start coming down with nasopharyngitis.

Naso-huh?

That’s the egghead’s name for the common cold – more familiar to us as a pain in the neck.

Dribbling misery

Wait, that’s not it either. Colds are commonly caused by rhinovirus. “Rhino” means nose, see – like that Flanders & Swann thing, “the bodger on the bonce” – which is where colds commonly affect us.

A piece of work, this rhinovirus. And like a rhinoceros itself, bad tempered and dangerous – probably because it’s so small, only 20 nanometres across (0.000002 millimetres).

At that size, it’s small enough to drop right through a roofing tile – if it had any weight.

Except being microscopically smaller than a piece of dust, it’s lighter than the air around it – all those molecules of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and all the other “gens” – plus all the pollution and dirt and other microbes hanging around there – you know, the stuff we breath in every few seconds.

It’s also not our only cause of catching a cold, just the most common – sharing its notoriety with around 200 other viruses, so no wonder it has a mean streak. A real full-blown Napoleon complex.

A real health hazard

Maybe your experience is just the runny nose, sneezing – and if you’re unlucky, the whole sore throat thing. Three days and you’re out of it, if the gods are smiling.

Trouble is, so many of us are not always 100% well. So that when rhinovirus strikes, it often triggers worsening of any underlying condition.

And that’s the dangerous bit – inner ear infections, sinusitis, asthma attacks, worsening COPD, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and bronchitis. Not a thing to be played with.

Why does it strike in winter or when the body gets cold? Get drenched in the rain, even in summer, and your Mum screams, “get out of those wet things, you’ll catch your death.”

She’s right. Because rhinovirus thrives best at slightly below normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit – coolest in the nose, where cold winter air is breathed in and taken down to the lungs, another favourite rhino hangout. It literally likes to chill.

There’s also method in its being so small. It rides the air, spreading more easily. And as we all know, it’s highly contagious. Just one sneeze or cough from the gent with the rolled-up umbrella on the Victoria Line – and it’s the boiled knitting head, calling in a sickie at 7.00 o’clock next morning.

Highly contagious

But it’s not just the air. Rhinovirus spreads on contact with almost anything, the things we touch that transfer it to others – everyday fomites like coffee cups, knives and forks, the soap in the soap dish and even the towels we dry off with.

Dodgy this, because rhinovirus likes to get in mainly through the nose and mouth – and in addition to fomites, we touch our faces maybe 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Airborne or by touch, if anybody around us has a cold, chances are high we’re going to get it. A real headache.

But we do have a defence. We might be touching infected objects without knowing it, but we can always wash our hands clean afterwards.

Doing it properly, working at it seriously with soap and water gets rid of 99.9% of most germs – what medics recognise as Sterility Assurance Level Log 1 – the most important step in safe hygiene. (The highest is Log 6 – like you get with a Hypersteriliser).

And it’s not just washing – it’s doing it constantly. Every sneeze, every face wipe, is a chance to pass it on to somebody else – you need to wash it off.

It’s likewise in avoiding a cold – particularly in winter when so many people have them. It just pays to wash your hands around anything they might have touched.

Wash, or wipe

Not exactly practical though, walking down the street or jumping on the bus – so a good back-up is to keep a pack of sanitising hand wipes on you at all times.

Nobody wants a cold, especially if you’re feeling slightly off with something else already. It’ll only make it worse, or turn into a full-grown attack.

And though we don’t actually think of the common cold as a killer, around 40,000 people die every year from a combination of colds, flu and low temperatures. Yup, we need to be careful.

Rhinovirus – nobody needs it.

But yes, you can wash your hands of it.

Originally posted 2015-09-11 13:31:31.

Helicopter Mums brace for predictable school flu

Anxio0us woman pilot
Whatever’s going down, no way any of that’s happening to my kids

What goes around, comes around.

Which makes it kind of inevitable that whatever of this year’s flu variations little Johnny brought back on that long-haul holiday in Australia, Holly and Maisie are going to come down with it.

It’s the season

Thirty kids in the same classroom for most of the day, windows closed because it’s British summer time, and too early for the central heating to turn on – there’s a swirling mush of germs in there just waiting to grab the right victim.

Not necessarily picked up during the day either – because little Johnny’s Mum trained him to sneeze into his elbow and avoid spreading germs. No air-to-air contact there.

Nothing off his desk either – because little Johnny’s Mum always has a go at him about washing his hands. The other kids think he’s hyper, but little Johnny’s Mum is kinda big and thick-set – and they’ve heard she referees rugby matches.

Forgotten habit

Not that they do the hand wash thing themselves, but they leave little Johnny alone and let him get on with it. Besides, it’s raining outside and little Johnny makes it one too many for indoor football. Plus he’s not looking so good, so leave him out of it.

Isolation but not quarantine.

Because when all those kids go home, they leave their bio-trace behind them, part of their personal biomes.

Not heard of biomes?

That’s the bio-cloud each and every one of us carries around with us. We’re not really ourselves you see, more bacteria than human – our body cells are outnumbered by resident bacteria colonies more than 10 to 1.

Our other selves

Over 100 trillion of these guys live harmoniously inside us, deep down in our gut. We do the eating – they do the heavy lifting of food digestion and assimilating it into the bloodstream. Weird but it works – a synergistic partnership we’ve lived with since we were prehistoric slime.

Trillions more of them cluster outside us – on our skin, in our clothes, and trailing around us in a kind of flowing aura. As we move around, this bio-cloud follows us – an invisible mish-mash of viruses and bacteria – some good, some bad. All swirling around and wisping, like biological smoke.

Walk into a room and this bio-cloud immediately takes possession of the space, making it our own. Twenty minutes, and the room is ours, as samples from any biological probe will quickly prove. More of us – and there’s a jumble, the clouds constantly fighting to outdo each other.

Walk out of the room though, and whole eddies of this mish-mash are left behind. Floating and drifting because they’re lighter than air – only 0.00002 of a millimetre across – they hover just like the kids’ own helicopter Mums, waiting for somebody new to walk in and be colonised.

Spread and multiply

Lingering germs, right?

Which is how come any one of the kids in that class could catch a bug, even if little Johnny is kept home. The flu virus that does it can survive in the air for up to a week if it has to. Plenty time to grab another victim and spread.

More flu germs in the air, more chance to catch them – no wonder whole schools of kids come down with it. Except the littlie ones of course, they get the flu jab up to the age of four.

Yeah, but too young for Johnny.

Heavy sighs from the helicopter Mums. They’ve seen it happen every year.

But it doesn’t have to.

Hygiene hero to the rescue

Zap the classroom with a Hypersteriliser each night and the place is completely sterile. All viruses and bacteria totally destroyed, nothing from little Johnny’s biome to pass on to anyone.

Totally safe, it works by misting up the room with a fine plasma mist of hydrogen peroxide. The germs get oxidised and die, turning the stuff back into oxygen and water – the water evaporates – room cleared, job done.

Less chance of picking up an infection, less chance of a bug that brings down the whole school.

There’s still the hand washing thing of course.

And just because little Johnny does it, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Never mind coughs and sneezes, it’s dirty hands that spread infections faster than anything. Those other kids better wise up fast or they’re going to look pretty miserable.

Which of course is what helicopter Mums are for – even if they don’t all referee rugby.

Oh yeah, which reminds us – enjoy the World Cup!

Originally posted 2015-09-04 15:03:51.

How to keep well when flu jabs don’t work

All frosted up
Flu germs are everywhere –
don’t let them get you

Cold and getting colder.

All that stuff sweeping in from Siberia.

The polar bear’s pyjamas.

Worse, according to Public Health England, this year’s anti-flu vaccine is barely effective – working in only 3% of cases.

Defences are down

Not good, particularly if you’re older.

Because this year’s nasty, a mutation from the H3N2 strain of the flu virus, particularly affects the elderly. (Tweet this)

Despite the £100 million spent on flu vaccination annually, this mutation has smartly glitched the guessing game that world health authorities play every winter – deciding which variants of flu virus will be “fashionable” this year.

You still need a flu jab, because other types are still around and each year’s vaccine can usually clobber about three.

But H3N2 has decided otherwise and mutated so much, that this year’s vaccine is about as effective as water.

Flu is not all

Woe and grief, yes – but it’s a useful wakeup call.

You see, it’s not just this year’s flu vaccine that doesn’t work.

It’s a whole slew of medicines – starting with antibiotics.

Big time mutation across the board has made many pathogens immune to them.

So if you’re rushed to hospital with complications from catching flu – cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or asthma for example – doctors are going to think twice before giving you anything.

Overuse of antibiotics in the last 50 years means that, increasingly, they stop working altogether.

Maybe not so bad with your flu complications – medics can quickly put you on oxygen.

But it’s a disaster for medicine across the board – just about every major procedure in any hospital could fail without them.

Back to the Dark Ages

Any kind of surgery – any incision or breach of the body’s skin – is suddenly a major infection threat. Which is why the big worry among health experts is HAIs – Hospital Acquired Infections.

You go to hospital to have your hernia repaired. But MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) gets in to your surgery area and you’re lucky to escape with your life.

Exactly the headache every surgeon faces with even the simplest case.

But what can you do?

The flu virus is out there and raging rampant. What’s to stop it getting you?

Better than cure

Prevention is what. Simple avoidance.

Alright, you can’t do much in the big outdoors. If it’s your turn to breathe in some H3N2 cells on the rampage, that’s just unlucky.

You also can’t do much if Hooligan Harry sneezes all over you in the lift or Underground. Especially when us Brits are about the most unhygienic people around and never wash our hands enough.

But you can clobber germs indoors so nothing lingers. Sterilise the place when nobody’s around so the germ threshold sinks to zero.

Twenty minutes misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide spray completely destroys all viruses and bacteria. Any room you treat with this stuff is totally sterile.

Which is a lot better defence in your workplace or home than the quick vacuum and dust that most places get.

And why take chances when you can be totally sure?

Especially with so much flu around.

Every year, between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from it worldwide.

Don’t let one of them be you.

Originally posted 2015-02-06 11:56:41.

Beat the severe flu season – do nothing

Girl doing nothing
Don’t bother me,
I’m keeping everybody else healthy

It’s better than pulling a sickie – and it’s official.

To avoid coming down with this year’s nasty, take yourself out of circulation.

STAY AT HOME!

It seems finally the research wallahs have been hit by common sense.

The “doh” effect

If you take yourself out of the equation, nothing can happen to you.

Not quite the same as your Doc saying take two weeks in the sun. But the nearest thing to it.

Believe it or not, this “procedure” even has a name.

Non-pharmaceutical intervention“.

And it’s the brain-child of four high-powered American study centres: University of California, Arizona State University, Georgia State University and Yale University.

Like, wow.

These guys are serious though,  and so are their recommendations.

Makes sense

Wide-spread flu attacks should be treated as an epidemic and the most effective way to avoid them is “social distancing.”

That’s where the “stay at home” bit comes in.

As evidence, the boffins cite the outbreak of A/H1N1 swine flu in Mexico City in 2009.

Inundated with cases, the federal government shut schools and people stayed home – limiting the number of others they came in contact with.

Kinda obvious isn’t it?

If you’ve got the bug, you can’t give it to anyone except the family.

And if anyone else has got it, they don’t come near you.

You’re laughing.

Prevention

Back to the old philosophy: prevention is better than cure.

So it’s not YOU who should call your boss, because you’re sick and staying home.

It’s YOUR BOSS who should call you, because others are sick and you should stay home. (Tweet this)

A one-word tactic – AVOID.

Way better and more productive than dragging yourself to work, bringing everyone else down with it so the whole export department is out, clogging up your GP for antibiotics that don’t work, then staggering in to an overcrowded A&E because the flu brought complications from working late.

Just think of the price tag too – to you, to your employer, to the NHS, and to the country.

In fact, staying home is MORE productive.

Well, you’ve got broadband haven’t you? So you’re not going to sit there, bored out of your skull with Eastenders.

You can network the office or anywhere in the world – snug as bug under the duvet with a mug of hot chocolate – on flexible hours too, so the heck with the alarm clock.

Skype, Hangouts, what’s the problem?

Plus, plus, plus!

If your employer’s on the ball, he applies AVOID tactics too.

Not just by staying home himself.

But by taking the opportunity to sterilise the offices – remove all viruses and bacteria completely.

No germs at work

No residue bugs hanging around to infect people when they come back.

Easy peasy – mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide ultra-fine spray and all germs are oxidised to nothing.

Flu, norovirus, e.coli, campylobacter, c.difficile, salmonella, legionnaire’s disease, smallpox, Ebola, whatever – all dead and gone and not coming back.

So what’s not to like?

You get time off, paid to put your feet up.

Your offices get purified.

Nobody suffers a moment with coughs or sniffles.

SORTED!

Yes, sure it’s bloody obvious, as the Duke of Edinburgh might say.

So why didn’t we think of this before?

Originally posted 2015-01-23 11:55:41.