Tag Archives: flu

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.

Red-faced Rudolf forced to take a rain check

Sneezing Santa
Christmas emergency: a serious infection alert has cancelled this year’s traditional delivery

Sorry folks, that famous and long-awaited sleigh ride won’t be happening this year.

Seems that red nose of Rudolph’s is causing major ructions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Alarm bells are going off that it’s a warning symptom of H5N1 or other avian flu – one of the nasty ones.

Pandemic alert

With only days to this year’s round-the-world distribution trip, the whole delivery team – Rudolph, Santa and all the helpers – are under lockdown. Strict quarantine against any new pandemic breaking loose.

Despite high expectations and the world-famous nature of the trip, looks like the CDC has had Santa and Rudolph under surveillance for a long time.

Germ-spreading fomites

High on the list of worries is the huge sack of fomites – objects or substances which are capable of carrying infectious organisms from one individual to another.

Though each is individually gift-wrapped and addressed, there are no facilities aboard the sleigh to ensure they are properly disinfected and pathogen-free.

The lack of washing facilities aboard is also identified as a major health risk.

Asked for comment, Santa was overcome by a coughing fit, but did manage to identify that a back-up system was in place.

UV protection

Prior to departure, presents will be sterilised by longer than usual exposure to the Aurora Borealis at the North Pole. The ultra violet light present in the phenomenon will ensure all viruses and bacteria are removed before take-off.

Actual delivery will be by a fleet of high altitude NASA Global Hawk drones. For Santa watchers, high intensity white strobe lights will substitute for Rudolph’s more familiar red glow.

The whole journey can be tracked as normal via the official NORAD Santa Tracker website.

Hike hygiene levels high

Advice from the Santa Corporation is that children should be sure to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or opening presents – and be sure to follow proper hygiene when going to the toilet.

An upgraded delivery system is already in preparation for next year.

Merry Christmas everyone – and keep well!

Originally posted 2014-12-23 14:54:33.

‘Tis the season to be jolly careful about hygiene

Sad Santa kid
Don’t take chances – nobody wants a bug for Christmas

You better watch out – flu and norovirus are coming to town. And bringing a whole load of their friends with them.

Both are highly contagious.

Both transfer easily on contact – mistletoe, kiss-kiss, shake hands, hug-hug, back-slap.

Which means your festive season could be over before it starts – friends and family with you.

The cruise ship curse

Norovirus particularly, gets in on the act preparing food – norovirus, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, stomach flu, call it what you will. And there’s nothing festive about it – vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, headache and fatigue, a real party pooper.

Nine hospitals have already closed wards because of it – not enough beds for people with complications. Young children and old people who dehydrate, which can very quickly become life threatening.

Associated nasties

Flu is not nice either – the end of jollity and just as catching.

Don’t take chances when the sneezing starts. You’ll never know what kind you have until it hits you – and it could be a killer. The global outbreak of 1918 killed 50 million people, more than twice the casualties in the whole of World War One.

Yeah, yeah, it’s Mad Friday and everybody’s having fun.

Ho, ho, ho – food and drink and lots of it.

So a few precautions are not just a good idea – they’re absolutely essential.

Hike up your hygiene

Like washing you hands for a start. As often as you can think about it.

Germs love getting in through our body’s access ports – mouth, nose, eyes, ears. And we touch our faces up to 3,000 times a day – 3 to 5 times every waking minute.

Better still, clobber all germs before they start.

It takes just twenty minutes to mist up a room with hydrogen peroxide. An actively charged super-oxidiser, it grabs viruses and bacteria out of the air and rips them  apart by shoving oxygen at them.  All germs gone, the place is completely sterile.

Kind of crucial when you remember that neither flu nor norovirus respond to antibiotics. You can’t stop them once they’ve got you, so you’ve got to strike first.

And germs are ALWAYS around. There’s never a time when you can forget about them.

But now that you know, you’re good to go.

Let’s get this party started.

Originally posted 2014-12-19 12:21:25.

Don’t worry, it’s not Ebola – you just need a flu jab

Chicken Running in Snow
Brrr! Ignoring flu in cold weather could do you a lot of no good

The symptoms look the same in the first ten days. Headache, feverishness, sore throat, fatigue.

And make no mistake, flu CAN be a killer. More people catch it – and more people die from it every year – than all the Ebola cases put together.

Relax – there’s no need to suffer – you can get a flu vaccination just about anywhere.

Protection for everyone

It’s quick and easy too – just about anyone can have it.

And it’s not just the oldies who get it for free.

It’s anyone at serious risk of getting the the flu, expecting mothers, or people with a serious condition like asthma or diabetes.

Even your kids can have it – not from a jab, but a nasal spray.

So if it’s that easy, what are you waiting for?

Winter is coming

Because don’t be taken in by all this mild weather. It might be the warmest year in centuries, but this is Britain in winter – and it WILL change. And when those double figure temperatures dip, that’s when your body is vulnerable.

Your GP can do the jab and so can your chemist. If you’re over 65, you’ve probably already had a text message from the NHS, reminding you to book one.

Yes, you do need to book – there’s a few questions to ask first, to make sure you’ll be OK.

Get it done at your desk

You can even get it done at work. Every year, employers face a staggering £1.1 billion cost for lost working time, so maybe you can strong-arm the boss to have it on your company’s medical scheme like BUPA.

There’s also lots of companies that come in to the office and do it on the spot. A quick two minutes and a deserved coffee break.

If you pop into your chemist, reckon on it costing you about £12.

Some places do charge a bit more, but you’ll get extras like a nasal spray and vitamin C tablets thrown in as part of the deal.

Effective protection

Does it work?

Definitely – though since we’re all different, it’s better for some people than for others.

It depends on the type of flu too. The vaccine will cope with most, but there are thousands of varieties and new ones developing all the time. This year’s includes protection against:

  • H1N1 – the strain that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
  • H3N2 – a strain of flu that infects birds which was active in 2011
  • B/Massachusetts/2 – another strain that was active in 2012

It’s because these strains keep changing that you need to have the jab every year.

And it’s worth doing because flu can very quickly get serious if you’re not careful.

Don’t take chances

Risk going out when it’s cold and wet and it could turn into pleurisy or pneumonia.

In 1626, the famous philosopher Francis Bacon died from the after-effects of stuffing a chicken with snow bare-handed, trying to win an argument that cold preserved food better than salt.

The chill that he caught turned to acute pneumonia in a damp bed and that was the end of him. A ghost chicken reportedly haunts Pond Square, Highgate to this day.

Perhaps it’s a way of reminding you.

Don’t be chicken about getting your flu jab!

Originally posted 2014-11-14 12:45:02.

Deadly Killer Viruses 341- Hero Medics 2

Doctors with football
Better hygiene is not a game –
you lose, you die

We’re not winning.

At least that’s the way it looks.

With ruthless slayers like Ebola around, every day is a nightmare.

Even right here at home.

The Annual Epidemic

With winter well on the way, World Health Organisation figures expect around 3 to 5 million cases of influenza, with between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

Didn’t know flu was that deadly, huh?

Which makes you marvel at how amazing our professional medics are.

Doctors, nurses and all kinds of support people work round the clock to make us well. Long hours are the norm, lack of sleep, living on coffee. If the rest of us tried to work like that, we’d be living in chaos.

Super Docs

But medics are made of tougher stuff. Always ready to help – never ready to quit.

Look at that amazing organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. All volunteers, all resolute to give of their best. Up against killers like Ebola, nobody shows more concern or commitment.

Human bodies might be weakening, but never has human spirit and care for each other ever been so strong.

We ought to have more respect for these doctors. And we do when we remember.

But we backslide, because that is human nature.

Sloppy Hygiene

As fast as doctors achieve a win, we’re seem equally determined to lose – careless of any dangers, sloppy in our hygiene, derelict in our regard for ourselves.

No wonder we’re not winning.

In our daily lives we let billions of germs surround us without a thought – viruses and bacteria intent on us as prey – natural born killers.

We know the risks – and yet we still take chances.

We prepare food in sometimes shocking surroundings. We forget or avoid washing our hands. We eat dodgy stuff, rush out in all weathers – and then wonder why we suddenly come down with something.

Kind of an insult to all those medics, don’t you think? We treat our body with contempt and then expect them to fix it. Never a thought about avoiding trouble in the first place.

“It can’t happen to me,” we think – without realising the game has already changed.

Yes, Ebola’s bad – and there’s no cure yet.

But through our own carelessness and dependence on miracles like antibiotics, there’s suddenly no cure for a lot of things.

Oops!

Resistant Microbes

While we weren’t looking, a whole slew of viruses and bacteria have found ways to resist the medicines we throw at them. MRSA alone has developed into 270,000 strains.

And look at the price of our carelessness.

We go into hospital for a routine operation – say a hernia, because we big deal lifted something without help. A tiny routine tummy cut, keyhole surgery, no problem.

The doctors take care, the nurses take care, the recovery team take care. And then we don’t wash our own hands, going to the loo. All set to be discharged – bang, MRSA.

Do we have a death wish or what?

Higher Hygiene Levels

It’s time to up our game. To hike hygiene habits up a level that evens the odds.

We’re still going to be careless. We’re still going to forget washing our hands. But we CAN do something to keep ourselves more safe.

Sterilise our surroundings.

If there aren’t any germs around, we can’t get sick.

So you watch.

As more and more of us realise the threat, we’re going to see new ways of winning.

Like misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide every day – oxidising viruses and bacteria to nothing before they even get near.

Easily done – and it’s all automatic.

Score 1 to us, yay!

Let’s get back to having a ball.

Originally posted 2014-11-06 12:36:22.