The awkward truth: why that horrible norovirus just keeps coming back

Scared woman
Unless you get serious, norovirus will always be back

Horrible, yes.

But totally avoidable.

Even though norovirus is about the most virulent bug there is.

Super contagious

It doesn’t have to happen in the first place – and it doesn’t have to happen AGAIN.

Because the real cause, pretty near always, is our own sloppy hygiene.

Even when it’s running riot – tens, or even hundreds of people down at a time – somebody somewhere didn’t clean something, and the germs found their target.

Mind you, this is not a bug to take chances with. It only takes 10 particles of norovirus to transfer from your skin to your mouth or the sensitive tissue round your eye and BING! You’re hit. Way more potent than the common cold of flu, which needs at least 25 particles – and even then, you have to be unlucky.

Not so, norovirus. Just the smallest contact is all it takes. A door handle, a keypad, a handful of change. Inevitable if you then eat something with your fingers – like a slice of pizza at a fairground.

Hit by our own sloppy hygiene

Easy-peasy fast food – easy-peasy infection. Because washing your hands when you’re having fun is not even on the radar, is it? And how many fairgrounds have proper places to wash your hands?

Or, come to that, how many of us remember to carry around antiseptic wipes or gel, to cover the certainty there’ll be no place to wash up? Or even if we do, to pull the stuff out and use it?

Who remembers washing hands AT ALL when you’re having fun? Or even thinks about the possibility you could run into trouble?

Which is how it happens – in a microsecond. The bug is in you and you don’t even know it.

And you won’t for the next four hours – maybe even longer. For some people, it can be next day.

But then, as all of us know, all hell breaks loose. The most unbearable cramps, violent vomiting, and totally uncontrollable diarrhoea.

Something you ate, for sure. It usually is. So you think back. You remember your last meal, whatever it was – and immediately think “food poisoning”. Something was off, the place was unclean, you’re going to sue them to pieces.

Never a thought about sloppy hygiene. Not the slightest recall that you never washed your hands before the time, or even most of the day. You’ve found your scapegoat, the place that served you last. Badmouth them to all your friends, write a rant on TripAdvisor, sue.

You wish.

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back

Because 9 times out of 10, you’re down with poisoned food, not food poisoning. Food contaminated by the germs you ALREADY HAD on your fingers – from the handrail in the street outside, or the light switch by the door, or any one of a thousand other places.

Much more likely though, from residual poo on your hands last time you hit the loo. A yucky thought, yes – but it’s an awkward truth, most of us don’t bother to wash our hands after the loo. And even if we do, most of us never even do it properly.

Five seconds squishing under the tap – not washing at all, just spreading things around. And germs just love warm, damp skin on which to thrive and multiply. We are our own worst enemies.

Which means all those cramps, upchucks and rocket blasts in the toilet are our own doing. We brought them on ourselves and now we’re paying for it – spreading spew and splatter all over the place.

Norovirus efficiency

There’s a reason for that too. The exploding violence of spew and splatter.

That’s how norovirus spreads itself. Using your own body convulsions to propel itself far and wide, to infect as many other victims as possible. To spread and hide and lie in wait. To multiply and take over, ensuring re-infection is inevitable.

And very efficient with it too. Not even 3 microns across, this microscopic nasty is small enough to get through the HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters in most aircraft, hospital and restaurant ventilation systems – riding the air, lighter than smoke or dust, easily spreading EVERYWHERE.

Which is why so many norovirus clean-ups always fail. They never plan for EVERYWHERE, so the virus boomerangs back.

Hello! Remember me? Enjoy the runs and upchucks last time? Here we go again!

The job wasn’t complete, so it has to be done again. And again. And again. Until either people get their act together, or the outbreak runs out of momentum.

In the meantime that highly contagious spreading misery bug is everywhere. The patches on the carpet, in the loo, on the curtains, on skin, on clothing, in hair, and spinning through the air. Spread as far and wide as violent upchucks and squitters can force them. In cracks and crevices, under and behind things. Lurking on every surface anybody touches – most of all, let’s say it again, spinning through the air.

Regular onceovers are never enough

Which means coming along with a mop and bucket full of Cif isn’t going to crack it. Nor even industrial strength Domestos. Because no way anybody is going to reach all those tiny nooks and crannies, or get into all the corners, or reach right up walls and ceilings into the light fittings, or round all the cables of the equipment in the corner.

Dead easy of course for a microscopic bug wafting on the breeze from the door, settling yards away from the nearest upchuck incident, ready to settle on the first raincoat as it’s pulled off, rucking up together with 90 of its mates as the person wipes her face, in to the body round the eye socket… Bingo!

And that’s even if our poor victim DOES wash her hands. Her fingers might be clean, but the bug is picked up from the things she touches. The norovirus secret, laughing at us.

Except we can laugh too.

Because there IS a way to take down norovirus, tenacious though it may be – even from the air around us, even from every tiny crack and crevice.

Total germ destruction

Fact: no germ comes back from treatment with airborne hydrogen peroxide. A few seconds contact and cells are ripped apart, DNA destroyed – all viruses and bacteria are gone.

And the machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser.

Press one button and it generates a fine, dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide – electrostatically charged so its molecules penetrate everywhere, repelled by each other and trying to escape from themselves. In doing so they force themselves through the air, hard up against work surfaces, countertops, floors, walls and ceilings, into cracks and crevices.

The lurking norovirus and other germs don’t stand a chance. With an opposite electrostatic charge of their own, the hydrogen peroxide particles are actively drawn to them like a magnet. Forty minutes to allow proper dispersal for the average room and the place is totally sterile.

No more norovirus, no more comebacks – job done.

Hope you start feeling better soon.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

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

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

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

Originally posted on 4 February 2019 @ 2:59 pm

Originally posted on 4 February 2019 @ 2:59 pm

Not washing hands is like not wearing a seat belt

Woman fasteing seat belt
Splish-splash or clunk-click – soap and water can save your life too

It’s truer than you know, that your life is in your hands.

Because your hands are your life.

Helpless, hopeless

Without them, you could do very little.

All those everyday things would be impossible – eating, drinking, touching, feeling, holding, carrying, lifting, taking, giving.

Not much of a life when they’re gone, hey?

Which practically means that you rely on your hands for everything about living. Your physical involvement to the whole world around you.

You touch everything. And everything touches you.

Which gets a bit awkward sometimes. Yucky stuff sticks to your fingers and won’t come off. Or mud and dirt. Or noxious poo.

And because you can SEE the crud on your hands, you wash them off. Good, Jim.

Microscopic life threats

But how about when you can’t see stuff?

Because that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Yes, viruses and bacteria – that kind of junk. So small, you can’t see them without a microscope – and even then you need the high-powered kind.

So what? you say. You’ve read somewhere we’re all surrounded with germs – billions and billions of them all the time. You’re still perfectly fine and healthy, what difference does one more make?

Ah, that depends on the germ. The wrong one in the wrong place, and you look pretty stupid.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to get typhoid or cholera on you, right? Or those ones you keep reading about like HIV or Ebola?

Uh huh. So how do you know you’re NOT getting one, right now?

So that when you touch your face – which all of us do 2,000 to 3,000 times a day – an infection can’t get in through the soft tissue of your eyes, nose and mouth, turning you into a basket case, or vegetable, or worse?

The wrong kind of bacteria

Sure, you’re surrounded by bacteria, your body’s even colonised with them – 10 times more of them than there are of you, 100 trillion cells. But they’re all in harmony, all in balance. Without them, you’d soon be in trouble – they’re SUPPOSED to be there.

But it only takes one of the bad guys to put you in hospital. Oxygen, blood transfusions, antibiotics.

And then they find out, like Ebola, that the damn stuff is resistant to everything. None of the medicines work. Whoops, sorry!

Yeah, like you weren’t wearing a seat belt. Or you went to sleep on the dotted line in the middle of the road. Exactly the same chance you take when you don’t wash your hands.

Most of the time you get away with it.

Crash, bang, wallop

Then one day out of the blue, somebody rear-ends you in a multiple shunt because of motorway fog. Straight through the windscreen – and your head and five ribs suddenly discover why they call it the “hard shoulder”.

Sure, the guy you hit was in the wrong place at wrong time.

So was the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus in the web between your finger and thumb. You aren’t coming back from a dose of that stuff unless you’re very, very lucky and have very, very good doctors.

Because no medicine works on it – you and your immune system are on your own.

Not so smart-ass now that you’re always surrounded by bacteria, hey? It only takes one.

The same in your car. One little thing out of place.

You don’t know that a stone’s cut your brake lines and you’ve no way of stopping. Or the driver of that HGV is about to have a heart attack, and smash through the central Armco, head-on into you.

No soap and water. No clunk-click. Same difference.

Waiting to happen

It can happen any time – and it will.

The same with the germs around you, in your working and living space. Some on your hands, some you breathe in.

Not every place stops them with a Hypersteriliser and its ionised hydrogen peroxide mist – the crash helmet to go with the seat belt.

So you can’t always assume all germs are taken out and you’re safe.

Which means do it, every time you think of it. Wash your hands – especially after the loo and before food.

Your life depends on it, better believe it.

Because when it finally does happen, the cramps, upchucks and diarrhoea you go through from even something “harmless” like norovirus, is a million times worse than the £100 fixed penalty fine for forgetting your seat belt.

Your life is in your own hands

Beauty pose
You touch your face 3,000 times a day – and what else?

We control our own destiny more than we think.

Yes, we choose our own directions – and yes, we drive ourselves at our own pace. It’s by our own efforts, or not at all.

But pretty well none of it is possible without hands. They are the do-ers that make things happen – that turn ideas into reality.

Amazing things, really. They do everything, go everywhere.

And that’s the problem.

Dangerous touches

Because the things they touch are seldom pure. Like everything else in this world, they’re covered in bacteria – some good, some bad. Many transferred on contact to our fingertips or palms.

Germs, right? Invisible microorganisms that can make you very ill or kill you. Impossible to avoid and a continual mission to get rid of. Which effectively means you’re at hazard all of the time.

Well, sort of.

World’s smallest killers

To a virus or bacteria that’s barely a thousandth of a micron across, your hand is an armour-plated tank. Tough and chemically hostile, it offers no way in to the body – an impenetrable no-go barrier to infecting a meal-ticket host.

Ain’t nothing to do with a surface like that except hang on. Which plenty of germs do – upwards of three million of them, around us like an aura every day.

Smart move.

Because it’s what our hands do next that matters.

Touching other stuff.

Beware fomites

Keyboard, phone, door-handle, document, money, clothing, loo seat, poo, wee, Coke bottle, chips, tomato sauce – these are all what are called “fomites”, made famous by Kate Winslet’s character Dr. Erin Mears in the movie Contagion.

Fomites are substances or objects that can transfer germs – your handbag, keys, scarf, watch-strap – triggering a whole roller-coaster ride of infection – where germs get to meet other germs, and gang up together for fun, fun, fun.

Spot the missing touch?

You got it. Your face. Otherwise known as germ heaven. The guaranteed way in for infection – through your mouth, up your nose, in the sensitive bits round your eyes, even your ears.

And without thinking of it, we touch our faces two or three  times a minute – that’s up to three thousand times a day! Three thousand germ-entry opportunities every day of your life.

The missing obsession

Which kind of emphasises the other missing touch – soap and water.

Most of the time we’re so full of ourselves rushing around, we don’t really think of washing hands. Yet if you think of the fomites we encounter doing that, we’re at hazard all the time.

Yes, it is possible to get some protection. Wash everything – tables, plates, knives, forks. Disinfect everything – loos, wash basins, kitchen sinks. All the schlep of daily life.

It’s even possible to sterilise all around us. A dose of UV radiation or misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide will clobber all viruses and bacteria down to nothing – even killers like bubonic plague and Ebola.

But it’s all kind of useless if we traipse into our specially sterilised room and shake hands for an interview straight after a nervous but necessary dash to the WC.

At your peril

Washed your hands?

Er, yes, but that quick rinse under the tap doesn’t crack it. And using the pull-down towel doesn’t help. When the roll is finished, everybody’s germs all wind up on the same piece of cotton.

Ask any medic, and they’ll tell you that a proper scrub-up to get rid of germs takes at least five minutes. And that’s a schlep too – seriously hot water, scouring underneath and scrubbing your nails, getting right down between your fingers – then disposable towels or an air dryer.

And it all needs to be done again as soon as you touch something!

So the Hand Hygiene brigade are not so paranoid after all. This is the flu season, with all kinds of other nasties lurking out there as well – norovirus, salmonella, campylobacter. You can blame other circumstances just so far, but you’ve got to come to the party as well.

Just like everything in life, isn’t it? Keep your hands clean, or it will come back to bite you.

Because it’s pretty silly to die for something that isn’t necessary.

Good evening – first, please wash your hands – we don’t want to be sued for food poisoning

Restaurant Hosts
We wash our hands – with everything we do. Our business depends on it – so you don’t get food poisoning. You want to eat here safely, it’s your turn

Welcome and enjoy yourselves. But no-one suffers food poisoning at our expense.

Our reputation is at stake – and why should we pay for your lapse of hygiene?

Yes, yours.

You see, we have a business to run and a licence to protect. We can’t afford lapses.

So every one of us here makes a point of washing their hands before they do anything.  Or if they’re stuck at their post and can’t get to a wash basin, to use an antibacterial gel.

We think you owe us the same courtesy. We’re thinking of your safety and well-being, you should respect ours.

Because it’s not just washing hands.

We know from long experience that every aspect of hygiene matters.

Sure, it’s good presentation to have everything neat and clean and tidy. Spotless surroundings. Fresh table linen. Shining cutlery. Sparkling glasses. Not just for appearances, but for your health.

Germ-free or nothing

Everything you will use tonight is not only clean but germ-free. To be used once only and then cleaned again. No germs anywhere.

Our whole place is like that.

No dust, no dirt. Cleaned and polished several times a day. Scrubbed, vacuumed and disinfected. Our livelihood depends on it.

So you can imagine how meticulous we are in the kitchen. How careful we are that food prep is only in super-hygienic conditions. Created by staff who know their whole career is reliant on clean hands. As significant to them as to doctors and nurses. A rigid routine we never break.

We’re just as scrupulous with actual food too. Again, our reputation depends on it.

Yes, it’s fresh and carefully checked. Trimmed, sliced and chopped with knives dedicated to each food type to avoid cross-contamination. On surfaces thoroughly cleaned before and after preparation.

Then roasted, baked, boiled, steamed, fried, grilled or sautéed by clever hands. Hands always washed and washed again through every step. Not only for your satisfaction, but to keep you safe. So you’re never exposed to the slightest imperfection – at least not if we can help it.

You owe it to yourself

So how about you?

Yes, you’re welcome and we want you to enjoy yourself.

But food poisoning is a serious thing and we can’t afford to take chances. Which is why we’re so insistent on washing your hands. We need to protect you from yourself.

Because it’s hands that cause food poisoning, nine times out of ten. Hands touch everything every moment of the day. They feel, hold, manipulate, jab, brush and grab continuously. Collecting germs all the time – from every surface, in every location, even the air itself.

Ah, but how often do you wash your hands?

We can’t see germs, so we never think we’re contaminated. But it’s inevitable that we are, germs are everywhere – bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’re half-bacteria ourselves!

OK, so when did you last wash your hands?

Before you  left home?

And did you drive straight here? Both hands on the wheel, carefully below the speed limit, watching out for pedestrians?

Ah, but cast your mind back. That booze-cruise dash to France last weekend. Loaded to the roof with your favourite Cab Sauv and a last minute grande portion de frites at McDonalds before the ferry.

Have you cleaned the steering wheel since then? Given it anything more than a quick wipe?

And you drove here with clean hands, reckoning you’re safe?

Uh huh. Any idea how long gut-wrenching bacteria like MRSA or e.coli can survive on hard surfaces?

Or how about norovirus – you know, the cruise ship virus? That can last for months.  Hundreds of people ill and massive £10,000 pay-outs?  No thank you.

No visible dirt – fake clean

So you’re actually going to sit there, waiting for the menu, while we ask politely that you wash your hands first?

Excuse us, but we know the facts:

So no, you can’t have the menu – yet.

Other customers need to handle it after you – and we can’t take that risk. You might have e.coli, you might not. But we’re not getting nailed by some hotshot solicitors because some of our clientele ate here and felt queasy.

Like the rest of the place, our washrooms are kept clean and meticulously tidy. But if you want to stay at table because of your guests, here are some hand wipes for all of you with our compliments.

Please use them, then we’ll bring you the menus and a whole evening of enjoyment. And you won’t get food poisoning because we know our hygiene is good and our precautions work.

But just so we’re clear up front. If you don’t use these wipes and you come down with some tummy bug food poisoning, we’re not taking the rap.

Picture Copyright: IStockphoto/Doug Berry