The way this winter is already shaping up, get ready for superflu.
No, no, not the German pop group, you’ll find them here.
We mean pandemic superflu – 30 million of us out of action and 80,000 dead. Listed as the UK’s biggest danger after “catastrophic terrorist attacks” in the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies.
Certainly looks like we’re getting the weather for it. The El Nino effect is already happening in the Pacific – which means super-cold winter like we saw in 2010.
What makes it a superflu?
However hard medics and researchers try to second guess it, we’re just never ready. For either a superflu virus, or any other kind of fast-spreading superbug.
Yes, we can clobber existing strains – this year’s vaccine protects against the H1N1 “swine flu” virus that struck in 2009, plus two other predicted variants.
But the trouble is, viruses keep mutating all the time. As fast as we come up with the vaccines to throw at them, they develop resistance and start again.
And there are lots of strains. For instance, H5N1 is a deadly virulent bird flu that originated in Asia. It’s rare, but 60% of the people who catch it die.
To make things worse – like the common cold – all flu types spread rapidly. Which is why a pandemic is top of the hit list for natural disasters. When a new flu strain strikes, it takes six months to develop a new vaccine against it.
During that time of course, everyone is exposed. Unprotected except for their own daily hygiene habits. Which is where the worst-case scenario figures come from – 30 million infected, 80,000 dead.
So we’re not just going to be cold, we have to be prepared.
To up our daily hygiene habits and keep those germs at bay.
It starts with soap and water. And now it’s deadly serious. Not just a rinse under the tap, but a proper rub and scrub every time we put ourselves at risk.
Always before meals – and always after the loo. Because this winter, our lives could depend on it.
Our surroundings need anti-germ treatment too. We spend winter all closed up and indoors – sharing the same space, breathing the same air. Any germs in that lot and we’re in for it.
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.
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.
A typical cocktail might include formaldehyde, a recognised carcinogen. Petroleum distillates such as butane and propane. Even phenol, a skin and nervous system irritant.
Investigate further and you’ll find ethanol, a nervous system depressant with psychoactive effects. Methylformamide, a known cause of system toxicity or cancer, which messes up reproductive organs. Or butanoic acid, for neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption and further organ breakdown.
Across the 225 million aerosols, plug-ins, gels, candles and incense sticks that we use every year, anything up to 3,000 synthetic chemical ingredients could be in play – all geared to out-bigging smells, not killing germs.
Which is what you’re left with when the stuff wears off.
The same germs are still there.
But you’re right to think of an air freshener. Something that gets at everything that surrounds us.
Bleach or other disinfectants only get at surfaces and floors.
Reality is that 80% of the space we live in is the untouched air surrounding them. And what about the walls and ceilings? The gaps behind and under furniture? Or the cracks in between where your scourer can’t reach?
To kill germs and make smells go, it’s the only thing.
And it’s so dead easy, all you do is press a button.
Effective hygiene asset
OK, it’s not like a bottle you pick up at the supermarket. It’s wheelie-bin sized investment in home hygiene. Offices too – schools, shops, restaurants, hotels. As essential to everyday living as a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine.
Shut all the windows and doors – and it generates a fine plasma mist of hydrogen peroxide, electrostatically charged to grab viruses and bacteria out of the air, oxidising them to oblivion.
ALL of them. The bad ones you’ve read about: salmonella, e. coli, H1N1 flu virus, clostridium difficile, norovirus, or MRSA. Even horror-killers, like Ebola.
Scary pictures of medics like spacemen. Panic headlines about killer diseases – Ebola, MERS and Lassa fever.
How safe are we? Are we all going to die?
Scrub, swab, rinse
Out with the bucket and sponge, heavy on the bleach. Don’t let those killers get to us.
They can’t can they?
Except, all those masks and overalls…
Maybe our wipe-clean disinfecting doesn’t go far enough. Shouldn’t we do more? We’re safe enough here in the UK, but what about flu and norovirus – aren’t they contagious and airborne too?
Which brings us to how to protect ourselves.
Fumigation. Like they do for rats and cockroaches. The whole house shrouded in plastic, everybody out for a week. A bit radical though, isn’t it? Like we can’t do it every week.
So how about the alternatives?
There are a lot of good ones.
Cheapest and quickest is a disinfecting aerosol “bomb”. Disinfecting, not sterilising, but it does clobber most of any germs present – airborne and surface.
Shut the windows and doors, put the aerosol in the middle of the room, hit the button – and leave. An aerosol fog of ammonium chloride is released, filling the room like bathroom steam. Any viruses or bacteria are oxidised to nothing. Twenty minutes and you’re done.
Sort of. Because – heavier than air – the fog can’t get everywhere. Nor can it reach into crevices and corners. It does a “general ” disinfect but that’s it.
There could still be germs lurking in the shadows – and probably are. There’s nothing to get the stuff under things or behind them. But hey, it leaves a nice fresh smell – so at least you’re safer than you were.
Ultra violet, ultra effective
More serious are the “zappers”. Impressive pieces of kit that generate ultraviolet light. UV is deadly to viruses and bacteria, destroying their DNA. Just a few seconds of exposure and boom – they’re gone.
These sterilisers are not small – about the size of an office photocopier – and just as unwieldy. OK to move around in the same room, but a bit of a mission to trundle round a whole building.
Satisfyingly high-tech though.
Programmable to select room size, radiation dose and duration – with remote control so they can be operated from outside. You don’t want to be present when those UV rays start bombarding – not good for the body, or soul.
Very effective though. Done in five minutes. All surfaces, and the air too.
Which means for a room with high turnover, a dental surgery say, it’s a quick way to blitz an operating room between patients straight in off the street. Familiar territory for dentists too, they’re already used to vacating the place while they take X-rays.
There is a downside though.
Like all light, UV rays only work on line of sight. Anything the light generator cannot “see” is not exposed. Germs breeding in that location are not destroyed.
Which means the back side of objects, the sides that face away from the machine. Behind the beds, the desks, the cupboards, the chairs. Half the job.
In bigger rooms there’s a fall-off effect too. The further away from the light, the weaker the exposure. Germs can survive to infect another day.
Both problems can be reduced by re-siting the machine, and blitzing the room again. A bit of a schlep, but it gets the job done. And way more pleasant than slopping around with bleach.
Google it every which way, you’ll find it by far the most effective at destroying germs by oxidising them. Which is why so many hospitals have these sterilisers in operation – misting the place up with hydrogen peroxide vapour is a sure way to preserve patient safety.
By any standards, hydrogen peroxide is THE BUSINESS in nailing viruses and bacteria. Contact with germs kills 99.9999% of them – down to one germ in a million, hardly measurable below that – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
But, like the zappers, there’s a downside.
To be effective – that means its kill strength – the hydrogen peroxide has to be a 12% solution, pretty potent and not exactly friendly to human metabolisms. The stuff is hazardous to handle.
Everything wet, wet, wet
It’s also wet, wet, wet – basically a dosed water vapour sprayed into the air, very much like low temperature steam. It spreads, does its job, and slowly sinks back down, leaving a layer of condensation all over everything.
For this reason there’s not just one machine but two – both about the size of an office photocopier. One to spread the stuff, the other to dry the place out afterwards. So everything is not just wet, it gets heated up too. A bit hairy on sensitive equipment, particularly anything electrical.
Nor does the heavier-than-air hydrogen peroxide spread everywhere, either. Like ammonium chloride, it can’t reach all the nooks and crannies. It doesn’t behind or under everything either. Like the steam in your bathroom, it just swirls around.
You might have a Log 6 kill rate, but the job’s not all done. Not in the darkened corners – risky with MRSA and other resistant microorganisms floating around.
And float they do. Most germs are so tiny, they could fall right through a piece of blotting paper. Except they’re lighter than air and too small to see, so they could float around for ever, maybe NEVER falling all the way to the floor.
So it’s swings and roundabouts. Plus you need a hefty bloke to manhandle these HP sterilisers around.
Which is where the super-whammies come in – machines that generate ionised hydrogen peroxide. (iHP).
Super technology too. Developed from the military, the first of these uses multiple spray heads mounted on tripods. Flexible tubes feed the hydrogen peroxide solution from a central spray reservoir, carefully metered by a control unit.
In the actual spray head, a whopping great arc of high voltage electricity ionises the hydrogen peroxide molecules, giving them each the same negative charge.
OK, remember your school physics? Like charges repel, right? And unlike charges attract.
So these ionised hydrogen peroxide molecules exit the spray nozzle at speed, vigorously and actively trying to get away from each other – going seriously crazy.
Result, the hydrogen peroxide disperses faster, further, wider, longer. It gets into things, behind them, under and over. And it presses deep into cracks and crevices, still trying to get away from its brothers. Ain’t no germs going to get away from that.
There’s another dimension too, quite literally.
Ionising the hydrogen peroxide changes its state from a vapour or gas – to a dynamically different plasma – the fourth state of matter.
Whammo! It’s not like vapour any more – and a whole load of other germ killers get released too. Reactive oxygen species from the hydrogen peroxide itself of course – plus hydroxyl radicals, ozone – itself a super-powerful oxidiser, and ultraviolet – the same stuff used in the zappers.
It gets better. Because all these negatively charged particles actively hunt – and actually reach out and grab – positively charged viruses and bacteria.
World War Three in microcosm – no more nasties of any kind. They are the departed.
And there’s an even better super-whammy machine too.
Because it’s a whole mission setting up all those spray-heads on tripods and a bit clunky, this jobbie is an all-in-one mobile unit. And yes, we do have a vested interest in it because it’s simply the best there is – the Hypersteriliser.
Straight off, you can see some thought’s gone into it.
No fiddly castors you can never steer, like a supermarket trolley – this thing’s got big wheels like a wheelie-bin but bigger, so you can get it up and down steps without giving yourself a hernia.
It’s all integrated too. You just dial up the dosage according to room-size and the machine calculates the rest. Press one button, leave the room and 60 seconds later the fine-mist spray begins, ionised just as it leaves the nozzle.
Which highlights another plus. Ionising makes the hydrogen peroxide more effective – as we’ve seen with the other machine, releasing other high-powered germ killers. This action allows a weaker solution – 6% instead of 12% – safer to use, and able to dissipate smaller and finer.
The silver edge
This plus performance plasma also packs another punch. It includes colloidal silver, a centuries-old germ-fighter first used by the ancient Greeks.
OK, give it twenty minutes.
As the plasma destroys germs, it loses its charge and reverts to harmless water and oxygen. It also evaporates, drying before it touches anything.
That makes it safe for computer keyboards and sensitive connections – and leaves a microscopically thin veneer of silver as an antimicrobial protection barrier on every surface. Lasting protection for up to weeks.
Is there a downside?
There always is, isn’t there?
As yet, they don’t make a rechargeable battery-powered model, so you can’t take it out into a busy transport yard to do trucks, containers, or buses and trains, without trailing a long mains lead.
The same with aircraft of course – though it’s way more effective than systems requiring several truckloads of kit for the same job.
Hiking up our hygiene
Whew! It’s been quite a haul getting here – and there’s no doubt which of these options we favour. But just remember, they’re all good – and anything that reduces the germ threshold is a step in the right direction.
The more protection we can give each other – particularly in the dense and vulnerable groups modern living seems to need – schools, hotels, offices, restaurants, cruise liners, you name it, the safer everyone can be.
Just think of it – no more norovirus, no more flu.
It won’t happen of course, because to do that, we’ve ALL got to remember to wash our hands all the time.
The things you touch, that other people touch, that carry germs. Which is everything else in the office too, right? Including the door handles, lift buttons, computer keyboards, phones, light switches, photocopier, you name it.
Because it’s a nasty fact of life that though nobody’s sick, the germs that can make them that way can live for sometimes weeks out in the open.
And not just on fomites.
In the air too
We each of us trail around our own personal bio-aura of bacteria – our signature cloud of microorganisms unique to us – viruses, bacteria, fungi, moulds, dust, whatever.
And this stuff is so light it can hover and linger in the air for days and weeks, waiting to land on somebody and find a new home.
Your pals came back to work clean, but the bio-aura they brought from home could still carry the bug they suffered. They’re safe, but not your work place.
Yup, the whole office is bugged – inhabited by the same norovirus nasty that flew back from holiday with them.
Which means the only way you’re going to avoid coming down with it – and everybody else who hasn’t yet had a dose – is to nail all those viruses and bacteria before they nail you.
But with dangerous germs so easily transferred by jet travel – and medical science discovering more and more of them are resistant to antibiotics – such machines could soon become as familiar as window blinds.
Because without major effort or turning the place upside down, one Hypersteriliser can make any room totally sterile and safe from germs in as little forty minutes. No viruses, no bacteria – every microorganism in the place, gone.
It does it by misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that may have sparked life itself on Earth – actively spreading through the air, into cracks and crevices, oxidising viruses and bacteria to nothing.
Haven’t got one in your office yet?
Let’s hope they get one, before too many people go on leave. Or before winter comes with its latest version of bird flu.
Unless they do – and unless you’re meticulous about always washing your hands – you’re next, for sure.
Take your eye off the ball and things go pear-shaped, right?
A momentary lapse of concentration.
Kinda how it works in your body too.
Oh oh, glitch
A momentary hiccup in your immune system and oops! That’s a nasty infection you’ve got there, better take something for it.
Momentary because your body is surrounded by teeming microbes all the time. Billions and billions of them in the air, on the ground, and on all the things you touch. So many, it’s impossible not to be in contact with them every second of your existence.
Constantly immersed – and constantly under siege.
Mostly by neutral stuff, but by good and bad too – viruses, bacteria, moulds, dust mites, fungi, spores, pollen – all successfully deflected away by the body’s fantastic immune system.
Be glad. Because inside our bodies there’s a bunch of bacteria too. Whole specialised colonies dedicated uniquely to every one of us. Outnumbering our own human body cells by 10 to 1 – or according to some scientists, even 100 to 1.
Most of these are the good guys, the gofers that do our body’s grunt work for us – processing food, digesting it, manufacturing the natural chemicals we need to do stuff – like even dopamine and serotonin, to keep the brain firing on all four.
OK so far, everything’s going fine.
The whoops moment
But life goes on – and a lot of things happen in every day. We grow up, get educated, find a job, get married or involved, go on holiday, have kids, buy a house, become famous – and life around us is usually pretty harmless.
Except now and then comes the hiccup – the glitch that triggers an immune system alert. Germs like MRSA, transferred from someone else – by touch, or through a cut, or from something we carelessly pick up with unwashed hands.
Even then, we usually pretty safe. Immune systems can cope with MRSA and most other pathogens that life throws at us – sometimes unaware that anything’s happened.
As long as we’re OK, of course. Not vulnerable from some underlying medical condition, impairment of our immune capabilities, or reduction of the bacteria we would normally use to inhibit the bad guys having a go at our bodies.
You see our soft spot, don’t you? Our Achilles’ heel, the one everyday drawback in our defences?
Right, first time. Just about everything in our existence we touch with our hands. Things around us, things we use, things we eat – our hands handle the whole lot. And whatever’s on our hands touches our face – 2,000 to 3,000 times a day.
Which means germs through our eyes, in our nose, or down our mouths – unless we’ve washed our hands. The good guys, yes – the harmless guys too.
And the bad guys who want to take us out – typhoid, cholera, Ebola, e.coli, norovirus – there’s a billion billion pathogens out there only too happy to make us dead.
Forget to wash your hands and the germs will go at you for sure. Not just something you picked up, but infection by negligence. You caused it, not accident. You didn’t look after your body – and falling ill is how you pay for it.
Yes, that’s harsh – but unfortunately true. People who keep their hands clean don’t get sick. Not usually.
But being unlucky happens too – particularly since we all live together most of the time – sharing the same space, working, relaxing, eating and drinking.
And while WE might be OK, others might not be. Their germ-clouds are not all safe, there’s bad guys in there. We could breathe them in, absorb them by touch, or swallow them without knowing.
Which is why “wash your hands” applies to the environment we live in too – the indoor lifestyle we’ve always stuck to, ever since caveman days.
To some people that means go at everything with bleach. Scrub down every surface, kill the germs with stuff so potent it takes the roof of your head off. Not good if you’re asthmatic, or even just sensitive. And who can live with the howling headache?
It’s not good enough either. Because though it gets rid of germs on tables and things, it does nothing to the rest – so tiny and light, they’re suspended in the air. Untouched and hovering in 80% of the room space, no wonder coughs and sneezes go round a place so quickly – schoolrooms, offices, restaurants, cinemas, hospitals – wherever there’s people gathered together.
The safe way
Only one sure way to get rid of them – use a Hypersteriliser. Like washing hands for the total room space, only a lot more effective. Eliminating ALL viruses and bacteria by oxidising them in an ionised mist of hydrogen peroxide.
Germ neutral, totally sterile. You and your body’s own bacteria cloud are totally safe.
Until of course, somebody walks in trailing something else to have a go at you.
Incredibly, up to half of new and renovated buildings can have this problem – an unwanted and unexpected side effect in creating a green, airtight thermo-efficient environment.
Mould inside the walls – from moisture trapped there, in sealed air gaps. Or weak air circulation, underpowered lighting, external vibration – from tube lines under the basement.
Can’t be – the place is brand spanking new, built by a top designer, no expense spared. How come?
Somehow germs have got in and they’re not going away – staff are down with flu and tummy bugs, over and over again.
The cleaning team are on the case and keep the place immaculate – floors always vacuumed, waste carefully removed, surfaces wiped with antiseptic solution.
So why isn’t that good enough? How do those rotten bugs keep coming?
Just because the place LOOKS clean doesn’t mean it is. And most of the time, even a deep clean does only 20% of the job. (Tweet this)
Too many bad guys
You can’t see germs, but they’re all over the place, everywhere. Our own bodies are host to more than 100 trillion of them – and we drag them around in a bio-cloud wherever we go – viruses and bacteria, good guys and bad guys – mostly good.
The key word is “everywhere” – on us, inside us, around us, underneath us, behind us.
Now pause just a second, and remember how things operate.
Last week, right? A whole mob of you in the conference room, big planning session with the guys in the Paris and New York offices, online in the same meeting. Mammoth session, all day non-stop and into the smally wee hours. Big wow factor, kept alive by pizza and coffee.
Uh huh, and the cleaning team made it look like the place had never been used. Amazing.
Except, did they clean UNDER the conference table? The actual underside? And did they do under the chairs – everybody fiddled with the swivel and backrest knobs, when were they last ever looked at?
How about the video projector, slung from the ceiling – 20 people in the room for 18 hours, wouldn’t there be gunge up there?
Come to that, how about the air itself? 20 people for 18 hours – each with a germ cloud of minimum 3 billion microbes – around two thousand billion viruses and bacteria that weren’t there before, all able to survive up to 7 days and more.
Floating on the air, lurking, waiting – in 80% of the room space. Untouched by the very efficient surface wipe-clean and vacuum. Still there days later, circulating round in the HVAC system – set to warm for the great British summer, perfect for germ reproduction.
Cough, sneeze, run for the loo.
And not surprising. The place looks clean, but isn’t.
Start with you
Same as your hands. Polished nails, beautifully manicured, not a mark on them.
After the wipe-down from the cleaning squad, it hits the germs with an ionised spray of hydrogen peroxide. While all of you lot are home watching telly – or partying like mad because the conference job beat all records.
The stuff spreads everywhere because its microscopic particles are charged – actively pushing to escape from each other through the air, rushing up and out into every crack and crevice. The same charge snatches at viruses and bacteria on the fly – all of them – oxidising them to oblivion.
40 minutes later – depending on room-size – zero germ threshold, totally bio-neutral.
Totally safe too.
No residual chemicals, no residual germs. Your immaculate workplace ready for all of you, with no carry-over from yesterday.
Same thing in a sick building, though it can’t fix the lighting or the Underground.
They haven’t made the real Bio-Cop movie yet, though there is a fake trailer for it.
But you can betcha, it’s only a matter of time.
And more likely to be a CSI forensic drama than a horror flick with gruesome germs crawling all over the bad guys.
Because reality is, the science fiction of it is fast becoming science fact – and it’s already possible to ID a perpetrator from germs left behind at the crime scene – who they are, where they’ve been, what they’ve been eating and who they might have interacted with.
The buzz-word in this new crime genre is “biome” – the unique germ-cloud or aura we all carry around with us. A personal microbial signature that IDs us far more accurately than a finger print or DNA.
You see, it’s not just that we’re full of germs – our bodies colonised by bacteria that outnumber our own human cells by 10 to 1.
We exude these bacteria too – they’re on us and around us, billowing about us wherever we go.
You was there
And the combination of bacteria we each put out is individually and separately different – according to who we are, where we were born, how we grew up, what we eat, where we live, the places we’ve been – and even the mood we’re in.
Which kinda says don’t pull any funny business like a Hatton Gardens jewellery heist – the cops will nail you so fast, it’s as if you left your personal calling card right there at the crime scene. And biologically speaking, that’s exactly what you’ve done.
Of course readers of this blog already know about personal germ-clouds and auras – “biome” is just a posher way of describing them. And recognising that they’re there is key to the most effective protection against germs we’ve seen yet – oxidising them out of existence with hydrogen peroxide.
Evidence in the air
Because we don’t just pull our germ-clouds around with us – they give off all the time, leaving swirls of themselves behind – a biological smoke trail that lingers everywhere we’ve been.
Best demonstration of that is the aromatic compounds given off by the bacteria on our skin when they metabolise. They make a unique scent dogs can recognise, so the cops can track us. Mosquitoes home in on it too – an “all you can eat” invitation triggered by the smell of our sweat.
And it’s from those lingering germ-clouds that we can easily catch a bug. Everyone goes home from the office at the end of the day – but their germ-cloud traces are still there. They’re waiting for us in the morning too – and over time they build up.
So if somebody’s got bird flu, or norovirus, or any of the really contagious nasties – we can pick it up too. Exposed to it all day with no clue that it’s there – a nightmare outbreak round the office and no-one knows why.
Misting the place up with an electrostatically charged release of ionised gas plasma that super-actively disperses itself everywhere in all directions – right into every crack and crevice – reaching out and grabbing pathogens on the fly – oxidising all viruses and bacteria stone cold dead.
Result, the whole place is sterile. Safe and biologically neutral when folks clock in next morning. No germs to catch, no illnesses to suffer – unless people have already got them.
OK, so the technology isn’t there yet to prove you woofed the office stapler. But in the meantime you’re safe and protected from germs – all push-button easy.
Be a crime not to take care yourself and your mates like that, don’t you think?
Seems every few weeks there’s another cruise ship in to be deep-cleaned and fumigated – another hospital ward closed and out of action.
This time it’s Fred Olsen’s flagshipBalmoral again, back less than a month after the last norovirus hit. A setback this fine Norwegian cruise line does not deserve – especially when it looks like a passenger brought it on board with them.
No cure, no warning
But that’s the thing with norovirus – the complete lack of warning. Today you’re right as rain, 48 hours later you’re as sick as a dog.
That poor passenger walked up the gangplank, all fine and dandy – to be struck down with cramps and endless hours on the hopper. And endless more, driving the bus.
Er, almost. At least it’s not the cruise line’s fault.
But that’s the other thing about norovirus. Most of the time we bring it on ourselves.
Oh yes, we do.
Because without a doubt, the biggest cause of norovirus is not washing our hands – which almost all of us forget to do when we’re having fun. Or avoid.
Not a wise mistake to make. Norovirus is easily spread and highly contagious. The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.
All those things you touch
You pick it up slamming a taxi door – next moment you’re wolfing a chicken and bacon baguette between meetings and – boom! You didn’t wash your hands, did you? You swallowed the germs. Two days time and you’re hurling your guts out.
Maybe not even a taxi. Between us we have scary bad habits.
Unless you wash your hands – get rid of the germs that surround you every day whenever you can. Otherwise, you get on a cruise ship and it goes round like wildfire.
Well of course it does – there’s thousands of you all living close next-door to each other, sharing the same bathrooms, eating in the same space. It’s a wonder they ever stop it at all.
Unlucky for some
And just occasionally they don’t – like on this latest cruise with the Balmoral.
They could have been unlucky though, as happened to Holland America Line’s Amsterdam, back in 2002. The stuff lingers, you see – can survive on all kinds of surfaces for weeks. And cruise ships are usually turned round in just days – they can’t afford myths.
Four times, one after the other, Amsterdam set out on a new cruise – and four times, one after the other, norovirus made her turn back, hardly into the voyage. There are so many nooks and crevices on a cruise liner, even deep cleaning may not get all of the bug out – they even had to scrub individual poker chips in the casino!
A more effective way
Easier to use Hypersterilisers – a whole batch of them ganged together can do the ship overnight.
They work on ionised hydrogen peroxide, see. Negatively-charged microscopic molecules all repelling each other, forcing themselves into the tightest, smallest, most out-of-the-way places, trying to escape each other.
Riding up into the air too – and hard up against every surface. Underneath and behind too. Actively dispersing like no ordinary disinfectant spray ever can – a supercharged gas plasma grabbing at positively charged viruses and bacteria it meets on the way and oxidising them to destruction.
All viruses, all bacteria – norovirus too. And Ebola, if you’re cruising West Africa.
And safe too – reverting back to just oxygen and water when it’s done. No need for masks like they had to wear on Balmoral – though it can catch your throat when it’s working, so best to stay away for the odd hour.
No smell either – no chemical after-pong or nothing.
A good thing too. Smell is a good give-away that germs are still working – the easy way to tell that food is off. It’s why the loo pongs too – if it’s not clean.
Which is why we keep reading stories about norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – breaking out all over.
Last month Toby Carvery, HMS Raleigh and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. This month The Western Isles Hospital, celebs at Glastonbury and the Longmynd Hotel in Shropshire.
The things we touch
But it’s not just norovirus. Dirty hands can transmit any number of diseases faster than you could imagine. Like Ebola, or typhoid, or the Black Death – all of them fatal unless you’re lucky. (Tweet this)
And sorry, it’s not like putting on a mask and you’re safe – putting on latex gloves will get you precisely nowhere. You actually have to wash your hands, particularly before food and after the loo .
Because if nothing else, you actually touch your face up to 3,000 times a day without thinking about it – favourite entry into the body of every virus and bacteria – through the soft tissue of the eyes, nose and mouth.
Protect the space around us
There’s another defence we don’t think about either – which the Koreans are showing us in every news update. Spraying disinfectant everywhere, so that places are safe BEFORE they’re used again.
Just one machine, misting up with ionised hydrogen peroxide automatically, is way easier, quicker (about 40 minutes a room) and more effective than teams of hazmat experts spraying sodium hypochlorite everywhere – 99.9999% of all germs destroyed.
But of course, this is Britain, so we’ll just fudge along until something major happens – then blame the NHS or the government or somebody for letting it happen..
Not to any of us though – we’re going to keep our hands clean.