Tag Archives: hygiene

0ur obesity train-smash: why are we in denial?

Shocked mother
Better believe it – childhood obesity starts at the doctor’s

Denial, misunderstanding, rejection – we’re certainly in something.

Because why are we messing around with advertising bans and sugar tax when the real cause of our childhood obesity epidemic is staring us in the face?

Medics know it, government knows it, everybody in just about every kind of authority knows it.

It’s not junk food and sugary drinks that’s doing this – though they don’t exactly help.

The real truth is, our kids get fat from being dosed with the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth.

Antibiotics.

The ultimate inconvenient truth

Government certainly knows this, which is maybe why this week’s much trumpeted Obesity Strategy launch is the non-event that it is. Somewhere the penny’s dropped that even the harshest regulatory action will achieve nothing.

Recognition is in the Special Review by Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. This worthy initiative is of course targeted towards fighting superbugs and the increasing failure of antibiotics to protect us like the miracles they used to be.

And buried on Page 8 is the assessment that 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics worldwide are are pumped into agriculture each year.

Why?

Like we said, antibiotics are the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. Which is how come world food production has been able to rocket from supporting the 2½ billion people we were 50 years ago, to the 7½ billion we are now – all off the same amount of land.

Yeah, and of course, this is all supposed to be regulated because agriculture represents the biggest opportunity for superbugs to develop antibiotic resistance. When you reproduce like bacteria do every twenty minutes or less – and there’s 240,000 tonnes coming at you every year – you get plenty of chance to practice!

Which means strictly speaking, antibiotics in agriculture are only supposed to be used for animals that are sick. Except when you see how overcrowded and on top of each other they are in modern factory farms, they’re ALL going to get sick without medicine.

So in they go. Antibiotics, shovel, shovel – rammed into livestock by every serious high-volume food producer round the world. Extended through the manure these animals produce into every plant crop under cultivation. Even folded back to them through the feedstuff they eat, so their daily dose is a triple whammy.

We all OD and don’t know it

Result – every single one of us gets a low dose of antibiotics every time we eat something, because antibiotics now saturate the entire food chain. You get ’em even if you’re vegetarian.

Every meal, every mouthful – another hit from the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. And the gurus are still pondering why two-thirds of our adult population are either overweight or obese!

As Lord McColl observed in an address to the House of Lords on obesity, not one of these health experts has yet climbed onto a treadmill or gymnasium bicycle to prove that exercise does actually burn off weight  – otherwise they’d know it doesn’t.

Fact: we’re fat because we consume too many calories, period.

And we do that because our bodies no longer tell us to stop eating when we’ve had enough.

Plus like the poor cows being fattened up for market, our bodies assimilate more nutrients than we’re meant to. We’re extracting more energy out of the same amount of food – so we get fat even if we diet to eat less.

Not a nice future for our kids, hey?

Worse for kids

Except hang on, they’ve got their own train-smash to look forward to. Their own calamity introduction to antibiotics.

Because chances are high they’ll have to visit the Doc for some childhood illness or other – and chances are equally high they’ll be prescribed antibiotics. Worried Doc, concerned Mums – almost inevitable really. Which means it’s likely by the time they’re two, that they’ll have been exposed to antibiotics an average of 2.3 times.

Uh huh. So here’s their starter for 10.

In clobbering the illness, the antibiotics will also accelerate the ghrelin hormone that activates hunger, suppress the leptin hormone which turns it off, and stimulate the gut bacteria into absorbing more food value, extracting double or triple from the same amount of intake.

Reality check, folks. Eating less and exercising more is not going to fix it. Doctors already recognise that children given antibiotics by the time they’re two are likely to be obese by five.

And this is before they’ve had their first burger, their first pizza, their first Coke – or their first deep-fried Mars bar.

Reality check two, we weren’t fat either, fifty years ago – but they still had Coke back then, and McDonalds – sort of. Our own home-grown version, still with us today, was Wimpy.

Watch it!

Which means better look out, Jamie Oliver. Your new son could become obese, even though you supervise his food intake like a hawk. Makes your sugar tax  look a bit wonky now, doesn’t it?

The doom-and-gloom gurus had better watch out too.

Yeah, deaths from antibiotics resistance are going to climb – but they’re not much more than we lose in road deaths anyway.

But deaths from obesity – our first prize dividend from 50 years of antibiotics overuse and abuse –  they’re going to be astronomic. An epic epidemic not seen since the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed 25 million people in six months.

Because obesity is just the start of a slow motion decline into much worse. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – and all kinds of others caused by slow failure of the body. Slow, extremely unpleasant – maybe even leading to amputation of one or more limbs.

Yeah, thanks antibiotics. You’ve saved hundreds, but you’re killing millions. It’s time to dump you before we’re all dead.

No antibiotics?

Time to tighten up on hygiene. Push cleanliness and germ prevention higher than they’ve ever been before.

Because now there’s no safety net.

Post-antibiotic fail-safe

Forget to wash your hands? The escherichia coli you pick up could rot your body and kill you.

Clean hands anyway? The norovirus on your desk could lead to fatal dehydration and that’s the end of you.

Which means soap and water for all of us – as often as we  can think of it. And eliminating germs wherever we can around us – regular mist-ups with hydrogen peroxide that oxidise all viruses and bacteria to nothing.

There is a plus though.

And yeah, it’s denial. Of antibiotics.

No more antibiotics and we’ll no longer keep getting fat. No more false hopes, no more diets, no more gastric bands, no more mindless exercise.

No, no, no.

Do you hear us Westminster? Do you hear us Public Health England?

Get this right and our kids are going to be the best-looking human beings ever.

And the healthiest.

Picture Copyright: kobyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-08-19 14:09:54.

Dead by your own hand, or rescued by soap and water?

Suicide girl
Goodbye cruel world – self-inflicted killer tummy cramps, from eating with unwashed hands

OK, OK, “dead” might be a little OTT.

But make no error, plenty of people die from contamination on their fingers.

Like the old tin miners in Cornwall, back in the Thirteenth Century. There was arsenic in the dust that they gouged out of those tiny, confined tunnels – which killed plenty of them before they discovered what it was.

Poison protection

Which is how come those savvy Cornish womenfolk developed the world famous pasty.  That thick crust around the edge was so the men could grab hold without touching the good stuff in the middle.

Oggy, oggy, oggy,” the women would cry down the top of the mineshaft. “Oy, oy, oy,” the men would yell back from deep underground. And the women would throw the pasties down – the tough crust keeping it from bursting when it hit the bottom.

We don’t have crusts on a lot of our favourites these days, so a lot of people go sick from the swallowing the crud that’s on their hands – the price for sloppy hygiene.

Which is how come as many as a third of all norovirus cases are self-inflicted.

People don’t wash their hands – but launch straight into finger-food. Burgers, pizza, chips, sandwiches, wraps – just about every kind of food-on-the-go you can think of.

Finger-lickin’ dangerous

Straight off their fingers, straight into their gut – whatever germs might have decided to linger on the things they touched before they sat down to scoff. A whole day’s worth of being out and about, if you think of it. On the tube, on the bus, out in the street, lurking on cash and credit cards, on keys and clothes, on door handles and light switch – and of course on the phone.

Ever looked at the screen of your phone after making a call? Yucky, greasy stuff, right? Skin grease and grime mixed in with germs picked up from the air – as many as 10 million bacteria and even more viruses. The most visible demonstration yet of the stuff you swallow, if you eat without washing your hands.

And yes, death is possible.

Norovirus or some kind of gastroenteritis upset is the most likely result of eating with unwashed hands. And in America – fast-food nirvana – around 800 people die from it every year. From the dehydration that sets in with severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Not a nice way to go.

When it gets serious, your blood pressure drops and your whole system starts going tits up. A heavy price to pay for some fast food when you’re hungry, hey? Especially if you’re in such a hurry to eat, you neglect to wash your hands.

Stupid really, and we should all know better.

Wash hands, or die

Not enough time? Rubbish!

Choosing to die by not taking five minutes to wash and scrub up. Blind suicide is what it is. Maybe it won’t happen this time, or not even next. But what you’re doing is taking a risk just as deadly as crossing the road without looking.

So soap and water is cissy stuff, yeah?Washroom poster

Never mind, there’s plenty of time to reflect on the wisdom of it once you’re dead.

And if you don’t die, maybe you’ll wish you will with the cramps and the upchucks and the burning runs that never seem to stop.

You want to play silly buggers? Norovirus is not a nice playmate. Neither are any of the other billions and billions of harmful pathogens you could swallow just from a moment’s carelessness.

Which means, do yourself a favour, if you don’t want to wind up dead.

Wash your hands whenever you think of it – especially before food and always after the loo.

Otherwise you might just as well blow your brains out, right now.

For finger food? You must be nuts.

Picture Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-08-03 16:55:35.

With antibiotics failing, what’s your insurance policy for staff going ill?

Anxious exec
Without antibiotics, not tightening up on office hygiene could mean a lot of empty desks

Once upon a time, you could let staff look after themselves.

It was their life, their wellbeing.

As long as they were safe while working for you, what they got up on their own time was their own business.

Not any more.

Rapidly accelerating antibiotics failure makes it your business now.

And super-urgent too.

Invisible health issue

You’ve heard of superbugs?

They’re the rocketing number of dangerous bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Whatever we throw at them, nothing works.

Either medics battle with second-best alternatives, or the body has to fight the illness itself.

Which means, all of a sudden, we no longer have the safety net we used to have.

If we get ill, we get ill – with no miracle drugs to pull us out of it.

Kinda vital from a business angle.

If a staff member goes down with ANYTHING it could be life-threatening.

A paper cut from a document? Blood poisoning could lead to sepsis and possibly death in a week.

So it’s not just a gap in your professional team, or under-powered service that you’re looking at.

It’s the permanent loss of a member of staff – and the whole heart-breaking rigmarole of replacing them.

Plus the threat that whatever they were suffering from could spread to everybody else.

Germs everywhere

OK, you can’t watch them 24/7.

But they’re your top-performing assets, and when the end of the day comes, they go down in the lift and home – away from your protection.

Protection?

You do so much already, probably without thinking about it – the cost of doing business.

Making the place pleasant and inspirational to work in. Good lighting, nice décor, ergonomic furniture, intuitive IT systems, sound proofing, personal spaces, central heating, HEPA-filtered air con, security at the entrance – the whole nine yards.

Ah, but without the medical failsafe of antibiotics, there’s now an element missing.

Keeping your staff healthy and safe from harm. A bigger challenge than terrorism – because now, ALL businesses face it.

And we’re all up against it because nobody’s head is geared for a major hygiene threat.

Yes, everything is OK right now – as long as nothing happens.

But if you think about it, our day-to-day focus on fighting germs by keeping clean is pretty near non-existent.

Sure, everybody showers or bathes before coming to work – all washed and polished, ready for action.

We are the unwashed

But then it disappears off the radar. The day gets started and people get involved, nobody has time for washing hands or other niceties.

Not good for two reasons.

One – very few of us know it, but we all trail around a personal cloud of invisible bacteria, fungi, dead skin cells and other body detritus  – on our skin, our clothes and in the air around us – our own individual microbiome.

Which of course includes whatever germ clouds we might be towing around as well – a streaming cold, flu, a tummy bug, or anything more serious.

Two – we know that germs are transmitted mostly via our hands, but very few of us do anything about it.

Uh, huh. But that’s personal. What business is it of yours?

Plenty.

Because it’s the things those unhygienic members of staff touch that spread things around.

One of them had norovirus over the weekend?

So now their invisible paw-prints are all over the light switches, the lift call buttons, their keyboard, whatever phone they’ve used – and the sales proposal document currently sitting on your desk.

What goes around, comes around

Touch the pages, the rub your face in thought – chances are good you’ll catch their norovirus through the soft tissue round your eyes or mouth – and that’s you out of action.

But it doesn’t have to be norovirus. There’s other bugs out there, way more potent.

You might have a client breeze in straight off the plane from Mumbai, Nairobi or any one of a dozen places with local epidemics going on – direct by business class on hands unwashed because timing is tight.

And yes, the office gets cleaned and vacuumed every night. But the germs stay there –  on the light switches and door handles – floating in the air, too small to be captured by the air-con’s HEPA filters – waiting to be swallowed or breathed in.

Health and hygiene, you’re covered

So that’s where you deploy your insurance policy. A nightly mist-up of your offices with ionised hydrogen peroxide – oxidising ALL viruses and bacteria to nothing – sterilising the whole place safe.

No germs, no chance of infection. Your duty of care is 100%.

And you make doubly sure by making hand wipes available on every desk as a reminder that hygiene is now a high priority.

Maybe you can’t protect your staff so well when they go home. But you can protect them while they’re working for you.  Fewer absences. Fewer illnesses. Fewer threats to your bottom line.

Yes, antibiotic resistance is a snowballing disaster.

But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Picture Copyright: Elnur / 123RF Stock Photo and i3d / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-27 15:13:49.

No more life-saving with antibiotics – what do we do now?

Ophelia dead
Without antibiotics, everything around us becomes life-threatening

No life-saving because the antibiotics don’t work any more.

Ask any doctor, we’re already  living on borrowed time.

Maybe not today, or even tomorrow – but one day soon, we’re looking at total failure.

Antibiotic resistance, see? The bugs are too smart for the drugs we throw at them.

We’re better off with paracetamol.

A riskier world

OK, we’re safe as long as nothing happens to us.

But Sod’s Law says it will.

Hopefully not a runaway car crash – but suddenly even a paper cut could be a disaster.  And what life-saving do we have then?

No more protection from infection.  Something goes septic on us now and the Doc will have to cut it away. Yes, risky – but our miracle-drugs can’t crack it any more.

And us with our sloppy hygiene habits – those germs will be laughing all the way to the morgue. Overnight, life-saving is way more urgent than it ever used to be.

Hygiene first

Unless – we smarten up our act and put hygiene first – recognise germs are everywhere and start being seriously clean.

Yeah, the hands have it. Big time soap and water. Except now, we need to wash slightly more than once or twice a day. Always before food. Always after the loo. And always before we touch our faces.

Plus of course, everything else needs to be scrupulously clean too. Kitchen surfaces and utensils. Anything to do with food. And our workplaces, where millions of germs thrive that we’re not even aware of.

First rule in germ warfare is infection avoidance. There’s always billions and billions of bacteria around us – viruses and fungi too. And yes, it is a war – they never give up trying to invade us.

There’s trillions of them INSIDE us too – friendly gut bacteria we actually NEED to help our bodies survive. Harmless enough where they are. But deadly in the wrong place.

Escherichia coli for example, is a bacterium that lives in our gut to aid digestion and protect us from other harmful microbes. But disease-causing strains of it, like O157:H7, disrupt body functions, triggering diarrhoea or worse. And e.coli in the bloodstream is seriously life-threatening.

Hygiene technology

So sure, washing hands and everything else becomes essential – but with no antibiotics safety-net, is still woefully short of keeping us safe.

However hard we try, we can never reach every hidey-hole, crack or crevice where germs like to lurk and breed. And pulling things out to clean underneath and behind all the time makes effective protection impossible.

Which means we need another dimension – to use our smart Twenty-First Century technology to clobber the germs we can’t get to – in a way that allows us to relax.

Enter the Hypersteriliser – a familiar sight in hospitals like the Salford Royal, South Warwickshire, or Queen Victoria in East Grinstead. Expect them soon all over the place – the most effective all-in-one total room sterilisers yet.

You do the rub and scrub. The Hypersteriliser backs up with one press-button start – removing ALL  viruses and bacteria in a room completely, oxidising them to nothing.

It works by misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – electrostatically charged so it reaches everywhere – behind, underneath and on top of things, walls and ceilings too. Germs are actively grabbed and shot through with oxygen atoms, their cell structures totally destroyed.

Forty minutes later, the room is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria – 99.9999% of harmful pathogens destroyed – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Be watchful – and live

OK, that’s your front-end germ insurance taken care of, a hyped up level of hygiene – prevention is better than cure.

From now on, you have to be more watchful too – avoid germ hazards, don’ let accidents happen to you, be super-careful around anyone sick.

Maybe not as miraculous as antibiotics, but just as life-saving BEFORE any illness gets anywhere near your body.

Picture Copyright: diy13 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-07-21 13:20:47.

How to give norovirus a great big NO!

Travel girl
Hooray for hand hygiene!
And a happy holiday

Not nice, norovirus. It stops you doing nice things too.

Holidays, celebrations, momentous occasions – the ultimate party pooper.

Trouble-free travel

So here’s a guide to help you avoid it. To side-step catching it in the first place, and protect yourself when other people around you come down with it.

You can be unlucky, of course. But nine times out of ten, these simple tips should help you stay out of trouble.

First off, know that norovirus is very, very virulent – an unpleasant illness on a hair trigger that is easily touched off. Other viruses and most bacteria need at least 20 or 30 cells to attack you with if they’re going to infect you.

Norovirus only needs half that, which makes it twice as dodgy. A nasty, horrible illness that’s super-contagious – spread mostly by touch, but also in the air. Get it on your fingers, your clothing or your skin and you have to be really careful.

It’s also pernicious, at home anywhere and able to survive on most surfaces  for over a month. And since it spreads so easily, anything touched by other people is a possible contact point – especially high-touch objects like door handles, grab rails, light switches, phones, keypads and cutlery you eat with.

How does it get into your body?

Usually through your mouth. You can breathe it in or swallow it, either on contaminated food or anything eaten with your fingers.

Which means everybody’s favourite fast foods – hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, chicken drumsticks, wraps, crisps, biscuits, cake – all the easy fast foods.

Or if you’re on holiday – olives, pitta, humous, shawarmas, kebabs, falafel, Tex-Mex favourites like tacos, fajitas, tamales, burritos and tortillas – not to mention churros, pancakes, baklava or a good dripping cone of ice cream.

Yup, all the nice stuff when you’re having a nice time. Indulgent, spur-of-the-moment, soul-boosting street-food. Tasty, tactile, goodness oozing from your fingers – you know the score.

But note the common denominator – all finger food. Stuff you can scoff with your hands, right in the middle of doing something else. Or anything with a lot of handling by others around you – tear-and-share, buffets, smorgasbords, group curries.

All easily contaminated by just one person’s unclean fingers –including yours.

Finger-lickin’ good, maybe – fingers pointing at trouble more like.

Big tummy trouble.

Self-inflicted misery

And that’s the bummer.

Because most of the time we eat without thinking because our hands LOOK clean. Yet realistically our fingers could be loaded with all kinds of yuk too small to see – a single norovirus cell is just 2 microns across, about a 10,000th the width of a human hair.

It floats around easily in the air, lighter than cigarette smoke. And settles invisibly on your skin, scraping together easily with its brothers and sisters as you wipe your hand across – groups of 20, 500, 1,000 cells, all ready to go.

Which brings us to Reality Check One – most norovirus attacks are self-inflicted. The stuff is already on our skin and we don’t even know it. We let our hygiene lapse at the wrong moment – and four hours later it’s cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea like we don’t ever want to believe.

Yeah, OK.

Like the nagging granny in our heads keeps reminding us – WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS.

If only it was that easy.

Because when does anyone get the chance, on the go most of the time – especially on holiday?

But unfortunately, that’s not good enough if you want to skip the spoil-sport tummy-torture. All it needs is ONE slip up, one forgetful moment with unwashed paws, and you’ll be chundering through the next few days.

One in the eye

Uh huh. So here’s a memory jogger.

You’re on the beach, yeah? Slapping on the suntan lotion. You wipe your hands down, but somehow, you touch your face – and the stuff gets in your eye.

Yeow, itch, instant anguish. Your whole day scuppered till you get back to the hotel, rinse your eye out and sit there with a damp cloth to your face for an hour. But let that tell you something.

That’s how norovirus works.

It’s a fact of life that we touch our faces all the time – 2,000-3,000 times a day for some of us. And that’s norovirus’s easiest way into our bodies – through the soft tissue of our eyes and mouth.

Suntan lotion on your fingers just loses you a day. Norovirus on your fingers can screw your whole holiday – or your wedding, or your graduation, or anything else it’s the pits to lose out on.

Yeah, so you know the drill.

WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS. Particularly after going to the loo – and always before food.

From lo-giene to hygiene

Shocking revelation isn’t it, to sit down to this slap-up dinner after a wonderful day – and suddenly realise that with all the places you’ve been and things you’ve done, you haven’t washed your hands since breakfast?

So Reality Check Two – handling norovirus means hiking our personal hygiene to a whole different level. Day-to-day, what we’re living with most of the time is “low-giene”.

Yeah, yeah, dirty hands. But you see these reports all the time, lots of people all getting sick at the same – what about food poisoning? Don’t vendors and restaurants serve food that’s contaminated?

For sure. And we all know the cause. Either the food itself is off, or is touched in preparation by someone with dirty hands.

Not as common as you might think, because anywhere that sells food wants to be in business today AND tomorrow. They also have laws to follow, standards to observe,  codes of practice. So most of the time, they DO take care. A law suit could cost big money – and easily be the end of them.

So how can you tell if it’s self-inflicted or food poisoning?

Your fault or theirs?

Reality Check Three – the vomiting, the diarrhoea, they’re earth-shatteringly violent because that’s how norovirus spreads itself – as far and wide as possible, very quickly.

Even so, it takes time to assert itself – and from that, you can often tell how it started.

If an outbreak happens in ones and twos, it’s probably triggered by an individual – either from unwashed hands or by suspect food from an external source – something eaten before they arrived where you are. Unwashed hands most likely – suspect self-inflicted

If a whole crowd of people comes down together, that suggests they were exposed simultaneously – some kind of shared experience. That could be either from something they’ve eaten – they were all served the same dish at the same time. Unwashed hands most likely again – though this time in preparing a popular food dish – suspect staff hygiene lapse, or dodgy food source.

Norovirus also triggers by mishap, as happened in a Swiss hotel – bad luck for everyone in the place, who all came down with it at once. Flash flooding from a cloudburst overwhelmed the drains, forcing guests and staff to wade through water backed up from the toilets.

An outbreak was inevitable, however much everyone washed themselves and their clothes – furniture, fittings and all facilities were all heavily contaminated – instant infection until they were destroyed and the whole building sanitised.

Bad, bad boomerang

Which leads to Realty Check Four – the norovirus boomerang effect. The virus returns very easily to cause repeat outbreaks if it is not completely and utterly removed after the hit in the first place.

Cruise liners are really prone to this for two reasons. Lots of people close together in shared eating and living space, handling the same objects. Plus millions of nooks and crannies where the virus can hide during even the most rigorous scrub-downs.

The handling thing is a nightmare, as there are endless things that everybody touches that can pass on by contact. Called fomites, these germ-transfer items include glasses, knives and forks, deck chairs, gym equipment, poker chips, playing cards, courtesy bibles, whatever – all of which have to be individually sanitised to avoid repeats.

Repeat outbreaks happened recently with Fred Olsen Line’s Balmoral – struck down 6 times since 2009  – and a latest misfortune just last month that ruined an Old England to New England cruise for hundreds of passengers.

Holland America Line’s Caribbean cruise liner Amsterdam was also unlucky – having to cancel four trips in succession because of repeat outbreaks in 1982.   It got so bad, the ship had to be taken out of service to ensure thorough decontamination – and new passengers were even warned before embarking that the ship had previously had problems it couldn’t get rid of.

Get out of jail, free

Doom and gloom? Avoid holidays like the plague?

You can just as easily catch norovirus at home, just by forgetting to wash your hands.Hygiene tips

And that’s the key to a perfect holiday, even the stay-at-home kind. Always wash your hands before putting anything in your mouth. And keep your hands clean too. Your fingers might be safe, but the things you touch with them are almost certainly not – indoors or outdoors, germs are a reality we have to live with.

Recognising that, plan for when you can’t wash your hands too.

Always carry hand-wipes, even if they’re not antibacterial. Easy enough to use, right at the dinner table – and doing it properly will get rid norovirus and 99.9% of all other germs.

Handbag size antibacterial gel is good too – the alcohol base kills germs, though is not as effective as physically wiping them away.

Beyond that, be careful.

If somebody close to you comes down with norovirus, you don’t need to get it too. Obviously avoid accident areas of vomit or diarrhoea. Keep well clear, the yuk can spread several feet in all directions.

If you’re involved in a clean-up, wear gloves, cover your nose and mouth too. Wash all over thoroughly afterwards and discard your clothes for thorough washing too.

Clean beyond normal

Be aware though that normal disinfecting is unlikely to go far enough. The whole place needs a good going-over, especially every last nook and cranny if the virus is not to come back again.

Almost impossible with scrubbing and bleach, the easy way is with ionised hydrogen peroxide – misted up into the air by a Hypersteriliser and electrostatically charged so it disperses actively in all directions, killing airborne and surface germs deep into every crack and crevice.

All viruses and bacteria dead, no boomerang, no nothing.

Enjoy your holiday.

Picture Copyright: paffy / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-06-13 12:20:18.

Not worth the risk: from poor workplace hygiene to gross negligence manslaughter

Lady judge
Safe hygiene is not just for you – it protects the lives of OTHER people

Wait up, hold it! An itty-bitty dirt is not manslaughter.

The place is cleaned daily. Professional hit teams. Vacuumed, dusted, wiped clean – all waste removed, toilets thoroughly disinfected.

Clean, but not always safe

Yeah good, but not you’re off the hook by any means.

OK, so you apply precautions where they’re needed. Hard hat on the shop floor – goggles, gloves, protective boots – full hazmat if necessary.

Health & Safety, right? Nothing gets past you.

That’s why the cleaning teams, naturally. Duty of care and all that jazz.

Until Freddie in Exports has a seizure at his desk and is DOA at the hospital.

Ignorance is no excuse

OK, so you weren’t to know. An underlying condition he never spoke about. It was there in his records, but he always looked chipper. Worked harder than anyone else, always in the middle of things. Triggered by an everyday bug doing the rounds – flu probably, it felled several others on the Third Floor.

It happens. Changeable weather, hot and cold in the same day – rain one minute, heatwave the next. Everybody is exposed.

Hold that thought, exposed.

Like to asbestos, or carbon monoxide? Don’t both of those carry criminal penalties? That’s not you, surely?

Ah, but it is. Even if it happens unknowingly.

But hang on – gross negligence? Manslaughter? That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?

Stick to the facts, Freddie DIED, didn’t he?

Duty of care

Because you’re supposed to know – to ensure that your workplace is safe for employees. It’s the due diligence edge of duty of care – the bit with teeth.

Alright, so ask yourself, IS your workplace safe for employees?

Ordinary office space, with the usual bullpen arrangement. The cleaning team do a good job, nothing to worry about, right?

Depends how well they clean, how thorough they are at both removing the dirt AND removing any germs. Dirt equals germs, that’s THEIR mission.

Uh huh. And it’s YOURS to make sure it’s done right.

Like wiping down the desks – routine stuff, a piece of cake.

Make that a maybe.

Good old bleach

Usual procedure involves a damp cloth, it takes away the fine grit that gets everywhere – and removes the dust bunnies. With luck, it’s soaked in sodium hypochlorite – otherwise known as bleach – to disinfect as it cleans, oxidising germs away.

At least, that’s the theory.

But germs don’t just roll over and die, that depends on contact time. And contact time for bleach is ten to fifteen  minutes to be effective, depending on concentration. Strong enough to start a nasty headache if you’re working with it, and likely to take the skin of your hands off. Diluted, it just does nothing. Which begins to make manslaughter a possibility.

Because don’t say you’re not aware of the health hazards on the average office desk. Daily media brings that up several times a year – scare tactics to sell more newspapers. Typically, any desk in your office is likely to harbour at least 10 million germs, before or after cleaning. Remember now?

And it’s true, absolutely gospel.

Infested

Check out your workstations after they’ve been processed – a Heineken inspection of the parts that ordinary cleaning rag can’t reach.  Lift the keyboards, look behind the display screens – and how about round the coils of wire connecting all those CPUs?

One word for it, gruesome.

10 million germs? Quite possibly more.

And you’re exposing your staff to those germs, just by doing nothing. Coughs, colds, flu virus, food poisoning, norovirus – it was only a matter of time before poor Freddie copped it.

And money talks

Anyway, if nowhere else, you’ve got to see it show up on your P&L. Staff absenteeism from sickness regularly costs the country – and businesses like yours – a whopping £29 billion a year.  How can anyone afford that?

All of which means that – good though they are – your cleaning service are not up to the job. At least not from the disinfecting angle. AND you’re losing a bomb each year from staff sickies.

It also means, if you stop and think about it, that you ARE culpable for poor Freddie’s death. Not intentionally, mind – but responsible none the less. Just as you would be for the rest of your staff – because these days, who DOESN’T have an underlying condition?

Everybody’s got something

Go round the office – how many of your staff are 100% fit? How many wear glasses – does your lighting minimise eye strain? How many smoke – does your aircon handle it, and how many are already candidates for COPD? How many stuff themselves on fast food and have IBS?

And how many don’t wash their hands when they go to the loo – then touch everything else in the office: files, memos, keypads, phones, photocopiers, light switches – and perpetually call in sick?

And don’t get us started on the office air.

Breathe deep, if you dare

Most germs are so small at 2 microns or less, they’re probably airborne more than they infest surfaces anyway. On top of which, every single one of us is pulling around our own personal aura of bacteria, viruses, fungus and body detritus like hair and dead skin – the place is literally crawling.

Your whole staff is exposed to all this – including you – and you still reckon Freddie is nothing to do with you?

Especially when you realise that it’s all preventable, that Freddie didn’t have to die.

Yeah sure, with a heart condition like he had, it was going to happen some time – but with proper due diligence, it didn’t have to happen on your watch. Or if it did, as long as you’d taken every precaution beforehand, his demise was unfortunate but inevitable.

Safe and secure

Because the dead easy way to protect your staff from exposure to germs is to treat the place regularly after hours with a Hypersteriliser – a wheelie-bin sized automatic machine that just makes the problem disappear.

Press one button and an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide fills the whole air space and pushes up hard against every surface – oxidising ALL viruses and bacteria to oblivion in just seconds.

Allow forty minutes or so to disperse throughout the whole volume area – and the entire room is sterile. No germs for anyone to catch, no sickness, no complications. No noxious residue either, the stuff breaks down into oxygen and water.

Scot free

Plus, with any luck, you get a major dip in absenteeism. Money in the bank, whichever way you look at it.

And a whole lot better than gross negligence manslaughter.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-06-07 13:34:21.

Antibiotic resistance: take better care of ourselves, or we’re dead

Girl in shower
Without antibiotics, keeping clean becomes our new lifesaver

Dead, as in destroyed by ourselves. Like suicide out of ignorance.

Because if we contract a bug that resists antibiotics, dying is a high probability.

We take the medicine, hoping it’s going to work – and it does nothing at all. We get sicker and sicker – and either our bodies are strong enough to fight it off by themselves, or we get unlucky.

Better not to take that risk.

Which means a whole attitude change to everything we do. And a level of watchfulness we’re not even close to right now.

Rediscover hygiene

Take personal hygiene. Keeping ourselves clean as much as possible, so germs don’t get a chance. Hands especially, the easiest way for germs to enter our mouths, or our eyes. Kinda basic, but just suppose your life depended on it – because it does.

If antibiotics don’t work – and ask any Doc, we’re getting close to that – any germ you catch is free to run riot inside your body. Unstoppable, unless you avoid it in the first place.

Duh, soap and water is not rocket science.

Same principle applies to anything you eat. Is it fresh, is it clean, is it germ-free? Don’t eat it if it’s not – because again, if you get sick, antibiotics won’t save you.

Rediscover awareness

Same thing, even if you’re just walking down the street. Be careful, avoid accidents.

If a bus hits you and you need surgery, antibiotics won’t stop infection. The bugs are resistant and you’re a goner – unless your Doc has a brilliant Plan B.

So be super-observant, all the time. Watch what you’re doing. Avoid accidents. So you don’t get cuts, you don’t get bruised, you don’t break a leg – and you don’t needlessly breathe in someone else’s germs.

Takes all the fun out of life, huh? Or kinda demonstrates how careless we normally are.

Because pretty well every ailment or accident that happens to us is preventable – if we see it coming in the first place and avoid it.

Rediscover survival

Exactly what we must learn to do, if we are to survive without antibiotics.

And yes, we’re going to have to.

Because bacteria keep evolving all the time – have done so successfully for billions of years. So even if medical science comes up with the most amazing antibiotic yet, give it five years and bacteria will always find a way to become immune to it.

Which applies to all our drugs now, and any new ones we might develop in the future – fighting off bacteria is a never-ending battle against a constantly moving target.

Ah, but antibiotics are not the only way to kill bacteria.

They might be the most effective INSIDE your body, but OUTSIDE there are options.

The super germ-killer

And OUTSIDE is where we can get to them before they get to us.

About the most effective way is to oxidise them. Shove oxygen atoms at them that rip their cell structure apart and destroy their DNA.

Which is what hydrogen peroxide does – particularly airborne IONISED hydrogen peroxide.

Composed only of oxygen and water, hydrogen peroxide is the same all-natural germ fighter the body makes for itself. And the concentration we’re talking about is a low, non-toxic and non-corrosive 6%, the same as you can buy in the chemist for bleaching your hair – though the way we use it makes it way more potent.

It’s therefore a good idea to vacate any room being treated – though it’s environmentally friendy, the stuff can cause irritation to the eyes and throat.

Why ionise? Because that enables a very mild solution, AND changes a mild and harmless solution into a super-performing giant.

Plasma performance

Remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, gas?

Well, ionising a dry mist of hydrogen peroxide metamorphoses it to a fourth state – from a gas to a plasma. This charges it electrostatically, so that all the particles physically repel each other – they spread actively in all directions, forcing themselves to fill the airspace, hard up against every surface, and deep into every crack and crevice. Complete and penetrating dispersal everywhere.

The change to a plasma also releases MORE antimicrobials – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

The negatively charged hydrogen particles reach out and grab positively charged viruses and bacteria like a magnet grabs iron filings. Locked together, contact time needs only to be a few seconds and the deed is done. ALL viruses and bacteria are destroyed to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Uh huh. You’ve taken precautions to protect yourself, the hydrogen peroxide protects your surroundings – the room you’re in is now completely sterile. All with just one button push on a Hypersteriliser machine.

Essential?

Rescued, safe, healthy

Hang on to your hat, because it’s going to be. Already the medical heavies reckon we could be only months away from total antibiotics failure.

Except we’re ahead of the game, right? Forewarned is fore-armed.

So no, we’re not dead yet. We’re going to get clean away with it.

Picture Copyright: choreograph / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-18 16:37:45.

Why soap and water will soon be saving your life

Teddy in washer
So simple – soap and water is a lot easier than going to the Doc all the time

Count on it, in the very near future, your life will depend on soap and water.

They will be the only thing between you and certain death.

Good old lifesavers

So how you use them  – or whether you use them at all – is already a lot more critical than you might ever imagine.

Because in your lifetime – and sooner rather than later – our wonder-drug antibiotics will no longer work. Bacterial superbugs will have mutated to become totally resistant to them.

Which means – going back to the dark ages before penicillin was discovered – that no longer will we be protected from our own adventurousness, recklessness, clumsiness, or foolhardiness.

Our new killers

Overnight, almost everything and anything could be the death of us.

  • Eating meat — bacteria in meat is increasingly resistant to antibiotics and can kill us.
  • A cut or scratch — before penicillin, 1 in 9 skin infections killed.
  • Any surgical cut or incision — openings for even minor ops leave us open to infection.
  • Dialysis or blood transfusion — any open blood vessel is susceptible to sepsis.
  • Insect bites — especially the itchy ones, leading to infections from scratching.
  • Colds or flu — even mild infections cause pneumonia. Without antibiotics, 30% of cases kill.
  • Childbirth — which used to kill 5 mothers out of 1000, and more by Caesarean.
  • Any cannula, ventilator or catheter.
  • Surgical implants like artificial hips or pacemakers.
  • Burns of any kind —the most infection-prone type of wound.
  • Cosmetic surgery — without antibiotics, even Botox injections is no longer risk free.
  • Tattoos — even the slightest skin blemish is open to infection.

So if anything happens to us, anything physical that is, about the only thing we’ll be able to do is wash it clean with soap and water. And properly, not just waggling around under the tap. Because if we’re suddenly socked by bacteria threatening enough to need antibiotics and soap and water is our defence, we’ve got to relearn everything there is about proper hygiene.

And here’s why. Right now:

Make no mistake either, it’s ONLY soap and water that will do the job.

Why wipes wipe out

Antibacterial wipes are out of it – for the simple reason that bacteria are able to resist them too, as researchers at Cardiff University have recently demonstrated.  And if MRSA, clostridium difficile and acinetobacter are able develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR), so can others. Worse, the wipes transfer resistant bacteria from one place to another, SPREADING contamination further.

Antibacterial soap suffers the same defect.

Why?

The triclosan ingredient mostly widely used to deter bacteria is shown by the US Centers for Disease Control to be itself prone to AMR, to the extent that major manufacturers are voluntarily withdrawing it and hunting for alternatives.

How about antibacterial gel?

Same only different. The active ingredient is alcohol, which breaks down the proteins of bacteria and some viruses, but not all of them. And without antibiotics to protect us, we don’t want something which does half the job.

Low tech and easy

Which brings us back to soap and water. Low tech, yes, but maybe cleverer than we think.

For one thing, most bacteria are either harmless or benign. So although we’re surrounded by them, we don’t want to wash off all of them – some of our usually resident “citizens” might actually be doing us some good. Soap and water action lets us keep these guys, but gets rid of the toxic “tourists” who might be threatening us.

Yeah, so rediscovering hygiene is not exactly going to kill us. Quite the opposite.

And as we’ve probably heard endlessly from our grandmothers, a little soap and water never hurt anyone.

Picture Copyright: kalcutta / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-10 17:24:53.

Don’t slag off Dyson’s Airblade, slag the germs off your hands first

Girl showing off hands
If your hands are washed clean, there’s no germs to dry off anyway

Brilliant piece of kit, Dyson’s Airblade hand dryer. First time you see it, you think  wow amazing.  The same when you use it.

Which kinda has us jumping up and down when we see a bunch of technology wonks have published research to say it spreads germs 1,300 more than paper towels.

A good idea world-wide

For starters, if it was that rotten, the giant Mitsubishi Electric Corporation wouldn’t have rushed out their own high speed Jet Towel, would they? A good idea is a good idea – and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And don’t knock it because it’s Japanese, they turn good ideas into the best in the world.

But right now it’s Dyson that’s taking the flak – our own world-leading brilliant technology company. And frankly in our view, these Westminster University researchers  claiming the AIrBlade spreads germs aren’t doing any of us a favour.

First off, the machine is a hand DRYER, right? The whole premise of its design is that hands might be wet, but they have already been cleaned. THERE ARE NO GERMS TO BE BLOWN OFF.

Unclean, unclean

So if the Westminster Uni  people found the thing spread germs, their hands must have pretty dodgy in the first place to have spread so many.

Yeah, well. Why are we not surprised? If they were basing their research on the typical behaviour of real people – which they should have – their hands were laden with all kinds of gunk. Here’s why.

Uh huh. The germs got spread because the hands weren’t clean.

End of.

Sure, lots of tiny drops of water would have spread around the place. The thing is basically a fan, for goodness sake – that’s what fans do. And Dyson’s jobbie blasts air at 430 mph – you don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.

Drops of CLEAN water – the hands were supposed to be properly washed first, remember? And Dyson’s dryer only blasts clean air because it’s sucked in through a HEPA filter before it gets to your hands anyway.

Which means microorganisms down to only 3 microns across don’t come anywhere near you – one heck of a lot better than paper towels.

Paper towels anyway are really compensating for poor hygiene in a non-touchless environment.

Touchless hygiene

If a washroom has Dysons installed, it probably has no-touch infra red taps too – and soap dispensers. The only contact is hand-to-hand scrubbing and rinsing – which done properly should ensure all the germs go down the plughole.

Most people are incredibly wasteful of paper towels anyway.

As Joe Smith points out in his superb hand washing video, in America 13 billion pounds of paper towels (5,9 million tonnes) are used every year, just to dry hands.  571,231,000 pounds of that (259,106 tonnes) is wasted by people fumbling around, not thinking what they’re doing.

Why all this hoo-hah about washing hands?

Because in our Twenty-First Century always-on-the-go, digital world, clean hands are often all that’s between us and coming down with any number of bugs like norovirus, escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, or simply colds and flu.

Finger food, fast infection

Look no further than our favourite choice of food. Burgers, chicken drumsticks, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, tamales, tortillas – all eaten with fingers. Now ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you washed your hands before you ate? Not really on the radar when you’re out and about, is it?

OK, so now wash your hands – the way you’re supposed to, with enough time to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice. And now dry them off with the Dyson. No worries, right?

Hey, hey, hey! 430 mph of clean air. Now you’re really cooking with gas!

Originally posted 2016-04-15 13:07:50.

No, no, George – we need to REPLACE antibiotics, not discover new ones

Research lab
Time for alternatives – 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year aren’t helping

George Osborne is absolutely right about one thing. We need coordinated global action on antibiotics ASAP or millions of people will die.

Not because superbugs are resistant to them so our miracle life-savers don’t work any more. But because our miracle life-savers are super killers in their own right – far deadlier than killing just the 10 million people a year George anticipates by 2050.

Killer life-savers

And make no mistake, they ARE killers. That’s how they work. Killing is what they’re designed to do. It’s why they’ve been so successful at saving lives in the past – they kill harmful bacteria that try to kill us.

Trouble is, that’s not all they kill. They’re not targeted that tightly. So in destroying the one harmful bacterium that’s so dangerous to us, they take out other  bacteria too. Modifying and maiming others. Collateral damage among the 100 trillion bacteria that naturally inhabit our human gut – not unlike setting off a hydrogen bomb.

Kind of devastating to our bodies, because those bacteria are supposed to be there. Without them we wouldn’t be able to digest food or control most of our bodily functions. Nor would our immune systems work.

Sure, a course of antibiotics can cure us of an illness. But our systems never come back 100% to where they were before. While many bacteria can quickly reproduce themselves to make up numbers, whole colonies of others are simply wiped out. The essential diversity that defends us is lost. We are more at risk, less resilient, weaker than we were.

As for the damage antibiotics cause, we’re seeing the results every day – in the spreading waistlines of our rapidly fattening population. Today, two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. So are one third of children. And as any doctor can advise, obesity puts us well on the road to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Not just 10 million a year, George. More like 100 times that.

The glutton factory

Caused by the side effect that antibiotics glitch the mechanism that controls our hunger. It switches on, but never switches off – unconsciously we’re always craving food, even though we’ve just eaten. We become gluttons, OD-ing on quick-charge power foods like burgers, pizza, hot dogs and chips.

Of course farmers lucked onto this decades ago. That feeding antibiotics to livestock would make them bulk up quicker. Four times as big, in quarter of the time, all for the same amount of food. The ultimate growth booster. Today, 70% of all antibiotics goes into agriculture.

Jackpot!

Which is why world consumption of antibiotics is now between 65,000 and 240,000 TONNES a year. Not our thumb-suck either, that’s straight out of the Prime Minister’s specially requested review of antibiotics: Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment.

Which also means George, that it’s not exactly necessary to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to produce antibiotics. At 240,000 tonnes a year, they’re making a mint already.

Now we get to the nasty bit.

Super growth promoters

OK, so those 240,000 tonnes get fed to cows (and sheep and pigs and poultry and fish) along with their daily feedstuff. They chew it around and digest it, extracting the nutrients they need, then promptly poo 80-90% of it straight out again as waste.

Well no, not waste. Manure – rich, fertile nutrition for plants, laced through with antibiotics. Grazing grass, feed crops like sugar beet, soya and rapeseed, fed BACK into animals. Fertiliser for fruit, veg and grain staples like rice and wheat and maize.

Yup, you’ve got it. Pretty well everything that we humans eat these days has residual antibiotics in it. Our share of the 240,000 tonnes a year.

Not big doses, mind. Strictly sub-therapeutic. Small enough for our own gut bacteria to develop their own built-in antibiotic resistance. And of course small enough to knock our hunger switches out of kilter so we all become food gluttons – bulking up on power foods just like the cows do. Four times as big, in quarter of the time. Gimme another five burgers.

Yeah, so antibiotics, George. Not one of your best ideas.

But a replacement for them, now you’re talking.

Bacteriophages

The topdog medics will probably throw up their hands, but one option might be bacteriophages – using VIRUSES to kill harmful bacteria, the way the Soviets did back in the Cold War. Easier to target more precisely – more rifle than shotgun – easy to mutate in parallel as bacteria themselves mutate to find resistance.

Easy to fund too – just take it out of the profits being used to produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year that the world no longer needs because they’re killing us. Or at least the diabetes, heart disease and cancer they trigger through obesity that are killing us.

One snag. It takes 12 or more years to develop a new drug and release it to patients. In the meantime, we have no defence – as antibiotics literally become worse than useless.

Hygiene to the rescue

Ah, but we’re not dead yet.

Because the one sure way to compensate for antibiotics is AVOID needing them in the first place.

We can’t get sick if there are no germs. So we need to ensure that there aren’t any.

Right now, our daily hygiene is so iffy, it’s a wonder we’re not dying in droves already.

Easy peasy, right George?

Soap and water when we can, antibacterial wipes or gel when we can’t. A lot more affordable than 240,000 tonnes of killer antibiotics.

But it’s not just germs on our hands. We need to look at our living space as well. The enclosed rooms we share at school, work, eating out or being entertained – they’re full of germs too. Unless we mist them up overnight when we’re not there – sterilise germs in the air and on all surfaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

No germs on our hands, no germs where we live. Barring accidents we could get by without antibiotics – at least in the short term.

Over to you, George.

Picture Copyright: kovalvs / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-04-14 14:00:12.