Tag Archives: hygiene

Safe hands – are we soft-soaping ourselves?

Hand washing woman
Wipes are better – your antibacterial soap isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Maybe the penny’s beginning to drop.

That we need to keep our hands clean to avoid germs.

Which is kinda important because more and more antibiotics aren’t working against them any more.

Danger, health hazard

So dirty hands mean we’re going to get sick.

Whoops! What do you mean, dirty hands? They look alright don’t they?

Besides, washing your hands all the time is a mission. Most of us skimp on the job – or avoid it all together.

Disagreeable facts

Which kinda underlines a recent report that antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than your actual El Cheapo from Tesco. Apparently the bio-active goodie in the soap, triclosan, doesn’t kill germs with the usual exposure time most people give it – it actually needs NINE hours.

That’s because ‘Elf & Safety or whoever only allow a very small amount to be in your soap – so its real germ-fighting ability doesn’t amount to a row of beans.

Not that our regular soap is likely to be any better. Most of us hardly ever use it. We shake our hands around for five seconds under the tap – and reckon that’s it. Spreading more germs as we shake our hands afterwards – while the air dryer blasts the rest all over the wash room.

Fact is, we don’t LIKE washing our hands – even though we know it’s necessary.

So yeah, we feel a twinge of conscience if we sit down in a restaurant for a slap-up meal – IF we even think of washing our hands at all.

Too much PT, don’t bother.

The soap and water alternative

Except that some of us have got clever and we’re using gel or wipes – handy for pocket or handbag, we never need to be caught out.

Oh sure, the Parent Police will have a go at us for using them. Shielding our kids from exposure to germs retards their immune systems. At least, that’s the received wisdom.

But let’s be practical. Are your hands going to get clean or not?

The bathroom’s down the hall anyway – away from the action. Far better to use a gel or wipe. They’re instant and now. And at least you take care of the germs.

OK, that’s the soap and water story nailed. So which is it, gel or wipe?

Both have antibacterial action – the real kind. So which should it be?

Horses for courses.

Though for our money, wipes work better.

Easy gel

Yes, with gel, it’s easy-peasy. You put the stuff on, work your hands around, shake ’em about a bit for the stuff to evaporate – job done.

Still prefer wipes. If there’s visible gunge on your hands, you’ve got something to physically wipe it off. As good as a face cloth or a sponge. And the antibacterial job gets done too. No viruses or bacteria, you’re safe and good to go.

Oh right, you still have to get rid of the wipe.

So what are we, helpless? Into the bin – or a bag you can keep it in until you find one. Or your pocket.

Disposable wipes

What do you mean, carrying germs around with you?

You’re not wrong, that’s why the bag. Don’t you keep one handy because the shops all charge for them these days?

We shouldn’t be squeamish either. Back in the day, we’d blow our nose on a hankie and carry that around with, full of gunk. A tissue would get dumped ASAP – and so will a moist-wipe.

Works for us. We HATE washing, so we carry wipes. So we never get caught out – clean hands ALWAYS before meals and after the loo.

End of the grudge habit

It’s not like some secret ritual either. Nobody looks too worried if you’re wiping your hands at table or outside in the passage. Probably even miffed that they didn’t think of it themselves.

Plus it pays off too. No, no, norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – it just doesn’t happen.

And can you remember the time you last had a cold or flu?

Safe hands – yes, of course.

Originally posted 2015-09-18 13:13:17.

Antibiotics bullies? It’s back to fixing infections with blades

Doctor with scalpel
If antibiotics don’t work, we’d better up our hygiene levels sharpish

It’s happening now, at a surgery near you.

Doctors intimidated, patients extorting prescriptions for antibiotics.

Self-med madness

Not because they need them, but because they think they do. For a cough or a cold. Ailments that antibiotics were never meant to cure. Self-prescription gone mad – and doctors strong-armed into making it happen.

Probably the most dangerous thing anybody ever did. Doting Mums, worried Dads – playing with fire that will come back to burn all of us before the decade is out.

Because antibiotics are NOT the cure-all that everybody thinks they are.

Not any more – and never for situations they weren’t designed for.

You see, using them for everything has blunted their edge.

So many bacteria have developed immunity to them, they’re powerless and useless. And viruses were always resistant to them anyway.

Which means the next time any of us goes for surgery or needs attention after an accident – it won’t be drugs fighting the infection.

First cut is the deepest

It will be surgeons, cutting bits out to improve our survival. Chopping and slicing in the only defence left to us. The only alternative when antibiotics don’t work.

Not nice, eh?

Loosing an arm or a leg because germs got in. Or half a lung, all of your stomach – and just how easy will your life be then? Forget playing the violin again – you could be a basket case.

Which is where all our clamouring for antibiotics is going to get us if we don’t pack it in.

MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – is already a major infection headache for hospitals everywhere. There are many others, and increasing everyday. Soon none of our repertoire of antibiotics will have any effect at all.

All because the wonder-drugs of fifty years ago are now used everywhere on an industrial scale. Agriculture alone uses near 500 TONNES a year – no wonder they’re over-used!

Which means it’s back to the Dark Ages – the government has already said so. More to the point, so has Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, who basically admits that drugs don’t work any more.

You get an infection now, the only cure is going to be to cut it out – with the risk of more infection of course if the enlarged wound gets infected.

Wash, wash, wash

Yup, we can wash our hands – our first line of defence. Except too many of us don’t even do that – 62% of men and 40% of women – do we have a death wish or what?

Or are we already used to the idea that the price for getting ill is to start losing body parts?

And sure, we can use a Hypersteriliser to take out viruses and bacteria that threaten our living space – but only BEFORE we get infected, not after.

So slip and cut yourself getting off the bus, and you could lose an arm.

Better to leave the doctoring to the doctors, don’t you think?

Because if we haven’t done six years of med school – followed by two years of internship minimum – what the hell do we know about antibiotics anyway?

Originally posted 2015-08-18 16:59:49.

MERS from camels: like bird flu meets norovirus

Camel girl
Not nice for animals, not nice for us – and it’s spreading

The word is “zoonotic”.

That’s a disease that jumps to us from animals.  Ebola is one, HIV is another. So is SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), remember that?

From birds, from monkeys, all kinds of living things.

None of them are nice.

Another coronavirus

And all of them have no cure when they first happen. People die, and the medics go into overdrive, looking for effective treatment.

Right now the alarm bells are ringing for MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), a new coronavirus thought to have started with bats and somehow transferred to camels.

Since first encountered in 2012, most cases have been in the Arabian peninsula – the camel connection.

The panic now is that it’s suddenly jumped to South Korea.  Which is of course the problem with all modern illnesses. A few hours on a Boeing and they could wind up anywhere.

Two in one

MERS is particularly nasty – a virus with two sets of symptoms for the price of one.

Like most respiratory illnesses, it feels like flu – fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The unwanted bonus is like norovirus – nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If complications set in, pneumonia and kidney failure follow. And of course, dehydration. 3 – 4 out of every 10 who catch it die – a mortality rate of one-third.

Not to be played with. So if ever there was a spur to tighten up personal hygiene, this is it. Even camels can succumb to lack of fluids.

A good stimulus is to remember that schoolboy chestnut, “beware the camel spits.”

MERS is catching

Right there is one of the ways that MERS transmits – though the air from someone coughing or sneezing. Droplets from any kind of body fluid are a real danger.

The other way would be cuddling up to a camel, or someone unlucky enough to have MERS.

And not even a cuddle – a handshake will do it, or even borrowing a pen to sign something.

Touch your mouth, nose or eyes after that – and most of us do it 3,000 times a day – and you could already be at risk.

Hidden threat

You see, you can’t tell someone has MERS when it starts. It takes around ten days for the symptoms to show themselves. (Tweet this) The downer is that it’s contagious all of that time.

During which you’ve caught the plane, done your sales meeting, enjoyed the celebratory banquet, flown home again – and been in time for your daughter’s stage debut in the school ballet. So how many people did you glad-hand in that little jaunt?

Wash Hands LogoPersonal hygiene

You got it – wash your hands at every opportunity. Before food, after the loo – and whenever you can after touching somebody or something from outside your usual circle of living.

The other defence is to safeguard your immediate environment.

Not the great outdoors of course, but the enclosed spaces we all share – lots of us all together, moving in the same space, using the same things, breathing the same air – at work, at school, at places where we eat and relax.

Sterilised surroundings

HypersteriliserBefore we get there, all viruses and bacteria that may be present are destroyed with a Hypersteriliser. A fine mist of hydrogen peroxide plasma penetrates everywhere and actively oxidises them to nothing. So when we walk in through the door, the place is sterile.

Two defences – against a two-faced virus with serious implications if we don’t keep watchful.

Get lost, MERS.

Not “how do you do?” But “good riddance”.

Originally posted 2015-06-04 11:31:50.

If it’s just a scratch, how come you’re in hospital?

Doctor in ICU
Forgetting to wash your hands
can cause a whole lot of trouble

A little scratch, only a paper cut. Typical office wound, like a pencil puncture or a stapler stab.

Nothing really.

Ordinarily no. You work it with your tongue and suck it better. All over, just a scratch.

Wrong.

Germs in ambush

There’s bacteria in your mouth – and bacteria on your skin. Bacteria lurking in the air all round you – and a frightening amount of bacteria on your desk.

You don’t know that of course, because you can’t see it.

So you carry on with the day pretty much as normal, remembering that paper cuts always hurt more than others – just the usual.

Except this time there’s swelling with it. Not just a scratch any more. There’s redness spreading up your hand. You feel hot and sweaty. Your head swims and you can feel the mother of all headaches on the way.

Escalating symptoms

Thankfully, someone dials 999.

They’re quick, six minutes in the most horrendous traffic.

But you’re not there. You’re upstairs in the loo, feeling like hell, shivering, fighting for breath, with your tummy squishing out the most terrible stuff non-stop. Your blood pressure is through the floor and your temperature through the roof.

All this from a tiny scratch?

The paramedics call it in, they have a fix on your condition. Their control agrees. They transport you – with siren and lights. Not even to A&E, straight to ICU. You’re on oxygen, drips and antibiotics.

It’s septic shock, a severe form of sepsis – when your body over-reacts to an infection and goes into meltdown. Your immune system is on the fritz, intent on destroying itself.

The antibiotics don’t work. Whatever the bug is that started this,  it’s immune to them – an increasing problem these days, when rescue drugs don’t work. But your medical team have seen sepsis before, they start you on a transfusion.

Impossible isn’t it? Five hours ago you were perfectly normal.

Sepsis – the unknown killer

Like Emma Straker, a beautiful 19-year old girl who had a crash infection just like you. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, but they set up the UK Sepsis Trust in response – a charity to help victims and advise medical teams how to handle this killer illness.

It’s their emergency toolkit your team are using to treat you. Experts helping experts to save lives.

Two days later you feel like you. A little weak maybe, but well enough to go home.

And that’s when your boss tells you – never again. The whole office were with you every second of the way and they know. So you’ll see a few changes when you get back.

Hiking up hygiene

First thing is everyone reminding each other to wash their hands. Signs in the loo and little folded cards on everyone’s desk – a gentle reminder on your computer’s desktop too. Because they know, one little scratch can devastate your life, like the American lady with her cat.

The place looks cleaner too. More fresh, more sparkly. A hit team came in and blitzed the place, nailing all the germ-traps on desktops and keyboards, phones too – everywhere.

It gets blitzed every night as well, with a Hypersteriliser. When everyone goes home, it mists up the place with a germ-killing ionised gas plasma. Viruses, bacteria, all pathogens are destroyed. Every morning starts fresh and sterile.

They’ve also got a new first aid kit. They can’t stop paper cuts, but they can stop people bleeding all over the place. Those documents you were working on had to be reprinted.

So welcome back, champ – lucky you made it. Now don’t forget to tell everyone how important effective hygiene is.

Originally posted 2015-06-02 11:45:37.

Hand wash ritual to save us all from vomiting bug

Girl showing hands
Super clean, before every meal – super healthy, every day

Know that expression, “if you can’t beat them, join them”?

Applied to the awkward fact that 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly after going to the loo, we don’t like the way it’s looking at us.

Especially when that kind of carelessness brings so many of us down with the vomiting bug, norovirus – aka Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

So our suggestion is to turn it around – “if you can’t join them, beat them.”

Reverse psychology

Because frankly, there’s no way we’re going to risk our health out of aversion to a little soap and water. Not if it means stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea – where’s the sense in that?

And it makes least sense of all when we go out for a meal.

A special moment, special food, special friends – suddenly cut short by the awful vomiting bug.

Except it’s our fault, isn’t it?

Grubby paws

When was the last time we washed our hands before we sat down? And all that yuck on them from the loo two hours ago? Small wonder that our tummies go heave-ho as the first mouthfuls go down.

Nicely contaminated by our grubby fingers – they don’t look it, but they are – covered in norovirus or salmonella, too small to see so we kid ourselves that they’re clean anyway.

Next stop, A&E to have our stomachs pumped out.

Or not.

Blame the restaurant

Because no restaurant wants a bad rep for food poisoning when the real cause is so often customers with dirty hands.

So if you can’t join them, beat them, make a ritual out of it – a special hand washing ceremony before anybody eats.

Far-fetched?

Not a bit of it. In some restaurants, it’s already the practice to provide finger bowls – a ritual by themselves. So the idea of washing your hands at table is not so foreign.

And though it’s unusual, they’re not so crazy in popular restaurants either – nobody minds the focus on hygiene, it’s just unexpected.

Which leaves plenty of scope to take it a lot further – if nothing else, people will like it for the novelty.

And though it’s really a serious thing, you can even make it fun. (Thanks again, Northampton General Hospital!)

Halfway there already

On some airlines already, a sealed courtesy-wipe is provided to do hands and face with a meal. Biz-class and above do the same with hot towels.

And in the more exotic Turkish restaurants, part of the whole character is a huge copper basin with hot water brought to the table – and a copper jug to pour water over guests’ hands in a welcoming ritual.

Add scented soap and complimentary towels, and you have a whole hygiene procedure. A restaurant with unique, memorable character too.

Seems other countries have a better take on hygiene than we do. Go to Malaysia, and you’ve got to try “street food” – real, intricate, restaurant quality meals served out in the open, at the roadside.

Scrumptious yes, with your crockery and cutlery brought straight to your table in a basin of boiling water. Haul out your handy tube of gel that you carry always, and your hands are just as safe and sterilised.

A new ritual

Which is why we’re suggesting that a ritual is the thing. We’re already halfway there with the ritual of the phone. Look around you next time you’re out. Everyone on other tables always starts with Facebook or Twitter or something.

OK, so do the same with the gel. Haul it out, pass it round. Make it a feature of being out together. Everyone will know it’s good and hygienic, so there won’t be many refusals.

And if anybody asks why, simply say that nobody’s going to catch Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease if you can help it – not on your watch.

Which is why you do it at home too. These days, folks tend to sit round the TV more than the dinner table. But it’s the easiest thing in the world to pass the gel around.

Habit forming

Before you know it, a quick squidge before eating becomes everyone’s habit – and Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease becomes a rarity more than the norm.

Easy-peasy, huh?

Didn’t know staying healthy could be so simple?

Sure beats being ill when you don’t have to be.

Originally posted 2015-05-20 13:56:09.

Why go sick when you don’t need to?

Cruise ship passengers
All that money – and the best time of your life – don’t let a bug ruin it all

Think of it as a warning.

As the weather warms and thoughts turn to holidays, the first of this year’s cruise ship tummy bug outbreaks hits the headlines.

Two San Diego-based cruises to Central America and back at £1,000 a pop just for starters. Sick at sea again.

The onboard tummy bug

Norovirus again – and from the looks of it, full-on gastro. Holiday dreams of a fortnight afloat, sunk in a gut-wrenching nightmare. The price of an unguarded moment maybe in a super-cool cantina in Puerto Quetzal or Puerto Vallarta – where the locals have cast-iron tummies and the turistas drop like flies.

Avoidable, yes. The tacos de frijoles have a certain reputation.

But more likely hygiene issues in an misadventure off the beaten track.

And norovirus is highly contagious.

Get back to the ship before the symptoms set in – an enclosed space shared by 3,000 people – and the inevitable happens, everyone is sick.

Because who remembers to wash their hands and take precautions when you’re having fun? And when it’s difficult to find a place at all until you get back to your cabin?

By then of course, it’s too late. Whoever you touched, whoever you shared food and drinks with – the gastro takes hold like wildfire.

Stop it happening again

OK, the cruise people can’t stop the wayward adventure.

But they CAN minimise the outbreak and control the spread – prevent it reaching all 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew. Fewer people need to fall sick.

All it takes is a number of onboard Hypersterilisers – the whole ship sterilised by hydrogen peroxide plasma – a zero germ threshold throughout, no viruses or bacteria anywhere.

Because this is not the first outbreak on either of the ships, Celebrity Infinity or Legend of the Seas. And gastroenteritis is a major recurring onboard sickness as stressed in the US Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) own schedule for Vessel Sanitation.

A weighty document, it details exactly how a cruise ship should be sanitised after an outbreak. The hard way, by rubbing and scrubbing.

“After both ships docked, crews went to work scrubbing down every inch of the cabins and common rooms.”

Not necessarily that effective. If you think of all the inaccessible nooks and crannies that exist on a cruise ship, there are thousands of places a virus could lurk, even after a deep clean sanitation blitz.

Reinfection threat

Nor can the ship’s HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air conditioning system do much to filter out the virus. Norovirus cells measure 0.04 microns, but the minimum size a HEPA system can filter out is only 0.3 microns.

Even though the ship has been thoroughly processed, norovirus can survive on hard surfaces for seven days or more.

By which time the ship is back in Central America in the middle of its next cruise – all ready for the new crop of passengers – with no clue where the new outbreak is coming from.

Which is why the Hypersteriliser is so vital.

Force-fed dispersal

The super-fine plasma airborne mist it generates is ionised.

Actively charged, every molecule is vigorously trying to escape from its neighbour. It spreads everywhere by force – the molecules rushing to fill the whole air space and jamming up hard against every surface – underneath, behind, everywhere.

And of course, deep into cracks and crevices.

Even better, the actively charged mist is attracted to viruses and bacteria like a high-powered magnet – grabbing them and ripping them apart by shoving oxygen atoms at them.

No germ can survive, the ship is sterilised. Any source of infection now is brought on board as food or cargo – or on the persons or in the baggage of newly joining passengers.

No bugs next time

No norovirus, no bugs of any kind. Nobody coming down sick. Your holiday is safe.

You might want to mention that to your cruise line before you embark.

Two weeks is a long time to be ill when you’re not seasick.

Originally posted 2015-04-15 11:01:37.

Kiss goodbye to sepsis – today and every day

Lips
For the love of life,
we all need to show we care

Let every pair of beautiful lips remind you.

How beautiful life is. How much love there is in the world.

And how easily it is all taken away – with a simple scratch, a little cut, one of those nothings we never think about.

Infection – kiss of death

Because, little scratch or no, if ever the germs take over, suddenly you’re faced with raging illness.

What’s happening to you, is it a major disease? Ebola, malaria, or polio?

You can’t talk. You can’t stop shivering. Your muscles ache. You can’t go to the loo. You can’t catch your breath. You’re convinced you’re going to die. And your skin suddenly looks awful.

It’s major all right – a major infection called sepsis.

Never heard of it?

One of our biggest killers

Neither had the 37,000 other people it kills every year. Dead from infection that ran out of control and took over their bodies. Dead because antibiotics didn’t work – the bacteria that triggered everything is immune to them.

But that’s why the lips.

A beautiful girl called Emma Straker loved wearing red lipstick. Out of nowhere she came down with sepsis and died, only 19. Red lips are how she’s remembered.

Since then, concerned people everywhere have helped raise money to fight this dreadful affliction. They show their support by taking a selfie with red lips – and posting it with a donation to the UK Sepsis Trust.

Even more so today – because all over the country, it’s Kiss Goodbye to Sepsis Day.

Because with care and early enough treatment, sepsis can be beaten.

Prevention is better than cure

It starts with a simple infection.

So the best possible defence is to avoid contact with germs in the first place – not always easy, not always possible.

But at least germs can be stopped dead in any room BEFORE you step into it – sterilised with hydrogen peroxide.

Zero germ threshold, zero exposure.  All it needs is a Hypersteriliser. Daily treatment so that nothing ever gets a foothold again – in schools, hotels, restaurants, public offices, buses, trains, planes, work places, hospitals, care homes, everywhere.

So that any cut or chest infection or other minor ailment isn’t escalated by other bacteria into a raging, out-of-control monster.

People do survive sepsis. Some completely, some with a lasting disability.

Hygiene – kiss of life

Those lips can remind us that it’s possible – with kisses all over the hospital wards where sepsis is treated – kiss-marks to mark successful recovery.

Just like the walls of palm prints in Africa which proclaim “I survived Ebola”.

Sepsis is whole body infection run out of control. All of us can get it, if we’re unlucky or careless.

And all of us can avoid it – by upping our hygiene habits. (Tweet this)

That really is the kiss of life.

Originally posted 2015-04-10 16:49:32.

Your next breath could be your last

Girl finess training
Healthy as anything,
until a germ gets you

Think it can’t happen?

One breath is all it takes.

Or a swallow. Or the next time you touch your face – which we do 2,000 times a day.

One germ contact and foops! You’re off work, or in hospital, or worse.

Doesn’t worry you right this instant, does it?

When you’re well, you’re untouchable.

It’s gonna happen

Yet every single day 2.2% of us are booked off sick from work. That’s 1.4 million people, every single day.

And count on it, sooner or later you’re going to come down with something and you’ll be one of them. Not if, but when.

Because we’re ALL colonised by bacteria ALL the time – and surrounded by billions more. Bacteria, viruses, fungi – you name it.

That’s not out in the open air either.

It’s in our homes and where we work and relax. Because we live indoors most of the time.

And the indoor biome, as it’s called, is one of the fastest growing environments round the world – the urban, indoor life of the city dweller.

Think it’s nice and clean and away from the threats of outside?

Every home has bugs. Bacteria and viruses too. Some of them benign and helpful. Others waiting to do us down. (Tweet this) And make no mistake, we are surrounded by them all the time. Every breath drags more of them in.

Good bugs, bad bugs, everywhere

We can’t see them of course, they stay out of sight.

Cockroaches and bedbugs hide away so well, if you see any one of them you already have an infestation problem.

Viruses and bacteria do even better. They’re so small, billions of them could be on your hand right now and you would never know.

Which is why hygiene is so crucial to your health. Kinda like wash your hands or else.

Because the body is remarkably resilient to threats from germs, but it’s not invincible.

One cut – even a paper cut – can put you down. One breath at the wrong moment.

And surrounded by billions and billions of germs as we are – the slightest opportunity any of them finds, they will take it.

But they’re off the radar, aren’t they?

Unseen but deadly

We can’t see them, so therefore they don’t exist. We only react to what we CAN see, which is visual dirt. Cleaning something we can understand – we can see the difference when we’ve done it too.

But awareness of germs, particularly in the house?

Beyond bunging some bleach in the loo and the odd scrub up in the kitchen, we don’t even think about them.

Which is taking more of a risk than we know.

Because of our climate, most of us in the UK live indoors most of the time. And what a climate! Raining all the time, right?

One look outside proves it. Green garden fences – from algae, lichen or moss. Stuff growing everywhere.

It’s even scarier indoors. And again – out of sight, out of mind.

Until you pull the wardrobe out and see the damp behind. The mildew and mould that you never realised was there.

Together with the other germs, the ever-present damp, and the warmth from the central heating, you’re living a lot more at hazard than you ever thought you were.

Wash your hands, save your life

Which is why hygiene – particularly taking care of those unseen nasties – is key to enjoying life and avoiding those cough-splutters that pull you down.

Except you can’t scrub and wipe-clean everything.

You can’t scrub the air around you either, which is 80% of your living space.

And that’s full of bugs too, floating around so small, they may never settle on anything – except you when you walk through them, take another breath and…

Don’t go there.

A Hypersteriliser will fix them though. Sterilise a whole room at a time so there are no germs anywhere – not even underneath things, behind them, or in cracks, or anywhere.

You just press a button – and twenty minutes later, sorted.

Not something we think a lot about now, but one day your life could depend on it.

And a heck of a lot better than holding your breath.

Originally posted 2015-03-27 13:21:59.

Get-ahead dentists see the light

Dental nurse
No cavities, no bacteria,
no viruses, no problem

Well, not exactly, because they’ve got the door closed.

With good reason.

That room is being sterilised by high energy pulses of ultraviolet light at wavelengths between 200 and 320 nanometres.

Any germ in there – any virus, any bacteria – is getting its DNA blitzed to hell and gone, with no coming back.

Five minutes and the surgery is ready for the next patient.

Sterilised for every patient

They call the machine that does it The Rumbler.

Because it rumbles on the floor – all finished in oak at Malmsey Dental Practice – quicker for an easy wipe-down. Staff are hot on hygiene at Malmsey, and the patients love it.

More accurately they love Gloria, the petite New Zealand gap-year student they’ve hired to push The Rumbler around.

Practice manager Pat Hunniford’s niece, she came in one day to see the set-up and grabbed the machine when there was an awkward glitch moment between patients.

The entire dental staff fell in love with her smile, and she made the patients feel like a million dollars as she ushered them in to their appointments.

Especially when they realised that The Rumbler she was wheeling around totally sterilised the place.

With that smile and that reassurance, the Malmsey dentists hired Gloria on the spot, the ultimate natural.

Open wide – and no germs

So now Glorious Gloria wheels the machine to each of the surgeries between patients, shushes the dental staff out for their ten-minute breather, activates the machine, checks the waiting room while it runs, then switches off it to rumble into the next surgery and go find the next patients.

Business is booming.

There are four dentists at Malmsey, and two hygienists.

Thanks to Gloria, they’re booked solid for the next two months – and the waiting list for new patients could re-paper reception.

Because Gloria is way more than a pretty face. An intending med student herself, she tells everyone how the UV rays from The Rumbler sterilise each surgery before every patient, so she’s actually keeping them all safe.

With her Hollywood smile – a cosmetic sales incentive all by itself – she explains how nobody must look at the machine while it’s running to avoid any harm.

Safer, stronger, faster

It’s pulsed UV from a powerful xenon bulb that is way more intense, yet safer than the old mercury vapour lamps they used to use. Faster too, which is how they can sterilise every surgery before every patient.

Pat Hunniford organised the appointments system to allow for the time – and staff feel more motivated with the frequent breaks to make phone calls, catch up on gossip, or simply chill in a way they never could anywhere else.

Again and again they tell Gloria she has a guaranteed career in PR, or modelling, or even in show-biz.

But she just flashes that amazing smile and carries on with The Rumbler.

A whole-room autoclave

It’s not a rumbler at all of course, it’s a Hyperpulse – the same size as a small photocopier – with a tall xenon bulb that pops up and down like a periscope when the machine is activated.

Not many practices have the Hyperpulse, but when the dentists realised they could sterilise their whole rooms as well as their instruments for every patient, it quickly became a must-have. (Tweet this)

Meanwhile summer is coming and they know that Glorious Gloria is going to give them the best attendance records yet.

They also know the clock is ticking.

Gloria’s mind is made up – and she fully intends to be first in line when the University of Auckland opens its doors at the end of February next year.

Sad for the dentists. But they also know they have the happiest – and healthiest – dental patients in the whole of UK.

Originally posted 2015-03-20 12:09:50.

How cracks in our hygiene will kill us

Arms folded doctor
Germs are so deadly, you can’t take chances, ever

It’s Hollywood’s oldest cliché.

The white-gloved finger running along a surface – and the dirty smudge that results.

Just because a thing looks clean doesn’t mean it is.

Except we know that. Which is why we  attack everything with disinfectants the way we do.

Looks are deceiving

We know about germs – and we know they live in dirt.

But sussing whether a thing is clean or not is still a problem.

If you’ve got the time and patience, you can try one of those fancy CSI jobbies that show up where the bloodstains are. Bioluminescence that glows under UV light. Hidden germs – lurking.

Which is a nightmare that’s even worse in hospitals. HAIs – hospital acquired infections – are the most frustrating and deadly challenge of our age.

Argh, it’s infuriating! Here is a facility specially created to make people well – only for them to catch a superbug and die.

And it happens, even though staff are meticulous with their cleaning procedures. Latex gloves, so nothing is touched directly. Every surface swabbed with bleach.

Recycling bugs

Next second, everyone is down with diarrhoea – even patients in special care and on antibiotics. Especially them, it often seems. Clostridium difficile (c.diff) – a killer bacterium that seems to thrive in health care centres – accounting for around 2,000 deaths a year in UK.

This is a real nasty that seems to lurk everywhere. Swab, scrub, swab, scrub – but repeat infections become a vicious cycle.

Because it’s not just on surfaces, it’s in hidden corners and cracks – those unavoidable crevices between furniture and machines – where hand-wipe cleaning just cannot reach.

Desperate to try anything, Vancouver General Hospital is running tests with a tracker dog. Like an airport bomb-sniffer, Angus the springer spaniel is specially trained to sniff out clostridium difficile wherever it inevitably tries to hide. In the cracks in walls, floors, and under sinks – out of sight, out of mind – until the next uncontrollable dash for the loo.

Effective, sure – and a heart-warming story.

Except the cracks still have to be properly cleaned and disinfected. It takes time to sniff out a whole hospital ward too. And even then, conventional cleaners may not actually kill the bug.

There are questions too – about the wisdom of bringing a dog into a hospital in the first place.

An effective rescue

All problems that dissolve into nothing by using hydrogen peroxide.

Many hospitals will be familiar with hydrogen peroxide fogging to get rid of germs.

Few of them stick with it because it’s a schlep – rooms have to be evacuated for the spray to be applied – and out of action for hours while the stuff dries out.

Unless of course, they’re using a Hypersteriliser.

No more schlep, no more wet spray.

The dry mist from this small and easily handled machine is ionised.

Ultra-fine particles of hydrogen peroxide are charged like a plasma to disperse quickly in all directions. Upwards, outwards, underneath and behind things – penetrating deep into inaccessible crevices – dynamically attracted there, exactly where c. diff likes to hide.

Not just c.diff either – but all viruses and bacteria that may be present.

Charged attraction

Like magnets, the charged particles of hydrogen peroxide actively reach out and grab at the cells of harmful pathogens – ripping through them with oxygen atoms to destroy them completely.

Another super-effective germ killer, colloidal silver, boosts this action so the hydrogen peroxide is three times more effective. A miniscule film of it is left behind on surfaces as an ongoing microbial barrier.

And after its oxidising attack, the hydrogen peroxide itself breaks down into harmless oxygen and water, which quickly evaporates into nothing.

So yes, there might be cracks all round us where germs can hide. But they’re not going to get very far with this kind of protection. Sterilised, safe and secure.

Let’s get HAIs down – and antibiotic-resistant bugs out on their ear.

We’ve hiked our hygiene habits to a whole new level.

Originally posted 2015-03-16 13:03:05.