Tag Archives: Hypersteriliser

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.

Antibiotics Armageddon. Are we too late for Plan B?

Survivor
Clean or else – we CAN survive germs if we learn to avoid them

Wait a minute, did we ever have a Plan B?

Because we’re at the point where antibiotics are beginning not to work any more – and modern medicine is going critical. Straighten up and fly right, or dire things will happen.

Yeah, but…

Out with the big guns

We’d better believe it. According to our top-level heavyweights, it’s time to get tough. With big-stick tactics for getting it wrong.

Like naughty GPs, prescribing antibiotics without verifying there’s a need. Or naughty farmers, dosing livestock with antibiotics, just to fatten them up.

Haven’t they heard of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)? Don’t they realise that they’re helping dangerous bacteria develop immunity to the drugs we treat them with? That superbugs will soon be untouchable and antibiotics will be useless?

Yeah, some Plan B. Not really a plan at all.

Ultimate survivors

Because it’s a fact of life that BACTERIA ALWAYS SURVIVE – and have done successfully for billions and billions of years. Which is why they’re possibly the most successful life-forms on the planet – able to withstand super-hot and super-cold, super-acid, super-dry, super-salty and super-pressure.

And we dare to think an itty-bitty antibiotic designed by humans is going to stop them.

Seriously?

Maybe hold them back for a few years, lulling us into a sense of false security.

Like hey, remember penicillin?

The original miracle wonder-drug. It saved lives for 12 years before the superbugs got wise to it. Staphylococcus in 1940 – cousin and relative of today’s superbug, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which itself took just 2 years to get in on the act.

But like we said, BACTERIA ALWAYS SURVIVE. They might take a few generations to do it – twenty minutes at a time – so for penicillin, that’s 315,360 generations. Zap – you can’t beat the numbers.

Because, surprise, surprise – among other skills, bacteria are actually able to “teach” each other immunity, passing on their resistance skills to even unrelated types

Yeah? And we think we’re so smart. Because while they’re doing it, the rest of our wonder-drugs store cupboard is rapidly emptying. We don’t wise up, do we?

Antibiotics: crashed and burned

Tetracycline lasted 9 years, until 1959; erythromycin 15 years; gentamycin 12 years; vancomycin 16 years; ceftazidime 2 years; levofloxacin not even 1 year; and ceftaroline the same.

And now colistin, our antibiotic of last resort – the one we turn to when all others have failed – can be resisted by bacteria too.

Get the message? The cupboard is bare.

Which means within our lifetime, without being able to control infection using antibiotics, even routine medical procedures such as caesarean births, hip replacements and heart bypasses will become impossible.

Which is why Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR Review chairman for the Prime Minister, insists that doctors should only issue antibiotics against medically verified proof that they are necessary.

Lord Jim also advocates that drug companies should be strong-armed into developing new antibiotics, to keep ahead of the rising tide of resistance, with cash money incentives if necessary.

Yeah, that would be good.

Mega-buck drugs companies

Especially when Lord Jim’s own review paper identifies that drug companies are currently producing up to 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year. Something must be wrong with their pricing structure if they can’t finance new product development out of volumes like that.

OK, so from Lord Jim’s perspective, unless we come up with an alternative, antibiotics will stop working altogether and we’re all going to die. Antibiotics Armageddon.

And that’s just for humans.

Except around 70% of antibiotics world-wide are used to support high intensity factory farming of animals – livestock for food production. 240,000 tonnes, remember?

Now ask yourself, so antibiotic resistance is dangerous to us humans, right? But the animals are only bred for food, their lifespans are very short, not really a problem, hey?

Wrong, big time.

Living hell

Those animals are farmed so intensively, antibiotics are essential to keeping them alive at all. Stressful, over- crowded quarters, unsanitary conditions – in astronomically unbelievable numbers now vital to support the three-fold population explosion of  humans since antibiotics were first discovered.

Food for 3 times as many humans – OFF THE SAME AVAILABLE LAND AREA – in just 50 years.

So what happens if antibiotic resistance hits the animals?

Well, exactly like us, they can’t survive either. Nor can they breed successfully to produce more.

Which very quickly means no more food, no more manure for intensive plant crops – a massive shortfall to bring famine to at least 5 billion people – the difference between the 2½ billion we were 50 years ago and the 7½ billion we are today.

Antibiotic damage

But hold on. Antibiotic resistance is only part of the problem.

Antibiotic damage is another.

You see, the big thing about antibiotics in food production is they fatten animals up fast. Four years of growth is telescoped into six months – which is how come farmers are able to feed 3 times as many humans – OFF THE SAME AVAILABLE LAND AREA in just 50 years.

And we eat those same animals, so we consume the same antibiotics they do in the food they provide – either directly through daily dosing feedstuffs, or picked up from their manure by plants fed to them as basic forage.

Uh huh. Which means we get fat too – the antibiotics do the same thing to us. Take a look around – yup, now you know why two thirds of all adults are overweight or obese.

Except our lifespans are not the same as theirs – two years and slaughtered, ready for market.

We go on for decades and decades. Getting fatter and fatter – coming down with all the ailments that obesity triggers – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma. All of them massive killers, accounting for way more than the 50,000 a year in the US and UK who currently die of antibiotic-resistant superbugs – like close on 30 million.

You begin to get the picture?

Billions of deaths

Either directly or indirectly, our miracle wonder-drugs are going to be responsible for BILLIONS of deaths. And they are already doing it NOW.

A, we conk out now from some horrible resistant superbug. Or B, we take thirty years to die, getting worse every day from cancer or heart disease.

Thank you, antibiotics! Our killer lifesavers. Like smoking, only worse.

And bacteria are only one type of pathogenic microbes. AMR means antimicrobial resistance, right? All microbe types. So where’s our plan for viruses, fungi, archaea, protozoa, or algae?

Well the heck with Lord Jim, the best plan is right in our bathrooms.

Fighting back

Soap and water. To wash the bugs off our hands – their easiest way into our bodies – through the sensitive tissue of our eyes, nose and mouth.

Clean hands, no germs.

Kinda important when you consider that unconsciously, we touch our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day.

Clean hands, good.

Except now, don’t touch anything, because every single thing around us – including the air – is full of viruses and bacteria.

Shock, horror! At any second, we could be exposed to life-threatening pathogens that could be the end of us. Even a paper cut could lead to sepsis – and that’s the end of us.

Except we do have a second line of defence beyond soap and water – and pretty soon you’re going to see it in operation everywhere.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide. Misted up into the air from a mobile Hypersteriliser machine. A mild eco-friendly all-natural chemical – the body makes its own for germ-fighting – composed of only water and oxygen. Dynamically dispersed in all directions by electrostatic charge – the same charge that actively reaches out to grab viruses and bacteria, oxidising them to nothing.

No germs, the place is sterile.

No need for antibiotics, you’re not exposed to anything.

Prevention is better than cure.

Not exactly a Plan B, because it won’t fight infections already in the body – Lord Jim & Co need to focus on that.

But a helluva lot better than nothing.

Picture Copyright: ersler / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-25 12:23:04.

Safer from terrorists than germs on your own hands

Girl on escalator
No terrorists here – but just starting with the handrail, there’s billions and billions of germs

Look around the room you’re in. How many terrorists do you see?

None, right?

Not surprising, since only 3% of all deaths by terrorism have occurred in the West.

Which means less than that in the UK – averaged at five deaths a year according to a report.

Even less in the town you live in. And probably zero in your street.

Out of sight, out of mind

OK, now how many germs do you see?

Also none, right?

But they’re there, alright. Just too small to see .

A single cell of norovirus, everybody’s favourite cruise ship vomiting bug, is 3 microns across – a 5,000th the width of a human hair. A single cell of that other tummy bug regular, escherichia coli, is even smaller at 2 microns – the same as rhinovirus, the common cold bug.

And it only takes 10 norovirus cells, ganged up together, to infect you if they get in the right place. The kind of thing you do rubbing your skin – they scrape together, 5,000 could fit on a hair – next thing you touch your eyes or your mouth, and they’re in like Flynn.

Four hours later the cramps start – and the upchucks – and the runs. Worse than any terrorists, more like the end of the world.

And these germs are floating round you EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Everywhere you look

For instance, just by being in the room, you yourself are contributing 37 million germs an hour  – just from the cloud of them that we all carry around with us.

That doesn’t include the germs already in the room either – left behind on countertops and work surfaces, clinging to cleaning cloths and sponges, piled up on phone keypads and light switches, or just floating through the air on the tiniest breeze, waiting for you to breathe them in – lighter than dust, lighter than smoke, lighter even than oxygen particles.

Which means everything you touch, you pick up more – your hands are laden with them. And you don’t want to know what happens if you don’t wash them off when you go to the loo – most of us have such bad habits, we should be vomiting our guts out every day.

Horrible hygiene

Seriously. And here’s why.

Gruesome, huh?

But even washing our hands is not enough. Because there’s viruses and bacteria still coating everything around – still breezing along through the air.

Next thing you touch, next breath you take – and they’re at you again. And it’s luck of the draw if your immune system deals with them or not – guided by the 100 trillion or so NECESSARY bacteria that you have in your own gut.

Usually these bacteria gang up together and crowd those pesky interlopers out. But not if your system’s down – you’re stressed, you have a cold, or indigestion from eating too fast, or a headache pressing in from work piling up.

Sussing the odds

So what are your chances?

In any home there are around 8,000 different TYPES of germs hanging about – in numbers from thousands to millions. Which is how come, at any one time, that there are around 300,000 germs on EACH of your hands.

300,000 times more than the number of terrorists busting in through your bedroom window.

And make no error, some of these germs are deadly. Even norovirus, usually just a few days discomfort, hospitalises 3,000 and kills around 80 people each year – from complications with severe dehydration.

Flu bugs of course, can kill even more.

So can sepsis. Never heard of it? Get complications from a simple paper cut and your whole body goes into immune system meltdown. Annual death toll in the UK, around 44,000.

And germs can cause other complications like cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory or liver disorders – accounting for 150,000 deaths a year.

More dangerous than terrorists

All of which means you’re half a million times more likely to die from germs on your hands than from terrorists attacking you.

If that happens of course, there’s not much you can do. At the end of a gun, you’re basically stuck with whatever the terrorist asks for.

But germs you can fight back against – even take them out of existence altogether.

All it takes is the push of a button on a Hypersteriliser – and a fine, dry mist of hydrogen peroxide oxidises ALL virus and bacteria to nothing.  No chance of any infection, everywhere around you is sterile.

The cops have nothing like that to deal with terrorists. But at five deaths a year on average from terrorist acts, there’s more of us die from bee stings.

OK, so you’re safe enough – at least from terrorists.

Just make sure your hands are clean before you do anything.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-06 13:20:49.

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

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

Horrible, yes.

But totally avoidable.

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

Super contagious

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

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

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

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

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

Hit by our own sloppy hygiene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You wish.

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back

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

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

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

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

Norovirus efficiency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular onceovers are never enough

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

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

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

Except we can laugh too.

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

Total germ destruction

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

And the machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser.

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

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

No more norovirus, no more comebacks – job done.

Hope you start feeling better soon.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-04-22 11:39:39.

Vital wake-up call behind this year’s flu-jab flop

Ready for injection
So what’s our Plan B when the medicines don’t work?

It’s not just vital, it’s absolutely crucial. A just-in-time reminder that both viruses and bacteria are living things, exactly like us.

More to the point, they are the most successful life-forms on the planet since the dawn of time. Survivors that adapt and change to suit conditions around them. Mutating to something entirely new in just minutes

Anatomy of a disaster

Which is why the flu-jab went wrong.

Every year, the most dangerous and virulent flu viruses mutate into a new strain. Every year, medical experts develop a new vaccine to clobber them. A moving target, because the viruses keep mutating all the time. So researchers have to predict which way they will develop before they actually do. Then work like mad to produce an effective serum before the opportunity passes.

Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t. The viruses zig when they were expected to zag – sending that year’s protection plans down the drain.

Guess and super-guess

Which is what happened this winter. The A(H3N2) flu strain used to make the vaccine became sidelined when the main H3 virus developed in another direction. Result, 28,189 more deaths than the previous year – and a whole witch hunt about who is responsible and why.

Except nobody’s learning, are they?

Nobody is heeding the vital message – that viruses and bacteria mutate. That no matter how damn good we think we are, these small organisms – too tiny for the eye to see – can and will mutate into new forms impervious to whatever we throw at them.

Immune to antibiotics, immune to vaccines, immune to anything any health spokesperson might say, no matter how good they look on television.

Smart bugs

Time get real.

Because it’s not just the flu-jab that’s failed, it’s a lot of other meds besides. That have failed, or are going to fail, however we try to second-guess them.

Already there’s a whole slew of antibiotics that don’t work – vital drugs that could once save our lives from anything – now not even worth their weight in second-hand toffee paper.

For instance penicillin, the original wonder cure, was discovered in 1928, but resistant staph started emerging in 1940. Same story with erythromycin, launched in 1953 – with resistant strep occurring in 1968. Or methicillin, launched in 1960 with the dreaded tyrannosaurus rex MRSA rearing its head from 1962.

Bacteria have plenty of time, they can wait.

Which means we’re possibly only months away from total antibiotics failure altogether – slightly more significant than a flu-jab that doesn’t work.

But don’t take our word for it, no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, identifies it as a threat on par with terrorism. Absolutely vital.

Microbial exit strategy

OK, so the flu-jab is a flop. Yet it shows us an out, even though it’s useless.

Because if we know the flu is coming but we have no defence, we still ought to be smart enough to avoid it. Same with any other bug, come to that – norovirus, Black Death, typhoid, Ebola.

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. Vital self-protection.

Step One, wash hands – before and after any activity. Our fingers touch everything, often in quick succession – from filthy public loo because it’s an emergency – to Welsh Wagyu burger with onions and extra Stilton – because use a knife and fork and it will fall apart. How do you think norovirus happens?

Step Two, get rid of the germs around us. They’re always there, billions and billions of them – on every surface, in the air – we’re continually exposed, all the time.

But not if the place is sterilised. Not if the rooms we live in are sterilised free from germs before we enter. No viruses, no bacteria – zero opportunity for infection or disease.

All it takes is forty-odd minutes with a Hypersteriliser the night before. Misting up offices, classrooms, restaurants, waiting areas – everywhere with super-dry ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to reach into every crack and crevice, actively grabbing at germs and destroying their cell structure.

Safe and secure

No germs, no problem, problem solved.

Which works for flu as well as any other bugs that might threaten us. No need for the jab, we’re safe.

We just have to wake up first.

Rediscover hygiene, or take our chances.

Picture Copyright: svetography / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-04-11 15:37:33.

Germs all around us – how safe are we really?

Worried about germs
Believe it or not, most bacteria are benign – they can only hurt you when they’re in the wrong place

How safe you are depends on you.

We’re all different – with different bodies, different strengths, different weaknesses. We all react differently to the world around us. We all have different luck.

We look after ourselves differently too. Some of us are OCD about cleanliness and health – Michael Jackson famously slept in an oxygen chamber.

Some of us are so lax, our hygiene is really logiene – we’re border-line stinky bad.

We’re bad

Not surprising when you look at the facts – it’s a wonder we’re not sick all the time.

Scary when you realise how germs really are all around us – and how at risk we are in very ordinary situations.

  • Office desks often harbour 10 million germs or more.
  • Keyboards on smartphones and tablets are riddled with more bacteria than toilet seats.
  • Most kitchens, particularly sinks, are alive with all kinds of invisible and harmful germs.

It’s not just germs on surfaces either. Every single one of us has our own cloud of germs we carry around with us – our own microbial signature, more unique and accurate than any fingerprint or retinal scan.

Always under threat

So why aren’t we dead?

Good question, because those germs certainly have a good go at us. Which is why so many of us keep getting ill all the time – down with e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, colds and flu – and most often norovirus. And why sick days cost the country £29 billion a year.

Only our immune systems keep us going. Protecting us from infection, defending us from harmful viruses and bacteria, keeping us safe.

Which is weird when you think about it, because our immune systems are largely controlled by the 100 trillion or more bacteria that live in our gut – our own microbiota. Don’t worry, they’re supposed to be there – in fact 90% of the substance we’re made of is actually bacteria more than human. Our own “good guy” germs inside – to protect us from the “bad guy” germs outside.

All hunky dory, except we’re not very good at keeping our own “good guys” safe. With our sloppy hygiene habits, we give the “bad guys” more of a chance – collecting them mostly on our hands from the dirty air and surfaces around us, then transferring them to the sensitive tissue around our eyes and mouth – most germs’ favourite way into the body.

Uh huh. And when we get sick?

Killer lifesavers

Run to the Doc for antibiotics, right? Our miracle wonder-drugs to get us out of trouble.

Once upon a time, yes. But not now.

Increasingly, doctors are finding that the bacteria causing the illness they’re treating us for are becoming resistant – the drugs just don’t work any more.

That’s not exactly surprising either, antibiotics have become so over-used and abused that 10 million prescriptions a year are written unnecessarily – for colds or sore throats, which antibiotics can’t cure anyway.

Worse still, antibiotics are shovelled into animals for food production at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year – because of the amazing side effect that they make things grow bigger and faster – making everyone loads more money.

All of which gives bacteria plenty of opportunity to develop immunities – which as one of the oldest life forms on Earth they’ve been doing successfully for millions of years. However potent the antibiotic we develop is, sooner or later bacteria will always find a way to mutate around it. Usually sooner, they can reproduce in as little as twenty minutes.

Just check their track record. Against penicillin, discovered in 1928 with resistant staph emerging in in 1940; tetracycline, introduced in 1950 with resistant shigella in 1959; erythromycin, launched in 1953 with resistant strep occurring in 1968; methicillin in 1960 with resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 with resistance in the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and resistance in 2004.

We are what we eat

Oh yeah, and the other thing is, we’re all of ingesting small amounts of antibiotics all the time. They’re stuffed into animals, so we gobble them up too – either directly from the meat, or indirectly, through the antibiotics-laden manure that’s used to grow fruit, veg and grain – and of course feedstuffs for other animals.

And antibiotics work by killing bacteria – including our own gut bacteria until they develop immunity. Which means our own immune systems are constantly under attack, by the very wonder drugs that are supposed to be saving our lives. Either as medicine or as food, our poor gut bacteria face constant assault from which they never fully recover.

Which means from generation to generation, we’re not as resilient as we used to be. Weaker, less able to stand up to threatening infections. And fatter – antibiotics boost animal growth, remember? So two thirds of adults and one third of children are all increasingly obese. All in an environment where our wonder-drugs don’t work.

Get the message? We’re not as safe as we think we are.

Playing it safe

UNLESS we make a point of keeping our hands clean at all times – particularly before food and after going to the loo.

AND if we keep our surroundings germ-free too – our homes, workplaces, schools, public buildings, everywhere.

Easy enough with Hypersterilisers – which mist up the air after hours with ionised hydrogen peroxide – ensuring that every morning when we come in, the place is safe and sterile.

NO viruses or bacteria anywhere. Except outside where they should be.

Safe from our “good guys” inside, where they should be.

Picture Copyright: liubomirt / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-04-06 14:52:42.

Would your staff sue you if they caught the flu?

Work Team
Healthy staff and a healthy balance sheet – protecting your assets

Sue? For flu?

We’re joking, right? They get flu, that’s their problem.

Except maybe you want to revise that. Because wasn’t it your idea that everyone had the flu jab in the first place? So you already had concerns about keeping them healthy.

Sod’s Law

Yeah but, if they’ve had the flu jab, you’ve done your bit. It’s not your fault this year’s vaccine doesn’t work so well. Too many different strains – the medics can’t always get it right.

Sure, but it’s still a worry. You can’t run a business with loads of empty desks. Which is what you get when flu strikes. Never a single hit, eh? Always a whole squad of people down at once – usually at the most critical moment. An evil kink in Sod’s Law.

It’s your duty of care too. So that working conditions are safe and secure. Which often means issues you never thought of five years ago now have to be addressed.

They sure cost a bob or two. HVAC systems don’t come cheap, but they keep staff motivated and comfortable, working in their shirtsleeves. Or how about anti-terrorism? Coded pass cards, keypad entry, bullet-proof glass, ex-SAS guards – it takes a lot to protect people.

You bend over backwards for them, how could they possibly sue you for flu?

Protection from themselves

Yeah well, increasingly people need protecting from themselves. More specifically, from each other.

Like flu. One of them catches a bug, they give it to each other. It happens, they’ve all had the jab, a few days and it’s over, so what? Another inconvenience on top of all the others.

But what if it was more serious? Like one of them does a sales trip to Africa and comes back with cholera? Or typhoid? Or worst case scenario, Ebola? Round the office with any of those would land you in big trouble, possibly even criminal negligence, so where do you draw the line?

An iffy question. And these days, getting iffier.

You may have read somewhere that office desks are a breeding place for anything up to 10 million germs. Sure, you have the regular cleaning services, but most of these breeding places never get touched by typical valeting, so the germs continue unchecked. Noxious germs in the workplace, you could be liable.

It gets worse when you consider staff hygiene – no, not anything you’ve done – their normal day-to-day behaviour. A quick look at the figures is shocking:

OK, so dirty desks, unwashed hands, somebody comes in with Ebola (which they’ve no idea they’ve got ‘cos it can take weeks to show) – big trouble, right? Law suits almost certainly, failure to protect, not a headache anyone wants.

Due diligence

So what makes flu so different? Can you prove due diligence that staff were not exposed to contagious pathogens? More to the point, can you prove that you did everything you could to prevent possible infection? Especially the air space, which is 80% of any room – remember germs are microscopic so they’re up there anyway, brought in by the personal cloud of them we all walk around with.

Which means a nightly wipe-down with a damp cloth is not enough is it? Or vacuuming the floors and emptying the waste paper baskets. Like it or not, your workplace is probably teeming with germs just waiting to cause an illness.

The only reason they don’t is that most of the time staff are healthy enough for their immune systems to prevent it. But that doesn’t include tiredness, stress, or any of the other everyday challenges of working life. It’s only a matter of time – and yes, you could be liable.

Because it IS possible to neutralise all germs in your workplace inexpensively. Certainly for less than the cost of an HVAC system or putting in full security.

Total sterility

Wheel in a Hypersteriliser at the end of the day when staff have gone home, and germs can be eliminated altogether.  It generates an ultra-fine dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere, destroying viruses and bacteria on contact, sterilising the entire room. Forty minutes or so and all germs are gone – flu, common illnesses, tummy bugs, even Ebola.

Staff of course you can issue with antibacterial wipes or gel – put a pack daily on each desk and you’re in the clear. So is the air and every surface in your workplace, a fresh page to start the day, free of any health hazards.

No law suits likely after that.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-03-30 14:32:08.

Nice one Westminster! Now ban sugar outright and we’ll get even fatter

Big and blindfolded
Blind and in denial –
to what’s REALLY making us fat

Here we go, another parliamentary sidestep. Sugar taxed. Job done. No more obesity.

If only. Note that nobody’s singing, especially the fat ladies.

Badder than bad

Because parliament doesn’t have a clue what happens next, does it? The ultimate can of worms. Worse than terrorism, the migrant crisis, climate change and World War III combined.

Of course current members will be out of office when it happens, out to retirement too, probably. But they’re always going to know it started on their watch – the day they voted for sugary drinks to be taxed as the curb against obesity.

Fat chance – even though yes, we do guzzle too many gallons of fizzy-pop.

You won’t see fewer fat people though, despite Coke sales taking a dip. Because MPs haven’t clobbered WHY people chug so much – and WHY they gorge themselves on power foods too.

None so blind

They haven’t addressed the cause, so people will just keep getting fatter. Bigger and bigger, more and more – way beyond the two-thirds of us who are overweight or obese already. Probably including themselves, even though they never touch the stuff – unless you include tonic water.

Yeah, yeah – too many sugary drinks make people bulk up, especially kids. They have the taste, they crave the stuff. Yet nobody twigs that such craving is not natural, that something is wrong if their bodies demand hit after hit of sugary reward they don’t actually need.

They don’t need the power food they hanker for either, do they? What you call “junk food”. Some junk – there’s instant energy in them, that’s why they’re popular. And they’re only unhealthy if you eat too much of them. If you glutton and have two. Even Jamie Oliver sells superburgers.

See it’s not sugary drinks that make people fat – one Coke didn’t swell you up in 1966, it doesn’t swell you up now. But too many sugary drinks. Too many burgers. Too many chips. Yeah sure, it’s the road to fat-dom.

Except everybody’s so busy scoring headlines that nobody asks why.

WHY IS THE SWITCH THAT STOPS BINGE EATING BROKEN?

Time to get real

Simples. All the food we’ve been chowing down over the last twenty years – meat and veg both – is shot through and through with every farmer’s No 1 growth booster.

The binge switch is busted by antibiotics.

Check the facts – antibiotics have been used on farms in industrial quantities for the last fifty years. Right now, today, the world uses 65,000 tonnes a year. Which is how come there’s enough food for the 7½ billion people we are today – from the same land resource that could only feed 2½ billion of us back in 1952.

We’re bulking up from the super-fatteners in our food – and no wonder.  From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. That’s the power of antibiotics.

OK, so tax sugary drinks double. Tax them to hell and gone off the market – we’ll still get fat. Because the super-fatteners we eat every day have jammed the binge control wide open – so it’s not just sugary drinks we’re pigging out on, it’s everything.

Two full-size helpings at dinner, double pudding – chips, snacks, chocolate bars, the works. And then we sit down to watch our favourite Great British Sugar Factor on TV – binge food before the watershed.

So who’s in charge?

But hold it, antibiotics – shouldn’t these be controlled by the medics?

In a word, yes. But these days any Tom, Dick or Hans-Gustav can shovel pretty much as many antibiotics into his cows as he likes and no-one will say them nay – not Public Health England, not DEFRA, not the Food Standards Agency, nobody.

And certainly not the General Medical Council – they’ve got their hands full worrying about antibiotics in medicine. About how they’re not working thanks to the snowballing number of superbugs with antibiotic resistance. About how any day now, our life-saving miracle drugs won’t work any more.

Which puts them in a nasty Catch 22 – no heart bypass or hip replacement – no life-changing wonder surgery – is possible without antibiotics. But superbugs like MRSA are increasingly immune. They know they’ve got to stop prescribing antibiotics, but also know they can’t.

Until the day finally comes when they achieve zero. When the only defence against infection will be how clean and free of germs we can keep ourselves. And cutting away infection – amputating – any part of us that becomes infected, because there is no other way.

Uh huh. Meantime, we’re still chowing down antibiotics with every meal we eat. And those antibiotics, like they’re supposed to, kill more and more of our gut bacteria every time. The same gut bacteria that control our immune system and directly manipulate so many other vital body functions.

Until inevitably, our surviving bacteria become resistant to antibiotics themselves. So that whatever drugs we’re prescribed have no chance of working anyway.

Fatter and fatter

And all the time, we’re getting fatter and fatter and fatter. To the point where governments realise we can’t go on and antibiotics are finally withdrawn from agriculture altogether. No more fatteners, people might stand a better chance.

As if. Because the damage has been done.

By that time most of us will be seriously obese  – well in the grip of terminal illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a zillion others resulting from immune system meltdown.

Which is when the food chain will conk out. Not enough quick-grow animals to supply world hunger. Not enough health protection against the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of intense factory farms. Too much for the system. The world goes back to pre-antibiotic methods, like in 1952.

Oops. A food shortfall for 5 billion people. World-wide famine and disease. See how misplaced a sugar tax really is? How totally irrelevant and off-target? The headache is solving the antibiotics crisis, not pushing up the price of Coke. Like we said, nice one Westminster.

Which leaves it up to us if we’re going to survive. We ourselves, and the heck with the politicians.

With the old one-two. Hiked up hygiene standards in everything we do, always washing our hands, cleaning things. And taking out germs around us wherever we can, sterilising the place everywhere we gather. At work, in schools, in restaurants, at home – eliminating harmful pathogens down to nothing.

The first takes soap and water, every chance we get – always before food, and always after the loo.

The second takes a Hypersteriliser, misting up living spaces when we’re not there, eliminating germs with ionised hydrogen peroxide. If the rooms we live in are sterile, nothing can touch us.

Better shift to organic foods while we’re at it too. The Heathrow runway’s taken more than twenty years – how long will it be before Westminster finally takes action on antibiotics?

A bitter pill to swallow, eh? Maybe a spoonful of sugar will help.

Picture Copyright: darkbird / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-03-29 14:35:05.

Vomit at the office: who’s liable – and what for?

One sick lady
Not nice, ever. Not nice knowing you probably caused it either

Oh no! Vomit at the office. Professional cool and polish, gone in an instant. Feeling awful – and degraded – the end of the world.

Not your fault though, right? You couldn’t help it. One minute OK, the next…

Except the inconvenient truth is, it probably WAS your fault. Not deliberate or anything like that, but highly likely it was CAUSED by you.

We’re ALL bad

Now don’t feel bad, we’re all probably just as guilty. Because nine times out of ten your unfortunate experience is not caused by something you ate. More than likely it was from something you swallowed after touching it by hand.

Easily done – that hasty pastry gulped down with your flat white before the all-important 9.00 meeting. Eaten with your fingers, right? You had to lick the icing off afterwards. Four or five hours for the stuff to get down to your gut and react with your internal bacteria…

Excuse me, I don’t feel so good.

Upchuck all over the conference room floor.

The blame game

So how is it your fault? You didn’t do anything. That horrible heave-ho came out of nowhere.

Ah, that’s just the point. You didn’t do anything. And that’s why the rest of us are probably just as guilty. Because the one thing we’re always NOT doing though we know we should, is wash our hands.

Especially after going to the loo and before eating food. Yes, it’s shocking, but 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Worse, 95% of people don’t ever take the time to wash their hands properly.

And just so you can recognise how easily your awful experience happened to you, only 12% of people ever wash their hands before eating.

Which means…

You can see it can’t you? Running late because the tubes were crowded and you couldn’t get on. Mad dash to the office via the coffee shop. Quick detour to the loo and check make-up. Gulp coffee and pastry – you burnt your mouth remember? Grab your laptop and go. 30 seconds to spare and your presentation was on first. No time to wash your hands – you just got unlucky.

Because most of the time we get away with it. This time, you just got caught.

Noro nasty

Better hope it’s not norovirus though – or any of the other real nasties. Four, five hours? It usually takes longer, more like eight. And it won’t be just your fault you made yourself sick – you could bring the whole office down.

You see, norovirus is highly contagious and gruesomely efficient. That’s why it spreads so explosively – the world record for long distance vomit – and don’t even think about the diarrhoea.

OK, so you slink home in a taxi, new silk blouse and your jacket ruined, icky vomit all through your hair. So what happens with the clean up?

Yeah well, it’s one of those accidents nobody is prepared for. Paper towels and dishwashing liquid in the kitchen, bleach if they’re lucky. Wrinkled noses and pulled faces attacking the patch on the carpet. Hopefully the night cleaning crew will fix it when they swamp out in the evening.

Except they won’t be prepared either, norovirus is smarter than that. Shampoo the wet patch, OK. Vomit gone.

And the rest of the room around that? The chair legs? The conference table? The air itself? Norovirus particles are as small as 2 microns, too small to see, finer than cigarette smoke – so they could be floating around for anything up to a week.

Everybody gets it, easy

All it takes is 10 particles, on somebody’s cheek, scraped together as they rub their eye, into the soft tissue round the cornea – next victim, prepped and ready. Picked up by others too – off the conference table, the door handle, the light switch – half a dozen targets.

They go to their desks, wake up their computers. Norovirus on the keyboards, the desk phone, the meeting minutes they circulate to their colleagues.

Tomorrow morning, a dozen staff calling sickies – with more to come because the germs are still in the air, still on all the high-touch areas not processed by the swamp-out team. The whole office down – vomit, cramps, diarrhoea, the works.

Your fault. You could get sued.

Well, yes. To begin with.

But also the company’s.

They have a duty of care to ensure the workplace is safe to work in – the floors are solid, the place doesn’t leak, there’s no mould, or drafts, or rats running around, and you don’t shock yourself half to death flipping the light switches.

And there’s no germs.

How safe is safe?

For instance if legionnaire’s disease was lurking in the air conditioning ducts you’d quite rightly be able to sue them for not providing a safe and secure hazard-free place to work. They’d have to compensate you AND pay to have the condition fixed – possibly even face criminal charges.

Norovirus is no different – and way more common than legionnaire’s disease – more common even than flu or the common cold.

Your company might shrug it off and say it’s not their problem – but keeping desks, chairs, computers, carpets, curtains and the air itself safe from germs is just as much part of their duty of care as making sure none of you freeze to death in winter.

You started it. But everybody else came down with the bug because of them.

You didn’t wash your hands. They didn’t ensure the place was germ-free afterwards. And most of the time everyone just accepts it’s just one of those things. You failed in your duty to yourself and your colleagues. They failed in their duty of care to all of you.

Yet it’s so easily fixable. And just maybe all of you are negligent in not knowing that it is.

Hygiene defence

Your personal upchuck could have been prevented by soap and water. Or your company could have been smart and put a pack of antibacterial wipes or hand gel on everybody’s desk – because they know that staff are busy and frequently forget to wash their hands – and even though it gets wiped off every night, everybody’s workstation is a major source of hazardous germs.

No, it won’t work with heavy bleach and more elbow grease, rubbing and scrubbing. The smell will be unbearable and the airborne germs will remain untouched. Steam cleaning won’t work either – germs need very high temperatures and at least five minutes contact time to be destroyed – not possible hose-piping around so that everything is wet – ineffective against airborne germs too.

More effective and far cheaper is to eliminate germs with a Hypersteriliser.

After the usual cleaning, a wheel-bin-sized unit is rolled in to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged, microscopic particles of hydrogen peroxide actively clamour to get away from each other, spreading everywhere, forcing themselves into every crack and crevice to escape.

That same electrostatic charge causes them to reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria everywhere – on surfaces, under them, behind things, in the air itself. Contact time is only seconds, during which the germs’ cell structure and DNA is completely destroyed.

Sterile and safe

Allow forty minutes to process the entire room and the whole place is sterilised – no germs, no nothing – safe. No law suits either, or anyone suffering upchucks. Unless they forgot to wash their hands before climbing into lunch – or there really is something off with their chicken liver pâté – not cooked enough, perhaps.

Feel better? If it’s any consolation, norovirus only lasts two or three days – unpleasant yes, but it does come to an end.

Then you can wash your hands of the whole thing.

Picture Copyright: BDS / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-03-24 15:33:16.