Tag Archives: sloppy hygiene

PM’s pandemic hit squad forgets prevention need

Skeptical woman
Pretty impressive – but a bit like bolting the stable door after the horse has scarpered

Nice one, Dave.

Yes, the next pandemic is going to be worse than Ebola, and probably some kind of flu-based virus.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) is a good candidate – already running amok in South Korea after an opening zoonotic hop from camels in Saudi Arabia.

The plague is coming

But we can’t wash our hands of the fact that these hit squads medics won’t stop pandemic pandemonium – fantastic and state-of-the-art though they might be.

The clue is “wash hands” – and we’re none of us very good at it.Wash Hands Logo

But that’s exactly how any new virus is most likely to accelerate into a pandemic. Through sloppy hygiene and poor standards of personal cleanliness.

Direct contact is how Ebola did it – touching victims out of care and love – or contamination from their bodily fluids.

And yes, you’re right Prime Minister – if the next super-bogey is flu-based, it’s likely to be airborne. “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases” territory – spiralling out of the air around us, just waiting to be breathed in.

Sloppy hygiene

And yes, it’s going to be seriously bad – until we get our hand-washing act together. Plus defend our environment against airborne invaders.

Fact: 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly. Five seconds shaking them under the tap won’t stop any self-respecting coronavirus.

A lot of us are also super-yuckists – because Fact: 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands at all after going to the loo. (Tweet this)

Five minutes later, they might be eating. Or scribbling notes while they’re on the phone. The germs from their bum are on their food – or on the pen they’re chewing while they think. Usually they wind up with norovirus, the usual Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

But pandemic pandemonium is more serious, right?

Self-infecting

Which is why we’ll need the hit squads, Mr PM sir – these super-yuckists are sending a message direct to germ headquarters – INFECT ME NOW. When your super-virus actually hits, we’ll be going down like flies all over.

Because – Fact again – most of us touch our faces 3,000 times a day – most germs’ favourite way into the body, through the soft tissue openings of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Our own stupid carelessness, not so? Actually sitting up and asking for illness because we’re too lazy or forgetful to take the right precautions.

Because you watch, when the panic starts stampeding us, how many will there be running round with surgical facemasks, completely neglecting that our hands have traces of poo all over them? Suddenly, our Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease has notched itself up to a whole new level.

Cruise ship virus

Yup, Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – a.k.a. norovirus.

That’s the one that keeps popping up on cruise ships – a bad place to have a virus going round. Lots of people living close together, sharing the same food and hygiene facilities, in direct contact with each other and breathing each other’s air.

No wonder it spreads like wild-fire.Rediscover Hygiene logo

Which is what our new super-virus is likely to do too, because that’s exactly how we live day-to-day, isn’t it? Particularly in the colder countries – indoors in the central heating, sharing the same space – at the office, wherever we eat, on buses and trains, in schools, sitting together watching a show.

All those unwashed hands, applauding together – what kind of chance do we have?

Double defence

Actually, better than we might think. Because though we might be at hazard all clustered together by our lifestyle, we can sterilise these communal spaces before we enter them. Ensuring all viruses and bacteria are gone before we set foot in the place.

Conventional cleaning and disinfecting though, is not going to crack it. We can rub and scrub all we like, treating surfaces is not good enough, we’re expecting an airborne virus, remember? And normal procedures do not touch the air, even though it’s 80% of our enclosed living space.

To do the whole lot, we need a Hypersteriliser – about the size of a small wheelie-bin – the one sure way to destroy all viruses and bacteria in any room space completely.

This clever gadget works by misting up the entire room with ionised hydrogen peroxide. This causes the mist molecules to repel each other – driving them as far away as possible, hard up against walls, ceiling, floor and everything in the room – and of course, deep into any cracks and crevices.

At the same time, those charged particles actively reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria, attracted by the same magnetic charge. On contact, oxygen atoms, hydroxyl radicals and even ozone is released, oxidising all germs to destruction – on surfaces; under, over and behind things; and everywhere throughout the air.

High-level hygiene saves us all

Together with careful and consistent hand-washing, these two defences should keep us safe from pretty well any harmful pathogens, the super-virus as well . Fewer of us to catch the bug – less of a pandemic – more like isolated outbreaks, a more controllable size for the PM’s hit squads to handle.

A real pandemic of course, would swamp them entirely. So it’s up to us to make sure we’re properly protected – prevention being better than cure. Thanks, Prime Minister, we’ll take it from here.

Yup, you guessed it – it’s wash-your-hands time.

Originally posted 2015-06-08 14:11:55.

Ebola won’t kill us, let’s rather do that ourselves

Infection fear
It’s ourselves we should worry about, we’re more dangerous than any germ

Here’s a harsh reality check for you.

If you die of Ebola, it’ll be your own doing.

You know it’s a deadly disease, you put yourself in the line of fire. The consequences are entirely yours.

Deliberate suicide

So what do they call that, self-inflicted death?

Suicide, right? You’ve committed suicide.

And it wasn’t Ebola that did it, it was you. By your own volition.

Ebola just does, what Ebola does. And exposing yourself to it goes one way. You knew that, before you started, but you did it anyway.

Makes you think about those volunteers who are out there fighting the disease, right? Médecins Sans Frontières , our own NHS people, British armed forces – and the selfless folk from a whole stack of other countries, doing their humanitarian best.

Heroes every one of them. Because they risk suicide to do what they do.

They know they could die. But they do what they do for the sake of others.

How careless can we be?

Not like the rest of us.

Every day we take stupid chances. We know they’re stupid, yet we take them anyway.

We’re not actually thinking suicide at the time, we’re just being lazy.

But those are the stakes, we’re playing with our lives. And we do it through sloppy hygiene.

Want an example? Look no further than a handshake. Not the how of it, the contempt of it.

“New research has revealed that just 38 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women wash their hands after visiting the lavatory.”

Disgusting, yes. But more than that, seriously stupid.

Because every single one of us knows the importance of washing hands after going to the loo. We know what happens if we don’t – that we could make ourselves seriously ill. We know it could put us in hospital.

We even know we could die from it.

Yet we carry on anyway, not thinking for a second that we just risked suicide.

Exactly the same as painting a target on your chest and walking onto a shooting range. Seriously, utterly stupid.

Unnecessary risk

Because you don’t see the Ebola mercy-workers taking chances like that – and they KNOW the chance they’re taking.

They’re ready with the meticulous scrub-up, the personal protective equipment donned under the watchful eye of a trained clinical observer: scrubs, overalls, apron, boots, double gloves, medical mask, respirator, goggles, surgical cap.

Then the UV tunnel, the chemical checks, everything. A whole careful code to be followed in scrupulous detail.

And still they can be unlucky. One unguarded moment, one second of diverted attention – and a needle-stick changes their lives.

Yet how many of us stare at the mirror in the loo – check the hair, the face, the way our clothes sit – and walk out without touching a tap?

A deliberate needle-stick moment, right there.

It was you!

Yes, deliberate.

Pleading forgetful is just making excuses. We’re just too lazy and we know it.

So how many of us actually do walk out of the loo – to come down with some medical nasty? Norovirus, diphtheria, MRSA, take your pick.

We don’t go looking for Ebola. But we sure as hell got what we deserve. (Tweet this)

Or worse, pass it on to somebody else by shaking hands, handing out coffee and biscuits, or simply handling the office phone.

Sloppy hygiene. Ugh.

So why aren’t more of us dead?

Originally posted 2015-03-06 11:28:50.

There’s cancer in all of us – but don’t let it kill you

Happy woman
Happily ever after starts with you
(Tweet this)

The clock is ticking.

Are you taking care – or taking chances?

Every second could change your life, depending on what you do with it.

And it’s much more of a life and death decision than most of us think.

In your own hands

Latest figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that half of us will get cancer at some stage of our lives. More and more of us are in the older age groups and more susceptible to wear and tear.

How much wear – and how much tear, depends on us of course.

We all know we should lead a healthy life – some of us better than others.

Razzling around and chasing the high spots has a price tag that none of us can avoid.

But while age is the biggest – and most unavoidable – risk, it’s not the cause of cancer.

Being out of balance is.

Losing it

Cancer happens when body cells begin to behave abnormally. A defect, a weakness, and we are in trouble.

Most of the time, damaged cells are flushed out – the body does it daily, part of the rough and tumble of living.

Because cells don’t go rogue by themselves.

An outside shove does it for them, usually triggered by our behaviour or lifestyle.

And the biggest shove of all is one we’re not aware of – always there, day by day, always pushing us.

Stress.

Yeah, right. As if that’s new.

Everybody has work stress, you just have to live with it.

And home stress? It goes with the territory.

Unavoidable stress levels that depend entirely at how good you are at coping with them.

Enter, digital stress

Except that these days, the stress levels we face are higher than ever before.

Fast-paced, results-driven modern living, what do you expect?

And it’s all us, just us.

Another recent study concludes that there is no link between cancer and using mobile phones. No link to electromagnetic fields – computers, powerlines, television.

Uh huh.

Maybe not physically.

But the pressures they unleash are unprecedented.

Full of angst and emotional strain, teenagers constantly stress about relationships. Every text, picture, Facebook post or Twitter tweet is potentially a full-scale breakdown.

Other media aren’t much better. Television, newspapers. Who among us is not appalled, shocked, sickened, or just plain scared of recent terrorist actions in our own cities – let alone the Middle East?

Stress, worry, uncertainty. They all throw the body out of kilter.

Sleepless nights, stomach upsets, headaches. Just the kind of shove that cancer needs.

So it’s not so much that we’re getting old at all.

Heartbreak, heart attack

A bust-up with a boyfriend is the end of the world. Handling it is impossible. Overwhelming grief, loss of appetite, listlessness, reduced will to live – is it surprising that a weakness occurs, the body reacts and damage is done?

Just the kind of damage that gives cancer a foothold – maybe not straight away, but inevitable in the future.

It’s not just cancer either.

Every moment of every day we’re surrounded by billions of viruses and bacteria – many of them inside our bodies.

First sign of weakness and they’re in too – and stressed people are careless, not paying full attention to the world around them.

Preoccupied or distracted, a cut or scrape can so easily happen. Even forgetting to wash hands properly is enough to do it. First sign of sloppy hygiene and infection is in, not wanting to let go.

Which is when the Doc reminds you that antibiotics don’t work as well as the used to – those rotten germs have developed an immunity.

Cancer, bugs, medicines that don’t work. What on earth can you do to survive?

Watch yourself all the time. Keep clean and healthy. Make sure your mind is right.

Sure, some folks have survived smoking and drinking to reach 104.

Long odds though, with plenty of losers along the way.

If you really want to get there yourself, stay balanced.

Don’t let the nasties grind you down.

 

Originally posted 2015-02-04 13:43:54.

Deadly Killer Viruses 341- Hero Medics 2

Doctors with football
Better hygiene is not a game –
you lose, you die

We’re not winning.

At least that’s the way it looks.

With ruthless slayers like Ebola around, every day is a nightmare.

Even right here at home.

The Annual Epidemic

With winter well on the way, World Health Organisation figures expect around 3 to 5 million cases of influenza, with between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

Didn’t know flu was that deadly, huh?

Which makes you marvel at how amazing our professional medics are.

Doctors, nurses and all kinds of support people work round the clock to make us well. Long hours are the norm, lack of sleep, living on coffee. If the rest of us tried to work like that, we’d be living in chaos.

Super Docs

But medics are made of tougher stuff. Always ready to help – never ready to quit.

Look at that amazing organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. All volunteers, all resolute to give of their best. Up against killers like Ebola, nobody shows more concern or commitment.

Human bodies might be weakening, but never has human spirit and care for each other ever been so strong.

We ought to have more respect for these doctors. And we do when we remember.

But we backslide, because that is human nature.

Sloppy Hygiene

As fast as doctors achieve a win, we’re seem equally determined to lose – careless of any dangers, sloppy in our hygiene, derelict in our regard for ourselves.

No wonder we’re not winning.

In our daily lives we let billions of germs surround us without a thought – viruses and bacteria intent on us as prey – natural born killers.

We know the risks – and yet we still take chances.

We prepare food in sometimes shocking surroundings. We forget or avoid washing our hands. We eat dodgy stuff, rush out in all weathers – and then wonder why we suddenly come down with something.

Kind of an insult to all those medics, don’t you think? We treat our body with contempt and then expect them to fix it. Never a thought about avoiding trouble in the first place.

“It can’t happen to me,” we think – without realising the game has already changed.

Yes, Ebola’s bad – and there’s no cure yet.

But through our own carelessness and dependence on miracles like antibiotics, there’s suddenly no cure for a lot of things.

Oops!

Resistant Microbes

While we weren’t looking, a whole slew of viruses and bacteria have found ways to resist the medicines we throw at them. MRSA alone has developed into 270,000 strains.

And look at the price of our carelessness.

We go into hospital for a routine operation – say a hernia, because we big deal lifted something without help. A tiny routine tummy cut, keyhole surgery, no problem.

The doctors take care, the nurses take care, the recovery team take care. And then we don’t wash our own hands, going to the loo. All set to be discharged – bang, MRSA.

Do we have a death wish or what?

Higher Hygiene Levels

It’s time to up our game. To hike hygiene habits up a level that evens the odds.

We’re still going to be careless. We’re still going to forget washing our hands. But we CAN do something to keep ourselves more safe.

Sterilise our surroundings.

If there aren’t any germs around, we can’t get sick.

So you watch.

As more and more of us realise the threat, we’re going to see new ways of winning.

Like misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide every day – oxidising viruses and bacteria to nothing before they even get near.

Easily done – and it’s all automatic.

Score 1 to us, yay!

Let’s get back to having a ball.

Originally posted 2014-11-06 12:36:22.

Why do we let so many people get sick needlessly?

Girl covered in dirt
Most of the time, when we get sick, it’s our own fault

Don’t blame it on the hospitals or NHS.

They’re busy with so many patients, a lapse now and again is inevitable. And they’re dedicated professionals. Committed, every one of them.

If you’ve ever been in for surgery – and watched with honest eyes instead of the hysteria mind-set the media luck on to you – you’d see hard-working people doing their best and going the extra mile every day.

So the message to 99.9% of the people who complain is… “Back off!”

Most of the time you are your own cause of being ill.

Why?

Because your hygiene isn’t good enough that’s why – completely up to maggots

Already we’ve got the hand hygiene people going crazy, reminding us to wash our hands at every critical moment.

And it’s not that it’s not effective.

It’s despite being politely reminded as often as possible, most of us just don’t do it.

But there’s another reason why we get sick so often – one that most of us, including the NHS are most of the time simply not aware of.

The illnesses we get are from airborne germs – not physical contact.

Well there’s a surprise.

And something else we’re not aware of – we’re surrounded and covered by billions and billions of germs every second of every day. Viruses, bacteria, too small for the eye to see – thousands of times smaller than even a grain of dust.

So is it any wonder that we don’t breathe one in, or gobble it down, or get one through a cut? And still our bodies are so savvy that most of the time we’re OK!

What it means though, is that we can’t take chances. Do something stupid and we WILL pay for it.

Especially with so many of us so close together, sharing the same air, eating in the same place, even sleeping. Packed into tube trains, jostling each other in fast food joints, crowded like sardines into holiday hotels.

No wonder a nasty like norovirus goes through us like wild fire – we’re all on top of each other.

But here’s another surprise – sloppy hygienists and NHS please take note.

We none of us need to catch any of those bugs milling around. We already have a way to get rid of them. Not a secret weapon, just something that most of us don’t know about.

And it means we can zap germs before they get to us.

ALL viruses, ALL bacteria, including the horrible ones – c.difficile, MRSA, H1N1, SARS, HIV-1, e. coli, anthrax, bird flu, salmonella. Or even the ones that have us scared stiff. Like smallpox, malaria or even ebola.

Hit any of them with hydrogen peroxide while they’re still up in their air and they’re goners.

Yup, hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff that girls use to go blonde. That our white blood cells manufacture as a defence against a cut or other injury.

But with a difference.

Ionised first so it can be misted up into the air, smaller and finer than drops of water. Electrostatically charged so it reaches out and grabs onto any pathogens it finds. Spreading deep into cracks and underneath things where cleaning gets forgotten.

What happens next is murder. Which is what the germs do to you if you let them.

The hydrogen peroxide shoves extra atoms of oxygen at the individual cells of bacteria and viruses, ripping them to shreds. And there’s no germ comes back from being hit by H2O2. They’re gone for good and you’re 99.9999% safe.

So how come we’re not using this stuff everywhere? In hotels, schools, public building, restaurants, buses, trains, everywhere?

Because we don’t know about it is why. In the same way that, once upon a time, we all of us thought the world was flat.

But it isn’t flat, it’s round.

And hydrogen peroxide could save your life over and over – if only you knew about it.

Well if you’ve read this far, now you do.

Which means if you ever get needlessly sick again, it’s YOUR fault.

Time to get a grip. Those NHS people have still got serious cases to deal with – injuries, children, old people – and all the other ailments that happen once germs have taken hold.

Let’s salute them and give them a rest.

Because now we know, we can fix it.

Keep well!

Originally posted 2014-09-08 13:05:36.

When will we ever get serious about hygiene?

Girl with Serious Warning
So hygiene is not sexy – neither is being dead

Serious? We never think about hygiene – let alone that it could kill us.

Washing hands, keeping clean – it’s boring, nag-nag nannying stuff. Not for grown-ups with jobs to do and lives to run.

Not sexy. Totally uncool.

Wishy-washy doesn’t touch us

We never connect hygiene with when we’re sick either.

Somehow germs get to us without any of our own doing. Nothing to do with us, we’re innocent as driven snow.

Yeah, right.

Reality is, it’s usually something we’ve eaten, or breathed in, or allowed to get infected through an injury we haven’t tended properly. And nine times out of ten in circumstances where things weren’t clean, germs were breeding and we walked right into them.

Caused by ourselves – by our hygiene blind spot.

Yeah, boring. Soap and water, who needs it?

Yet the penny never drops that we’re playing with our lives. That from germs already on our skin, even a simple paper cut could develop into sepsis, that we could be dead inside a week.

Feel-good tops being clean

No, we’re not serious. Which makes us stupid.

Because hygiene, to one level or another, saves our lives every day.

Including default hygiene. Stuff we do that we don’t even think about.

For instance, we don’t wash to get clean, do we? Too super-boring for speech.

But ritual and indulgence – that’s something else.

The long, soaking bath, the invigorating morning shower. Neither are about getting clean – we’re into the feel-good hype and extravagance of it, exactly like the soap ads offer. Treat yourself, relax, enjoy a moment of luxury.

Yeah OK, so we’re clean. But what kind of germ defence is that?

We can’t carry it with us into the day, can we? No lingering in a long, hot tub after making a Number Two at the office – that just isn’t practical. Wrong time, wrong place – we’re at work, gotta perform, go, go, go.

Which puts hygiene out of sight and out of mind, right the way through until our moment of indulgence again.

Most of the time, we get away with it too. Our bodies’ immune systems work overtime to keep us safe, glitching slightly with allergies and intolerances, but otherwise fine.

Horrible habits

Meanwhile, our bad habits run unchecked and out of control:

Because it’s not important is why. There’s billions and billions of germs all around us every day, any one of which could kill us or make us vegetables. We don’t see them, so we don’t recognise them for what they are.

Life threats.

And we just imagine that as long as we LOOK clean, therefore we are.

So we flounce through the day without a care in the world – only going near a wash basin when our bodies demand the toilet. Inconvenient, so we rush it as quickly as possible – keen to get back to the buzz of living.

Wash hands? Not even on the radar.

Not surprising either with all the limp-wristed appeals around us to do something about it.

PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS has no sense of urgency.

No scare factor either. WASH YOUR HANDS OR DIE is a lot more appropriate.

Particularly when more and more of our miracle drugs are no longer able to pull us back from the jaws of death to compensate for our sloppy hygiene.

Antibiotic resistance is already a global nightmare. And when antibiotics no longer work, washing our hands becomes our ONLY defence against misadventures with dirt and deadly pathogens.

Dead is dead, better to live

OK, so we need to make hygiene urgent. To impress upon ourselves we really are seriously at hazard unless we see the light. Folksy symbols of washing hands won’t crack it – besides the message is boring.Electricity warning

We don’t pussy-foot around with electricity for example. Dead is dead – just as all-conclusive by a dose of harmful bacteria as it is by 30,000 volts.

And dead is what can happen to us if we don’t wash our hands.

Not that it always does – we’re more likely to be ill, sometimes seriously.

E. coli, for example naturally lives in our lower intestine and most strains are harmless. On top of diarrhoea and dehydration however, virulent strains can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and neonatal meningitis. Few people die from it, but any of those symptoms can develop complications and kill.

And count on it, faecal traces of e. coli are inevitable on many of our trips to the loo – and that’s just one of the many trillions of bacteria we have living in our digestive tract. One of the bugs we have clinging to our fingers.

Not all of them are friendly, so the life threat from sloppy hygiene is very real and we need to change our mind-set.

Get serious or face the consequences, will we ever learn?

Nobody wants to die though, so better pass the soap.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

New building feel-good? Real workplace wellness starts with a button

Pretty girl enters building
However splendiferous any place might be, nowhere is invulnerable to germs

A lot of thought goes into creating feel-good.

A lot of money too. Modern concepts in access, spaciousness, air, light, colour, furnishings don’t come cheap. Nor do personal considerations like nourishment, fitness, comfort and mind. If money is no object, the results can be amazing.

From feel-good to feel-lousy

Or not.

However good the vibes, the location, the views, the whole biz-buzz hype – it all falls apart with the first touch of flu, the beginning twinges of a tummy bug, or the onset of feverish headaches.

All of a sudden, feel-good is feel-lousy. Make that feel-awful. The professional smile slips, the upbeat attitude falters – performing your best becomes impossible when you’re ill.

Not much wellness now, hey? Especially if it spreads.

And count on it, that’s highly likely. Not because we all breathe the same air or walk the same space – though that definitely has a bearing.

The building might be brand spanking new, but it’s usually old-hat bad habits that bring us down – our legacy of sloppy hygiene.

There they are, the most amazing designer washrooms ever. Hands-free taps, no-touch dryers – everything that opens and shuts.

Pity so few of us use them.

Because we don’t, you know.

We think we’re clean and wholesome, but we’re not.

Invisible to see because they’re so small, most of us are crawling in germs. And small wonder.

Sloppy hygiene de luxe

Makes kinda nonsense now, doesn’t it?

A multi-million pound building with all the mod cons. Half the staff out of action and feel-good down to zero, simply because there’s a bug going round. Another casualty to the £29 billion lost on staff absenteeism every year.

Uh, huh. Workplace illness. Possibly even a killer. Sudden death to sales results, red ink on the balance sheets, commission pay-packets ransacked.

All that money, an amazing monument to commerce and creativity, and nobody has a plan for germ control. Viruses wreak havoc, bacteria rule unchecked – with no more defences than a prestige heritage building that might be centuries old.

Which makes it extra short-sighted, since we’re all mostly bacteria ourselves.

Only 10% of our body cells are human, the rest are bacteria – a millions-of-years-old partnership that takes care of the heavy lifting of digestion, distributing nutrients, controlling our immune systems and a zillion other things – leaving us free to have a ball.

And we’re not only made of bacteria, we’re surrounded by bacteria, with our own personal cloud of bacteria that follows us around too. Most of them good, some of them bad – and all of them constantly interchanging with everyone else’s around us – through the air, by direct contact, picked up from objects and food we share.

And all utterly preventable at the touch of a button – the start switch on a Hypersteriliser.

Push button wellness

Push it after staff have left to go home in the evening, and a total sterility treatment is set in motion.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide mists up the air, spreading in all directions – through the air, hard up against all surfaces, and actively pushing into cracks and crevices. For the record, hydrogen peroxide is the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight germs around cuts and wounds.

Charged with electricity from being ionised, the hydrogen peroxide particles aggressively reach out and grab at bacteria and viruses, oxidising them to oblivion. Forty minutes later for the average room, the whole place is sterilised – safe and secure for a fresh start in the morning.

No germs, no illness, back to full-strength feel-good. Beyond décor and looks and sex appeal, it’s workplace wellness that works.

Which means back to being positive, feeding initiative, performing better and loving it because everything is right. Back to climbing bank balances too.

It doesn’t get better than that.

Picture Copyright: sergeyponomarenko / 123RF Stock Photo

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

People always off sick: the cost of dirty fingers

Accusing girl
Don’t kid yourself – most of us have 10 millon bacteria on our hands every day

Food poisoning, flu – ever thought how it starts?

Food poisoning, for instance. Stomach bugs, cramps de luxe – where from does that happen?

Well, for starters, you’ve got to eat something, right?

Put something in your mouth.

And either it’s OK, or not OK – that’s how it happens.

We are what we eat – bugs too

Yes, obvious.

But no joke when you’ve got it. The galloping lurgy.

No joke for anyone else either. Because chances are, they’ll get it too. The thing spreads – and spreads.

Empty desks at work. Empty desks at school.

All those jobs stalled, falling through the slats. Staff doubling up to handle the slack. Service quality sagging. Business confidence taking a dip. One heck of a price tag.

All from something you put in your mouth.

Yeah, but how?

Our sloppy hygiene

If you say “knife and fork”, you MIGHT be OK.

Nobody actually touches the food – straight from plate to mouth. No risk, unless the food was off – but you’d probably taste that, and spit it out anyway.

Uh huh.

But what if you scoff it with your fingers?

Pizza, burger, sarnie, chips – we’re always on the go, right? Workaholic us.

So nine times out of ten, we’re gobbling fast food at our desks – probably still working too.

Job security maybe – or too much in our in-trays. Pressure-pressure, never stop. We gotta make commission – or just rack up enough hours so we can go home on time.

Which is how come there’s gunk all over the keyboard. The phone too, desk drawer handles and the files inside. Adding to the gunk already there from yesterday – and the day before. Yeah, the cleaning crew does the desk, but never the other stuff – get sued for breakages if they did.

Finger-licking risky

And where there’s gunk, there’s germs. Visible smears, invisible germs. Norovirus, salmonella, e.coli – take your pick. Straight to your fingers, transferred to your food – er, suddenly you don’t feel so good.

On your fingers, yeah.

Touching the same things that everyone else touches – light switches, door handles – er, and what about going to the loo?

Don’t believe us? Hey, we’re all in the fast lane, go, go, go. We ALL have better things to do. No less a personality than Jennifer Lawrence, urban heroine of the Hunger Games movies, admits she skips washing her hands after going to the loo.

Hungry, but not that hungry

Poo from the loo – cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea – you know how it goes.

And all the rest. Shaking hands with colleagues, customers, clients. Fingers everywhere, touching stuff. Faces too. Infection, infection. 3,000 bacteria per square inch on your desk and no wonder. On everybody else’s desk too.

Translation – if you’ve already got it, they’re gonna get it too. What goes around, comes around.

Everybody off sick – again.

Same with flu – or whatever this year’s nasty is. Transfers exactly the same way – keyboards, door knobs, lift buttons.

Because – be honest – do you always wash your hands after you blow your nose? And what happens to the tissues? All over your desk? Overflowing out of your waste paper basket?

All in the air

Plus, don’t forget, that stuff is airborne too. Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.

Actually, EVERYTHING spreads in the air. At only 2 microns across for the average rhinovirus cell, most germs are so tiny and light, they ride the air permanently – wafting, swirling, riding the currents. Just one of us walking in the door can spread them across the whole room.

Add a sneeze on top – and the whole place is infected.

Got your calculator handy?

How many hours lost is that? At how much per hour? Even supermarket casuals get the minimum £6.50 per hour. And how about lost business? Sales not closed? Follow-ups not pursued?

How about relief staff, to keep things going? The millions and millions of pounds of orders down the tubes. Hold onto your hats, that’s a cost to the country of £29 billion a year.

Which is why savvy bosses are gearing up with Hypersterilisers. Slashing the sick bill to peanuts by reducing workplace germs to zero every night.

OK, so some staff are carrying an infection or two – but first thing every morning, the whole place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria, nothing.

Press one button and a fine spray of ionised hydrogen peroxide mists up the entire room, oxidising ALL germs to oblivion in around forty minutes. No colds to catch, no tummy bugs to suffer. The meter is not racking up all those sickness costs any more.

Now if you can just get some soap on those fingers…

How our kids’ revolting manners make us all sick

Crosspatch
It’s not just naughty, that iffy habit could be life-threatening

Talked to the staff at your local school recently?

Beyond the polite smiles and friendly greeting. Beyond the usual about how your child is doing. Down to the real stuff about what’s actually going on.

The sordid side

Like the disaster of meal times.

No, it’s not anything about the food or how it’s served. In most places that’s pretty good and the dinner ladies know what they’re doing.

It’s the kids themselves. Their manners.

Not just some of them, more like ALL – yours included. Right through junior school and all the way to Sixth Form.

Peer group pressure and all that.

What’s a knife? What’s a fork?

Because none of them seem to know about knives and forks.

Half of them don’t even pick them up and put them on their lunch tray.

Uh huh. Spot the missing life skill – or why they’ll never get invited to Buckingham Palace.

Well, you try it. How are you going to eat your pasta with tomato sauce when you sit down? Or your chicken roast with gravy and vegetables?

No, it’s not like eating Indian food – where eating with your fingers is the cultural thing.

Culture shock

This is the full-on horrific kids catastrophe – greasy fingers, dribbled clothing, smears of sauce around their mouths.

Horrific, but it’s true.

Check it out with the teachers who do lunch hall duty.

It’s not a one-off, these kids do it regularly. They never seem to think otherwise.

Which boggles the mind about whether they washed their hands beforehand. Or at all.

Because there’s plenty of evidence they don’t do it afterwards. Stains on exercise books, blotches on clothing, faces like make-up sessions gone wrong.

Handle it, THIS IS THE NORM!

No manners makes monsters

Ask why, and the teachers will tell you. Either the family never eats at table. Or meals at home are always convenience eating. A sandwich at the computer. Chicken nuggets and chips in front of the TV.

Just check the greasy marks on light switches, door handles, keyboards and remotes!

That’s the evidence, right there.

Nobody’s washing their hands. Probably not before – and certainly not after. And don’t even think about when they go to the toilet.

So if your little Princess comes home with a tummy ache, or cramps, or spends half the night on the loo – yes, it’s the school’s fault.

Not because hygiene standards in the place are lax. But because the kids themselves don’t have any. And nobody’s allowed to come down heavy, insisting on basic minimum cleanliness.

Political correctness and all that – teachers are gagged. Even sharp voices can get them fired – no matter how far these embryo delinquents push the envelope.

Whatever happened to the principle that rights have to be earned?

Self-inflicted misery

Yup, we’ve brought it on ourselves.

First with our own lack of discipline. Second with our increasingly crazy lifestyle.

Our whole fast-food, always-on-the-go culture. Meals gobbled on the fly, usually in a rush, with never a thought about soap and water. Everyone grows up and 95% of us still have no clue how to wash our hands properly.

Hello, norovirus – the vomit-comet wonderbug! Over and over again.

No wonder it’s all over the place – fear of soap and water.

Total ablutophobia.

Oh yes, you can betcha. If the kids bring gastro-whatever into the house, everybody’s going to get it, including you. They’re not washing their hands at school, so what’s different at home?

The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease strikes again – all because we’re too easy-going and laid-back about manners or hygiene.

Because too many of us default on inculcating life skills. Cop out of being parents. Duck out of responsibilities. Feeding the myth that kids are in school because it’s a crèche – child-minding while we go to the mall, or rush off to the office.

Sad, totally sad.

So you’re going to come down with the tummy cramps and diarrhoea upchuck – so is everybody at work because norovirus takes three days to show itself. Three days of unsuspecting innocence until all hell breaks loose – or more accurately, all poo breaks loose.

Nauseating, isn’t it?

And how can we be so sure it’ll be norovirus?

It’s more common than the common cold, highly contagious, and never loses an opportunity to exploit sloppy hygiene.

All from dirty hands. Two minutes with soap and water – the same time it takes to brush your teeth. (You mean the kids don’t do that either!)

OK, back to earth. Want to stay well?

You’re safe enough – as long as your kids mind their Ps and Qs.

P-soap and Q-water of course.

Pints and Quarts come later.