Tag Archives: smallpox

How down and dirty could save your life

Dirty faced woman
Our immune systems might have the dirt on germs – but we still need to wash our hands all the time

No, not beauty treatment or anything like that.

Forget Dead Sea mud and all the pampering clinics. This is good eat-dirt-to-make-healthy-bodies thinking – otherwise known as the “hygiene hypothesis”.

Oh, and you’ve got to do it before you’re more than twelve months old. After that, your immune system is no longer working in turbo mode to remember all the germs it knows how to conquer.

Know your enemy

Actually, the body does keep on discovering these as you get older, but not at the same pace.

Kids who grow up on a farm for instance, are more resistant to allergies and infection. Even early exposure to animal faeces and cockroach droppings seems to be beneficial – in weird conflict with keeping clean and washing our hands all the time.

But there is reason in the madness.

Our immune systems learn how to recognise and fight life-threatening micro-organisms in later life. They even acquire memories of germs they’ve never encountered – hostile pathogens never experienced before that have never entered our bodies.

Segue fast forward to adulthood and the same principle applies.

Developing immunity

Because it seems around half of us have developed an immunity to flu so strong, we just never come down with it any more – no coughs, sneezes, headaches, fever. They just pass us by. Previous infections have built up our resistance, so that our bodies can tell flu viruses to get lost.

And yep, it seems to work against pandemic flu too – we’re able to withstand oncoming waves of bird flu, swine flu and maybe even SARS as well. Not from eating dirt, but from previous exposure to milder infections that teach our immune systems how to handle the real villains.

Kinda like the analogy with cowpox and smallpox.

For centuries, smallpox was a killer virus that caused misery for millions with pus-filled blisters all over the body. But in 1796, Edward Jenner, a doctor in Gloucestershire, discovered that previous exposure to cowpox – a familiar problem on farms – produced immunity to smallpox.

“Vacca” is the Latin word for cow – from which we get “vaccine,” a protection from viruses – and “vaccination”, the jab we get to protect us. Actually for cowpox it’s a series of tiny jabs dipped in vaccine solution – a mild reaction blister develops, but disappears in two weeks – and we are protected.

Washing hands is always vital

All of which does not mean that we should ignore daily hygiene, or that it’s safe to run around with dirty hands.

It was another doctor, Joseph Lister, who discovered that surgery patients were dying because infections were transferred from one case to another by surgeons who did not realise the significance of washing hands between treatments.

And yes, he’s the guy after whom Listerine is named, originally an antiseptic, but now a mouthwash.

We might have immunities, but there’s still plenty of germs out there we haven’t encountered yet – all too ready to do the dirty on us if we stop being careful. (Tweet this)

And the Lister story is significant because it’s about transferring germs, spreading them on contact – either directly, or by things we touch in common with other people – door handles, mobiles, keyboards, knives and forks – what the medics call “fomites”.

Hygiene to protect others

Our immunities aren’t all the same either. So while WE might be safe from a particular germ, the kid at the next desk in school – or the colleague alongside us at work – other people might not be.

How fair is it to give them our germs – infect them with a bug we’re immune to – because we’re too forgetful to wash our hands?

Yes, “down and dirty” teaches our bodies to be strong when we’re infants. It’s also how we need to fight germs when we’re older. All or nothing, brute force, get rid of them.Rediscover Hygiene logo

Because living in communities of others as we do – all of us different – there’s no one-size-fits-all protection we can share.

Except washing hands.

Life-saving habits

Except doing everything to keep germs away from any of us who are vulnerable. To stop any cross-contamination. To keep everything around us clean and germ-free for the same reason. Even to using a Hypersteriliser to sterilise the living space around us.

Dead and gone, germs can’t touch us.

So let’s give them their own dirty treatment straight back again.

Originally posted 2015-06-17 11:35:35.

Bioterrorist attacks: our safest quick defence?

BUsinessmen looking at Hypersteriliser
Bioterrorists are ALWAYS a threat, but with a Halo Hypersteriliser the germs they unleash can be destroyed completely

Doesn’t look like much, does it, this machine? A sort of high-tech wheelie-bin, maybe. But every bioterrorist in the remotest desert hideout will be cursing.

Grinding their teeth that even biological weapons can be thwarted – and their fall-out mostly neutralised.

Because there they are, hoping to unleash a fast-moving airborne pathogen like weaponised anthrax or smallpox.

Dread diseases that could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.

And this business must-have will stop their attempt dead in its tracks.

Effective protection

OK, it won’t STOP an attack. But press the button on this thing and it takes out ALL airborne germs in around 40 minutes – bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould.

Which includes anthrax, if you remember that US scare post- 9/11. Anthrax, bacillus anthracis, it’s a germ like any other.

So is smallpox, variola vera, another possible bioterrorist choice. Experimented with by scientists during World War II – and actually manufactured as a weapon by the old Soviet Union in Zagorsk during the 80s.  

Both are pretty scaryone a bacterium, the other a virus.  But both are destroyed with equal ease by this precision Hypersteriliser – in the air or on surfaces. The end of any bioterrorist threat right there.

Activating the machine mists up the whole place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – charged particles that grab at pathogens on the fly, oxidising them to oblivion. Oxygen atoms rip their cell structure apart.

All that’s left is oxygen and tiny quantities of water, which evaporate.

Oh, and an microscopic-thin film of colloidal silver on all surfaces – a barrier against further germ contamination that lasts for up to a week.

Ready for the worst

Could a bioterrorist attack really happen?

It’s increasingly likely, says Microsoft founder and world leader Bill Gates. A greater risk than a nuclear attack – and more deadly than a pandemic. Like the 1918 flu that killed 50 million people – three times the dead of World War I.

Actually stopping an attack though is near impossible. The first of the American 2001 anthrax incidents was triggered by spores released from an ordinary innocent-looking letter. Unpredictable even with the tightest security.

But neutralising the outcome is easy – as long as it happens indoors, the most likely target choice. Releasing a pathogen in open air is iffy and risks quick dissipation by wind – or even surging back and overwhelming the bioterrorist himself.

Indoors though is enclosed space. Safe from outside. Safe too from harmful pathogens because the Hypersteriliser makes sure of it. It just has to be deployed as quickly as possible – before any pathogen has a chance to spread or infect anyone.

And we have to learn how to be ready.

Already in place – to save money

Savvy organisations will already have a machine on standby – part of their regular cleaning and workplace hygiene routine. It’s not just bioterrorist attacks we have to worry about, it’s day-to-day germs as well. Like colds and flu for instance.

Sure everybody gets colds – and usually thinks nothing of it. An uncomfortable nuisance for a few days, not worth worrying about.

Unless you count the cost of wonky people trying to do their job when they’re not fully up to it. Far from skiving off from work, they’re doing more harm sitting there suffering and going through the motions.

They wouldn’t drive a car while drunk or intoxicated – but their infection impairs them more than they know. How many mistakes or oversights can they make without even realising it? And how many of their colleagues can they bring down with them, just by breathing the same air?

Illness in the workplace costs 10 times more than staff off sick, which is is why taking anti-germ action is increasingly part of any business operation.

Why pay out thousands for below-standard performance – instead of investing in health protection and realising full potential?

Maximised assets

Add the increasing threat of bioterrorist attacks and workplace hygiene becomes a security need as well as an effective safeguard for maximising human assets.

And it’s not just anthrax or smallpox you’re taking care of. A short list of typical bio-threats  can be found here, but it’s ANY germ you would be neutralising.

All of which is probably in Bill Gates’ mind when he cautions us against bioterrorist threats. Yet another reason why he is still the world’s richest man.

Protecting the workplace from germs keeps us healthy – and alive.

Picture Copyright: Blend Images/ 123RF Stock Photo