Tag Archives: South Korea

MERS in South Korea – but what about here?

Pensive doctor in mask
We should worry about keeping our hands clean more than covering our face

The pictures are pretty scary.

People in face masks everywhere.

In shops. At work. On buses and trains. Teams of white-suited hit units spraying disinfectant. Trucks doing the same thing down city roads. Schools closed.

In South Korea, they take MERS seriously.

So should we.

MERS ticket to anywhere

It arrived on a plane to Seoul from the Middle East, carried by just one 68-year-old man. They’ve had a single case in Germany too.

Hop on a plane and your virus is suddenly the other side of the world. Riyadh airport has about 400 aircraft movements a day – Jeddah, around the same – almost half the traffic of Heathrow.

Which ought to be a wake up call for us here in UK.

Not for MERS, which is actually quite difficult to catch and probably less of a threat than it’s pumped up to be. But for any other kind of virus or bacteria that might be more easily spread.

Why?

Because the South Koreans handle these things properly – on top of it from the word go, hazmat suits and sprays everywhere. And they’re already on the case working jointly with the Saudis.

Not like us slap-happy Brits. Did you see anything like the Korean thing when we had that SARS outbreak a few years back? Or the swine flu?

Seems the only people wearing face masks back then were foreigners who knew the risk – or actual containment teams busy with handling the emergency.

Sloppy hygiene

Not that face masks are the big thing that we Brits need to worry about. Our personal hygiene levels are so lacking, it’s a wonder we’re not pegging off left, right and centre every day.

Our number one risk is from hands. And small wonder:

Which is why we keep reading stories about norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – breaking out all over.

Last month Toby Carvery, HMS Raleigh and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. This month The Western Isles Hospital, celebs at Glastonbury and the Longmynd Hotel in Shropshire.

The things we touch

But it’s not just norovirus. Dirty hands can transmit any number of diseases faster than you could imagine. Like Ebola, or typhoid, or the Black Death – all of them fatal unless you’re lucky. (Tweet this)

Wash Hands LogoAnd sorry, it’s not like putting on a mask and you’re safe – putting on latex gloves will get you precisely nowhere. You actually have to wash your hands, particularly before food and after the loo .

Because if nothing else, you actually touch your face up to 3,000 times a day without thinking about it – favourite entry into the body of every virus and bacteria – through the soft tissue of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Protect the space around us

There’s another defence we don’t think about either – which the Koreans are showing us in every news update. Spraying disinfectant everywhere, so that places are safe BEFORE they’re used again.

Except we can go one better with the Hypersteriliser. To actually sterilise the spaces we live and work in, so that ALL viruses and bacteria are gone.

Just one machine, misting up with ionised hydrogen peroxide automatically, is way easier, quicker (about 40 minutes a room) and more effective than teams of hazmat experts spraying sodium hypochlorite everywhere – 99.9999% of all germs destroyed.

But of course, this is Britain, so we’ll just fudge along until something major happens – then blame the NHS or the government or somebody for letting it happen..

Not to any of us though – we’re going to keep our hands clean.

After you with the soap.

Originally posted 2015-06-16 15:00:37.

MERS from camels: like bird flu meets norovirus

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

The word is “zoonotic”.

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

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

None of them are nice.

Another coronavirus

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

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

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

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

Two in one

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

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

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

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

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

MERS is catching

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

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

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

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

Hidden threat

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

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

Wash Hands LogoPersonal hygiene

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

The other defence is to safeguard your immediate environment.

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

Sterilised surroundings

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

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

Get lost, MERS.

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

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