Tag Archives: unwashed hands

People make themselves sick and it’s YOUR fault

You mean me
Suddenly you’re in trouble – even though you’ve done nothing

Of course it’s your fault, you’re not doing anything.

Nothing for your customers, nothing for your staff.

They’re getting themselves infected and you’re just letting them.

Get ready to be the victim

Which means any minute now, they’re going to clobber you.

Duty of care or some such… you didn’t stop them.

So now they’ve got sick in your place, so of course it must be your fault. Give them a chance and they’ll sue you down to the ground for generations to come.

After all, you let them walk in with unwashed hands and didn’t make a fuss. You didn’t nanny them into using soap and water, giving themselves a good scrub. You just let them sit there at your restaurant table or office desk and carry on regardless.

And how do you know where they might have been?

Clutching handrails on the bus or supermarket trolley. Those grubby railings out in the street. Not forgetting the escalator, or the touchscreen on their phones – all kinds of germs out there, heaving on everything.

Who knows what they might have picked up? E.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, flu viruses and norovirus are usual suspects. Any one of which could give them collywobbles, or something more serious.

Germs everywhere

Don’t believe it?

Just ask yourself – out and about, doing things in the city, when was the last time you washed your own hands?

Can’t remember? Neither can most of us – because we don’t think of it. Which means most of the time, our personal hand hygiene is non-existent. Most of us don’t wash our hands at all, so there’s all kinds of bugs crawling on there – including poo from the loo for at least 28% of us.

So check out these people – what are they doing? Tucking into your menu specials? Using a knife and fork, or their fingers?

Oops, there you go, a piece of bread roll straight out of their hand. Bread, butter – and norovirus – down the hatch. It only takes 10 norovirus particles to be infected – and there’s probably several thousand in each mouthful.

Give it 24 hours and the phone’s going to go. Cramps, vomiting and the world’s worst diarrhoea – after eating at your place and they’re calling their lawyers.

And you did nothing.

Nothing to cause them being ill – but nothing to stop them either. So now you’re going to get it.

Guilty because you’re innocent

Same thing if they’re working in your office. Unwashed fingers on the keyboard, then touching themselves round the eyes and mouth. Or eating a sarnie at their desk, just to make sure.

Not at work tomorrow. Sick as a dog and unable to move. But they’re onto the union rep about work-place germs – how dare you run an unhealthy environment!

Your fault again for doing nothing. Not rescuing them from themselves.

So what to do?

You can’t force people to wash their hands. They’ll get offended and give you more grief than you already have. And their sloppy hygiene could cost you plenty.

Not fair, is it? You already provide washrooms and loos – your place is always spic and span. Yet it’s you that gets hit for THEIR negligence.

Time to do something to protect yourself – duty of care – duty of bottom line.

By making hygiene much more assertive.

Because at the moment, it’s just passive, isn’t it? If they don’t wash their hands after the loo, that’s their indaba – but it’s you that gets it in the neck.

Pro-active hygiene

So put a bottle of hand sanitising gel on their desks – or offer them each individually packaged antiseptic wipes.

It’s a courtesy, right? How are they going to refuse you?

And how many are likely to think about suing you if they STILL come down with some bug? You’ve visibly demonstrated you care for their well-being. Yeah they’re still suffering, but more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

OK – and you can take it a stage further too. Not just sanitise their hands, but sterilise the whole place – get rid of the residual germs in the air or on surfaces, some of which can survive for up to two weeks or more.

Duty of care – duty of bottom line. Because what is the cost if they sue? Or the down time if they’re not working? The loss of trade? The loss of goodwill? The loss of reputation?

Norovirus alone costs the NHS £100 million a year. Get unlucky and it could put you out of business.

Yeah, look after your people – and protect yourself too – belt and braces.

All it takes is a Hypersteriliser – and around 40 minutes every night, part of your normal cleaning operations.

Press a button and it mists up deserted rooms with ionised hydrogen peroxide – which spreads everywhere through the air and into cracks and crevices, oxidising germs to nothing on the fly.

The result? A Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – in non-medic speak, that’s 99.9999% of all viruses and bacteria gone.

No way anything can be your fault after that.

Picture Copyright: atic12 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-02-05 13:59:38.

Chicken campylobacter: really a packaging issue

Happy supermarket shopper
No more getting sick from chicken – problem solved

From the headlines, you’d think we’re all going to die.

There’s this deadly killer bacteria – three-quarters of all chickens have got it – just touch one and you’re dead.

Yeah? So where’s all the corpses outside KFC? It’s the most popular meat in the country, the bodies should be piled in the streets.

Back to reality

Instead of which, there’s all these kids, munching on drumsticks. They look pretty healthy, bouncing round like kids do. Grown-ups looking pretty good too.

Wassup?

Misplaced hysteria is what.

Because campylobacter disappears when chicken is cooked – in the same way that germs are destroyed when you boil water. And who in their right mind eats raw chicken? It’s not sushi!

Yeah but 75% of all birds are infected – you can’t eat diseased food.

Infected, huh?

So why aren’t they sick and dying too? Where’s the world-wide poultry disaster?

Check out the birds. Go see what the truth is, then decide.

Oh sure, there’s the whole thing about they should be free range, not reared in broiler houses – but that’s another issue.

Eyeball the birds for yourself and you’ll see they’re all healthy – the farmer would be out of bizz if they weren’t.

Not sick. No infected. Perfectly normal.

Not infected, naturally colonised

Yeah well, campylobacter occurs naturally in birds. That’s why so many have got it.

Like we have bacteria in our own gut – more than 1,000 different species. They’re supposed to be there too – without them we couldn’t digest anything.

So campylobacter is right for birds, but wrong for us.

OK, so we take care of it before eating. Problem solved. Like deboning a fish, peeling an orange, or taking the pip out of a peach. Not rocket science.

Things is, campylobacter is all over raw chickens – inside and outside. Which is why they say don’t wash it. The contaminated water gets everywhere – on knives and other utensils, on chopping boards – and on your hands.

You see, it’s not the cooked chicken that brings you the vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s the raw chicken water from your unwashed hands getting in your mouth.

Our own bad habits

For sure. Because it’s a fact of life that we touch our faces 3 to 5 times every minute – unconscious reflex. And most of us never bother to wash our hands at any time, not just preparing food. So the stuff goes down our throat and there we are – instant infection.

Right, so how about the hoo-hah that chicken makes your shopping unsafe? Get home with all your stuff, put it away and boom! Nausea, cramps, and the whole toot in just hours.

Yeah, well. The first thing is wash your hands – the best protection against any germs, whatever you’re doing.

The second thing is, check the packaging.

Shrink-wrap, right? No wonder your shopping gets contaminated. Any liquids from that bird are free to leak all over the place – inside your shopping bags, onto your hands, and dripping on everything else inside your fridge.

OK, so first things first.

Always keep chicken separate. In its own bag when you buy it. In its own bag when you bring it home. In its own bag at the bottom of the fridge – so it can’t leak, but if it does, it’s underneath everything else.

Next, wash your hands and everything else, every time you handle it. Except when it’s cooked of course, that’s when it’s safe.

Long term of course, it’s up to the Food Standards Agency.

Instead of running round wringing their hands that chicken farmers aren’t preventing campylobacter getting into their birds, they should be fixing the packaging.

Leak-proof, or else

Vacuum sealed, not shrink-wrapped.

No leaks, no contamination, no problem.

Enforceable by law that they’re empowered to declare.

Not spending millions on technology – boxing smart, round the problem.

Allowing for administrative fumble time, maybe six weeks at the most. And another three months after that for producers to get their compulsory vacuum-sealing machines into place – job done.

Heavy fines and pulled licences otherwise.

And nobody sick with campylobactor anywhere.

Then it should be onto a real food poisoning issue – like scombroid contamination in canned tuna. They’re the Food Standards Agency – get on with it.

And that wraps that up.

Originally posted 2015-09-25 14:42:56.

Burger with cramps – free with unwashed hands

Burger girl
Dirty hands – ooh! Are you going to suffer!

You’ll know in about four hours.

Whether you got away without washing your hands or not.

Not that you really think about it when you’re having fun. You’re on a roll – grab a burger and go, go, go! Why not, it’s summer. Party time!

Until your four hours are up.

Paying the price

That’s how long the collywobbles usually take.

Cramps, nausea – the price you pay for forgetting soap and water.

Not nice, but it could be worse.

Like full-on norovirus – the super-puke nasty. All happy-happy for up to three days before it kicks in.

Then the cramps.

And the nausea, so bad you think you might die. And the vomiting, so bad you’re terrified that you won’t.

Oh yes, and the diarrhoea – all of your insides suddenly outside and burning like hell – over and over again. Up to four days of it if you’re unlucky.

Serious dehydration and up to a million hospital cases every year in the UK. And the lurking reality that 80 people a year actually die from it.

One hell of a price to pay for a burger.

Down and dirty

Because that’s where it starts. Right there at your fingertips. Or more accurately, ON your fingertips.

You see, we reckon we’re so safe and invincible most of the time, hand hygiene never even occurs to us. This is good old Britain, it can’t happen to us. It’s not like we’re in darkest Africa – underdeveloped, underfunded and forgotten, with disease round every corner.

So it’s highly likely we can go through a WHOLE DAY without washing our hands even once. Touching handles, keypads, phones – and then our faces, where germs are most likely to get in.

Not everything we touch is clean either – so there’s dirt and crud and other stuff, even poo.

Yucky us

Don’t believe it? A totally staggering number of us NEVER wash our hands after going to the loo.

And how about those nappy changes on the back seat of the car, which only gets cleaned maybe once a month? Do you always use wet wipes? Do you even carry a gel?

Fact is, 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly even when we do. A five-second rinse under the tap does nothing – or makes it even worse if you dry your hands on your clothes. Germs thrive on dirty wet.

Five minutes of easy effort to avoid the death of us – and still we don’t do it. That’s why we call it the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Because nine times out of ten, all those food poisoning stories you hear are self-inflicted.

Dodgy dinner ingredients or scruffy staff?

You might want to rethink that. Because even the poshest of us never thinks to wash our hands before sitting down to splurge in a five-star restaurant.

And the germs on the door handle of a Mercedes ML 450 are just as potent as those on the strap-handles of the Bakerloo Line.

Far and wide

Worse, because of the incubation period, it spreads to everyone we have contact with and we’re none of us any the wiser. Everyone we meet, touch, hug, shake hands with, kiss.

And norovirus is possibly the most contagious of all time. More than the common cold. So transfer is inevitable. Everyone can get it and does – the ultimate cruise ship souvenir.

Plus, you’ve got to remember it’s a virus. A half-alive organism that can last active and awake for days and weeks without sustenance. Or survive dormant for years if necessary, waiting for your live body cells to give it power and energy.

So it’s not the burger that gives you cramps.

It’s unwashed hands. Forgetfulness. Unintended negligence that could cost you your life.

Five minutes with soap and water, that’s all.

A good burger from McDonalds is less than a quid, surely you’re worth more than that?

Originally posted 2015-08-12 14:14:46.

What if norovirus was a deadly killer, would we wash our hands then?

Dead patient in OR
Dying is a hell of a price to pay for eating with your fingers

We mean seriously deadly, like cancer,  typhoid, or the Black Death.

Would we see still loads of cruise ship passengers repeatedly coming down with norovirus?

Again & again, norovirus 2.0

Because it’s happened again – and keeps on happening. The latest “Old England to New England” voyage of a lifetime by Fred Olsen Line’s cruise ship Balmoral has just docked Stateside with a report of hundreds down with this pernicious vomiting bug.

Predictably because it’s the most likely cause, the cruise line reckon the virus was probably brought on board by a passenger. In the close quarters of a cruise ship, any outbreak is difficult to contain, with the result that 252 victims have been reported – slightly more than the 7 claimed by the cruise line.

We say predictable because norovirus is highly contagious and spreads most easily by direct contact. It only requires 10 norovirus cells to infect someone – so anyone coming aboard a ship after a long day’s sight-seeing, touching all kinds of things with little or no opportunity to wash hands, could be Patient Zero.

Always the blame game

That said, Balmoral’s operators may also not be entirely blameless. The vessel is old by cruise ship standards – launched originally in 1988 as Crown Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line – and has been hit by norovirus six times since 2009.

Yes, norovirus could quite easily have been brought on board by any passenger over the years – anybody eating a sandwich ashore with unwashed hands could have been the carrier – but repeated outbreaks every year begin to look like the ship itself could be cause, despite intensive “barrier cleaning” between voyages.

Check out any ship at the dock and maintaining hygiene is an immediate and obvious problem. On every mooring rope are cone-shaped metal plates – rat guards to prevent disease-carrying rodents stowing away.

Sure those sweeping angular lines are impressive, but inside the hull they mean all kinds of tight, irregularly shaped spaces that are difficult to access and even more difficult to keep clean. Of necessity, some spaces are not accessible at all – like deep down under the deck plates, where oil-laden water sloshes round the bilges.

The ultimate survivor

No good against an adversary like norovirus – able to survive for days and even months on hard surfaces. Or even years in still water – perhaps not the bilges, but how about the drinking water tanks?

And just how thorough are those between voyage “barrier cleans” anyway? A cruise ship costs around £1.5 million per day just to keep afloat,  so how much time can its owners afford to have it docked for cleaning?

Bear in mind that turnaround time between cruises can be as short as eight hours – in which the ship has to be cleaned out, re-victualled, refuelled, new linen loaded and  made up, the works.

Come on gang! The meter’s running, let’s get this sucker back to sea ASAP.

Hmm, makes you wonder what “barrier cleaning” is, hey?

How clean is “clean” in 8 hours?

There is also “terminal cleaning” which looks the better option – variously defined as removing all detachable objects, cleaning lighting and air duct surfaces in the ceiling, then cleaning everything downward to the floor.

Items removed – fomites such as furniture, carpets, drapes, table cloths, cutlery, taps, basins, playing cards, poker chips, books, bottles, glasses, coasters and all bar hardware – are thoroughly sanitised before being returned.

Uh huh, not exactly easy in eight hours.

Then there is the issue of HOW the ship is cleaned – how long exposure time the disinfecting agents have to be sure of killing the norovirus. From studies by the CDC, not everything works – not bleach, not glutaraldehyde , not ethanol, not quats, not steam.

Nor do all techniques – not applied everywhere, not enough contact time, not effective at killing the microorganisms involved.

You missed a bit

Take just one instance.

Handrails.

Passengers spend a lot of time clutching the ship’s rail, excited about arrivals, excited about departures – or simply hanging on to look cool, sipping their piña coladas in the sunset. Does someone really go round and wipe down all the ship’s rails – and all the deck chairs come to that – or do they get forgotten, being outside on the deck?

Why does no-one seem to be taking this seriously? Norovirus is ALREADY a killer that takes down 200,000 people every year – usually through dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Imagine it up there with cancer, typhoid and Black Death.

How would it be if we saw some heavyweight death numbers – mostly from people not washing their hands – and the rest from things not being cleaned thoroughly enough?

Because norovirus is not going to go away. It’s going to continue to mutate and proliferate – until in nuisance value alone it does the numbers, clobbering productivity and generally making life unliveable.

Sorted, sort of

OK, so the ship sort of gets cleaned and goes back into service – and another outbreak happens ten months from now – dirty hands coming aboard, or spreading out from the unprocessed air gap under the linen storage on “D” deck?

So they scrap the ship and build a new one, the problem isn’t going to go away.

Not unless we learn to wash our hands before they ever go anywhere near our mouths. And we start using properly effective measures to eliminate all germs from enclosed spaces – including under linen storage and in bilge openings.

All it takes is to mist up the air space with ionised hydrogen peroxide penetrating everywhere – and germs are electrostatically attracted like iron filings to a magnet, oxidised to nothing in seconds flat.

Maybe they’ll even get sensible and build a spray system in – exactly like the sprinkler system already used for fires. Imagine that, a self-sterilising cruise ship – able to decontaminate itself completely in just hours while in port for turnaround – or disinfect selected areas completely at will, while still out on voyage.

And if we still haven’t learned to wash our hands?

Feed everybody Cornish pasties. That thick crust round the edge was invented specially for tin miners to grab hold and eat safe – even though their hands were coated in deadly arsenic from the tin ore.

Not so deadly any more after hydrogen peroxide, no norovirus either.

Though pasties might get monotonous on a seven-day cruise.

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo