Tag Archives: viruses

Whoops, Dame Sally – antibiotics don’t work, but clean hands aren’t good enough either

Doctor with antibiotics
OK, what are you going to do when the pills don’t work?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – we hear you.

The hand hygiene brigade are always banging on about it. Wash your hands, wash your hands.

And you, Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer – you quite rightly push it further.

Wash your hands or die

Rediscover hygiene, you say. It’s a hidden truth that antibiotics don’t work any more. Superbugs have mutated to become resistant. All major surgery is under threat. It’s back to the Dark Ages – and in our only defence, if we don’t all remember to wash our hands, we’re going to die.

Dead right, Dame Sally (pun intended) – but nowhere near enough.

Clean hands might make a difference in the first microsecond – then we’re right back where we started.

Because it’s not just our hands we have to worry about. It’s everything around us.

Beyond medical

You see, as a high-powered doctor, Dame Sally is thinking in a medical sense.

Yes, she applies her principles to everyday life – to the way we behave, particularly after going to the loo. But her head is thinking hospitals and patients and operations and sterile surroundings.

Wash your hands. Yeah, well doctors and nurses do that already. It’s an ingrained way of life.

It’s the outsiders who don’t. The hospital visitors – and the great wide world beyond the front door.

And even if they did, it would never be enough. Because nothing out there is sterile.

Clean? Well, maybe.

An invisible truth

We judge clean by appearances – and all too often what we think is clean is actually loaded with germs. Looks are deceptive – which is probably why we never wash our hands enough. If they’re not visibly dirty, we reckon they’re OK.

Which means it’s an invisible truth that they’re not. Germs are so infinitesimally small, we have no idea that they’re there.

So if it’s not a sterilised area in a hospital, the very first object hands touch after washing will put billions of germs back again. Your phone, your car keys, money, the door handle to the coffee shop.

Give it five minutes and both hands will be back to normal – 10 million bacteria on each.

Wash our hands, Dame Sally? It can never be enough unless we wash our surroundings too. And not just wash for appearances – wash, scrub, disinfect, whatever, until the germs are gone.

And no, we don’t really do that at the moment. We just think we do.

Everyday germs

Take ordinary household washing up. And let’s refer here to another hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley. Millions of us do it, yet it’s a hazard highpoint of our lives – basically dipping our eating utensils into a germ soup, then spreading the germs evenly with a wiping-up cloth.

No, LOOKS clean isn’t clean – and certainly not safe from germs.

Nor is it either good enough to blitz the place with bleach and carbolic – scrubbing everything down to within an inch of its life.

Apart from the smell that could rip your head off, it never reaches right into all the dark corners. And most of the time we never remember to do UNDER surfaces or BEHIND them. Exactly the places that germs naturally gather.

It gets worse on your office desk. Because how often does that get done properly – if ever?

Nine times out of ten, a wipe-down from the night crew is the only lick and promise it ever gets. Promise of germs, that is. Because the same cloth gets used for every desk. Contact time is only seconds – and what kind of antibacterial stuff has it got on there anyway?

Looks clean, but isn’t.

Yet that’s where most of us eat lunch – with fingers that we THINK are clean – dropping crumbs, spilling sauces and getting our greasy paws over everything. Especially on that main germ transfer unit, the computer keyboard – press ENTER to guarantee collywobbles.

Yeah, no wonder we keep running to antibiotics. We take such chances with things we can’t see, a pill is our only rescue.

Kinda basic though, really – it’s way better to avoid germs in the first place.

But if washing hands isn’t enough – and even SAVAGE cleaning doesn’t crack it – what else can we do?

Especially when it’s not just surfaces that our hands touch, it’s the air around us too. Air is 80% of the space in any room, yet we never think of cleaning it. Heat it, yes. Cool it, yes. Filter it, yes. Even dehumidify it.

But apart from the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters used in hospitals and aircraft, we never do anything to take the germs out. And there are more germs up there than anywhere else – at less than half the size of a molecule of oxygen, how could there not be?

More than hand washing

Yes, Dame Sally, we ARE washing our hands, we ARE being careful – but if our surroundings are always germ-covered, what can we do?

Yeah, well – get rid of the germs there too.

Not in the great outdoors of course – rain and wind would whip everything away in seconds – bringing new germs to replace the previous ones in the very same instant.

Ah, but we’re basically cave-dwellers, see. We huddle together in enclosed places – away from the wind and the rain, where the elements can’t get us.

And not the germs either, if we’re clever about it.

OK, this is the opposite end of looking after ourselves.

Hospital in reverse

Hospital is the back end – the last resort to rescue us from misadventure. Now we’re looking at the front end – not a doctor in sight, no antibiotics anywhere – a non-medical way of protecting ourselves from germs.

Easy, really. Room by room – enclosed space by enclosed space – we just get rid of them all.

Alright, fine. So what kills germs? And how do we take out the airborne ones – some kind of spray?

All kinds of things kill germs. Bleach, formaldehyde, ethanol, nitrous oxide – all pretty hazardous and not very safe – especially up in the air.

Way better is hydrogen peroxide – exactly like water, but with two oxygen atoms instead of one – H2O2. It’s even made by the body as a natural germ fighter – produced in the lungs, gut, and thyroid gland – and first responder to cuts and scratches, kicking in even before white blood cells arrive.

Same problem though, vaporised hydrogen peroxide has to be in a pretty strong solution (35%) to work in a spray. Hazardous to eyes, nose and throat – in molecule sizes too large to remain airborne for long. Very wet to use too, taking a long time to dry.

Ionised for effectiveness

The breakthrough is to use a weaker solution (6%) of hydrogen peroxide – allowing it to spread drier, finer and further – and ionising it on release to change its state from a gas to a plasma, an electrically charged super-vapour that disperses itself actively in all directions.

The charged plasma also releases further antimicrobials that reach out and destroy viruses and bacteria on the fly – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Close all the windows and doors, get everybody out of Dodge, put the machine in the room (it’s called a Hypersteriliser), press the button – and leave.

Forty minutes later, the whole place is sterile, safe for everybody to come back – with not a virus or bacterium to be found anywhere. No germs, no threats, no need for antibiotics.

Now, Dame Sally – doesn’t that answer your concern?

Originally posted 2015-10-20 14:07:27.

10 million germs on our fingertips – no wonder we get norovirus

Painted fingers
A little bit of soap –
and it’s no, no, norovirus

It’s getting to that time of year again.

Cold outside, central heating on, everybody rugged up close.

Parked off with pizza and the TV – and then it starts. First the yuck feeling that maybe you overdid it.

Here it comes

Then the confirmation. Cramps, nausea – angst that you won’t make it to the loo.

Yeah, it’s back. The old winter vomiting bug and everybody’s favourite – norovirus.

Norovirus: a highly contagious group of related, single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis and food poisoning.

Hold that thought – highly contagious.

Not what we need to know – with a body that’s covered in germs all the time.

Yeah, covered. As in heavily colonised inside and out.

At any one time we might have 332,000 genetically distinct bacteria on just one hand – with another 332,000 on the other, not necessarily the same. That’s 332,000 different types – not individual microbes – all clustered in clumps of up to 10 million.

Watch out, they’re gonna get you

Makes you think when you chomp into that pizza.

10 million. Some of them benign, some of them necessary to be there. Some of them real nasties, like e.coli, salmonella, c. difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, colds, flu – and of course norovirus.

Did you wash your hands? Properly, that is – like get all 10 million of them off?

It only needs 10 particles of norovirus to make you ill – compared to 10,000 particles to give you flu. Six seconds under the tap isn’t going to crack it, especially without soap.

But that’s all most of us give it. IF we wash our hands at all – which 62% of men and 40% of women never do.

So yeah, face it – you’ve got germs on your hands, even if you washed them. And it only takes 10 to catch norovirus – one thousandth of one per cent of the bugs that are usually there.

Forget to wash your hands and it’s like trying to cross the M6 on a busy day – blindfolded.

Why winter?

OK, so why does this norovirus nightmare ramp up in winter?

The medics are still scratching their heads, but common sense says that’s when our resistance is down. With less of the summer feel-good, we’re not so blue-sky happy. Lower temperatures, out in the rain – depressing for your body and for your spirit.

Immunity is reduced – and norovirus is on the rampage.

Inevitable really. By choice we’re all indoors, together in groups wherever we are – at home, at work, at leisure. Often seriously crowded, like a night on the town, clubbing.

And not just with germs on our hands – with germs all over us too. It’s how we are every day. We’re even germs ourselves – our own human body cells outnumbered by bacteria more than 10 to 1.

So it’s not just our hands we have to get clean, it’s our whole living environment – as far as we can.

Because all the things around us are covered in germs too. Tables, chairs, knives, forks, phones – everything. And the air itself, the invisible 80% of the indoor spaces we live in – teeming with invisible microorganisms.

Germ protection force field

Right, so we wash our hands – but we can’t keep standing under a shower all day.

No, so how about we take the germs out of the enclosed spaces we need to occupy?

If there’s no germs in your office, you can’t catch a bug. The same with schools, hotel rooms, restaurants, supermarkets, cruise ships, you name it.

And how do you take the germs out like that?

With a Hypersteriliser.

It’s a bit pricey for home use, but perfect for businesses. Misting up the entire space with super-fine hydrogen peroxide, which grabs at all viruses and bacteria, oxidising them to oblivion.

Ionised too, so it reaches right in to cracks and crevices – all molecules repelling each other with the same electrical charge, forced apart trying to get away from themselves.

Forty minutes later, the place is sterile. Zero germs, no norovirus lurking, no nothing. Nothing to transfer to your hands either, so you’re safe.

Well, as safe as you can be with each of us trailing an invisible aura of microorganisms all the time – our own bio-signature of bacteria unique to us. Mostly benign, but able to affect others.

Sigh. You can’t win all the time. But if you’re living area is totally sterile, you can have a jolly good try.

Originally posted 2015-10-14 15:45:38.

Why most “deep cleans” cannot get rid of germs

Exhausted cleaner
However hard you scrub, you’ll never get rid of the germs

It’s not for want of trying.

Bleach so strong it can take your head off. Scrubbing till fingers ache.

Surfaces spotless, floors gleaming – and STILL infections break through.

All the nasties – norovirus, MRSA, flu. Outbreak after outbreak, all in the same place.

Why?

Because the job’s not done until it’s done is why.

80% not good enough

Despite all the effort, conventional wipe-clean methods are just not good enough. Viruses and bacteria survive however hard cleaning teams try. In corners, cracks and crevices where surfaces meet. In the grooves between tiles. Clinging to coils of wire and tubing. Under cupboards, behind consoles, on top of lockers. On walls and ceilings.

And of course, all through the biggest part of any room – the air.

It’s pretty well 80% of any room – the space we move around in. We don’t see anything in it, so we assume nothing is there.

Not like the exhaust pipe of a car. We know that air is dirty – smoky, unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. It’s bad and we can smell it.

But there’s nothing in this room that’s just been cleaned – just the lingering smell of bleach. It’s clean, right? There’s nothing there.

Deep cleans only touch the surface

Actually, we’d be dead if there was. No oxygen for us to breathe.

No anything else either. No carbon dioxide for plants to breathe. No nitrogen to enrich the soil. No water vapour to keep our skin hydrated. None of those tantalising particles given off by fresh coffee, sizzling bacon, or newly baked bread.

No dust, no lint, no plant spores – hang on a minute! There’s a whole plethora of stuff up there, and we don’t see any of it – all solids suspended in the air.

We don’t see germs either – and they’re up there too. Smaller than pretty well any of them. Like a single particle of oxygen is 0.0005 microns across – half of one-millionth of a millimetre.

Uh huh. And a single cell of rhinovirus, otherwise known as the common cold, is a mere twenty-fifth of that – 20 nanometres or 0.00002 millimetres. Like most germs, small enough and light enough to ride the air without ever coming down. Unaffected by gravity because the other particles surrounding it are denser than it is.

So yeah. The AIR is full of germs, all the time. Good bacteria, bad bacteria – and viruses like you can’t believe. Billions and billions of them.

Which is why your average deep clean doesn’t stand a snowball’s against them.

Sure, the surfaces get cleaned – but that leaves 80% of the room space completely UNTOUCHED!

It’s in the air

So to make a room safe means to clobber viruses and bacteria in the air – as well as on all surfaces. Plus get into all the nooks and crannies that never get attention – the dark underworld of repeat infections.

Which means whatever is doing the cleaning has to have an airborne delivery system.

Exactly why, only back in 2010, that the American Bresslergroup was commissioned to design brand new technology into the award-winning Hypersteriliser – known Stateside as the Halo Fogger.

Hoo boy, now we’re cooking with gas.

Ionised hydrogen peroxide gas plasma to be exact.

Dispersed by an electrically-charged, non-toxic 6% solution of ultra-fine spray mist that attracts germs like magnets – actively grabbing them out of the air and oxidising them to nothing on contact.

That same charge also forces the hydrogen peroxide molecules to try and escape each other – burying deep into cracks and crevices where cleaning sponges can never reach – spreading out hard against walls, ceilings and floors – permeating everywhere.

One button is all you press to start it. Forty minutes is all it takes for the average room to clear. Zero germ threshold to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6 – completely sterile, all viruses and bacteria gone.

All that’s left is oxygen and water – in such small quantities it evaporates before settling – safe for keyboards, cables and electrical connections. Oh, and a superfine layer of colloidal silver – for a protective germ-resistant barrier that lasts up to seven days or more.

A new efficiency

Sure hydrogen peroxide fogging is not new – but not to this level of efficiency.

It’s the ionising that does it – allowing a milder, safer 6% solution to be used – which reaches further, disperses better, and performs better too. The hydrogen peroxide changes state from a gas to a plasma, releasing further antipathogenic performers such as hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Other systems are more clunky, using the older vaporised hydrogen peroxide spray – stronger and more hazardous at a 35% solution – necessary to disperse the slower-acting, heavier vapour – which also shortens contact time in the air – and needs a drying period to clear wet surfaces afterwards.

Is it worth it?

Sterilising the whole room, that is.

Well if a room starts sterile, there’s no germs for anyone to catch – only from each other with whatever they bring in on their skin and clothing. If there’s a bug going round, chances are good everyone is protected.

Big bucks cost – from a millionth of a millimetre across

But think of the money – especially if conventional deep cleans fail to stop repeat contamination. And especially if they affect a major investment and revenue-earning machine like a cruise liner.

In 2002, Holland America Line’s Amsterdam was forced to abort four consecutive cruises to norovirus, even with deep cleaning after every voyage. And with fares averaging £1,000 a hit for 1,380 passengers per voyage, that’s £1.38 million in refunds every trip.

Plus how much does it cost to take a cruise liner completely out of service and hand clean the whole ship AGAIN – every item down to TV remotes, bibles – and all the poker chips and currency in the casino?

Deep pockets these cruise lines must have – as the owners of another liner – the Star Princess – are finding out. This week she docked in Vancouver with a second outbreak of norovirus in six months. Big bucks, bad publicity – and how many cancellations?

If you’re going to deep clean, at least make sure it’s a process you can afford.

Originally posted 2015-10-07 15:33:14.

Monthly sick costs £2,220 Sickness avoidance £420

Flaunting cash
You can’t see germs – but you can see the savings when they’re gone

Wow, do we ever pay for a sickie.

131 million days are lost every year because we’re down with something – according to the Office of National Statistics – around 4.4 days per worker at a cost of £29 billion.

Not good if you’re a manager, or running your own business.

Not good for employees either.

Losing hand over fist

Staff off sick means having to double up. Overtime, yes – but not because you wanted it. Working with temps who are not up to speed. Less time to do your own stuff. More stress, stretched patience, being under pressure.

And of course, less to divvy out when it comes to bonus time.

4.4 days – almost a week.

But folks at the Sage Group reckon it’s far higher – and £100 billion too. More like 19 days for ill health, 23 for stress, depression and anxiety. And as the world’s third largest accounting software operation, they ought to know – most bean-counters want it accurate, down to the penny.

Which gets a little hairy when you do the sums.

What if…

Just to grab a perspective, say we’re a company of 20 people in an office, averaging between us around £20,000 a year each. Some kind of sales outfit, or maybe a call centre.

Allow 16 days each for colds, flu, tummy bugs and the usual suspects – and we’re looking at a monthly hit to the company’s bottom line of about £2,220 – more than the take-home for any of us. A deadweight overhead nobody ever sees.

Well, yeah.

Except it’s mostly preventable.

Because – not looking at injuries or long-term physical problems – all those ailments come from germs. Viruses or bacteria we either breathe in or eat – which trigger coughs, sniffles, headaches, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

And all of which we pass easily from one to another- cooped up together in our open plan office the way we are. Breathing the same air, sharing the same things, touching the same objects and each other, eating at our desks and running the same risks.

Look closely and you’ll see why. Greasy finger marks on keyboards, phones and light switches – dust bunnies behind all those plasma screens. 10 million bacteria on the average desk that we’re working at with out bare hands.

And still sitting there tomorrow, because the average wipe-down doesn’t actually cover all those high touch surfaces. Vacuum the floors, empty the bins, wipe the desks – and that’s yer lot. No wonder sickie costs are £2,220 a month!

No doctor necessary

Now here’s the preventable bit.

To take down all the viruses and bacteria everywhere in the room – dark corners, cracks and crevices too – as well as the air, that 80% of moving-around space that never gets touched – annihilating germs completely.

All it takes is to press one button on a smart-looking machine – about the size of a small wheelie-bin. The Hypersteriliser.

Nifty device, this.

It fills the air with an ultra-fine mist of hydrogen peroxide – ionised, so it actively spreads away from itself. Reaching up and out – hard up against ceilings and walls, onto every surface. Behind, under and on top of filing cabinets, server consoles, copy machines, the works.

The charged molecules reach out and grab all germs on the fly, oxidising them to oblivion.

Next morning, the place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria, no illnesses to bring anybody down – no pathogens to pass on to each other either.

And it’s like that every morning – day in, day out.

Safe, secure. With machine and misting solution on lease at just £420 a month – less than a quarter of sick leave costs. Costs that no longer have to be met. And work pressure nobody has to keep living with.

Of course, everything could stay the way it is and we all put up with it – cough, sniffle.

Two plus two equals..?

But, let’s see – that’s £2,220 less the £420 lease cost…

What business wouldn’t want to save £1,800 a month – AND have everybody well and smiling at their desks, all up to full horsepower?

Money talks, germs don’t. And the difference is one heck of a packet.

Originally posted 2015-10-06 14:42:53.

SEE the germs we face every day, and you’d sterilise everything too

Facing the storm
They’re coming – and all around us. Germs are everywhere, all the time

Hands.

You’d scrub them spotless every chance you get.

They are our life, they touch everything – and every contact picks up germs.

Everywhere, everywhere

Because germs are everywhere on this planet. Coating everything like dust. Floating in the air. Living inside us too. Our bodies would never survive without them. Working in harmony with our own human cells. So many that we’re only 2% of who we think we are.

We see people, but we’re really 98% walking bacteria. A load of germs, surrounded by trillions and trillions of other germs. Some of them good, some of them bad.

And it’s the bad ones we have to worry about.

To protect our good ones from coming to harm. Tiny little things, too small to see. Delicate. Fragile.

At hazard, all the time

The bad ones will eat them if they can. So will harmful viruses. Which we feel as pain, vomiting and illness – flu, salmonella, MRSA, typhoid and millions of others.

Washing hands takes germs away. So we can eat safely without gulping down infection. So we can touch and ease the sensitive areas on our face – something we do 3 to 5 times every minute.

But washing only works for so long. Until we touch the next thing we need to. Which like everything else all around us is covered in germs – some good, some bad.

With every touch, our hands are contaminated again, picking up germs with every contact. From knives and forks, light switches, door handles, phones, grab rails, lift buttons – all things touched by other people too. And every one another chance for bad germs to transfer.

Everything and everything

So it’s not just hands to keep clean. It’s everything around us. The whole great wide world.

Not so easy outdoors. But most of the time, we’re inside anyway. Sharing our space with all kinds of others – family, school, work, being at leisure. Lots of us in enclosed places, our collective germs mingling and interchanging – more risks to protect against.

Sure, ANY cleaning is good. It takes away dirt, removes most of the germs.

Like it does on our hands, one good go with soap and water gets rid of 99.9% of them.

But only where it’s applied – and only as good as the scrubbing we give it. A lick and promise is not good enough. And a normal wipe-clean does not get everywhere.

Not underneath things. Not in the cracks. Not the walls, or ceilings, or the air itself – 80% of most room space. Where most germs naturally are – lighter than the air around them, floating and swirling, sometimes for ever.

Nope. No-one on earth can clean the place that good.

Get rid of the dirt, yes. That falls mostly to surfaces.

But not the germs. Even with bleach so strong it takes our heads off, we can’t get everywhere.

Being effective

So more and more of us are using a Hypersteriliser.

Press a button and it mists up rooms with a super-fine spray of ionised hydrogen peroxide – every molecule of which is charged and trying to get away from itself – hard up against walls and ceilings, driven deep into cracks and crevices.

On their way, the negatively charged molecules grab at every germ – attracting them like magnets because all germs are charged positive. The hydrogen peroxide oxidises the germs, ripping apart their cells with oxygen atoms.

Forty minutes later, the whole place is sterile. No viruses, no bacteria – only oxygen and water left over from the mist, which quickly evaporates.

Sterile and secure – our own bacteria are no longer at risk. We can touch things and breathe, knowing we’re safe – at least for a few hours.

Then, like brushing our teeth and washing our hands, we have to do it again.

So easy and quick though, we’ll wonder why we’ve never thought of it before.

Originally posted 2015-10-02 14:54:53.

A big chomp of pizza – and 3.971 million germs

Pizza girl
Are you having 3.971 million germs
with that?

Yum!

Eating with your fingers.

Is anything better?

You bet.

Eating with your fingers AFTER YOU’VE WASHED THEM.

Germs for sure

Because however nice your chosen favourite is – it’s not worth the tummy cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea that visits you at 2.00 in the morning.

E. coli, norovirus – take your pick.

It could be any one of thousands bacteria or viruses on your fingers at any one time.

Collected through your morning until now…

Off the money in your purse, your Oyster card, the STOP button on the bus, the door handle of the coffee shop, the face of your mobile, the front door to your office, the lift call button, your computer on switch, the keyboard on your desk, the mail in your In-tray, your desk itself, your office phone, the photocopier start switch, the door to the loo, the tissue paper you use there, the flush handle, the bag of doughnuts for coffee break, the parcel from the printing company, the felt-tip pens for the update board, your face, your lipstick for touch-up, the conference room table, the overhead projector, the overhead slides from sales, the meeting microphone on/off, the stairway banisters, the lunch-time news-sheet, the pizza-joint window choosing while you queue in the street, the bag they put it in to take back to your desk…

Er, excuse us.

Where was “wash your hands” in all that?

Our minds go blank

Don’t look so surprised. Most of us forget, even though we’re sticklers for clean.

Yet everything we touch, every second of every day, is covered in viruses and bacteria.

We are too. Billions of them on our skin and clothing.

Billions more inside us too. Over 6 billion in our mouths, more than the number of people on Earth. More than 100 trillion in our gut – partners in helping us digest.

So when we pick up that pizza with our fingers, there’s plenty stuff for us to swallow that we’re not supposed to.

Yes, we’ve got bacteria inside us already – but the right ones, they’re supposed to be there. And most of the time, even the wrong ones are OK – our immune systems are too strong to let them take hold.

But the stuff on our fingers is dodgy. Often in quantities big enough to give us grief. And often really yucky stuff we’d rather not know about. Like if you didn’t wash your hands when you went to the loo, there could be poo on there.

Hold it!

Don’t take that bite!

Put it down and wash your hands first.

Be safe.

And don’t reckon you can blame the pizza company if you come down with something.

Those pizza oven are way too hot for germs to survive – 800°F, or even more.

And nobody touched your super-size slice. Straight off the pizza shovel, gloved hands on the cutter wheel, into the box, and bagged into your own hands.

Wash your hands and everything’s hunky. Quattro stagioni perfetto.

Forget and take a chance – you could be in hospital sooner than you think.

More than 800 people die from norovirus every year. More than 5,000 from e.coli. Add c.difficile, Delhi Belly and rotavirus – the numbers jump to over 80,000.

Don’t be one of them.

A wrong-way encounter with any of these nasties will be more than you can chew.

After you with the soap.

Originally posted 2015-09-28 16:04:42.

High-powered job stress? More likely germs

Businesswoman with problem
Nothing feels worse
than being out of control

We know how you feel.

Everything getting to you. Tense. Uneasy. Pressure head when you least want it.

Reckon it’s the job, not you?

Come on, now. You knew the odds when you took it.

Good money, good prospects – and you can smash the glass ceiling.

Bigger than you

So what happened?

Where’s the confidence? The get-up-and-go? The sure conviction you can rule the world?

Better man up – or it’s down the tubes.

No more flying high, back to the grunt.

Not you though, is it? Always the winner. And savvy with it. Able to handle pressure. Able to handle yourself. Cool and easy with it. More than equal to the office bully. Better than your boss – who’s pushing you forward, all the time. Sure promotion material. The only way is up.

OK, so you’ve got the job taped – as long as you get over this downer.

So it’s not you either, what the heck’s going on?

Ever wondered why it’s easier at home? Why that sick, grey feeling is gone at week-ends?

There’s the clue, right there – sick.

You don’t feel sick – leastways, not out of the office. But that doesn’t mean you’re 100 per either.

Why you’re not yourself

Ever heard of sick building syndrome? You think it’s you, not coming up to the mark. You notice the lapses in concentration – but not the headaches or nausea, or shortness of breath. Too busy, giving it your all – the job’s got to get done, right? And it’s got to be competitive.

But it exists – sick building syndrome. Not a fig of people’s imaginations. Not just old buildings either. Often new ones – stylish, smart, and misery-makers for everyone who works in them.

Sometimes it’s just unlucky – like the building vibrates because of where it’s situated. The ground resonates with passing traffic and low frequency vibes play with everyone’s head. Or the Underground twangs the building foundations with every train – a shudder you feel, but can’t hear. Shaking you to bits.

More common is mould – from dampness in the walls. Not visible where you work, but in the cavities behind. Flat roof not sealed properly, leaking down from the top floor. Or condensation because the temperature insulation is too darned efficient.

Mould spores in the air, breathing problems, itchiness, feeling ratty and tired. You’re not you because of what you breathe.

Hold that thought. It’s not just you that works there, right? There’s a whole team of you, mostly in open plan. Human beings together, interacting with each other.

Outnumbered by bugs

Except there’s a lot more to human beings than you might think.

Bacteria for a start. Living naturally in our bodies and co-existing with them. So necessary, we could never survive without them. So numerous, they outnumber our own body cells more than 10 to 1.

Like several hundred trillion of them live in our gut, handling the digestive grunt our own bodies can’t. It’s where we get our gut-feel from. Our bacteria need our bodies to survive. If we’re threatened or in danger, they alert the brain. Butterflies in your tummy is a real sensation. Ignore at your peril.

It’s not just our gut either. It’s everywhere throughout ourselves – and hovering in clouds around us too. Everywhere we go, we trail a bio-cloud with us. An aura of bacteria and viruses – some good, some bad, depending on the health balance of our systems.

But of course, everybody’s different. What works for you may not work for others – and the other way around. And we’re moving around and though each other’s bio-clouds as we work – giving off our bacteria, getting others back. Sometimes bad ones – breathed in, or absorbed through the skin.

Or more than likely, ingested through the mouth or the sensitive tissue round our eyes and nose. Without realising it, every one of us touches our face 3 to 5 times a minute – 2,000 to 3,000 times a day. Whatever our hands touch can find a way in.

And our hands touch everything, don’t they? Clean, dirty, whatever – buttons, door handles, grab-handles touched by thousands of others too. And the BLT you’re about to have for lunch – because like most of us, you eat at your desk. The job’s too important to take a break – besides, it’s wet out there and all you do is spend money.

Uh huh.

Get protection

Have you washed your hands?

Bacteria from all those things you’ve touched, from your colleagues’ bio-clouds too – you can’t see them, but you can bet they’re on your hands. Transferred to your BLT before you’ve even taken a swallow.

Are you lucky, or unlucky? Because even lurking on your own desk is the chance to catch anything from colds and flu to norovirus, e.coli, MRSA, c.difficile or worse. Knock you out for a few days, or even put you in hospital. Worst case scenario, make you dead.

Uh huh, again.

So if you want to get your mojo back, better do something.

OK, you can’t wash your hands every five seconds – it’s impractical and you’ve got to stay with the action. Projects to sort, phones to answer, conversations to jump into. You’re one of the decision-takers, a hands-on honcho who mustn’t miss a trick.

Step one, keep a pack of antibacterial hand-wipes on your desk. They take off goo better than gel and can sanitise your desk too in just a jiffy. No more germs on your hands, your BLT is safe.

So how about the bio-clouds? Every night when you all go home, some of everybody’s bacteria signature lingers in the air, waiting for you tomorrow. If there’s a bug to catch in that lot, you’re at hazard, even if the carrier has moved to the other end of the country.

Hyper high-powered

Step two, strong-arm the boss into getting a Hypersteriliser. Your nightly protection when the office closes.

Any viruses or bacteria – in the air, or on surfaces – is oxidised to nothing by the fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that gets in everywhere – even cracks and crevices. Walk in next morning and the whole place is sterile – no bugs anywhere, totally safe.

Wanna bet you feel better after that?

For sure.

And feeling good does things to your performance too. Builds optimism. Pumps up confidence. Inspires you more than anything else on the planet.

Stress, what stress?

From now on, everything’s a doddle.

Originally posted 2015-09-24 14:32:33.

Staff pulling sickies – your fault or theirs?

Businesswoman thinking
Isn’t providing a germ-free office part of duty of care?

Wait a minute, there’s a blame game attached to this?

Sadly, yes.

But don’t feel too bad, we’re all in this together.

Handling the hygiene habit

Because their being off work is legit enough.

Though because of you or them is up for grabs.

Well, think about it. How many times is it just ONE staffer who clocks off ill at a time?

Rare, right?

Unless they’ve just come back from holiday and a bug they caught along with catching rays drops them as they return.

More often it’s a clutch of staffers at the same time, yes? Sickies all come at once.

All with the same symptoms, whatever they are – either something flu-ey, or else tummy troubles. Viruses going round – and not the computer kind.

Catching bugs

Which flags up immediately that your people caught it at work. But no nasturtiums on you, they spend most of their daylight hours here, so where else would they catch it?

But WHY did they catch it?

Only two causes.

The germs were already lurking round in the office, waiting in ambush.

Or your poor team ingested something that gave them the bug.

The first one is your concern. The second is theirs.

Though in fairness to you, they COULD have prevented things.

How?

Most illnesses happen by ingestion. Somehow or other, a virus or bacterium is taken in through the mouth. Next thing, someone isn’t feeling too good.

Not always from food either – though around a third of us eat at our desks.

If ever you’re worried about who’s committed or not, just check out who’s on deck, munching a sarnie in their lunch break. The great British work ethic is stronger than you think. Not all sickies.

So no, it’s not the food – all those lunch places would go out of bizz if it was. It’s the hands that eat the food. Or more accurately – what’s on the hands that eat the food.

The hands have it

Because how many of those staffers washed their hands before tucking into their graze? Or if they have, what viruses and bacteria are skulking on their desks, waiting for them to touch as they eat?

From greasy fingers on keyboards, multiple hands on the phone, on pens or documents – or simply from the dust bunnies collecting behind everybody’s plasma screen?

And don’t forget, every one of us touches our face 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Unconscious reflex, gateway for germs to enter through mouth, eyes and nose.

Bad, hey?

And not at all what everybody says about work acquired infections (WAIs) – picked up through the HVAC system, everybody breathing the same air.

That happens too of course, but not from ventilation. Every one of us trails around a germ cloud of trillions of bacteria, some good, some bad – but all intermingling in the common air spaces we share.

Most of them are harmless, but in flu season they’re not. While some don’t affect us personally, they clobber colleagues something terrible.

Hand-washing, the grudge habit

So what is it about people and not washing their hands? Everybody knows it’s necessary, yet most of us seldom do. Like around half of us don’t, even when we’ve just been to the loo.

No, we’re not in denial. It’s just not on the radar.

The same thing that drives people to work and eat at the same time makes them gloss over making their hands safe.

Not good if among them are your top performers – about to dial themselves out, just as that million-pound deal nudges up for them to close. Out of action at home at the critical moment – and all that business out the window.

OK, so get smart. Make it so they don’t have to leave their desks, but still their hands are safe.

You already provide loos and a washroom if they get caught during the day.

So for less than a pound a go, put a pack of antiseptic hand-wipes on their desk every day. To protect hands from germs – wipe them away from high-touch areas of transmission – keypads, phones, door handles, lift buttons.

Good for starters.

But remember the germ cloud? The medics call it a biome, and it’s kind of like our own biological signature – an aura of bacteria unique to each of us, that trails everywhere we go.

And stays behind when we leave too.

So when the team goes down in the lift at the end of the day, residual clouds from all of them linger behind. Some good, some bad, right? Some harmless to us, but horrible to others.

Residual germs that could trigger all kinds of things.

Like infection in a common office mishap like a staple stab.

Bad? It could be gangrenous – or worse, sepsis. Hospital emergency and total immune system shutdown. Life-threatening.

Protecting the business

Except all those germs can be clobbered themselves with a Hypersteriliser.

Everybody goes home, the cleaning team moves in – and finishes off misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Forty minutes later, all germs are oxidised to nothing. The place is sterile and your staff are safe.

So are you.

Better still, there should be no more sickies.

Or if there are, they’re picked up outside.

You’ve protected your living assets, flexed your duty of care – and you’re well on the way to being the winning team you know you are.

Have a nice day.

Originally posted 2015-09-23 12:47:11.

Keep hand-wipes handy – or get wiped out!

Cabin attendant
Welcome aboard. Please make sure your hands are germ-free for take-off!

Seat 11B is a nice place to be.

Next to your squeeze. In front of the wing. Nice big window to check the scene on approach.

Weekend getaway. Or company perk.

Good to get some time to yourself.

Just don’t touch that tray-table in front of you.

At least, not until you’ve wiped it.

Not with a tissue either, but with those antiseptic hand-wipes your bought before boarding.

Unwanted passengers

That THING carries more germs than anywhere else on the plane. Eight times more than the flush button in the loo. And way more than any place in your home – 2,155 colony-forming bacteria per square inch.

That’s 337,796 bacteria crammed onto your lap-sized 16½ by 9½ inch eating space!

Not surprising when you see how some people leave the place when they get off. And the poor airline’s only got twenty minutes on the ground before they’re up and flying again. No chance.

OK, so you’re not going to eat. Spoil your dinner at that posh restaurant you’re going to when you land.

Spoil your dinner anyway if you touch that thing without wiping it down.

But just sitting there with your iPad means the backs of your hands are in contact. And you’re not going to believe it, the average person touches their face 3 to 5 times every waking minute – an unconscious reflex that all of us have.

So you may not ingest those germs from eating, they’ll get in anyway through your mouth or eye openings – you do it to yourself without knowing.

And what surprises can you expect to find?

Stowaway germs

Poo for a start. Those tray tables sometimes get used to change nappies. But poo anyway because so few people wash their hands after going to the loo. Which means high risk of everybody’s holiday favourite norovirus at the very least.

Rhinoviruses (common cold types), influenza, MRSA, E-coli and listeria too.

So it’s not just the tray table you’re going to wipe is it?

You’re going to do your hands too – probably more than once. Whenever you think about it. Whenever you touch something that could harbour germs.

And since it’s a few hours before you land, you’ll have time to reflect on the need to keep doing it when you get off the plane too.

That posh restaurant for example, your special reward for yourself. There’s other people there too, all dolled up to the nines like you.

Impressive, yes. But when did they last wash their hands?

Maybe they showered coming straight from the office. Or maybe they just togged up and ran. Don’t want to waste valuable drinking time – sorry, socialising time.

Unseen party-killers

Except part of this place’s charm is self-service. Eat-as-much-as-you-like – smorgasbord, salad bar, you name it. And all those other people are touching the same serving spoons and forks that you are. You with your antiseptic-wiped hands, them straight in off the street.

Which is why you keep wipes on you all the time of course. You can’t always get to a washroom. And they wipe goo off your hands, which always seems to get on there when you don’t want it – something those antiseptic gels just can’t.

Worth it too – it only takes a few moments. And the food is every bit as amazing as you hoped it would be.

Those other folk from the plane are eating here too. Another getaway couple. Give them a wave. They’re not carrying wipes like you are, so that e.coli attack is going to mess up their whole time here.

Shoulda-woulda-coulda.

All the time, always

Yup, now you’re thinking, it should be a life-time habit.

Not just for your hands. Not just for your tray table. There’s your office desk as well. Didn’t you read somewhere that the average office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat?

Come to that, the office should get a Hypersteriliser as well. So should this restaurant. Sterilise the place properly.

People walk around with 10 million viruses and bacteria on their hands most of the time – trailing a whole bio-cloud of several trillion others. Locked in here overnight, they’re just waiting for new victims to walk in tomorrow.

But not if they’re knocked out with hydrogen peroxide plasma. The whole place is sterile – safe like your hands are.

Hmm, what will that couple do when the e.coli strikes?

Claim food poisoning? Sue the restaurant? They wipe themselves out, then they want to wipe out their hosts.

Which could never be you of course.

Your hands are clean.

Originally posted 2015-09-21 12:44:53.

Safe hands – are we soft-soaping ourselves?

Hand washing woman
Wipes are better – your antibacterial soap isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Maybe the penny’s beginning to drop.

That we need to keep our hands clean to avoid germs.

Which is kinda important because more and more antibiotics aren’t working against them any more.

Danger, health hazard

So dirty hands mean we’re going to get sick.

Whoops! What do you mean, dirty hands? They look alright don’t they?

Besides, washing your hands all the time is a mission. Most of us skimp on the job – or avoid it all together.

Disagreeable facts

Which kinda underlines a recent report that antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than your actual El Cheapo from Tesco. Apparently the bio-active goodie in the soap, triclosan, doesn’t kill germs with the usual exposure time most people give it – it actually needs NINE hours.

That’s because ‘Elf & Safety or whoever only allow a very small amount to be in your soap – so its real germ-fighting ability doesn’t amount to a row of beans.

Not that our regular soap is likely to be any better. Most of us hardly ever use it. We shake our hands around for five seconds under the tap – and reckon that’s it. Spreading more germs as we shake our hands afterwards – while the air dryer blasts the rest all over the wash room.

Fact is, we don’t LIKE washing our hands – even though we know it’s necessary.

So yeah, we feel a twinge of conscience if we sit down in a restaurant for a slap-up meal – IF we even think of washing our hands at all.

Too much PT, don’t bother.

The soap and water alternative

Except that some of us have got clever and we’re using gel or wipes – handy for pocket or handbag, we never need to be caught out.

Oh sure, the Parent Police will have a go at us for using them. Shielding our kids from exposure to germs retards their immune systems. At least, that’s the received wisdom.

But let’s be practical. Are your hands going to get clean or not?

The bathroom’s down the hall anyway – away from the action. Far better to use a gel or wipe. They’re instant and now. And at least you take care of the germs.

OK, that’s the soap and water story nailed. So which is it, gel or wipe?

Both have antibacterial action – the real kind. So which should it be?

Horses for courses.

Though for our money, wipes work better.

Easy gel

Yes, with gel, it’s easy-peasy. You put the stuff on, work your hands around, shake ’em about a bit for the stuff to evaporate – job done.

Still prefer wipes. If there’s visible gunge on your hands, you’ve got something to physically wipe it off. As good as a face cloth or a sponge. And the antibacterial job gets done too. No viruses or bacteria, you’re safe and good to go.

Oh right, you still have to get rid of the wipe.

So what are we, helpless? Into the bin – or a bag you can keep it in until you find one. Or your pocket.

Disposable wipes

What do you mean, carrying germs around with you?

You’re not wrong, that’s why the bag. Don’t you keep one handy because the shops all charge for them these days?

We shouldn’t be squeamish either. Back in the day, we’d blow our nose on a hankie and carry that around with, full of gunk. A tissue would get dumped ASAP – and so will a moist-wipe.

Works for us. We HATE washing, so we carry wipes. So we never get caught out – clean hands ALWAYS before meals and after the loo.

End of the grudge habit

It’s not like some secret ritual either. Nobody looks too worried if you’re wiping your hands at table or outside in the passage. Probably even miffed that they didn’t think of it themselves.

Plus it pays off too. No, no, norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – it just doesn’t happen.

And can you remember the time you last had a cold or flu?

Safe hands – yes, of course.

Originally posted 2015-09-18 13:13:17.