Unwanted and unloved – viruses don’t need a boarding pass.
They don’t need a visa either – however exotic their departure point.
They’re used to grabbing freebies – travelling INSIDE your body or ON it.
Everywhere and spreading
On your skin, on your clothes, or dragged aboard in floating microbial aura we all carry round with us. Or simply sucked into the cabin with the rest of the air at the airport. Invisible, out of sight, out of mind.
Which means – take your pick – whatever the latest big scare is, it’s coming here.
Zika, MERS, Ebola, Black Death – they’re all packed and ready – waiting for the next flight out.
Which is also how come a local disease or illness can suddenly become world-wide.
A Boeing 787 carries up to 335 passengers and flies at 560 mph. PLENTY opportunity for a travelling virus to climb aboard – with, or without the mosquito that transmits it.
Eight hours, ten – and it’s in a whole new country. Like the overnight celebrity Zika virus – Brazil last week, 23 countries today – declared an international emergency by the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation both – latest member of the jet-set.
Which kinda means we should be watching our hygiene levels a bit more than usual. Here in the Old Country, we’re not necessarily as safe as we think we are.
Especially as Zika doesn’t really affect most of us. Only 1 in 5 infected people get ill. And even then it’s mild – a rash, joint pains or irritated eyes – a few days and it’s gone.
Not so nice if you’re expecting though. Or for your kids. Microcephaly is with them for life – sometimes OK, mostly not. Not a condition to play games with.
But nor is any virus, yet we do it all the time – take chances with our lives by simply being careless.
The Zika virus may not survive long in the UK – it’s too cold for the mosquitoes that carry it. There’s plenty of others that can though – and bacteria too. And because we’re made of mostly bacteria ourselves, we need to protect against these foreigners getting into our bodies.
The right place, the wrong place
Most viruses and bacteria are passive and benign, they serve many useful purposes as long as they’re in the right place. In the wrong place they can be devastating, deadly if unchecked.
And yet we carry on absently, not thinking that a touch, a minor cut, a mouthful of food, or even our next breath could trigger a whole interior infection that could have us fighting for our lives.
How lax are we? Frighteningly when you consider we’re surrounded by germs all the time, with maybe ten million possibly harmful microbes on each hand right now – e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, flu, norovirus – take your pick.
Despite all this:
- Only 12% of us ever wash our hands before eating.
- 62% of men and 40% of women – NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of us don’t even wash our hands properly.
We don’t do much about our surroundings either. Slop around with detergent and water in the kitchen, a wipe of bleach here and there. Surfaces only – the 80% air space of the room around us never gets touched – even though most microbes are smaller and lighter than dust, smoke, or even the oxygen molecules we breathe.
Billions and billions and billions of them all the time – silently buzzing like a cloud of mosquitoes we can’t see.
Getting our own back
We can clobber them though – and our weapon of choice is far better than any bug spray.
Close the windows and doors, wheel in the Hypersteriliser, press the button and get out of there for half an hour.
Fsst! The place mists up with hydrogen peroxide – ionised so it reaches everywhere, electrostatically grabbing at viruses and bacteria, oxidising them to nothing.
Come back when it’s finished and the whole place is sterile. No Zika, no anything – gone.
Not so easy for your next holiday though. Fly to where these viruses originate and a Hypersteriliser is a bit big to take with you. Better take some mosquito coils, twenty gallons of Autan (the repellent that smells like jet fuel), wash yourself like crazy – and be careful.
And whatever you do, don’t get bitten.
Picture Copyright: bruno135 / 123RF Stock Photo