Saturday, August 22, 2009

Germs- eerrgghh!!

I was inspired by Mike Mad Biologist (, to have a (-nother) rant about spreading germs.

I truly hate it when people:

a) sneeze, cough, spit or snort without attempting to cover it up or face away from others. If only the training most of us receive in childhood about these courtesies would stick!

b) laugh at me when I ask them to keep their germs to themselves.

I'm quite phobic (in a mild sort of way) about catching seasonal viruses and things as I'm an asthmatic. My body is notorious for catching a virus, going all breathless on me and making fertile ground for a friendly bacteria to jump on board and lay me low for days or weeks. I've improved with age and learning to look after myself, but I still get horribly wheezy when I get a cold or whatever. I absolutely HATE IT! It feels like I am sidelined from real life for a while and I just have to sit here and take it, while life goes on as usual for everyone else. I don't seem to be able to carry on as usual like most people- I need rest, I can't breathe well enough to hold a decent conversation and I'm useless going out for a meal. The housework piles up, the cats get hungry, we run out of clean clothes and I scowl at the sheets that need changing while I'm stuck in bed gasping and snorting.

What's more, every time I get something serious, I'm reminded that both my grandfathers died in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic- neither one having left their home towns for the First World War. Sure, one of them probably suffered from asthma as well and worked in a hospital; but the other grandfather was a pretty healthy bloke until then. They both left large families to be brought up by their wives and the eldest kids, which must have been a struggle in those days. Luckily both grandmas had small businesses, which is pretty unusual- one had a sandwich shop in Elizabeth St in Sydney and the other was a well qualified Tailor (-ess) in Wellington, New Zealand. It's not like many younger people die from colds or flu these days- it's mainly older people and those with pre-existing conditions (like asthma, which killed my education tutor at uni when she was only 29). However, so many days of work and useful life are lost from seasonal viruses that I think it's worth defending yourself and others the best way you can.
First line prevention is just what Mike the Biologist says: Wash your hands! and Cover those sneezes!

I'd certainly wear a mask if the flu really took hold- I think the Japanese are quite good with this measure, even though we have been laughing at them on their highspeed trains with their face masks all these years.

Let's get with it- protect ourselves and our mates and cost the country a lot less!

PS. I've been intrigued for some time with the notion that some schizophrenia might be precipitated by prenatal effects of viruses such as the flu or common cold on the developing brain. This article is a broad account of such ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Kay, an interesting piece.
    I'd like to say
    a) I really hated it in my village when one lady woke up with a stinking cold, and then went all over the place chatting to everybody about it, thus spreading the infection even more
    b) Reg your link: "Bin it" Fair enough, except that bins can harbour all sorts of beasties. If we have a hearth fire we can BURN the tissue and really does kill all germs ;)
    c) Ironically, that bloke sneezing in the UK Swine Flu advert went on to go down with the disease himself!

    Kind Regards

    John (andavane)