Within 8 hours one bacterium can multiply to 6 million on a damp cloth.

One teaspoon of vomit can contain 5 million viruses – it can take just 10 to cause infection.

Food poisoning cases more then double in summer as temperature rises and bacterial growth rates soar.

About 50% of dogs and cats carry a food poisoning bacterium called ampylobacter. This can be passed on to humans when you stroke them. This is why washing your hands after petting or playing with your animals is critical.




The environment is such a critical component in The Story of Health, so much so that if it is not properly acknowledged and respected, it can, single-handedly, bring the mind, body and spirit to their knees.  Our experience consistently demonstrates that many people are unable to reach and fulfill their potential because of their neglect of either their bodies or their environments – or in some cases, both.


There is so much that we can’t control in terms of what’s happening to the environment, but this should not stop us from controlling those things we can in order that we can be contributors to positive change.  If we are seeking positive change in our own lives, then we need to apply the principle ‘charity begins at home’.


In this regard, there are two homes:

i) the body which we inhabit – which is deserving of our love and respect and

ii) if we are lucky enough to have a home, then that space which provides us with warmth, security and shelter also needs to be valued and maintained.


It’s surprising to note that with all the pollution and degradation that is contaminating our planet that there is at least as much toxicity to be found within our homes.  Maybe if we start to be proper custodians at this level, we’ll be inspired to embrace the planet with more love and respect.  So, as you read through this item, think of the things that you can change and do differently because if you care for your personal space, your personal space will better sustain you…



You can’t see them… you can’t feel them… and you can’t hear them… but you share your home with millions of micro-organisms, including the harmful ones we call ‘germs’, some of which can survive on surfaces for long periods and multiply at an incredible rate.  However, there is no need to worry as being surrounded by micro-organisms is perfectly normal and as many of them are harmless you can continue to live side-by-side with them.  You can control the spread of germs by the way you clean your home and if there is someone in the family who is elderly, very young or unwell you need to take extra care as their immune systems are weakened or not yet fully developed.


‘Germs’ is an umbrella term that covers a variety of different organisms that can make us ill – including bacteria, spores, fungi and viruses.  Some of the most common germs are the ones that cause infectious intestinal disease and illnesses such as colds and ‘flu.


Bacteria are very small, simple organisms. They may be found in or on just about every part of the home from taps, handles and light switches to toilet seats and they especially love damp, dirty places such as dishcloths.  Bacteria are responsible for illnesses such as Salmonella and E. coli 0157.


Moulds and yeasts exist both in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forms. The bad moulds and yeasts include the ones we find in our bathrooms.  Mildew, which is a common mould, usually forms a black or green discolouration.  When your shower curtain is covered in pinky gunge it’s generally a yeast that’s causing it.  Another form of yeast is Candida albicans that causes Thrush.


Viruses are incredibly small, much smaller than bacteria.  On its own, a virus is not a complete living entity; it needs to infect a host cell of a living thing to reproduce.  Viruses can lie dormant on dry surfaces for a relatively long time before being picked up by a new host. Flu viruses are generally quite fragile but some strains have been shown to survive on surfaces like plastic light switches or worktops for between 24 and 48 hours. Viruses can cause a range of infections and are probably responsible for at least half of all stomach upsets.



Skin/Wound infection bugs

NAME: MRSA.  (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

TYPE OF GERM: Bacterium.

LIVES: primarily in hospitals, but some strains now exist within the community setting.  Carried harmlessly on the skin or in the nose or throat by about 1 in 100 people.

SYMPTOMS: boils, sores or itchy blisters. Severe cases can lead to blood poisoning and inflammation of the internal organs.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: can live permanently in the nose or on the body without any harmful effects.

Can be spread via contaminated surfaces, fabrics or direct skin contact.

Infections can arise if the skin is broken especially in elderly people or those with reduced immunity.


Respiratory bugs

NAME: Influenza.


LIVES: in ill people and sometimes animals or birds.

SYMPTOMS: fever, aching limbs, cough, sore throat, headache.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: spread in droplets ejected when an ill person coughs or sneezes, and in mucus via hands.

Virus can settle on surfaces etc. from the air or be deposited via hands on things people touch, tissues, fabrics etc.

Other people become infected by breathing in contaminated droplets or by touching contaminated hands and surfaces and putting their hands to their eyes, nose or mouth.


Stomach bugs

NAME: Salmonella.

TYPE OF GERM: Bacterium.

LIVES: raw poultry, eggs, unpasteurised milk, dairy products etc.

SYMPTOMS: diarrhoea or constipation, headaches, stomach cramps nausea, vomiting and fever.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: routinely enters the home on contaminated raw food.

Enters the body via the mouth on food or hands.

Spreads around the home via hands, surfaces, clothes and food.


Stomach bugs

NAME: Campylobacter.

TYPE OF GERM: Bacterium.

LIVES: raw and uncooked poultry, unpasteurised milk, household pets and doorstep milk pecked by birds.

SYMPTOMS: stomach cramps, severe diarrhoea with occasional vomiting and fever.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: routinely enters the home on contaminated raw food.

Enters the body via the mouth on food or hands.

Spreads around the home via hands, surfaces, clothes and food.


Stomach bugs

NAME: E.coli 0157.

TYPE OF GERM: Bacterium.

LIVES: intestines of infected humans and animals.  Raw meat and meat products, raw milk and fresh farm animal faeces.

SYMPTOMS: many cases develop severe, bloody diarrhoea with abdominal cramp.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: generally, enters the home on contaminated raw food.

Enters the body via the mouth on food or hands.

Spreads easily around the home via hands, surfaces, cloths and food.


Stomach bugs

NAME: Norovirus (winter vomiting bug).


LIVES: ill people, infected faeces and vomit, surfaces which have been touched by infected people.

SYMPTOMS: nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and headaches.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: generally brought in to your home by ill people.

Enters the body via the mouth on food or hands.

Spreads easily around the home in droplets of vomit and via hands, surfaces, clothes and food.


Stomach bugs

NAME: Rotavirus.


LIVES: Intestines of infected people, especially children.

SYMPTOMS: mild to moderate fever, vomiting and stomach ache, watery diarrhoea.

HOW BUGS SPREAD: generally enters the home in or on ill children.

Enters the body via the mouth on food or hands.

Once in the home it spreads easily via hands, surfaces, clothes, food and toys etc., shared by children.



Understanding how germs enter the home and the steps you can take to minimise their spread can help prevent you and your family from becoming ill.
Germs commonly enter the home in food and water or on pets and people.

• Germs are shed by people and pets in faeces, droplets from the nose and mouth, vomit, skin scales, hairs and fluid from wounds.

• Germs on raw food can contaminate anything it comes into contact with, including hands.

Germs use various routes to enter the body and make someone ill.   Different types can enter in the following ways:

• Inhaled or ingested.

• Through a break in the skin via cuts and wounds.

• Via medical devices such as catheters that enter the body openings and blood vessels.
By understanding these routes, and following the ‘Hotspot Hygiene’ approach you can help minimise the spread of germs in the home.

Hotspot Hygiene is a way of focusing your hygiene and cleaning efforts on the times, places and situations where they make the most difference. Through simple routines like handwashing, food and kitchen hygiene, and hygienic cleaning of cloths and clothes and surfaces you can significantly reduce the risk of infection.



Hand washing is one of the most important ways of stopping the spread of germs, as they can be transported on hands to places, surfaces and other people.  When there is illness, or a vulnerable person in the home, it is especially important that people wash their hands frequently with warm water and liquid soap to remove germs, and dry them thoroughly.

Using the correct hand washing technique will ensure that hands are not just clean but ‘hygienically clean’ i.e. safe from germs.  If hands are not thoroughly rubbed with soap for 15-20 seconds, or if they are not properly rinsed under running water, it is quite likely that some germs will remain on them.




About one in five people are more vulnerable to infection, these groups are outlined below with the factors that make each more susceptible.   In addition to everyday Hotspot Hygiene, people in these risk groups or those caring for them, who also need to be extra careful.


The Elderly
• Immune systems weaken with age.
• May be bedridden, leading to pressure sores.
• Chest infections can be more serious.


Babies under one
• Immune systems not fully developed.
• Common infections such as diarrhoea and chest infections can be more serious.


Children under 5
• Immune system not fully developed.
• Children are adventurous, they crawl all over the place and put things in their mouths.


Those just home from hospital
• Immune system may be weakened.
• Ongoing treatment / medication may weaken immunity.
• Wounds can become infected.
• Medical devices can be a source of infection.


Pregnant women
• Immune system temporarily weakened.
• Very high fever and some infections can affect the unborn baby, for example:
-Chicken pox
-Parvovirus B19



For many germs the kitchen is their favourite place in the house as it offers the perfect environment for them to live, breed and spread.

If food is not cooked, stored and handled properly, germs can be spread, and people can quickly become ill.


Cross contamination: This is where bacteria from uncooked foods and surfaces are transferred to cooked or ready to eat food, which contributes to many cases of stomach upsets – the way you clean your kitchen after preparing food can result in food poisoning.


To ensure you keep your kitchen hygienically clean use a bleach based cleaner and follow these golden rules:

• Ideally have separate chopping boards for raw meats and other foods.   Use chopping boards which do not scratch easily, making them easier to clean – ensure you clean them after each use.
• Wash hands thoroughly as soon as you have handled raw meat to prevent transmission of germs.
• Clean surfaces immediately after use.
• Wash and rinse out dishcloths and sponges after use and leave to soak in dilute bleach overnight.  Allow them to dry thoroughly.
• Clean bins, taps and cupboard handles regularly.



Everyone loves a sparkling bathroom; not everyone likes the cleaning bit!  Focus on germ hotspots such as flush handles and taps.  Give all these areas a regular clean with a bleach based cleaning spray and frequent attention if someone is ill.


To ensure you keep your bathroom hygienically clean use a bleach based cleaner and follow these golden rules:

• Regularly clean your bathroom to help keep it hygienically clean and sparkling too, especially if someone has been sick or ill with diarrhoea.
• Pour bleach down your plugholes and drains on a regular basis – this will help prevent the build-up of residue in your pipes that can lead to blockages which will eventually cause a nasty whiff to waft up into the room.
• To keep mould and mildew at bay use a bleach based cleaning spray.
• Showers and baths need to be kept clean to kill any germs that have taken up residence.
• Liquid soap should be used for hand washing because a bar of soap can more easily become a home for germs.
• Avoid sharing towels and facecloths.  If someone in the home has an infection, wash their laundry separately from the rest of the family.



Everyone loves to be outside during the summer but plastic garden furniture neglected over winter months can collect mould and so requires a thorough spring clean before use.  Water alone won’t get rid of moulds, use a bleach based cleaner to kill the organisms and leave your chairs sparkling.

After The Party

Don’t forget to clean up thoroughly after a barbeque.  Bleach is the only household cleaner which destroys all types of germs so clean all surfaces, including the barbeque grill and utensils with bleach cleaning spray and rinse.


The summer season and hot weather means that a lot of people will have a barbeque at home.   However, the warmer weather causes harmful food bacteria such as E.coli 0157 and Salmonella to grow more easily and can result in food poisoning.  There are simple steps you can take to ensure that you prepare food hygienically:

• Keep raw meats away from ready-to-eat foods, as raw meat can contain bacteria which are easily transferable, and which can only be destroyed by adequate cooking.
• Wash all other food preparation boards and surfaces down regularly, using bleach based cleaning spray, then dry thoroughly afterwards with a clean tea towel or paper towel.
• Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling foods such as raw meat, to avoid risk of cross-contamination.
• Be careful to keep separate marinades for raw and cooked meats, and throw any leftover marinade away if you’ve been dipping a brush in and out of it.



You can’t rely on pets to wash their paws every time they come into the house from the garden, and as much joy as they bring, they provide germs with an easy entrance route into the household.


It’s possible to live with pets hygienically, you just need to take extra care about hand-washing, and wipe down surfaces and objects they come into contact with as well as regularly cleaning floors.


To help keep your home hygienically clean if you have pets use a bleach based solution and follow the golden rules:

• Pets should not be allowed on food preparation surfaces and if they do come into contact with these surfaces they should be cleaned immediately before starting to prepare food.
• Wipe down litter trays and cages and change all cage bedding on a regular basis.
• Do not clean fish bowls or cages in the sink.
• Floor surfaces used by pets and pet feeding areas should be regularly cleaned with a bleach based product especially if babies or young children in the home crawl or play on the floor.
• Ensure your pets’ feeding area is clean and that they have their own dishes and utensils.
• Pet feeding equipment should be cleaned on a regular basis.
• Keep litter trays away from food preparation areas and from children.
• Pets should be appropriately immunised.  If your pet becomes ill however, seek advice from your vet immediately.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after washing litter trays or use an alcohol rub.


Also see: Plastic Pollution