Tag Archives: viral

Ebola evolution

Just a Public Service Announcement from Charles Darwin: get a flu shot now so that you’ll (likely) be alive to fret endlessly about Ebola.

Charles Darwin on Ebola evolution

And if you don’t get the vaccine and end up getting the flu, please consider quarantining yourself: you are infectious because flu is airborne and kills a lot of us (36,000+). From the CDC:

“Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”

(Charles Darwin painted by Carl Buell. Background mural by Borgny Bay. Photo by me.)

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Shopping list for anti-infectives

Although Darryl is supposedly illiterate, the rest of characters on The Walking Dead, even those with higher degrees, seem to be science illiterates*.  Details in my earlier post/rant (“The Walking Dead need antivirals, not antibiotics“), if you care. But you probably just want the image, so I won’t be hurt if you just download and go.  It’s low quality because I used a camera to take a photograph of my television screen.  Please use it to spice up your upcoming lecture during Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Darryl holding shopping list on The Walking Dead

* Thanks, though, to Chris Hardwick for apologizing during The Talking Dead for all the antibiotic gaffes.

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Reducing disease transmission with signage

Just trying to do my part to make the world a safer place.  Print the PDF of the signage below and tape or glue in a bathroom near you.  In my experience, signs printed onto label paper look more official and thus have a longer half-life before being discovered by the bathroom signage czars. To see actual signage in use at a Swarthmore College bathroom, please refer to my previous post, “Dangerous bathroom design.”

Bathroom signage to reduce disease transmission

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Shingles for sale

Had to stop and take a photograph of this drug store sign this afternoon.  Would love to know what percentage of the population knows that shingles is caused by herpes virus.  My guess is less than 5%.  Most people passing the drug store probably think roofing shingles are being sold.  And others might just think herpes inoculations are available, for those parents who are hosting shingles parties for their kids.

People suffering from shingles know that this sign refers to a shingles vaccine, but for the 99% of passersby, this sign means that roofing shingles are being sold.  It amused me.

 

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Dangerous bathroom design

Flu season is coming, so here are some photographs to highlight one of my pet peeves, bathroom design that promotes disease transmission.  I post with the hope that somebody with true influence over architects will someday link to this post.  My pet peeve: bathroom doors hinged in a way that require people to touch the handle or knob to exit. I’m sure there are fire code reasons why architects specify for this, but it’s strange (remote risk of fire vs real and daily risk of disease).  I designed a graphic to highlight the issue:

In other words, when you touch the handle, you will most likely pick up viruses and bacteria left by the people who didn’t wash their hands (and those people might be really sick).  Really: research has shown that door handles have more bacteria than (gasp) toilet seats.  But even if architects are required by law to hinge doors to pull in, I think all bathrooms should be equipped with signage like the above, with perhaps additional verbiage about using a paper towel or shirt to open the door to educate people who don’t normally think about such things (you should do this if you don’t already; photo).

Compounding the above problem is the fad of equipping bathrooms with only electric hand dryers (“Saves the environment!”).  Because cheap hand dryers take about 3 minutes to dry your hands, many people opt to just exit the bathroom without washing their hands.  Or at least guys opt out…I don’t hang out in women’s restrooms that often.  This means that the handle or knob is going to get a lot more use from hands that are coated in microbial nasties. (Somebody needs to compare bacterial counts on handles in paper-free and paper-provided bathrooms…let me know what you find.) Here’s a graphic I designed for the machines:

 

So: my plea to people in power is for doors to be hinged so that mere pushing (e.g., with shoulder) allows exiting.  And for paper towels to be provided.  Or, if that is too costly, then for installation of signage that truly informs bathroom users about bad bathroom design and what they can do about it.  If you work in a hospital and have both MRSA and immune-suppressed patients, you definitely need signage like this. It’s cheaper than installing a door handle sanitizer, I’d wager.

If you like the idea of signage but are worried about selling it at your institution, here is a great article to send to your colleagues and staff. Signage makes a difference, but edgy signage makes more of a difference.

If the Bathroom Signage Committee at your workplace is packed with people averse to anything novel, don’t worry, you can do it yourself!  Just download the door signage and hand dryer signage files (PDFs), then print onto 4 x 6″ paper.  I recommend 3M’s removable adhesive labels (#6200), which are essentially Post-Its you feed into your inkjet or laser writer. I love these sheets for stealth stickering projects when I don’t want to permanently annoy people. Then, of course, you need to sneak the stickers into the bathrooms at your workplace.  If you place them carefully and all at once, people will assume somebody in charge mandated the change and they will have a better chance of staying up.  Good luck, and have fun.

NOTE: the signage above was installed at Swarthmore College.  They lasted about a week before they take down by order from above.  Now they are back to zero signage, and are promoting disease transmission. Hey, I tried!

Please share with your friends, folks.

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