How Can Such a Stupid Thing Destroy Humanity?

What have we most of all been taught as children?  The answer is simple: wash your hands before eating, and after using the toilet, and if you are sick stay at home, and avoid other people.
But why most of us forget these are the most crucial tools when fighting against illnesses and pandemics? Why do we have to learn all over again, the basics on hygiene practices against diseases ? Why don’t we learn from history? Why…??? 

Facing the novel biological threat SARS-CoV2 has inspired versatile scientific studies around the subject. Researchers´ interests worldwide have been aimed to investigate e.g. the mode of transmission, the easiness of spreading and sustainability of the coronavirus. Surely, there are many players in the Game of Corona – partly known and partly still unknown, but to be taken seriously anyway, not denying them. Understanding the modes of transmission of emerging infectious diseases forms a key factor in protecting people, including the vital healthcare workers and implementing effective public health measures. The scientific community is currently working hard to understand the different properties of the virus, its behaviour and transmission, as well as to develop testing for the antigen and antibodies and the vaccine against the virus.

Kiukas, Katja. 2020. CBRN-insight. 08. 05. The Game of Corona Episode 3
Consulted on 10.8.2020

Dr Jefferson believes the virus may be transmitted through the sewage system or shared toilet facilities, not just through droplets expelled by talking, coughing and sneezing. Exploring why so many outbreaks happen at food factories and meat-packing plants could uncover major new transmission routes, they believe (Dr Jefferson and Professor Carl Henegehan, director of the CEBM). It may be shared toilet facilities, coupled with cool conditions, that allow the virus to thrive. “We’re doing a living review, extracting environmental conditions, the ecology of these viruses which has been grossly understudied,” said Dr Jefferson. “There is quite a lot of evidence that huge amounts of the virus were in sewage all over the place, and an increasing amount of evidence there is faecal transmission. There is a high concentration where sewage is four degrees, which is the ideal temperature for it to be stabled and presumably activated. Meat-packing plants are often at four degrees. “These meat-packing clusters and isolated outbreaks don’t fit with respiratory theory, they fit with people who haven’t washed their hands properly.

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor. 2020. Telegraph . 05. 07. Covid-19 may not have originated in China, Oxford University expert believes
Consulted on 5.7.2020

Hundreds of workers have tested positive for coronavirus at meat processing plants and abattoirs. There have been major outbreaks in UK, Germany, France, Spain and the US. The infection may come through close contact with the person or by touching infected surfaces. “Factories and, in particular, indoor areas which are cold and damp, are perfect environments for coronavirus to linger and spread,” according to Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology at the University of Warwick. “Virus-containing droplets from infected individuals are more likely to spread, settle and stay viable.” It is difficult to keep workers two metres apart when they are working on fast-moving production lines, and the absence of daylight may also help the virus to survive. There is no evidence that the meat products themselves could be a source of Covid-19 infection at the plants. The Food Standards Agency said it was very unlikely that you could catch coronavirus from food because that is not how it is known to be transmitted. 

”BBC.” Coronavirus: Why have there been so many outbreaks in meat processing plants? 23. 06.
Consulted on 2.7.2020

Globalization has resulted in the increased movement of people, animals, and food products. Changes in global commerce of livestock and food, including marketing, freightage and storage techniques, have increased the numbers of outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Ships represent a mechanism of microorganism dissemination. Most ships use water as a ballast system, and, for example, the ports of the USA receive about 79 millions tons of ballast water every year. In 1990, Vibrio cholerae O1, Inaba, biotype El Tor, originating in India was isolated in ballast water from five ships in the ports of Mexican Bay. In addition, cruise ships can disseminate infectious diseases such as diarrhoea, legionellosis (through hot tubs), or influenza.

Ships, aeroplanes or other vehicles can disseminate vectors of microorganisms, such as birds and insects. When insects arrive in a new environment, they have to adapt to the new ecosystem and establish themselves— dissemination to adjacent areas may then follow.

The main sources of intercontinental movements are migration, political refugees, cooperating persons, and international adoptions. Population movements associated with wars or violent conflicts, as well as environmental disasters, can lead to epidemiological outbreaks (e.g. cholera and typhoid fever), which are the consequence of population overcrowding, malnutrition, unhygienic conditions, and basic medical services.

International travel, tourism and commerce are increasing, and they constitute an efficient transport system for pathogens and vectors.  The SARS outbreak is an example of how travel aided the rapid spread of an emerging pathogen from China to susceptible populations worldwide. Tourists risk acquiring infections when they are in new environments, because they are exposed to illnesses for which they have no resistance.

The pathogen must first establish itself in the new environment, and pathogens that need a vector or an intermediate host will have a restricted distribution, depending on vector or host adaptation to, or availability in, the new environment.

Soto, S. M. 2009. ”Human migration and infectious diseases.” European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 26-28

These outbreaks need to be investigated properly with people on the ground one by one. You need to do what John Snow did. You question people and you start constructing hypotheses that fit the facts, not the other way around.” John Snow investigated in 1854 cholera spreading in London.

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor. 2020. Telegraph . 05. 07. Covid-19 may not have originated in China, Oxford University expert believes
Consulted on 5.7.2020

It’s part of human nature to demonstrate interest in new things and the explore new places, without forgetting magnificent ability to invent and create new things. Room for creativity shouldn’t be denied, nor restricted… just imagine that if we haven’t discovered how to control and tame the fire element, we would still be living in caves with bears…and that’s “unbearable”!

But when has this innate instinct for domination and greed supplanted the use of common sense and consideration towards others?

Take a moment, look at the mirror, and ask yourself the question:

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the stupidest species of them all?”

Would you like to know more about Biological threats?

Contact the author in order to clarify all your questions regarding Biological threats or other related topics.

The views and opinions expressed in Bertin Environics Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Environics Oy. Any content provided by the authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, neither they serve as a scientific statement.


Toni Leikas

Training Manager

I am Toni, a CBRN professional with over 20-year experience in training and educating Security and CBRN matters. I have trained operators from over 50 different nationalities, from a wide range of occupational areas from First Responders to Scientists.

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