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Flu Education – Another Anniversary?

2018 – Another Anniversary?

Anniversaries. To celebrate or just to observe?

2018 is the fortieth anniversary of the incorporation of Brevis. Yeah!

2018 is the anniversary of the end of World War One.

Great Influenza Pandemic

But 2018 is also the one-hundredth anniversary of the Great Influenza Pandemic. And a dramatic start of a hundred years war that has no end in sight. World-wide this pandemic claimed somewhere between 20 and 100 million victims in 1918-1919. Pick your source to pick your number.

In previous essays we have shown how the flu predisposed us to World War II by disabling Woodrow Wilson during the writing of the Treaty of Versailles. We have also talked about the search by intrepid scientists for the original virus which took them to frozen corpses in Brevig Mission, Alaska. The virus may have been identified but that does not explain how the original epidemic starting in Fort Funston, Kansas was quite mild and then became much more virulent in subsequent outbreaks. One thing is clear: Army forts were crowded with new recruits who were destined for Europe. Crowding was ideal for spread of this virus.

The highly mutable virus appears to have a natural host in ducks and ducks seem happy to share with chickens and pigs. Of which multitudes reside in China. So we go to China to discover each year which strains are on the current hit parade so that we can develop effective flu vaccines. Maybe this is how China is demonstrating the importance of their trade with the US. Or is it just a free gift as a way of saying Thank You for all the other goodies we import from them?

Wash Your Hands

Regardless of all the ins and outs of influenza – and all other infectious diseases – the best we can come up with for prevention are proper hand hygiene and vaccination. As the decades roll by replete with outbreaks of new often more virulent strains of nasties the most effective strategy remains the same. Wash your hands. Wash them often. Wash them well.

Happy Anniversaries!

Gordon Short, MD
Brevis Corporation
13 November 2018

New Flu Posters


Tips for a Clean and Healthy Thanksgiving

This week families and friends will gather to give thanks, make memories, and share delicious meals. Whether you’re hosting or traveling, you can take precautions to help protect your loved ones from sharing any sickness during your visits.

Safely handle the turkey Frozen turkeys should be thawed in cold water (changed every 30 minutes), never on a countertop. Cooking your turkey should be done in an oven set to at least 325° F, and cooking time will vary depending on the weight of the bird. The turkey is done when it has reached an internal temperature of 165° F (use a digital thermometer, and check the turkey’s thickest areas of the breast, thigh, and wing joint).  

Keep all kitchen areas clean Wash utensils, food prep areas, and, yes, HANDS. Hot water and soap will get rid of illness-causing bacteria. It’s especially important to ALWAYS wash your hands and all equipment before and after working with raw meat, poultry, or seafood so you don’t spread bacteria that live in these uncooked foods.

Don’t ignore the leftovers Separate cooked foods into small containers, and refrigerate or freeze immediately. In smaller portions, they’ll be preserved faster and more evenly, and later they’ll be easier to reheat as needed.

Food handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems leading to poultry-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. Properly handling food and keeping up with cleaning up will help keep those illnesses at bay.

Pass the turkey, not the germs. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


Shigellosis Outbreak

An outbreak of Shigellosis in Michigan has caused state and county health officials to call on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for help.

Hand washing


Shigellosis is a highly contagious gastrointestinal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella (shih-GEHL-uh). It’s transmitted by consuming food, water, or other beverages contaminated with as little as a microscopic amount of contaminated fecal matter. Most people infected experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, usually lasting five to seven days.

In Michigan’s Genesee and Saginaw counties, 177 cases were reported between March 1 and October 26. At least 27 have been hospitalized, and no related deaths have been reported so far. Many are suspicious of the tainted city water supply in Flint as being linked to the outbreak.

To help prevent the spread of this disease, public health officials recommend thorough and frequent handwashing.

Genesee County Health Division Director Suzanne Cupal explains, “Some germs like Shigella only take a small amount to make you ill. This in an opportunity to remind everyone that handwashing should be a healthy habit you practice every day. It’s critical after you’ve diapered, used the bathroom, and before you cook food. We want everyone to make handwashing a healthy habit that everybody does regularly. Use soap, and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds. The friction with the foam is what’s getting the bacteria off your hands.” Cupal also directed that any hand sanitizer used should contain at least 60% alcohol.

Wondering what some of the biggest offenders are for spreading germs? Check out this video:



Image source:

3 essentials for effective handwashing



20 seconds.

That’s it.

Wash your hands — often. It’s single most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick. Scrubbing hands and wrists well is a must too, and then a good rinse. That’s all it takes.

Did you know people commonly catch colds when they rub their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus? If you picked up germs from other people or from contaminated surfaces, you’ll get rid of them if you wash your hands well.

So parents–what can you do? Encourage children and others by setting a good example. Wash your hands properly in front of children to teach them that hand washing with soap and water is more than a chore — it’s an important way to prevent colds, sore throats and infections.


Sing a Song About Hand-Washing


Songs get stuck in our heads and we remember all sorts of things, from useless lyrics, to rules of grammar (Schoolhouse Rock, Anyone?). We use a song to teach the alphabet to children, so why not use songs to teach other important information?

Nigerian pop singer Sunny Neji decided to use his influence to help teach people the importance of hand hygiene. “People love music, so if I could construct a lovely melody and put in some memorable words, it could stick in people’s minds faster.”

The result? An upbeat song called, “Wash Your Hands O!”

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Lyrics like, “Prevention is cheaper than cure,” or, “Dirty hands, they carry disease,” will likely make kids and adults smile or even laugh, but you have to admit: the message is clear, and the tune is catchy.

Read more about this song here.

From now through October 31, 2016, use the code “Fall16” to get a 10% discount on orders over $25.00




Happy Hands for Students

Educators know that keeping hands clean is one of the best things kids can do to prevent illness and the spreading of germs to others. Brevis products like GlitterBug Gel and GlitterBug Potion provide fun ways for kids to learn the effectiveness of handwashing techniques.


Right now there’s another way to get kids excited about hand hygiene. Deb’s Happy Hands Contest educates students about the importance of handwashing while giving them a chance to show their artistic creativity by submitting original designs to be featured on soap dispensers.

Educators can register their school on the website, and submit their students’ designs by December 5. Top finalists in three categories (elementary, middle, and high school) will be announced January 16, and public voting will be open for one month. Winners will be announced March 1, 2017.

Each winning design receives three prizes: a $500 donation to the winning student’s school, a $200 gift card for the student, and up to 500 soap dispensers to display the winning design in the school.

Getting kids involved in hand hygiene awareness in creative, memorable ways– whether through a dispenser design contest, or a GlitterBug demonstration— is a win for everyone.



Brevis is offering a promo-code discount for Fall 2016 that will start Sept. 20 and go through October 31, 2016.

The promo code is “Fall16” which will apply a 10% discount to orders over $25.00.




5 Ways to Help Prevent the Flu

Flu season is upon us! The flu (or influenza) causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. Beyond getting seasonal flu vaccines, what else can be done to protect against getting the flu?


Here are 5 actions to take every day:

Stay home when you are sick. Nobody likes to fall behind in their day-to-day tasks, so it can be tempting to go to work or school, or even run errands when you’re sick. Staying home, however, will help others from catching your illness. (Plus, you need to rest so you can recover quickly!) Also, avoid close contact with others who are sick.


Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue away after you use it, then wash your hands. Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbow (if a tissue isn’t available) rather than their hands to minimize spread of germs.


Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. It may take a concentrated effort to break these habits, but remember: germs spread this way.


Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects frequently touched at home, work, or school, especially when someone is sick.


Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand rub is another option if soap and water aren’t available.


Children and adults alike can make healthy choices at school, work, and home to help prevent catching– and spreading– the flu.


Brevis is offering a promo-code discount for Fall 2016 that will start Sept. 20 and go through October 31, 2016.
The promo code is “Fall16” which will apply a 10% discount to orders over $25.00.

FDA Ban on Antibacterial Soap?


You may have heard recently that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on certain ingredients found in antibacterial soaps and washes. What exactly does this mean?



Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research explained, “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water.”


Essentially, by using products labeled as antibacterial, many consumers think they’re receiving health benefits that simply aren’t there. In fact, according to a paper published in 2007, regularly using antibacterial soaps may be linked, over time, to the growth of a dangerous drug-resistant bacteria. Researchers concluded, “Further studies of this issue are encouraged.”


One co-author of the paper noted, “…the public still has the option of using hand sanitizers, which work faster and better than the current consumer ‘antibacterial’ soaps….”


Back in 2013, the FDA proposed a rule requiring manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to prove their products were more effective than plain soap and water. No data establishing safety and effectiveness of these products was provided.


Companies affected have almost a year to either remove the ingredients from their products (triclosan and triclocarban are the most commonly used chemicals) or no longer market their products before the final rule goes into effect September 6, 2017.


In the meantime, you can rest easy knowing that your hand sanitizer and soap don’t need to be labeled as ‘antibacterial’ in order to be effective. Just make sure you’re still washing your hands!



Brevis is offering a promo-code discount for Fall 2016 that will start Sept. 20 and go through October 31, 2016.
The promo code is “Fall16” which will apply a 10% discount to orders over $25.00.

What We Can Learn from Rio’s Contaminated Water Situation

The 2016 Olympics have come to a close and many are continuing a discussion which has been going on since before the games began: What’s the deal with Rio’s contaminated water?


The world watched as athletes competed in water visibly tainted and unclear. However, It was clear that their methods of water sanitation and their push to clean the water permanently were unsuccessful.


The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Local Organizing Committee (LOC) on health issues related to the games. Recommendations for this year’s games included water quality testing in recreational waters, particularly those used by athletes competing in sailing, rowing, canoeing, and swimming events. Most common of illnesses associated with polluted recreational water exposure is mild gastroenteritis. Others include respiratory infections, and skin and ear infections.  


And yet most athletes were able to stay healthy despite unsatisfactory water conditions. How did they do it? Andy Hunt, CEO of the governing body World Sailing, reported on precautions taken by sailors in Rio. “Everyone has been very careful in using hand hygiene, washing down clothing, boats, and so on.”


Avoiding exposure to contaminated water isn’t always possible, especially while traveling. The general well-being of the athletes throughout the games only validates what we already know: proper hand hygiene is key in preventing illness.



GlitterBug Gel: A Primer

Having clean hands is always important, but using soap and water isn’t always practical. In hospital and other patient care situations, as health care workers move from one patient to another, a soap-and-water washing doesn’t always contribute to overall time-effectiveness.


Hand sanitizer (also referred to as alcohol-based handrub) is a well-researched, efficacious product which is considered to fulfill the highest standards of safety in regards to infection prevention. Its creation and widespread availability has revolutionized modern hand hygiene practices.


If you use hand sanitizer, GlitterBug Gel is a great product for you. It teaches and evaluates the effectiveness of how hand sanitizer is applied. It looks and feels like sanitizer, and though it’s 60% alcohol, it doesn’t kill germs. Simply apply as you would regular hand sanitizer, and check under the light. Any glowing areas on your hands indicate a thorough application of sanitizer.


Watch this quick video to see how it’s done:

Use GlitterBug Gel to help you see how well your hand sanitizer is working.