The competition has been won 🙂 It was indeed, 10cc, Wall Street Shuffle, 1974. I’ll have to get more obscure in future. Oh, and this packrat still has their first album on vinyl.
So. Lets have some good news first although it seems hardly anyone wants that these days. Asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is not a thing. At all. I could link to a number of newspaper articles but you might prefer the original paper in the British Medical Journal.
So why were we even concerned with this? Well, it does happen. It’s now demonstrated that it doesn’t happen with COVID-19 but it has happened with other pathogens. HIV is a case in point, the virus can be slowly active and spreading for a long time before the spreader shows symptoms. So it was an error on the side of caution, now demonstrated to be unneccesary in this case. I bet many of you won’t give up your masks though.
Some might remember the story of Typhoid Mary. Salmonella typhi is a bacterium, not a virus. Asymptomatic spread is rather more common in bacterial infections. Typhoid Mary, certainly at first, had no idea she was carrying the disease. She showed no symptoms at all, but everywhere she went, the disease followed. Asymptomatic spread is a real thing with some diseases. It has been shown that COVID-19 is not one of those diseases. And nobody wants to believe that. I wonder why?
Cross-species spread is much more common than within-species spread. Escherichia coli O157, the terror of a few decades ago, has no effect on cows. It lives quite benignly in their guts. Humans getting it can experience very severe disease. The cow experiences nothing at all.
Incidentally, this sparked a terror of E. coli overall. Look at a culture collection catalogue. Page after page of E. coli variants, almost all of them harmless to humans. The harmless ones are in your gut right now. Yes, every one of you. A few, including the K88 variant, is harmless to humans but turns pigs into faecal power squirters. It all depends on the interactions with other species inside you.
That part is critical. We are not all the same. The British Standard Human does not exist. Typhoid Mary was not really ‘immune’ to S. typhi. She was more accurately described as unaffected by it. It settled into her internal microflora as a benign aspect, but in anyone else, it was blowout time.
Salmonella pullorum used to cause a lot of problems in farmed chickens. It made chickens ill, not people. A lot of effort went in to eradicating it. It worked, mostly. It hasn’t completely gone. However, the chicken gut merely replaced it with a species harmless to chickens. S. enteritidis. Unfortunately this one made humans shit through every orifice so now farmed chickens are routinely vaccinated (through drinking water) to try to cut down on their Salmonella load. It’s not perfect but it works.
Salmonella needs to get into you mob-handed. A hundred of them is not enough. You need to take in several thousand at once. Sounds a lot, but it really isn’t. Several thousand bacteria in a 100 ml glass of water won’t even make it look cloudy. Less than that and the gut bacteria will beat the crap out of them before they get a chance to beat the crap out of you. You need a seriously big dose at once to get sick. Since they will only be on the outside of the chicken (the outside includes the body cavity) cooking will kill them. It’s true they are also in eggs – they get into the ovaries – but usually in small numbers, too low to be a problem.
If you are worried about eggs, float test them in a jug of water. If they sink they are fine. If they float at the surface throw them away. Floating means a gas buildup due to bacterial activity. If they sink but sit upright, hard boil them right away. You can still fridge them and eat them later (let them go cold before fridging them or the yolk will turn green) because hard boiling will kill any bacteria. Mostly though, the Salmonella load in eggs is too low to be concerned about. It’s only a problem if you keep then too long and let the buggers grow. Oh, and cooking kills them.
Another one that doesn’t bother chickens but will ruin your month is Campylobacter. This hasn’t been eradicated from poultry but there are many people trying to do that (including me before I retired and no I didn’t succeed either). This one manages to get deep into the actual musculature of the bird, which is why I insist on chicken being well cooked all the way through. It makes you shit water and can do worse – it can set off autoimmune diseases that might never go away. If I were you I’d be a lot more worried about undercooked chicken than COVID-19. You think the weeks of fatigue and headache of ‘long covid’ (actually post-viral syndrome) is bad? Try permanent paralysis from a pink chicken sandwich.
Asymptomatic spread from animals to humans happens a lot. We call them ‘zoonoses’. The microbe in question has no effect on the animal but can be devastating in humans. It works the other way too. Asymptomatic spread between humans is far less common but does happen. So it was sensible at first to assume this might happen with COVID-19. We had little information at first, we have much more now and we now know it does not happen.
Still, it it is good to know that COVID-19 does not do this. If someone has no symptoms they are not spreading it. This has now been demonstrated. Every government knows this and has known this for some weeks at least.
So the masks are not about a virus.