Don't you just love it when someone sneezes or coughs on you?
Jen from Belmont knows what it's like.
She was standing in a library queue when a sick woman [sick in more ways than one!] behind her coughed in her direction, without covering her mouth. Ewww.
Next day, Jen came down with a cold. Now she's got a chest infection.
"I am germ conscious," said Jen, who is none too happy about her predicament.
She had an urge to contact the health minister for a chat about face masks.
Face masks are issued at GPs, so "why not all public domains?" she said.
She also reasons that staff should be able to request that people, who are obviously infected with the cold or flu virus, leave the premises.
"How many people did that disrespectful woman infect at the library the day I was there?" she said.
Eunice, also from Belmont, has also been doing a bit of thinking about the virus epidemic.
"Carers and even healthy young health professionals are going down like ninepins at the moment, putting a great strain on the community," she said.
Eunice said her care service is under pressure from staff being too ill to work, possibly from catching viruses from patients.
"I wouldn't mind them working in those light surgical masks for our mutual protection," she said.
"Wearing masks in public in Japan to prevent the spread of infection has long been common practice."
The SARS and bird flu pandemics sparked the modern-day face-mask trend in Asia. However, the custom apparently dates back to the early years of the 20th century, when a flu pandemic killed millions worldwide.
Jen said face masks could save government and businesses a pretty penny, as fewer people would be hospitalised, need time off work and seek treatment from doctors.
"Not to mention the expensive protocol used in facilities like nursing homes when they are in 'lockdown'."
She subscribes to the old adage that "prevention is better than cure".
So do face masks actually help protect against colds and flu?
Well, the evidence shows they can make a difference, but they're no silver bullet.
NSW Health advises that the best ways to prevent the spread of flu are to get a flu shot, sneeze into your elbow, clean your hands and stay home if sick.
And the department actually has a brochure called "Cough Etiquette".
"When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth. Dispose of the tissue afterwards," it said.
Good advice, that. Jen would love it.
We wrote last week about the perils of plastic, particularly the pollution it creates and the risk of microplastic in the water and food supply.
Eunice from Belmont has another take on the downside of plastic.
"I wonder how many people who carry a plastic bottle of 'healthy' water in their hands as they go about realise how much bacteria they are collecting from people coughing and sneezing," Eunice said.
"Even just breathing over it, on public transport, in supermarkets, or even on the dentist's reception counter where people put their hands and money all day long, as I observed the other day.
"This was brought home to me, as I noticed a woman at the dentist counter first tuck the bottle under her arm by the cap area, then place it on the counter next to where she was handling money."
All Eunice could think was: "That bottle must be teeming with bacteria".
Eunice may be onto something. A study from Brazil recently compared 30 water bottles of gym users with 30 unused ones. They discovered bacteria contamination in 83 percent of the used plastic bottles.
Most prevalent were Staphylococcus aureus (found in 27 percent of the bottles) and E. coli (found in 17 percent).
The researchers recommended using steel, metal or glass bottles when possible, as bacteria can more easily stick to plastics and other surfaces that are rougher.
The smoother surface of steel, metal and glass was easier to clean and prevented a biofilm from forming.
Germaphobes and non-germaphobes of the world, the message is clear. Wash your reusable water bottles often. And ditch the plastic ones. They're dodgy in more ways than one.
What's going on with Google? The past couple of weeks, we've been searching for recent articles for reference and they weren't coming up.
This was never a problem before. So we had to actually do a google search for different search engines. We started using Bing for this type of search. It found the stories we were after every time.