The Most Important Invention for our Health

It’s surprisingly not WebMD – the site that turns us all into hypochondriacs… it actually has nothing to do with our health, not really.  It’s the vacuum cleaner.

My recent dealings with rodents in the camper has reminded me that the vacuum cleaner is responsible for stopping the spread of most plagues and epidemics in modern history.  How?  It destroys the carriers.  Vacuums remove fleas and lice from our homes.  These parasites are carriers for some of the deadliest plagues in human history.

Furthermore, fleas and lice can transmit illnesses among familie members.  So if you have the flu, you can actually pass it to say a sibling if you get bit by a flea that then bites your sibling and since some transference of blood does occur during this process they can get the virus from the flea.

However, they are better at passing along bacterial infections than they are viruses, which is why Y. Pestis – better known as Bubonic Plague, finds its favorite host is fleas.  It is this transfer of diseases that makes it important for you to keep your pets flea-free.  It isn’t just to sell flea and tick medicine.  Domesticated animals are responsible for hundreds of zoonotic disease transfers to humans every year.  And it isn’t always contact with their blood, saliva, or fecal matter that results in the transfer.  Fleas play a huge role in transferring zoonotic diseases to humans, like Y. Pestis (which is technically a zoonotic disease that originates in small mammals, particularly prairie dogs).

Vacuum cleaners don’t just suck fleas and lice up.  They also kill them.  So vacuuming up fleas means that their corpses end up in the trash.  It is for this reason that vacuum cleaners are the single best modern invention for your health.  It is also why, most zoonotic diseases do not have a long life span in which to mutate.  When you kill off fleas, the heartiest of their hosts, they don’t have the time to mutate to become super contagious (like Bubonic Plague did in the 14th century).

Having worked in epidemiology for a short time, until then, I was like most people and believed diseases like Bubonic plague were a thing of the past.  Now I understand that a single mutation can result in a pandemic.  the first time my boss told me that vacuum cleaners were the reason we rarely dealt with pandemics anymore, I just stared at him like he was crazy.

He wasn’t.  They really are the reason.  We always believe that illnesses are spread through coughing, touching infected persons, etc.  The truth is, our immune system and its defenses are pretty good at weeding out diseases both bacterial and viral in nature.  As with all things, there are exceptions.  As measles begins to make a world-wide comeback, it’s important to remember that some diseases are heartier than others.  For instance, for a long time, the best cure for some infections was to give the patient malaria.  The bacteria and parasites involved with the original infection; like sepsis – which is a parasitic disease – cannot survive the fever that malaria causes.  Syphilis which is bacterial, also cannot survive in the body with malaria – it’s called something like Pyrotherapy or Fevertherapy to introduce a disease that causes a high fever in an attempt to kill off a different illness.  And the man that discovered it, won a nobel prize!

Which means the inventor of the vacuum cleaner should have won a few nobel prizes as well since vacuums are better at killing diseases than Pyrotherapy.  Understandably, no one markets their vacuum cleaners as the best disease killer available, because it would be false advertising… and this is where the vacuum wars break down.  All vacuums remove and kill fleas.  It doesn’t matter if you have a Dyson or a Bissell at this point.  (Please do not vacuum yourself or your pet in an attempt to get rid of fleas, it can be very dangerous to use a vacuum on a living creature)

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