Friday, 15 February 2013

Medway council to legislate against Public spitting

The other night I saw the aftermath of a Twitter debate on this subject and thought I'd weigh in.

Firstly I'd like to say, I agree that spitting in public is a filthy habit and polite society should not indulge or condone it. This was certainly something my education and family drummed out of me at a young age.

Now for the science part...

There is a slight risk of disease being passed this way.

Indeed disease like Flu, colds, streptococcus which can cause any number of diseases like Strep throat, cytomegalovirus, mononucleosis, and tuberculosis.

The odds are really stacked against the microbes though as once the saliva has left the body it begins to drop in temperature, encounters other assorted chemicals which can break them apart etc. and eventually the saliva evaporates leaving the microbes to the elements.
In the unlikely scenario that what is left of an infected culture being ingested it then needs to combat the mouth's natural defences.

There is a chance of contracting a nasty illness but it is infinitely small - like me being crowned king of Austria - it could happen but is extremely unlikely.

The fact is that mononucleosis and cytomegalovirus are diseases passed by kissing. The contact and passing of a larger body temperature culture is sufficient to overwhelm the mouth's defences.

The other diseases I have mentioned are actually primarily airborne as they mainly reside in the throat and lungs, which are a similar habitat. You are far more likely to catch TB from being on the train or tube and getting sprayed by the pathogen by the guy in the next seat rather than from licking the pavement. These illnesses , like the passing of the Norrovirus,are doing well due to overcrowding.

Back to the political side.

I have a problem with how such a measure would be implemented. The state has problems stopping people using their mobiles whilst driving, an act proven to cause fatalities and people letting their dogs fowl the pavement.

How many of us skidded in mess and walked it up the pavement, into houses etc? Fetal matter is a better incubator and habitat for microbes as it is larger (thus can carry more), will stay warmer for longer and does not disperse quickly.

The police are under pressure to combat larger crimes and although I'm surmising that spitting would become a public disorder offence it isn't necessarily worth the paperwork or ensuing costs to prosecute. How many coppers have looked the other way on misdemeanours and fractured bylaws because it wasn't worth their time?

It could be policed in places like Chatham High street but in residential areas? We don't see that many parking wardens let alone police officers out where I live, hence the bad parking on Livingston road.

It is also difficult to catch someone doing it. A dog defecating or a human urinating on the street takes a fair time where spitting is instantaneous so it is difficult to get two witnesses.

Ultimately I'd teach kids public hygiene and make sure they know not to put hands near their mouths, unless washed, after playing in the street and before eating. After all their are filthier things, such as animal and human urine on the pavement that are harder to detect,

I do agree that spitting in public is a filthy habit but I do not believe the level of risk from disease is high enough to warrant legislation. I would rather that the resources were to be ploughed into combatting and prosecuting dog owners who still persistently allow their pets to defecate in our streets.

1 comment:

  1. I just knew there was a good reason for my lifelong hatred of osculation (something I indeed try to avoid, and some respect my wishes on this whereas a few do not).