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Why Hand Washing is Important

February 20, 2018
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

This year's flu seems particularly bad. It doesn't help that the flu shot is only about 25% effective. Because the protection of the shot is so low this year, we have to take other measures to prevent the spread of the illness. One of the biggest protective factors is hand washing.

Keeping your hands clean through hand hygiene greatly reduces your risk for illness as well as the risk for those around you contracting an illness. Many diseases and bacteria are easily passed from person to person through unwashed hands. These illnesses can include: the common cold, E. coli, hepatitis A, Salmonella, norovirus, and influenza.

According to the CDC, a person should wash his hands:

Before, during, and after preparing food

Before eating food

Before and after caring for someone who is sick

After using the toilet

After changing diapers

After blowing you nose, coughing, or sneezing

After touching garbage.

It is especially important to wash your hands after using the restroom as fecal bacteria is the main culprit behind most gastrointestinal related illnesses. Norovirus and Hepatitis A are mainly spread from a food worker that did not properly wash their hands after using the restroom.

Washing your hands can reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea as well as respiratory illnesses by 16-21%. According to the CDC, about 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year as a result of diseases that cause diarrhea as well as illnesses that cause pneumonia.

What is the best way to wash your hands?

Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to get the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.

Scrub for at least 20 seconds- sing "Happy Birthday" twice before rinsing.

Dry your hands with a clean towel or allow them to air dry.

If running water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also a good option, but they do not protect against the spread of C. diff (an intestinal bacteria).

Currently, Palo Alto County Hospital is asking that persons that are healthy or do not have an appointment do not come to the hospital. Patient visitors have been restricted. Adult patients can designate two people who are allowed to visit them during hospitalization. Only parents and guardians are allowed to visit in pediatrics. In the birth center only the significant other/ spouse is allowed to visit.

Lets work together to end this year's terrible flu and stomach bugs by committing to frequent hand washing and sanitizing. We have the power to help prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria.




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