The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends effective hand washing for everyone. Effective hand washing is "the best way to prevent infection and illness."
Hand sanitizers are as effective as they are usually advertised. The CDC recommends hand sanitizers as a second option, and is to be used if soap and water are not available. A large problem with widely using hand sanitizers and disinfectants is that bacteria and viruses will eventually build a resistance to those products. In a study conducted by the CDC, families were allowed to use hand sanitizers and disinfectants. In these houses, bacterial resistances against the substances in the sanitizer and disinfectants developed. Whereas in the control, the houses made to use soap had little or no noticeable resistances developed over the year the test ran.
And when it comes to choosing your soap to wash with, "no evidence suggests that use of antibacterial soap containing 0.2% triclosan provides a benefit over plain soap in reducing bacterial counts and rate of infectious symptoms in generally healthy persons in the household setting," according to the CDC.
Most people do not wash their hands in an effective fashion. The CDC recommends that you "wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available. Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice through to a friend. Rinse hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet. Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty." When simple soap and water is not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least a 60 to 70 percent concentration. "When using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer: Apply product to the palm of one hand. Rub hands together. Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry."
Other measures can be taken to prevent H1N1 and other viruses. The CDC recommends that you "cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water ... avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth ... try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. While sick, limit contact with oth ers as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Follow public health advice regard ing school closures, avoiding crowds and other measures to keep our distance from each other to lessen the spread of flu." H1N1 has many similarities to the regular flu. The major difference is the age groups the flu targets. Some of the "Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches headache, chills, fatigue."
Since August 30th there has been 17,838 hospitalizations and 672 deaths associated with the H1N1 virus, According to flu.gov.
Ignaz Semmelweis, an Austrian-Hungarian physician, first demonstrated over 150 years ago that hand hygiene can prevent the spread of disease.
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