Monday, April 10, 2006

Wash your stinkin' hands

The Chicago Tribune reports Chicago has seen an outbreak of Norovirus in 11 area hospitals and nursing homes. For those who don't know, Noroviruses are nasty bugs that cause "severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting." You might have heard them called "stomach flu." Fun stuff.

The best way to stop Norovirus is to wash your hands. But not even healthcare personnel do so more than half the time:

In most surveys of handwashing adherence, in various patient-care settings, personnel have practiced appropriate hand hygiene in only 25% to 50% of opportunities.

(Weinstein, 2001)

Now why don't these people wash their hands? It's time consuming: "Up to 90 minutes per work shift if performed as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)" (Ibid).

But that shouldn't stop the rest of us. Washing your hands for about 30 seconds (try singing "Happy Birthday to You" in your head) with soap and warm water after using the restroom or handling food can halt the spread of some nasty major diseases.

Our neighbors in Toronto got the message after a major SARS outbreak. In August 2003, 95% of men and 97% of women at Toronto International Airport washed their hands after using the restroom. (American Society for Microbiology, 2003)

The compliance at O'Hare Airport for the same time period? Only 62% of men and 85% of women (Ibid). Gross. Seriously, that's totally gross, guys.

That means 38% of guys at O'Hare are walking around with dirty hands.

Think about it: That is a serious breach of Homeland Security against biological agents.

And also yucky.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with you on this, not wasking your hands is completely disgusting. One day I watched a women leave the stall, not wash her hands and used a paper towel to open the door..I guess she was guarding the rest of us from her filth...and I work in a Clinical Research Center...SCARY. A very easy task to help avoid sickness, as if we do not have enough already?!?!.

4:05 PM  

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