-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- There are many ways to
prevent spreading germs and disease, but experts say one of the
easiest ways is also one of the most important: proper
This is especially true during the holidays when people travel
and get together for parties and other celebrations, researchers at
the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety noted.
"Hand-washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. You can spread certain 'germs' (a general term for microbes such as viruses and bacteria) by touching another person even casually. You can also catch germs when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch your face," the group explained in a news release from the Society for Women's Health Research.
When people don't wash their hands they can spread a number of
illnesses, including the common cold, which accounts for roughly 22
million missed school days and 20 million sick days from work,
according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Although there is no way to completely get rid of germs,
frequent hand-washing can significantly limit the spread of
viruses, bacteria and other microbes. Experts at the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution, however, that
hand-washing only prevents the spread of germs if it's done
The CDC offers the following hand-washing guidelines:
Of course, hands should be washed when they are obviously dirty,
but to avoid getting sick, the CDC suggests that hands should
always be washed
before: preparing food or eating; treating cuts or other wounds; handling medicine or caring for someone sick; or touching contact lenses.
The CDC also recommends washing hands
after: handling raw meat and poultry; using the bathroom or changing a diaper; touching animals or pet toys, leashes or waste; coughing, sneezing or nose blowing; treating wounds or caring for a sick person; carrying garbage, chemicals or anything that could be contaminated; using public transportation.
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand
sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol can effectively
clean hands, according to the news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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