Health – Hand Washing

Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Hand washing can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world.

Hand washing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat. The aim of hand washing is to remove microorganism from the hands, preventing their potential transfer. It is known that organisms survive and multiply on human hands, creating the opportunity to infect others or the host. Hand washing reduces the number of transient organisms on the skin’s surface. Although hands cannot be sterilised, most transient organisms can be removed by 30 seconds of proper scrubbing with soap and water.

  1. Nose, mouth, or eyes to hands to others
    Germs can spread to the hands by sneezing, coughing, or rubbing the eyes and then can be transferred to other family members or friends.
  2. Hands to food
    Usually germs are transmitted from unclean hands to food by a person who prepared the food but didn’t wash his/her hands after using the toilet.
  3. Food to hands to food
    Germs are transmitted from raw foods, such as chicken, to hands while preparing a meal. The germs on the hands are then transferred to other uncooked foods, such as salad. Cooking the raw food kills the initial germs, but the salad remains contaminated.
  4. Infected child to hands to other children
    Germs can be passed from a child with diarrhoea to the hands of the parent during diaper changing. If the parent doesn’t immediately wash his/her hands, the germs that cause diarrhoea are then passed to others.
  5. Animals to people
    Wash your hands after petting animals or touching any surfaces they come into contact with.

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