Monday, October 17, 2011

Just Do It!!!

I offered an outstretched hand to someone the other day. He recoiled slightly, then said groggily: “I have a cold.”
Good for him, I thought. I could see that he felt a bit embarassed, thinking he had appeared rude. In fact, he was being thoughtful.
It is autumn, cool and wet, and the flu season with its coughs, colds and roiling stomachs is starting. It’s a time when people should be thinking more about their hands, and what’s on them.
SARS and flu pandemic scares have made us more alert to bacteria transfer and hand washing. But most of us don’t think nearly enough about the bacterial dangers of the common items we touch hourly.

H1N1 Swine Flu Virus
 How many times have you seen a restaurant staffer wiping condiment containers to remove germs? In most places, those ketchup bottles, mustard, relish containers and salt shakers get a once-a-day cleaning. In lots of eateries, days and days of people handling them pass before they get a cleaning.
And, although we might think about the germs on coins, handrails, remote controls and telephones, we seldom think about other items. For instance, studies have shown that more than two-thirds of lemon wedges perched on drink rims hold germs. 
Rhinovirus causes colds
One study had researchers order drinks at 21 restaurants, and they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons pieces. Some held E. coli and other fecal bacteria.  
A University of Arizona study found that about 25 percent of public restroom soap dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. One of the study researchers said that most dispensers are not cleaned so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up. Hands that touch the bottoms of the dispensers are dirty, so there’s a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria.And how about those restaurant menus; handled by hundreds of hands, many not properly washed.  Hotel rooms with TV remotes, phones, desks, and sink and tub handles that may or may not have been swabbed by cleaning staff.
Telephones are particular dangerous for bacteria because they receive not only germs from hands, but bacteria contained in saliva that sprays when speaking.
Hand washing messages are everywhere these days. So are instructions on how to do it properly.
The key is for all of us to put hand washing out front in our minds. Do it  often.

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