Swine flu protection
With the 2009 swine flu pandemic (WHO, the World Health Organization, raised the H1N1 swine flu alert), and, of course, with any airborne pandemic, everyone should protect themselves by
using disposable tissue to cover their nose or mouth during a cough or sneeze,
staying home if symptomatic,
not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth,
and their washing hands frequently.
What's the best way to wash your hands?
It turns out that plain old-fashioned soap and water work best.
Microbiologists at the University of North Carolina tested 14 different ways to clean hands from antiseptic tissues and alcohol rubs to plain soap and water.
Participants cleaned their hands, were exposed to a bacteria and virus similar in structure to disease-causing organisms, then cleaned their hands for 10 seconds.
Hand wipes, including the alcohol-based ones, removed about 50% of the bacteria.
But soap and water cleaning removed 90% of the bacteria (December 2005).
Plain soap and water had almost twice the power to remove bacteria from hands as antiseptic wipes.
The reason is that plain old-fashioned soap is a surfactant which lifts bacteria (and dirt) off the skin.
Rinsing with plain water then washes away the bacteria enveloped in the soap suds.
If you have an infection, please consult with your licensed health care provider.
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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on January 24, 2013
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