Tag Archives: handwashing

Can the holidays make you sick?

What makes us get sick more often during the holiday season?

Many theories have been postulated and studied over the years and many factors are blamed for being virus enablers. Closer proximity of hosts (us) within closed spaces makes transmission easier due to the shared air we breathe while indoors and the common surfaces we touch as people share confined areas. Further, foods are presented and ingested in areas with higher germ populations due to the foregoing.

Other theories suggest that inactivity and depression generally increases with the cold and gloomy weather and this coupled with decreased exposure to the sun may tend to inhibit our immune systems.

We suspect that all of these factors and more contribute to the seasonal spike in illnesses. But, there are some commons sense actions that can help reduce your chances of being the next holiday (infection) host. The most effective way to reduce your risks of seasonal sickness is to wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands, touching surfaces in common areas such as handrails and countertops and especially before eating.

In the spirit of holiday cheer (and microbial fear) check out these funny new flu and handwashing posters meant to remind with mirth and good cheer.

Healthy holidays to all.


New Flu & Handwashing Posters

 

Image of flu close up by cdc.gov.

September is Food Safety Month

September is National Food Safety Month and because everybody eats, everybody should be reminded about the importance of safe food handling. Safe food handling is critical of course for those who prepare your food, but the food-consumer should be careful not to introduce microbial pests while eating. Proper hand-washing is the common denominator of effective infection prevention. To help you with your mission of promoting food-safety and infection prevention Brevis is holding a September Special.

Sick Facts

  • Foodborne illnesses cost the U.S. about $78 billion per year.
  • Each year, approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets foodborne illness.
  • Foodborne illnesses result in over 3,000 deaths each year.
  • 68% of outbreaks occur at restaurants.
    Sourced from CDC.gov

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Clean hands, safe food, healthy people.

GlitterBug handwashing products

Food Safety (CDC.gov)

Government Study Says You’re Washing Your Hands the Wrong Way

…Which Is Gross and You Should Fix It

Hey, did you wash your hands recently? Well, you probably did it wrong. CNN pointed out a recent government study found that 97 percent of the time, people fail to properly wash their hands—a problem that can lead to all sorts of unnecessary illnesses being spread.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, people are falling short of meeting the standards for acceptable handwashing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bar to make sure your hands are sufficiently clean requires you to wash and scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds.

The study looked at 363 people in six kitchen test facilities located in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina and in the town of Smithfield, North Carolina. What it found was nearly every person working in the kitchens failed to reach the handwashing standard set by the CDC, which is probably not reassuring if you’re currently out to eat at a restaurant in Tar Heel State.

Read on Gizmodo

GlitterBug handwashing products

By AJ Dellinger / gizmodo.com

Moments when you should wash your hands

Certain events, actions or circumstances can make handwashing more important. For example, after being in public places, or handling often-touched objects like handrails and doorknobs, before preparing food, before eating and after using the rest-room. When possible it is best to avoid touching moist areas of your body such as eyes, nose and mouth unless you first wash your hands. Further, it is advisable to wash your hands after touching those areas. Germs most often travel by climbing aboard hands until they find a good opportunity to jump off into food we consume or directly into the portals of our bodies (mouth, nose and eyes etc.). Before helping these bugs find the greener pastures and making us sick send them down the drain.

cdc.gov/handwashing

GlitterBug handwashing products

A virus spreads in just 2 hours. Why the war on germs is in your hands.

Germs are everywhere. In optimal conditions a virus can divide every 20 minutes, spreading rapidly where they dwell. In fact, contamination of a single doorknob can lead to the spread of viruses throughout an office building or hotel in as little as two hours.

Researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop. At multiple time intervals (from two-to-eight hours) the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, bed rails, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. And guess what? Nearly 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two-to-four hours.

“If we placed a tracer virus on the push plate to an office building, it ended up on almost 50 percent of the high-touch surfaces of officer workers’ hands within four hours,” says study author and microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD. “In the case of the hotel, we placed the virus on the nightstand in one room, and it was spread to the next four rooms by the maid during cleaning.” Also, the first item to become contaminated in the workplace was the coffee pot handle. Other contamination hot spots are phones, computers, and desktops.

Of course, our own bodies play host to around 100 trillion microbes that together weigh more than two pounds. They are present on our skin, in our guts, in the crooks of our elbows, and just about everywhere else. Your immune system protects against most microorganisms, but there are hundreds of thousands of different kinds of germs, and some of them are good at mutating into things your body doesn’t recognize. And they make you sick.

To get an idea of just how many microbes we carry—and which ones spread fastest—researchers are even testing our most intimate possessions: our cell phones. In a small study, University of Oregon scientists tested the index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects, along with the touchscreens of their smartphones. As you might expect, they found an 82 percent overlap between the most common types of bacteria found on participants’ fingers and on their phones.

So your cell phone is covered with a personal bacterium cocktail? Clean it with a soft cloth dampened with water and wipe it down, or use a disposable wipe made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone. The same goes for all of your other gadgets, too, including remote controls, headphones and ear buds, your computer keyboard, mouse, and tablet screen.

Yes, the war on germs is in your hands. Handwashing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Just make sure you’re doing it right. Friction (especially between the fingers) and duration—20 seconds with running water—are both important. And anything your hands touch are carriers. Learn all about handwashing here.

Here’s something else to think about: On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s not surprising; the toilet is cleaned regularly. And remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and iPods get touched way more than the toilet. Multiple coworkers and guest also share them—yet they are cleaned less often. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics—just make sure to read the label before using them.

This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home or office and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches? You really should give them a once-over using disinfecting wipes—and don’t use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

It’s easy to keep things clean. Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won. But the first step is you. Now go wash your hands!

Flu Posters

Handwashing as a Protection for Gardeners

 

 

Attention gardeners! New research shows that washing your hands after gardening can help protect you from a common but dangerous strain of Legionnaires’ disease.

 

Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia, and those most at risk are older adults, smokers, and people with weakened immune systems. Most people with Legionnaires’ disease have contracted it by inhaling a bacteria called legionella. Untreated, the disease can be fatal.

 

Legionella longbeachae is the culprit strain in this case, a bacteria found in soil and compost products (homemade compost excluded), according to a study out of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

 

“We recommend gardeners avoid breathing in compost or potting mix, by opening bags away from the face and keeping it close to the ground when moving it around. Also, always wash compost/potting mix off hands before putting them near the face,” says epidemiologist and Associate Professor Patricia Priest.

 

Further research is needed for more conclusive information, but in the meantime, it’s important to remember that washing your hands after gardening is a smart thing to do, even if you’ve been wearing gloves.

 

Sources:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-06-gardening-legionnaire-disease.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/legionnaires-disease/home/ovc-20242041

https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/index.html

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-planting-plant-169523/

World Record-Breaking Hand Washing!

Last October, a hospital in India claimed their place in the Guinness Book of World Records for hand washing.

Image courtesy of Kswownews: http://www.qswownews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Guinness-World-Record-in-hand-sanitization-e1493277263531-886×480.jpg

 

Kasturba Hospital, a unit of Manipal University, held a hand sanitation relay last October 15 in conjunction with Global Handwashing Day. One of the largest hospitals in India, Kasturba is the first medical college in Karnataka to be listed among the National Board for Accreditation of Hospitals (NABH), and is also listed by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP).

 

The attempt to break the previous Guinness record was part of an initiative to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing among health professionals. Not only did hospital staff and university students learn more about the importance of hand sanitation prior to any contact with patients, word of this simple practice spread throughout the community.

 

The record-breaking relay involved 3,422 people completing the task of washing hands throughout the day. The previous record was held by another hospital in India– Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Dehli– with 1,711 people having participated.

Image courtesy of NewsKarnataka: http://www.newskarnataka.com//fileman/Uploads/India/From%20the%20web/Kasturba_medical_college_5.jpg

 

Sources:

http://www.qswownews.com/2017/04/27/kasturba-hospital-manipal-university-enters-guinness-book/

http://www.brevis.com/blog/2016/10/global-handwashing-day/

Scrub Club

An elementary school in Michigan has had a very interesting school year so far, resulting in more handwashing among the students.

 

A group of parents noticed frequent student illnesses; one child was sick eight times last fall, more than he’d gotten sick in previous years. His mother enlisted the involvement of other parents and the school principal to encourage frequent handwashing. Thus, the Scrub Club was born.

 

Each class has been given a caddy with a soap dispenser, refill soap bottle, laminated poster with handwashing instructions, and nail brush for use by the students. The class to use the most soap by the end of the week wins a pizza party, plus a $20 gift card for the teacher to use for the classroom.

 

While it’s too early to have concrete results from the Scrub Club initiative, it seems to have had successful effects. Teachers report fewer boxes of facial tissue being used, an indication of less sickness. And nearly all students say they are now more aware of the benefits of handwashing.

 

One second-grade teacher performed a memorable experiment, pretending to sneeze into her hand while covering that hand with red glitter. Giving the students high-fives and pats on the back resulted in the spread of the red glitter, which the teacher explained represents the spread of germs.

 

We love that glitter experiment and recommend using GlitterBug products to continue emphasizing the importance of handwashing to children and adults alike!

 

Sources:

http://www.ourmidland.com/lifestyles/article/Siebert-Scrub-Club-encourages-students-to-wash-11039325.php

https://www.brevis.com/glitterbug

Handwashing: A History

 

The benefits of proper hand hygiene are well-documented. From teaching it to children in schools and homes, to requiring it of employees in health care and food service industries, handwashing is an ongoing topic of discussion in several professional and personal settings.

 

How long have we been doing this? When did humanity begin to learn the importance of hand washing?

 

handwashing-1468144-1279x958

 

In 1847 a Hungarian physician named Ignaz Semmelweis was working at a hospital in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Semmelweis suspected a link between the high incidence of postpartum fever and death among patients, and the interns who cared for those patients…interns who also, as part of their duties, performed autopsies. After having the interns disinfect their hands with a chlorinated lime solution, Dr. Semmelweis saw an immediate reduction in fatal postpartum fever among patients. His findings, however, were met with rejection and ridicule. He was let go from the hospital, and the harassment he received in the Vienna medical community drove him to Budapest. Eventually he was committed to a mental institution, where he died. It wasn’t until 1859, when Louis Pasteur– a chemist, not a doctor– developed his germ theory of disease, that the advantages of handwashing were recognized.

 

Today we know the benefits of handwashing: many transient microorganisms are easily removed with good hygiene practices, and proper hand washing greatly reduces the risk of healthcare associated infections. We know we should wash our hands prior to handling or eating food, after changing a diaper or using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, after playing outdoors, after playing with animals, and any other time our hands may have been contaminated.

 

Hand washing is most effective when done correctly. While washing hands, many often miss fingertips, thumbs, the backs of hands, and wrists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing to remove disease-causing germs.

 

Are you washing your hands effectively? If you need a refresher course, be sure to check out GlitterBug Gel and Potion.

 

Sources:

http://ravallirepublic.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/article_09d6305c-d22e-11e6-9cb9-5336ed144387.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/z9kj2hv#ztn487h

https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/

http://www.brevis.com/blog/2016/08/glitterbug-gel-or-potion-that-is-the-question/