Friday, March 17, 2017

Lenten "re-run" # 3: dishing the dirt!

It’s a dirty world!
We frequently see a news story about some new infectious “bug” or a strain of virus that is running rampant through a certain population.  While discussion of misuse and overuse of antibiotics and the resultant and fairly commonplace development of resistance is beyond the scope of this message, there is no doubt that transmission of infection and other kinds of illnesses is in the forefront of public concern.  It is said that 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by direct contact (touching).  So very basic to our self protection is such a simple thing – handwashing! 
Many years ago a study was done looking at how to protect vulnerable newborns in hospital nurseries.  Factors under consideration included how far away the cribs should be from each other, whether doctors coming into nurseries in their street clothes should cover their clothing with an isolation gown, whether babies born within the same 24 hours should be clustered in a nursery room together (the “Monday cohort,” the “Tuesday cohort,” etc.), and whether those handling the babies should wash their hands between babies.  One of the particular outcomes showed that proper handwashing prior to delivery of any assessment or care to each baby is more important than all the other factors put together in protecting babies from transmission of infection.
Many of us have seen or even participated in the kind of study where we were asked to wash our hands, then to place our hands under a black light to illuminate the many germs that we had left behind.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following procedure for correct and effective handwashing:
wet the hands with clean running water and apply soap (do not use bar soap)
rub the soap into a lather
vigorously wash hands, including the backs, between the fingers, and under the nails
wash for 20 seconds, which is the time frame of singing “Happy Birthday” twice
rinse the hands
dry the hands with a paper towel; use the towel to turn off the faucet
if the bathroom door opens in, use the towel to pull the door open
air drying is OK as well
Click on for a short video discussion and demonstration.
When should we wash our hands? Certainly after using the toilet and changing a diaper, but also after touching an animal, before and after touching a wound, before and after handling food – my grandkids all know that step #1 in baking those Christmas cookies is washing their hands! -  and after coughing, sneezing, and blowing the nose. (Remember to cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow and not into your hands.)
When clean running water is not available, use of a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is recommended; place a dollop in the palm of one hand, then rub the two hands together until dry, being sure to include all surfaces.  Many people now carry hand sanitizer on their person, and with public awareness increasing, dispensers are seen more frequently at food service locations. A reminder to us that most surfaces we encounter are full of germs, sanitizer wipes are provided in grocery stores for use on cart handles; our home cleaning should always include wiping down remotes, door handles, microwave control pads, refrigerator handles, and all such commonly-touched surfaces with sanitizer wipes.
For the most important protection of all, be kind to yourself and others: wash your hands!
Donna Swope                
"He who has clean hands and a pure heart………. will receive blessings from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior."      Psalm 24:4-5

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