County marks National Handwashing Awareness Week
MOUNT MORRIS — National Handwashing Awareness Week is celebrated annually during the first full week in December.
This year, we have heard it time and time again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “handwashing is the single most important means to prevent the spread of infection.”
Aside from COVID-19, the CDC estimates that 36,000 people die from the flu or flu-like illness each year and about 5,000 people die from foodborne illness each year. Both illnesses are directly linked to poor handwashing.
The following ‘Four Principles of Hand Awareness’ – which have been endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians – can help you protect yourself and those you love from disease and even death.
1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating. A large percentage of infectious diseases are transferred from person to person by germs which get onto the hands. Washing your hands often with soap and clean, running water will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
2. Do not cough into hands. Respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and flu are spread when you cough into your hands and then touch other objects. Covering your cough with an elbow or tissue greatly reduces the number of germs that spread to people and objects around you.
3. Do not sneeze into hands. Similarly, sneezing into your hands facilitates the spread of germs to other surfaces. However, sneezing spreads far more germs than a cough. While about 3,000 droplets of saliva are expelled with the average cough, nearly 100,000 drops may be ejected by a sneeze!
4. Don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth. The thin mucous membranes lining the eyes, mouth and nasal passages are much more susceptible to infection by germs, therefore putting germ-covered fingers in direct contact with these areas makes you much more vulnerable to disease.
The Livingston County Department of Health reminds everyone to follow proper handwashing techniques, especially during flu season. Proper hand washing will help reduce the spread of infectious disease and give all of us a head start to preventing illness this winter. For more information on preventing infectious diseases through handwashing, please contact the Livingston County Department of Health at 585-243-7299 or visit www.livingstoncounty.us/doh.htm.