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Head off swine flu: Tips for effective hand washing


You wash your hands all the time, but do you do it the right way?

Think of all the things you touch during the day. You shake clients' hands. You flip through patient files. You sneeze. Fecal samples. The computer keyboard. The toilet handle. And you probably work in close quarters with your veterinary team. You know that hand washing is an effective way to prevent the spread of nasty infections.

But if you don't properly wash your hands you're not doing much good at all. And now with the threat of the swine flu on everyone's minds, it's time to brush up on your hand washing techniques to help stop the spread of the bug.

Here are some hand washing tips from the CDC and The Mayo Clinic:

  • Wet your hands with warm, running water and use liquid soap or clean bar soap and lather.

  • Rub your hands together for at least 15 to 20 seconds-about the time it takes to sing your ABCs. Don't be shy-sing out loud!

  • Give the especially germy areas-the backs of your hands, wrists, between and under your fingernails-lots of scrubbing attention.

  • Rinse and dry your hands with a disposable towel.

  • Use the towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door. You don't want to undo all that work you just did-the person before you may not have been as thorough.

  • If soap and water aren't available, you can use alcohol-based gel to clean your hands.

Remember, you should always wash your hands:

  • After using the bathroom

  • After touching animals or animal waste

  • Before and after preparing food and before eating

  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing into your hands

  • Before and after treating wounds or cuts

  • After handling garbage

  • Before removing or taking out contact lenses.

Click here for more from the CDC and The Mayo Clinic.


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