The sure fire way to avoid getting the nastiest of viruses is to WASH YOUR HANDS. Bu not all hand washing is effective. Do you know how to really wash your hands? It takes a little bit of time and effort to get it right.
There are some nasty germs out there. The nastiest — the highly contagious norovirus — effects over 21 million people a year. Winter s when the virus is most prevalent. Right now, schools across the nation are closing for a day or two because so many students have been effected by this fast moving ailment.
Norovirus is characterized by throwing up and nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and can include fever and body ache. The main risk of the disease is dehydration which is most dangerous for babies and older people.
It is a hardy virus; it has been detected on surfaces 3-4 weeks after the virus first appeared. And because there are literally 25 genotypes of the virus, each with multiple strains, having norovirus once doesn’t make you immune to getting it again.
The best and most effective prevention tip is to wash your hands often and thoroughly. with soap and water. Experts say that sanitizers are not effective.
Proper hand washing requires a conscious effort. The World Health Organization promotes a six step hand washing technique as illustrated in The Wall Street Journal by Jess Kuronen:
This method makes sure all areas of the hand that can carry germs – palms, fingers, fingertips, between fingers and even under finger nails – is addressed in their hand washing method.
Another tip I’ve heard to make sure your hand washing is effective is to sing “Row, Row, Row your Boat” while you are washing and rinsing. This little ditty helps to make sure you are washing long enough. I’ve found this to be especially useful when assisting my grandchildren with their hand washing.
The World Health Organization reminds when hands should always be washed:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
The older we get, the harder it is to combat bad viruses like the norovirus. Hand washing properly is an easy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.