Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Doctor Will See You Now...

Yesterday at work we were given a briefing on how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, particularly H1N1 -- commonly known as swine flu. It is highly contagious and for some inexplicable reason British Columbia has a higher incidence of it than any other province in Canada. Unfortunately, once the infection starts, it grows exponentially at a very rapid rate. However, there are things people can do to stop the spread of the infection, and in particular there are things we can do to prevent getting the infection ourselves. The first, and most obvious, is wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands.

It's amazing how many people don't know how -- or even when -- to wash their hands. Even the most obvious times seem to elude some people, and I have seen folks use the washroom and then leave without washing their hands. Ewww ... do I really want to touch that doorknob now? The correct way to wash your hands is to count the alphabet from A to Z. Using hot, soapy water, clean the palms and backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and if you can, also underneath your fingernails. When to wash them is -- often. Without venturing over into obsessive compulsive territory, you can never really wash your hands too much, especially when there is a threat of an infectious pandemic. Carry a bottle of Purell with you as well, and use it often. Purell does not clean your hands, but it kills the viruses and bacteria. Only washing your hands will get rid of them.

With colds and influenzas, people are often contagious even before they know they are sick. So we have no way of knowing whom to avoid. It's a good rule of thumb, however, that if someone uses your phone or your keyboard, wipe it off with a disinfectant before you use it. I know that sounds extreme, and perhaps a bit discourteous (do it when they can't see you), but it is a good form of prevention. One of the things we were told in the briefing was to keep our computer mouse and keyboards disinfected, and to wash our hands before and after using them. The keyboards can be disinfected using Clorox Disinfecting wipes. Alcohol apparently failed to kill any microbes.

I'm hoping the H1N1 (swine flu) does not turn into a pandemic, but we do seem to be teetering on the precipice of it. Simple hygiene can do a lot to prevent the spread of it, however. And for goodness sake, if you're sick -- stay home...! Don't be a hero and come in to work or go out to public places. I work with so many people who do that, and first thing I know the thoughtless idiots little darlings have shared their crud with three-quarters of the rest of us.

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.


The Panorama said...

Very informative post, Jo. Thanks:)

Brenda said...

I have an obsession about washing my hands, and also about using bleach in my bathrooms and doorknobs, and light switches, any place that is touched often. I haven't taken to carrying bleach water with me when I go out, but maybe I should. It still surprises me when I see or hear about others who don't wash their hands often.
We have had several school closings near by from this flu.

TC said...

The weather here has been in the 90s yet(TX). Schools are closing because of the flu though. I really don't want to see what happens when the weather is worse because then the flu gets worse.

I use alcohol and water Brenda. Not so many spots and a pleasant buzz afterward. JUST KIDDING but I do use alcohol and water to clean, have a spray bottle by the kitchen sink out always.

A.M. said...

You have made some very good points Johanna. Firstly, stay at home people if you're sick. This is a little hypocritical of me considering about 3 weeks ago I came to work with a 3 day cold. I did this because I got wind, that at my yearly review, I was being written up for taking too many sick days (approx 8). Well I have a daughter and she's in daycare-what do they expect. Another reason why I came to work is because people even without kids still come to work when they're sick and they don't care about the rest of us. At least I carried around a box a tissues and bottle of “Purell,” and whenever somebody came around me I told them to go wash their hands. The second point you made...Why, O' why do people leave the washroom without washing their hands. I have seen this so many times in the public washrooms and at work and it's DISGUSTING & REVOLTING, and lastly, clean your space around you. Thanks for posting this. Let's try to keep this flu under wraps.

robert said...

Being a father of a young son, travelling across Europe, working with countless students, this entry of yours was surely of interest to read.

Luckily small Stefan enjoys washing his hands very much, as he is always allowed to splish-splash with the water.

A wonderful weekend to you.

houndstooth said...

I already got to enjoy a case of the swine flu, and I'll just say, do whatever you can to avoid it. You better believe I kept my sick self at home, too!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Don't forget to wash your hands after handling money! Money travels from hand to hand and I don't even want to think about where else it may have been!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The common sense rules you state can't be reiterated too often. I am always shocked when I see people use a public toilet and leave the rest room, stopping only to reapply lipstick and fix their hair. Kathy makes an excellent point, too - money is filthy and absorbent. This is not the Dark Ages. We know better. There is almost no excuse for such a disease to become a pandemic. Good luck, everyone!

Anil P said...

An informative post. Something as simple as washing hands seems beyond many, and I've seen my share of folks leaving without washing hands!

Paula Slade said...

Excellent advice Jo!

Whitney Lee said...

This is going to be a common theme in the days to come.
I'd be interested in your opinion of the swine flu vaccine. I'm pregnant and high on the list of people who should be vaccinated. I'm not sure, however, how I feel about a vaccine that's been created as quickly as this one. Not to mention the lack of info on how this could effect me or my fetus. Or the blanket protection of the creators of the vaccine should it prove not so safe as they hope.

Land of shimp said...

One thing to add, and it particularly applies to women: At least once a day (although it's better to do at each washing) remember to remove your rings, if you wear any, and a lot of women do, when you wash your hands.

I've seen people dutifully doing the full scrub, and that's fantastic, but you do need to make an active effort to get the stuff out from underneath your rings. A lot of people, particularly women, when it comes to wedding rings, feel that it is bad luck to remove a ring....but it isn't as if there's a hygienic seal on your ring.

The other thing to remember is to clean your rings separately at least once a week. Soak in warm water with a dash of finger, scrub gently with a soft toothbrush, and dry your hands and your ring thoroughly before putting it back on.

I mention all this because a study from a few years back showed that the most bacteria on your entire body, if you wear rings, is underneath your rings.

And plenty of fluids if you catch anything :-)

Land of shimp said...

Finger? Finger?? What in the world? Vinegar is what I meant.

My mind has the strangest misfires. Sorry!

Jo said...

The Panorama, you're welcome! :-)

Brenda, you're exactly like me. I disinfect everything, and bleach is my friend.

TC, I was reading that 70% alcohol is more effective than 100% alcohol, for some reason. I use that too.

A.M. I find it sort of a dichotomy that the person who did you review has missed more work due to sickness than all of her staff members combined! Think about it. You should not feel guilty if you stay home sick. There is nothing they can do about it. If you're sick, you're sick.

Robert, that's a great habit to teach your son. Kudos!

Houndstooth, omigosh, poor you!!! Well, I guess the bright side is that you're immune to it now.

Kathy, oh, yes! I scrub my hands after using money. Omigoodness, who knows where it's been!? :-)

Hearts, yes, we have everything we need to keep personal hygiene, and still there are so many people who neglect it. I once had a friend staying with me, and she offered to cook dinner. She proceeded to handle a lovely filet of salmon without washing her hands first. I could not eat dinner, but feigned an upset stomach.

Anil, oh, yes! I once worked with a woman who actually bragged that she never washed her hands after using the bathroom. The bosses overheard her, and they found a way to terminate her employment, sadly. But my goodness!

Paula, thanks! :-)

Whitney, that's a tough one, and I'm probably not the best person to ask. Perhaps you should talk to your doctor, or log onto the Centers for Disease Control website and find out more about it there.

Alane, I laughed when I read your comment, because my brain has strange misfires like that occasionally too, and I could relate! And, oh yes, take the rings off and keep them clean. We have a device where I work, if we put our hands under it, it shows how much bacteria is left on our hands. People would be shocked and appalled...!

nomore said...

How many times do i have to wash my hands in a day then ?? I used to do it at least over 15 in a it OK ? enough ??

TomCat said...

I live alone, so I'm not worried about catching anything here, but I always wash them before leaving home and when I get back, plus wherever I can when I'm out.