Norovirus is a common and easily contracted gastrointestinal virus with global reach. Symptoms range from upset stomach to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Hygiene plays a major role in the transmission of norovirus. Hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent infection.
Soap vs. Sanitizer
Using hand sanitizers and soaps to achieve clean hands are good practices, but with dramatically different results. Testing has shown conclusively that thoroughly washing with hand soap eliminates more germs, dirt, grime and bacteria than washing with hand sanitizers.
While washing with hand sanitizers is better than not washing at all, nothing beats using hand soap. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing with hand soap instead of hand sanitizer to prevent infection and spread of norovirus.
Washing Your Hands Thoroughly
Hand washing statistics reveal that people spend an average of only five seconds per hand wash. For effective disinfection, hands should be thoroughly scrubbed for 20 seconds to reduce bacteria rates and remove dirt and grim. You can recite the ABCs, sing happy birthday twice, or just count to 20. Whatever you do, it’s important to thoroughly scrub for 20 seconds. Studies have shown that a five second hand wash leaves hands saturated with almost the same amount of bacteria as if they hadn’t washed their hands at all.
Automated Washing and Drying
The next frontier in hand washing hygiene is automated. You may have seen faucets, soap dispensers and hand towel machines that are all automated and operate with no-touch technology. These aren’t just gimmicks, they provide better hygiene and help slow the spread of infections like norovirus by reducing contaminated surfaces that people come in contact with.
A Lesson in Hand Washing
You were taught how to wash your hands when you were a kid, but it’s worth revisiting the basics from time to time. Take a look at the following hand washing steps which are based on the CDC’s recommendations for proper hand hygiene.
1. Wash your hands with running water that is clean and warm.
2. Administer soap to your hands and rub it to a lather.
3. Thoroughly scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Make sure to apply lathered soap between fingers, under nails, and on the front and back of hands and fingers.
4. Rinse your hands with running tap water.
5. Use a paper towel to completely dry your hands off.
Voila! You have done your part to help reduce the spread of norovirus!
“Image Credit: wikimedia.org“