Healthy Tip Tuesday: Controlling the Infection Through Hand Washing
(Dennison, Ohio) – Local experts from Trinity Hospital Twin City (THTC) are sharing a few tips to help you control the spread of infection in your family.
How Infection Spreads
Before you can stop the spread of infection, experts note the importance of knowing how infection spreads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three things are necessary for an infection to occur; a source, which is a place where the germs live (e.g., sinks, surfaces, human skin); a susceptible person with a way for germs to enter the body; and/or transmission, away germs are moved to the susceptible person.
Officials go on to explain each component in more detail:
Source – is an infectious agent or germ and refers to a virus, bacteria, or another microbe. In healthcare settings, germs are found in many places. They explain that people can be sick with symptoms of an infection or colonized with germs (not have symptoms or an infection but are able to pass the germs to others).
Susceptible Person – A susceptible person, according to the CDC, is someone who is not vaccinated or otherwise immune, or a person with a weakened immune system who has a way for the germs to enter the body. Or an infection to occur, germs must enter a susceptible person’s body and invade tissues, multiply and cause a reaction.
Transmission – Refers to the way germs are moved to the susceptible person. Germs don’t move, noted CDC experts, germs depend on people, the environment, and/or other means to move from one location to another.
The Importance of Clean Hands
Christine Daugherty, RN, THTC Director of Nursing Services and Director of Infection Control, notes that the best way to control infection is to prevent infection.
“Be aware of good hand hygiene and that’ especially important when kids are going to the petting zoo [and] they’re playing with the animals, feeding the animals and then going to eat food,” says Daugherty. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds or the equivalent of singing the happy birthday song twice. “Knowing that it’s not really the soap that’s killing the germs and that it’s the soap that’s allowing you to physically remove them with the friction,” is important to note according to Daugherty.
Parents are also encouraged to remind children of germs and to monitor their hand hygiene through leading by example. Also encourage children not to touch their face after they have touched animals, for example, as germs on the face can be ingested or inhaled and spread bacteria that cause illness.
“To be proactive, you can also carry hand sanitizer that is at least 62% alcohol with you when you go out,” adds Daugherty. “Use a nickel size drop of sanitizer and rub hands together until dry. (This should take 20-30 seconds). Make sure to include around your nail bed and under your fingertips.”
Daugherty notes this allows you to still be prepared even if a hand washing station isn’t nearby.
She adds that hand sanitizer is a good substitute for soap and water, however, if at any time the hands are visibly soiled the best thing to do is wash with soap and water while singing the ‘happy birthday’ song twice.