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Fighting Back Against Dirty Hands

2016 Healthy Hands Survey shows more people than ever practicing smart hand hygiene.

We all know that clean hands save lives, but many of us don’t take seriously just how many lives dirty hands take each year.

The Centers For Disease Control estimates 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. The CDC estimates handwashing with soap could save one out of every three children who get sick with diarrhea and 1 of 5 young children battling respiratory infections like pneumonia. And the CDC forecasts regular handwashing alone can save one million lives annually worldwide.

Worldwide, the cost of dirty hands is staggering.

“Our research shows just how important handwashing is – the surprising levels of contamination that we found on everyday objects is a sign that people are forgetting to wash their hands after (using) the toilet, one of the key moments for infection prevention,” Dr. Val Curtis, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Huffington Post.

In health care centers, the cost of dirty hands is magnified immensely. The World Health Organization estimates there are 1.4 million hospital-associated infections worldwide at any time. With many, the root cause is poor hand hygiene. Here are just some of the types of microbes that can spread on the hands of health-care staff:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Klebsiella
  • Enterobacter
  • Pseudomonas
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Candida
  • Rotavirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Norovirus

The solution is literally in our hands.

As the CDC describes it, handwashing is a “do-it yourself” vaccine. Washing hands with soap and water for 30 seconds reduces germ counts by 99 percent. When water is unavailable, hand sanitizers like  B4 BrandsAvant Original Fragrance-Free Hand Sanitizer offer 99.9 protection again common germs that may cause illness and help reduce absenteeism in schools by up to 20 percent according to CDC studies.

The good, healthy news: The newly released 2016 Healthy Hand Washing Survey by the Bradley Corporation shows that more Americans than ever are taking smart hand hygiene action to avoid getting sick. A majority of Americans surveyed also report they always wash up after sneezing, coughing or visiting a doctor’s office. During the heart of influenza season, Americans are more on guard than ever.

“This time of year, we’re surrounded by family, friends and co-workers who are sick or may be getting sick,” said Jon Dommisse, Director of Global Marketing and Strategic Development at Bradley Corp. “That’s why it’s so important to realize the first defense against illness is to remove germs and viruses from our hands by washing frequently and vigorously.”

Other optimistic findings from this year’s Healthy Hands Survey show America’s parents are being especially diligent in teaching their children strong hand hygiene habits.

  • Nearly 90 percent insist young ones sud up after using the bathroom
  • Almost 75 percent insist their children wash up before meals

One troubling finding from this year’s survey: We still have a ways to go to fight influenza. More than 40 percent of Americans do not increase their handwashing during seasonal flu outbreaks.

“Flu viruses can be highly contagious and can be transferred to your hands by touching surfaces or things that have been contaminated,” Dommisse said. “When there’s an outbreak, it’s essential to step up your handwashing diligence.”

Still, Americans coast to coast are getting the message: Our hands are both vehicles for bacteria and virus transfer and also virus transfer prevention.

“We need to narrow the lends when it comes to spotting potential risks to health,” Bola Lafe, founder of Aquaint, told the Daily Mail UK. “Our hands operate a highly effective public transport network for bacteria and viruses. During the course of a day, we all touch hundreds of surfaces and have varying attitudes to hand washing.

“This is totally out of our control so rather than just avoiding certain areas, good hand hygiene should be our top priority.”

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