Get Healthy: Hand washing keeps germs from spreading

This column addresses topics related to the health of our


It's cold and flu season again, and no one wants to come down with either of these common winter ailments. Did you know that handwashing is the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself and others from getting sick from these and other illnesses?

Dirty hands are the root of many different types of illness. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 5,000 people die each year from foodborne illness; undoubtedly some of these cases are the result of germs spread on unclean hands. An estimated 78 million become ill and between 79,000 and 96,000 die from hospital-acquired infections each year. Countless others suffer from colds and flu spread through poor handwashing.

Every day we touch hundreds of different surfaces - doorknobs, keyboards, pets, shopping carts, and even other people. We then touch our noses, mouths and faces, transferring any bacteria or viruses that we may have picked up from those surfaces. By frequently washing our hands, we can make sure we aren't giving those germs a chance to make us sick.

Handwashing is important for food safety, disease prevention and personal health. Wash your hands before you eat and after you use the bathroom; before, during and after preparing food; after handling animals or animal waste; after playing sports; after changing diapers, and any time your hands are dirty. If you are sick, it is especially important to wash your hands often to prevent spreading your illness to others.

The best way to wash your hands is to use soap and water. A good tip is to wash your hands vigorously for the time it takes you to sing the alphabet. Make sure to wash all surfaces, including the backs of your hands and between your fingers, rinse your hands thoroughly, and use a clean towel to dry your hands. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer is a good way to get rid of most germs.

For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at or visit us at .


Carson City Health and Human Services

900 East Long Street, Carson City


Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and Friday, call for appointment

Well Child visits: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays

Men's Clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays, call for appointment

Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays, no appointment needed


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