Wednesday, October 15

You Got To Hand It to the Public Health Folks

The Johnson County Public Health Dept. reminds me that today is Global Hand Washing Day. At first I thought it was a joke, but as you can see below, they're quite serious.

Dirty Secrets

Take a moment today to look at your hands. Are they clean? What about the hands of the person who just shook hands with you, served your food, swiped your credit card or played ball with your child? While most Iowans will say they wash their hands regularly, the statistics say otherwise. A study by the American Society of Microbiology found that while 97 percent of females and 92 percent of males said they washed their hands after using the restroom, only 75 percent of females and 58 percent of males actually did. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing is the most important thing you can do to keep
from getting sick.

A coalition of public and private agencies and companies, including UNICEF and the CDC have declared Wednesday, October 15, 2008 as the first-ever Global Hand Washing Day. “Washing hands with soap is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease, and also the cheapest,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) medical director.
“Hand washing is a cornerstone of keeping the public healthy.”
“Hand washing is actually an integral part of some very complex plans.” explained Doug Beardsley, Director of the Johnson County Health Department. “While it is a very simple thing to do, getting people to be aware of hand hygiene and cough etiquette is actually a large part of interventions during a pandemic flu or other communicable disease outbreak. Our behaviors determine, to a large degree, the types of ailments we experience in our lives.”

While hand washing seems a simple enough task, many Iowans don’t do it often enough or correctly. Proper hand washing requires soap and water (preferably warm). All surfaces of the hands, including palms, back, between the fingers and under the fingernails should be scrubbed for at least 15 seconds. This is about the amount of time it takes to sing the “ABC” song once.

Hands should then be rinsed well under running water and dried on a clean cloth or paper towel. There are key situations in which hands should always be washed, including after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before handling food. Hand washing is especially important when you are caring for someone who is ill or are ill yourself.

For more information on proper hand hygiene, visit

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