Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sanitize Everything..and I Mean Everything--It's Flu Season

First I read over at Althouse about Barak Obama offended at President Bush sanitizing his hands after they shook hands. Oh, brother....

Now, Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit talks about sanitizing early and often--especially after shaking hands with Ace. In fact, he used a bionic arm to spare himself germ touching. I actually agree with Glenn and his agreement with Donald Trump about nixing handshaking. Air kisses for everyone and save the handshake for contractual agreements (they are rare and connote trust whereas the handshake greeting is just gross). You're in good company if you go this route--Michael Jackson wears gloves for this very reason and still won't shake your hand. As an aside, if you're a prepubescent male count yourself lucky if Michael avoids touching you, but I digress.

A note about hand sanitizer: it was everywhere on the Disney Cruise. The staff required that you sanitized when you come back on the ship, when you go in to eat, when you sit down, when you sleep--that's only a slight exaggeration. Interestingly, they don't have a staff member stationed in the bathroom monitoring hygiene. I'm all for it. I can just imagine the conversations. "Sir, you must sanitize before leaving the bathroom or we will escort you to your berth and you'll be quarantined."

Another note about sanitizer: it is 99.9% effective against bacteria not viruses. Again, on the cruise, a good 10% of the staff including our two meal servers were sick with some sort of virus--snot and sneezing, coughing, lost voice and feverish misery. They worked the entire time. Guess what? One foul breath in our table's direction and a whole bunch of people are sick. The passengers were notably healthy.

So why were the staff members sick? The same reason anyone gets sick:

  1. Fatigue suppresses immune function
  2. Stress suppresses immune function
  3. Close quarters with others increases viral spread
  4. Viri are far hardier and more easily spread than bacteria
And remember, hand sanitizer does not completely kill a virus. My guess is that it does reduce the viral load a bit which helps. It will kill bacteria, though. Remember the bacteria comes from places--namely your nose (only if you have a bacterial infection) or another orifice (ahem). You should wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or sneeze or blow your nose. Hello? Doesn't anyone listen to their mother?

Most people who are sick do NOT have a bacterial infection. Most people have a virus. So, to repeat myself for the zillionth time, here's how to protect yourself during flu season:
  1. Get your sleep
  2. Wash your hands with soap and hot water (only way to kill viri) often
  3. Boost your immune system (yes, I know the MDs out there will roll their eyes) with Vitamin C and Ginsing and Probiotics (good bacteria that fight the bad stuff) that can be found in organic, sugar-free plain yogurt
  4. Avoid sick people--I know this is stating the obvious, but people ignore this advice most of all. They don't want to offend a family member by saying to stay away or not visiting (it's just allergies). You'll pay for this indulgence, I promise.
Here are my posts on this sort of thing. I'm kind of obsessive about it--probably because I had a premature baby who caught everything. I have no patience for borish people who believe they are above hand-washing. Oy! Have some respect!

Getting Out of A Public Bathroom Clean This is a MUST READ! It is my hygiene post to end all hygiene posts.

The Flu Epidemic of 2005-06 that wasn't
When sick, Stay home
Flying and the Flu
Hoping Health Workers Wash Before They Work

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this post when you first wrote it. Gross! I see this all the time in public. People either don't wash their hands or they only wash a second or so. Kids always get in a hurry, but I'm trying my best to instill in them an awarness of good hygiene. Getting out of the bathroom "CLEAN" is one of those chores.

Thanks for this reminder!