Reinforcing good hygiene on Global Handwashing Day


Public Health England is reminding people just how crucial good hygiene is on Global Handwashing Day today, October 15, at the beginning of the cold and flu season.

Washing hands regularly with soap and hot water is considered the first line of defence against spreading infection and could help to prevent your family and others from contracting the array of seasonal illnesses that begin circulating almost as soon as the children are back to school.

Thorough handwashing works by removing not just visible dirt but also bacteria and viruses, which are readily spread from person to person and to the environment, where others may be exposed to them.

Educating children on the need for good hygiene from an early age is also essential, enabling them to protect themselves while in the nursery and school environment – where they are more than likely to be regularly exposed to bacteria and coughs and colds from other children.

Cat Handwashing

PHE are urging parents and the general public to remember to wash their hands using soap and water:

  • After using the toilet
  • Prior to serving, handling and/or eating meals
  • After any contact with farm or wild animals and domestic pets
  • It is also essential to wash hands, work surfaces and utensils after handling raw meat due to the risk of contracting potentially serious illness, including salmonella and campylobacter.

Those visiting healthcare settings, particularly hospitals, are also urged to ensure they make use of available antibacterial hand gels to minimise the spread of infection to vulnerable patients.

Professor Jeremy Hawker, consultant epidemiologist at PHE says: “We want to remind people how effective handwashing is in preventing diseases. Hands are easily contaminated with faecal bacteria when going to the toilet and this can be easily spread on to other things you touch, including food, but unfortunately not all people consistently wash their hands after going to the toilet or before handling food.

“Washing your hands with soap and water is sufficient to remove dirt, viruses or bacteria and it can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by nearly 50% so we can see that these simple measures are a great way to stop people becoming unwell.”

Raw Meat

Dr Richard Peabody, respiratory expert at PHE, says: “All influenza viruses are spread from person to person in respiratory droplets propelled by coughs and sneezes from an infected person to the mouth or nose of another person, but they are also spread from touching objects contaminated with the flu virus. Good hand hygiene is important and effective in preventing the spread of the flu virus.”

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