Please make plans to simply promote Handwashing during National Clean Hands Week September 16-22, with the CDC, USDA, FDA, Clean Hands Coalition, and the Henry the Hand Foundation! (poster at bottom of this page)
Hand Awareness will set you free from the fear of infectious disease. The POWER is in your own HANDS! You have the TOOLS to protect yourself from Flu, flu-like, avian flu and virtually any other infectious disease spread by HANDS. Science is very clear on this subject that Direct Inoculation of your mucous membrane by your hand is the method of transmission. Amazing, but true! Imagine NEVER again having a “cold”, URI, Flu or other respiratory illness the rest of your life! Imagine never feeling sick like that again. Imagine how WELL you will feel!
Hand Awareness began to emerge in 1864 by Ignaz Semmelweis MD in Austria and 1865 by John Snow MD in London. When you read their stories you will understand the resistance systems put up to protect the status quo in spite of evidence. Hand Awareness faces the same resistance as it empowers the individual not to be afraid any longer of infectious disease, but to feel safe with the TOOLS to protect themselves’. “Simple solution for complex problems”.
So what is “Hand Awareness”? Simply, knowing where your hands are and what they are doing at all times. There are 4 Principles of Hand Awareness that are infection prevention focused that help educate and empower people to be more confident against the fear of infectious disease. The 4 Principles have been endorsed by the AMA and the AAFP and are individually referenced by CDC and Prevention.
Seems like a simple and logical approach to Infection Prevention. However, it is a daunting task due to break through the defense mechanism of both individuals and systems, just ask Dr. Semmelweis and Dr. Snow about their experience. One method to “break down” defenses are through “Edu-tainment”. This is why we have identified Henry the Hand Champion Handwasher as our messenger. He ‘speaks’ multiple languages by his mere image as a Hand.
We are relying on each of you to lend a Hand in your area of expertise: Patient Safety, Infection Control, Food Safety, School Health, Employee Health, personal health, Global Health and Pandemic Prevention. We are asking that you download posters and coloring book to give away to begin to change people’s behavior: Principles 1 and 4 protect our individual health and Principles 1, 2 &3 protect the Publics Health.
90,000 patients die each year from Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI),
2,000,000 HAI occur each year,
36,000 people die from pneumonia due to flu and flu-like illness annually,
5,000 people die from food borne illness annually,
300,000 + hospitalizations due to food borne illness,
76,000,000 cases of food borne illness annually
33,000,000 hospital admissions annually,
22,000,000 school days are lost due to the common cold,
52,000,000 cases of the common cold affect Americans under the age of 17 annually,
33,000,000 hospital admissions annually
800 million patient visits to physicians annually,
Thank you, Dr.Will Sawyer
This particular post is being written several weeks early due to current reports of over 100 flu cases in the Gulf region. This is both extremely early and alarming.
Being infected with influenza can progress to bronchitis and pneumonia, requiring hospitalization and easily resulting in death.
There is also a dramatic increase in Staph infections in both volunteers and residents. The infections are getting into the blood (sepsis) quickly and aggressively, requiring hospitalization and reportedly resulting in some deaths.
A long standing difficulty in volunteer camps has been gastroenteritis of unknown etiology (Great term!) - AKA "The Runs", "Death Warmed Over".
The best way to avoid transmission is to not get sick. If you are sick prior to leaving on your trip - be sure to be without symptoms for 3 days prior to leaving or stay home. You will do far more harm than good if you go while you're contagious. No one wants to be Typhoid Mary.
Fortunately, avoiding these infections is both low tech and easy.
1 - Get a Flu Shot
1A - Get a Pneumonia Shot
Require proof of these shots for any volunteers entering your camps. It's harder to spread it if you don't catch it.
The Flu and Stomach Bugs
2 - Cleaning - Clean all common surfaces at least once a day with a 10% bleach solution (1 cup bleach, 9 cups water). Wipe down all hard surfaces including door knobs, telephones, tables, chairs, food prep areas.
Consider cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms more often. Leave a spray bottle of the bleach solution for others to clean as they go for additional safety.
The Flu, Stomach Bugs and Staph
3 - Handwashing - THE definitive way to stop transmission.
Before entering communal areas (sleeping, dining), all persons are strongly urged to wash their hands with soap and water (amazing how most people don't think these 2 items go together) for up to 2 minutes. In hospitals, it is customary to wash your hands twice - each time for 2 minutes. (from Dane) - Since the socially acceptable time is 20 seconds, singing the Happy Birthday song twice is about 30 seconds. A Very Easy way to time yourself!
Wash under fingernails and around jewelry. Jewelry LOVES germs. Consider washing your face as well - this will reduce the chances of YOU getting infected.
Use a papertowel to dry your hands, turn the water off, and to open the door. Discard the papertowel after you leave the washing area. Have a waste basket outside the door for papertowels.
(from Dane) - The first thing learned in nursing school - turn the faucet off with a papertowel. What turns the water on but germy hands?
3A - Waterless Handcleaner. Make this available in all communal areas and at worksites. Food handlers and administrative workers should wash hands 3 times daily and use the waterless handcleaner frequently (3 times a day).
4 - Isolation. If anyone shows signs of illness, they must be isolated from the group, using separate eating, bathing and bathroom facilities if possible. If it isn't possible, keep a spray bottle of the bleach solution in all areas for more frequent cleaning of contaminated areas.
If you have a scratch or cut, clean it as soon as possible. Follow washing it with an antibiotic ointment and bandage. Repeat this 3 times a day or if it becomes dirty.
Monitor for Infection. If there is a clear or milky liquid oozing out, bright red skin around it, bright red streaks going from the injury toward the heart, or if it is very warm and very tender to the touch, seek out medical attention immediately. Sepsis can set in quickly with the following symptoms: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sepsis_blood_infection/page3_em.htm
If you have sepsis, often you will have fever. Sometimes, though, the body temperature may be normal or even low.
You may also have chills and severe shaking.
Your heart may be beating very fast and your breathing rapid.
Confusion, disorientation, and agitation may be seen as well as dizziness and decreased urination.
Some people who have sepsis develop a rash on their skin. The rash may be a reddish discoloration or small dark red dots throughout the body.
You may also develop pain in the joints at your wrists, elbows, back, hips, knees, and ankles.
The following is the best poster I found to place in all areas with sinks. I sized it so it can be printed on a standard sheet of paper. The link for other posters is hyperlinked in the blog title of this post.
3/23 A Note from the maker of Henry the Hand:
Together We CAN PREVENT a Pandemic, by adhering to the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness! As we humans are the incubator and the viruses replicate inside us, then we spread them.
By promoting these 4 Principles of Hand Awareness in each of our disciplines (Infection Control, Patient Safety, Food Safety, School Health, Employee Health, Family Health, and Public Health) to complement your existing programs, we will prevent a Flu, Flu-like illness, Strep, Pertussis, TB, Measles, Mumps, Shigella, Norovirus, E.coli and many other respiratory and gastro-intestinal diseases.
IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) Pandemic Influenza Task Force (1/25/07), as well as others, are too focused on vaccinations as the response to a Pandemic, when the simple reality is the Primary Prevention is in each and every one of our hands. CDC has stated that the antiviral agents like Tamiflu are not effective against the existing Bird flu strain in SE Asia.
YES there are Tool Kits available for Schools, health care systems, general public and businesses to EDUCATE and EMPOWER their employees, families and communities the "how to" prevent the spread of infectious disease with simple Tools that are extremely effective and practical tools to change people's behavior that will PREVENT a Pandemic. It is not magic. It is EMPOWERMENT and INNOVATION to help develop the correct Hand Awareness Health Behavior to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
I know each and everyone will find the Tool Kit useful for your School, Health Care facility, community, business and family.
Acting locally to have an impact globally.
Help Spread the word not the germs!
Leslie holds degrees in Paramedic, Health Science and Herbal Therapy. She reviews the journals of NIOSH, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Review for pertinent information re: the recovery effort.