Avoid seasonal ills

by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System

Mille Lacs Health System’s Infection Control Committee wants you to remember that this is the season for colds and flu (and we can’t forget last year’s Norovirus.) The single best piece of advice is: Wash your hands.

The droplets in a single cough may contain as many as two hundred million individual virus particles. About 3,000 droplets are expelled in a single cough, and some of them fly out of the mouth at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Sneezing produces even more droplets — as many as 40,000 — some of which burst out at speeds greater than 200 miles per hour.

Wash hands before preparing food and before eating; after using the toilet; after taking care of someone ill; after changing diapers or helping someone use the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; and when you come into your house from the store or work or other place away from your home.

The best defense is good old soap and water, and the Center for Disease Control gives tips on how to do it right: 1.) Wet hands with clean running water and apply soap. 2.) Rub hands together, creating a lather, and scrub well. Don’t forget backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails. You should use that friction for about the time it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice. 3.) Rinse, then dry with a clean towel, a disposable towel, or air dry. If you turn the faucet off with a disposable towel, you are doing an extra step in your part to prevent reinfection.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs, especially if hands are visibly dirty.

Stay healthy this season and help the spread of germs by properly washing your hands.