LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Concern over the potential worldwide spread of swine flu continues today. Governments around the world are now putting in place special safeguards to stop the virus as more cases are confirmed. In this Healthcast, we explain the easiest thing you can do to stay protected.
Over and over again, health officials are driving home the point that hand washing is the first step you can take in protecting yourself against swine flu. Dr. Richard Besser with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave this tip, "Hand washing and not giving that simple little kiss of greeting when you're meeting someone right now."
The CDC says the virus spreads like other flu viruses, through contact and coughing or sneezing. That's why Dr. Nauman Qureshi is also urging people to take extra time throughout the day to keep their hands germ free. "For viral infections we do not have antibiotics that will work on the viruses," says Dr. Qureshi, "so it is very important that we do preventive measures."
Dr. Qureshi says whether you use hand sanitizer or soap and water, what's important is being thorough - getting between the crevices, fingers and thumbs. "If you go to any kind of public place," says Dr. Qureshi, "whether it's the library, the hospital or transit system, you have to do very good hand washing."
A good hand washing should take about 20 seconds, starting with a good lather all over the hands and wrists. This should be followed by a warm water rinse with your fingers pointed downward and finally, drying the hands with a clean paper towel.
If you prefer and alcohol-based sanitizer, Dr. Qureshi says you need to check the label before purchasing. "If you are going to use a gel, make sure it does say antibacterial or antiseptic on the gel," says Dr. Qureshi.
A new study shows small quantities of the virus can survive up to 72 hours on surfaces without moisture on things people handle every day - like money. Staying healthy starts with you and a simple hand wash can go a long way in prevention.