Campus Connection: Nov. 21, 2008 • Vol. 24, No. 7

Reminder: Wash hands, prevent flu

As preparation for the winter months ahead gets underway around the Midwest, medical professionals at Western’s Beu Health Center remind students, faculty and staff that frequent hand washing can help inhibit and prevent the spread of germs related to colds, flu and other contagious illnesses.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hand washing is the single most important action that people can take to keep from getting sick and from spreading illness to others.

WIU is a member of the Clean Hands Coalition, a nationwide network dedicated to hand hygiene education and awareness efforts. Director of Beu Health Center Mary Margaret Harris noted that many people do not wash their hands often or well enough.

“In one study it was revealed only 58 percent of female and 48 percent of male students washed their hands after using the bathroom,” she said. “Students, faculty and staff need to take responsibility for their health, and one way to do this is to practice good hand hygiene.”

Earlier this month, Holland, Michigan-based Hope College was ordered closed by its local county health department, due to the spread of a Noro-like virus throughout the campus. According to a release about the college’s closing, approximately 400 students, faculty and students were infected, and the outbreak not only caused the cancellation of classes but also of athletic events. The campus has since been reopened.

The Clean Hands Coalition’s guidelines for proper hand hygiene include: washing your hands before you eat; after you use the bathroom; before, during and after preparing food; after handling animals or animal waste; after playing sports; after changing diapers; and anytime your hands are dirty. Use soap, water and rinse for about 20 seconds and dry thoroughly. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also be used to cleanse hands.

For more information, contact Harris at (309) 298-1888 or MM-Harris@wiu.edu.