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Hand-Washing May Have Kept Flu at Bay
Date:12/30/2010

and after preparing or eating food.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After shaking a lot of hands at a meeting.
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Before and after treating a cut or scrape.
  • After handling garbage or animal waste.
  • Before and after tending to someone who's sick.
  • Hand sanitizer is often available now at gyms and workplaces. Usually alcohol-based, sanitizers don't require soap and water. You just squirt some onto your hands and rub them together until your hands are dry.

    Though effective, hand sanitizers still are not as good as plain old soap and water, agreed Benjamin and Dimond.

    "It's good as an alternative, when you don't have anything else, because it does kill the bacteria and viruses," Benjamin said. "But it doesn't wash off dirt and foreign matter. Soap and water is still the best."

    More information

    The American Society for Microbiology has more on the importance of hand-washing.

    For more on fighting the flu, read about one firm's approach.

    SOURCES: Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director, American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C.; Jeff Dimond, spokesman, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta


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