NEWS RELEASE St. Charles County Government Department of Governmental Communications Lisa Dunham, Director (636) 949-1892 Proper Hand Washing Prevents Illness December 5-11 is Hand Washing Awareness Week FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, December 7, 2004 Contact: Nancy Duncan, Director, Division of Public Health 636-949-7407 Julie Burkemper, Public Information Officer 636-949-7408 St. Charles County –St. Charles County Department of Community Health and the Environment is recognizing Hand Washing Awareness Week, December 5-11, by reminding residents that proper hand washing is the first line of defense against illnesses like colds, influenza, meningitis, Hepatitis A and most types of infectious diarrhea. Every day hands come in to contact with an amazing number and variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Germs can be picked up from doorknobs, faucets, handrails or telephones and introduced into the body through the eyes, mouth, nose or open wounds. Residents are encouraged to wash their hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after coughing or sneezing, before and after eating and handling food, after taking out the trash, caring for someone who is ill and handling animals. Hands should also be washed after caring for a wound, handling money or handling contact lenses. Residents are encouraged to use this simple hand washing method to protect against disease: 1. Wet hands with warm water. 2. Apply soap and lather well. 3. Rub hands together vigorously, between fingers, under fingernails and on wrists and forearms to loosen germs. 4. Scrub for approximately 20 seconds (try humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice). 5. Rinse soap off hands with warm water. 6. Use disposable paper towels to dry hands. 7. Use towel to turn off faucet and open bathroom door if possible. Dispose of towel. Marianne Adolf, Health Education Supervisor for the County’s Department of Community Health stated, “Hand washing is the easiest and most inexpensive preventative strategy known to medicine. It is literally available at your fingertips, costs less than one penny to perform and is totally painless. The hand washing course we offer is one of our most requested classes. Since November 1, 2003, we have conducted 133 hand washing classes reaching over 3,400 students and adults.” For more information on the hand washing course or the many other educational opportunities available through the County’s Department of Community Health please call 636-949-7400 x 4244 or visit online at www.scchealth.org for information and links to additional resources on hand washing.