The Hygiene Doctor takes on the risky subject of poo!
Recently I was watching the Oscar-winning film The Help and was laughing at the scene where Minny cooks the fateful poo pie. Like most people I was horrified at the thought of eating poo, but it got me thinking that in many circumstances, people may be unconsciously doing just that!
Many of the home hygiene studies we do have identified faecal contamination in some fairly surprising places around the home, garden and even on items in handbags!
Faecal contamination is the posh word for “poo”. So how is poo getting around the house?
Wash your hands after using the toilet
It’s so basic you might think I’m wasting my time talking about it, but you would be amazed at the high number of Britons who don’t actually wash their hands after going to the toilet. A recent study showed that as many as 26% of UK hands have faecal matter on them at any one time. That’s around 16.5million pairs of hands!
If you don’t wash your hands, faeces can easily transfer to food, or to crockery and cutlery which means the chances of ingestion are high and if someone is carrying a nasty bug such as norovirus then it can quickly do the rounds. Even if you haven’t done a “number 2” then the person using the facilities before you may have, leaving bacteria on the toilet flush and door handle!
It is especially important to teach children the importance of hand washing as that way they will carry the good habits on into adulthood. I recently went into a school to do a hand washing science session, with some surprising results. You can read more about that visit on my school blog.
Many schools have a policy that children may not return to school until 48 hours after the child has had no symptoms of food poisoning. However, it is known that norovirus and other dangerous food poisoning organisms can be carried for many days, if not weeks after the symptoms were showing. Even more worrying, it is estimated that around 16% of the population carry norovirus without having any symptoms.
So the important message is (sorry) HAND WASHING, HAND WASHING, HAND WASHING!
How to Wash your Hands
Hand washing doesn’t mean a quick swill under the tap:
- Wet the hands
- Put on soap
- Rub your hands together
- Rub in between the fingers
- In your palms, interlock your fingers to rub soap into your nails
- Lather round your thumbs and fingertips
- Dry on a clean towel or better still a paper towel.
Watch this video to see how you should wash your hands:
If someone is ill
Hand washing is even more important if you or anyone in your family is ill with any infectious disease from colds and flu to food poisoning.
Is it worth it you may ask? Well think about how much money illness can cost, let alone the pain and suffering!
Here are some of the financial costs:
- Time off work
- Time off work looking after children
- Prescriptions and over-the counter medication
- Travel to hospital, doctor, chemist
- Parking at the hospital, doctors or chemists
- Additional cleaning and laundry
- Missing clubs, activities and special events you have paid for
- Missing nursery or childcare you have paid for
So spending a little time washing your hands is worth it!