A Soapy Solution to the Common Cold

the low-tech act of hand washing We still can't cure the common cold, but one of the best preventions is the very simple, low-tech act of hand washing. Pathologists, doctors who treat patients through laboratory medicine, want you to know that although some viruses and bacteria are air borne-by sneezes, for example-most diseases are transmitted by hand-to-hand contact.

Washing thoroughly with soap and water helps remove the organisms that cling to your hands after you handle items used by someone with a cold, flu, or bacterial infection. Frequent hand washing not only helps protect you from catching a bug, but it prevents you from spreading your infection to someone else.

You can catch colds or other diseases anytime, especially when vacation travel exposes you to whatever germs are present in the places you visit or when bad weather keeps you indoors. Simply washing your hands frequently, especially before meals and after using the bathroom, will reduce your chance of becoming ill.

Pathologists suggest that you help your family prevent infection by teaching everyone to:

* Rub hands together and wash thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.

* Remember to use soap, because it helps dissolve micro-organisms so they're washed away more effectively.

* Rinse hands and dry them off, using the towel to turn off the faucet.

Tests in day care centers, medical facilities, and nursing homes have shown hand washing can stop transmission of infections, so don't be embarrassed to remind those caring for your family to wash their hands frequently.

For more information about how hand washing can help keep your family well, call the College of American Pathologists at 1-800-LAB-5678.(NAPSI)

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