Veterinarians Stress Importance of Clean Hands

Cat owners urged to follow hygiene guidelines to reduce spread of disease.

Posted: Dec. 13, 2008, 3 a.m. EST

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Pet owners, wash your hands. That’s the message that the American Veterinary Medical Association wants to drive home during National Handwashing Awareness Week, which ends Saturday, Dec. 13.

The AVMA has partnered with other U.S. public health groups in urging everyone to take their health into their own hands by practicing proper handwashing. Created in 1999 by Dr. Will Sawyer due to a flu-vaccine shortage in Cincinnati, National Handwashing Awareness Week is now observed across the country during the first full week of December.

Careful hand-washing greatly helps reduce the spread of disease between animals and people, known as zoonotic disease, said Dr. James Cook, AVMA president. “We are exposed to germs or expose others to germs as we go through our day, interacting with animals and other people,” Cook said.

Often the best way to avoid getting sick or spreading diseases to other people, he said, is by keeping our hands free of germs with thorough handwashing. Dogs and cats, especially those that go outside, can carry germs from the environment into the home on their fur, paws or in their mouths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 5,000 people die from food-borne illnesses each year. Poor hand-washing is to blame for many of these deaths.

In addition, there are 76 million food-borne illnesses resulting in more than 300,000 hospital admissions each year. Cook said that it’s critical to wash your hands before and after food preparation and eating, as well as after handling animals.

Experts say it’s important to use soap and running water and scrub all surfaces of your hands for 20 seconds before drying with a paper towel. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water aren’t available.

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Reader Comments

Rollie    Bristow, VA

12/14/2008 5:50:27 PM

thanks for the reminder.

Gina    Rochester, NY

12/14/2008 7:48:15 AM

great information. Hand washing is good to stop the prevention of disease.

G    Ewing, NJ

12/13/2008 4:36:50 PM

Very important advice and the reader comments are also informative

Jay    fairfield, CT

12/13/2008 7:43:09 AM

Good coverage..The importance of hand hygiene can't be underestimated!

That said, when you do a follow-up on the topic, respectfully suggest that many experts focused on researching the dangers inherent to [alcohol-based] hand sanitizers--are embracing alcohol-free alternatives that provide the exact same germ-killing efficacy, without the dangerous side-effects of alcohol-based products. Its only recently that people are beginning to understand that there are actually alcohol-free alternatives that are equally effective, but significantly safer.

Any HCW will acknowledge that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are notorious for destroying protective skin cells, causing dry/irritated skin, which in turn increases risk of exposure to bacteria and germs, have no efficacy when applied to dirty/soiled hands, and lose their effectiveness within seconds after applying.

Yes, they kill germs and viruses; they also destroy industrial floor wax, paint, fabrics etc. Oh, they're flammable too, explaining why many hospitals have recently been informed by local fire marshals that their alcohol-based dispenser devices are in violation of local fire and building code. Oh, did I forget to mention the 2007 report issued by the US Association of Poison Control Centers that found upwards of 12,000 cases of alcohol poisoning in kids 6 and under directly attributed to alcohol-based hand sanitizers?

On the other hand, many experts --and I'm happy to provide references, are embracing alcohol-free, rinse free, fragrance free foam based products--those that use benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient (brands include Soapopular, Hy5, and others), acknowledged to be equally effective i.e. wide spectrum of pathogens, including MRSA, when compared to Purell or other alcohol-based products.

The foam format alcohol-free alternatives are safer to the skin, safer for kids and are non-flammable and non-toxic. They're also 2x-3x more economical when compared to legacy alcohol gels.

Health care venues, schools, government venues, senior care facilities, correctional facilities and corporate venues throughout the country have been systematically banning Purell and similar products, and contrary to popular belief, the US Centers for Disease Control does NOT recommend alcohol-based hand sanitizers..at least that is what Kathleen Stewart, a senior spokesperson from CDC has repeatedly stated.

We know all of this because our company has been approached unsolicited by more than 1000 venues across the country

If you'd like, we'd be happy to send you samples, as well as supporting documentation i.e. independent lab tests, third party studies, and references.

A good blog on the topic is : www.handhygienefacts.blogspot.com

Jay Berkman
Mata Global Solutions,Inc.
d/b/a MGS Brands
d/b/a MGS Soapopular
2490 Black Rock Turnpike
Fairfield, Connecticut 06825
Tel: 203.255.0034
Fax:866-434-7244
www.soapyusa.com

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