Whether it is a restaurant environment, an ethnic festival, a corporate picnic or a large family reunion, people are in close proximity to one another; and add to that, the fact that lots of people will be using a restroom facility. It goes without saying that washing one's hands after using the bathroom is paramount for sanitation reasons, alone; but there are any number of people who will, lazily, forgo this basic step that keeps germs, at bay.
The reasons one should thoroughly clean one's hands after restroom visits are more stunning than most of us realize. Here's a shocking statement from the American Medical Association: One of the most important medical discoveries was revealed in 1847 when Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, an Austrian physician, discovered that fatal infections were spread among patients by doctors who failed to wash their hands between examinations! When a disinfecting procedure ensued, including doctors washing hands with soap and water between patient visits, hospital mortality rates from infectious diseases, noticeably, declined.
With that being said, let's take a frank look at some additional insight as to why sanitation in work areas and at recreational locales is vital to anyone's good health.
Feces from people or animals is a powerful source of germs such as Salmonella, E. coli0157, and norovirus. Infections from these germs can contribute to diarrhea and respiratory infections including adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease – schoolrooms, work environments and home settings are all up for grabs to harbor these and other types of infectious germs. The CDC tells us that up to 21 million cases of diarrhea and vomiting take place in the US, each year, due to the norovirus, alone. Adenoviruses account for about 10% of acute respiratory infections in children, and can cause diarrhea, paving the way for dehydration.
Infectious germs can get onto one's hands after using the restroom as well as other ways, such as changing a baby's diaper or handling uncooked meats and not thoroughly washing hands, after wards. And it is never a good idea to assume that one is safe from germs simply because a restroom appears to be clean. Even in the cleanest environments, germs are everywhere; and are very easily spread from person to person – unwashed hands preparing food and germs “lying in wait” on handrails, tabletops, toys, etc. can cause illnesses more severe that one would expect.
The CDC makes it very clear that hand-washing, all on its own, is the most powerful preventative against disease. A few CDC statistics point this out:
*** Hand-washing reduces, by 31%, the number of people who get sick with diarrhea
*** Hand-washing reduces, by 58%, diarrhea-related illness in people with weakened immune systems
*** Hand-washing reduces, by as much as 21%, respiratory illnesses, such as colds, within the general population
Whether you clean your hands at a portable hand-washing station or use the facilities in an inside restroom, removing dangerous germs from your hands will prevent sickness, plain and simple. This, in turn, reduces the amount of antibiotics people are prescribed because they become ill. This, then, reduces the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. After it's all said and done, antibiotics are, often, prescribed unnecessarily; and the overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance in every part of the globe. Antibiotic-resistant germs can be very difficult to treat.
Would it bother you if you knew your hands had come in contact with antibiotic-resistance germs? If you could see them, it would probably concern you very much, especially if you were to view the spread of this type of germ to loved ones. The proactive approach is so simple: wash hands, thoroughly, multiple times throughout the day, especially after using the restroom.
<<<<<According to the American Society for Microbiology, infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death and sickness worldwide, and the 3rd-leading cause of death in the US. Hand-washing is the first line of defense. The Center for Disease Control tells us that hand-washing is regarded as the single, most-important procedure for preventing the spread of infections to ourselves as well as others.