Clean Hands Save Lives Essay

2624 words - 10 pages

“The greatest cheap medical fix in all of history: the bar of soap” (Zugar). Soap has turned the commercial industry upside down by allowing the development of any and every kind of hand hygiene product to be created in order to soothe a person’s fear. Almost any kind of product imaginable to man is being made to keep germs on their toes. Ignaz Semmelweis is often credited to having been the first physician to enforce the germ theory of strengthening soap. In “1846” he encouraged hospitals to put to use a stronger form of soap that had an “antiseptic agent” in it consisting of a chloride solution (CDC 1). Today, however, handwashing is becoming one of the fastest growing medical concerns, due to the fact that hand hygiene can actually save a life. According to Nancy L. Pontius, a special correspondent writer for, “Every year, diarrhea and pneumonia kill more than 3.5 million children under age 5 worldwide. Many of them could have been saved by the simple act of washing hands” (United States. Dept. of State. Bur. of International Information Programs). Using effective hand hygiene, which hinders the spread of germs, is vital to the prevention of disease and preservation of life.
Handwashing offers many beneficial effects. One such benefit is that it helps prevent disease. According to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, illnesses such as “influenza, streptococcus, syncytial virus, and the common cold can be avoided after coughing, sneezing, and shaking hands.” Often by not washing one’s hands, illnesses such as these are passed around unconsciously because little thought is put into what germs could be residing on a person’s hand. This person’s hand could be the hand that fixed lunch for a group of individuals at a Subway or Taco Bell. He or she could be spreading their germs to the food that they touch, people they interact with, or surfaces grazed by an accidental touch. Salmonella infections, alone, are responsible for approximately “1.4 million illnesses each year” (qtd. in School Network for Absenteeism Prevention). This quantity represents the estimated amount of contaminated food cases each year. Half of these cases could have probably been prevented if the food had been prepared with proper hygiene. Neglecting to wash one’s hands can cause the individual, and many others, to become sick. One such case occurred in Upland Road Kelburn, New Zealand, at a deli called, The Platter. The owner of this establishment caused thirty six customers to come down with cases of hepatitis A, as a result of inadequate handwashing and food handling (Bailey 3). This man’s neglectful choice became a health hazard, endangering many people’s lives.
Improper hand cleaning, or not cleaning them at all, allows microorganisms’ access into people’s bodies. Common places for germs to reside are, computer keyboards, toilets, doorknobs, sinks, and animals. People often forget about these places, things, or other people and do not always consider them...

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