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Hand washing is the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infections. Many diseases, such as the common cold, influenza (flu), ear infections, strep throat, diarrhea, and other intestinal infections, can be spread by unwashed or improperly washed hands.
Bacteria and viruses that cause disease can get on your hands in many ways, such as handling food or animals, touching doorknobs, shaking hands, using phone receivers or computer keyboards, and using the toilet. You can reduce the spread of many bacteria and viruses by properly washing your hands with soap and water.
Always wash your hands:
Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important ways you can avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Germs that cause colds, eye infections, and other illnesses can spread to the hands by sneezing, coughing, or rubbing the eyes and then can be transferred to others. Food-borne illness outbreaks often are caused by poor hygiene, usually unwashed or poorly washed hands on the part of the food handler. Many diarrheal illnesses, such as: salmonellosis, hepatitis A, and shigellosis can be spread from person to person when someone does not wash their hands after using the toilet and then passes the bacteria or virus by handling food, shaking hands, or touching other objects. If the bacteria or virus gets into another person’s mouth then that person becomes sick. Unwashed or poorly washed hands are responsible for 1 in 4 food-borne illnesses.
Proper hand washing is everyone’s responsibility:
All information presented is intended for public use. For more information, please refer to:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This page was last reviewed July 17, 2009.