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Washing Hands May Not Stop Swine Flu
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Schools are encouraging students and teachers to wash hands frequently to prevent outbreaks of swine flu. But a Connecticut infectious disease specialist says installing extra soap dispensers in schools wont help much.

Hand washing is a top recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help decrease the spread of swine flu. More than 400 hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in schools throughout the city of New Haven.

88 year old retired Dr. Edwin Kilbourne led a lab that created the swine flu vaccine virus in the 1970s. Speaking on WNPRs Where We Live, Kilbourne said public health officials dont have a vaccine ready yet, so theyre emphasizing preventive behaviors that may not work. "For example, this handwashing business. Influenza viruses are not spread by hands, contaminated hands. Theyre spread by small droplet aerosols that are float through the air and are inhaled. So I think it will keep busy and happy to watch their hands, but I dont have much faith in that particular approach."

Kilbourne is skeptical, the CDC says handwashing is important because people may become infected by touching something with flu virus on it, then touching their nose or mouth. The new H1N1 vaccine is expected to become available in mid-to late October.


 

We can take precautions against airborne viruses.

Viruses spread more quickly in the winter because of recirculated air and lack of exposure to sun. I crack the window to get some fresh air in a room that contains coughing, sniffling, sneezing people. Sunlight helps kill circulating germs, too. That's why some hospitals are built with large windows and skylights outside of operating rooms. UV helps kill germs. And have you ever watched people spray down on someone as they talk? Everyone does it a little bit. You can see the spray when a speaker stands at the right angle in front of a sunny window. We don't have to stand really close when we talk. We don't need to breathe right on each other (or the food on the table) either.