Dog Owners, Wash Your Hands

Vets stress importance of clean hands during National Handwashing Awareness Week.

Posted: December 13, 2008, 5 a.m. EST

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 kicked off Sunday, Dec. 7.

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 physician 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 handwashing 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 hands free of germs through thorough handwashing. Dogs and cats, especially those who go outside, can carry germs from the environment into the home on their fur, paws, or in their mouths.

Some animals, like turtles, iguanas, snakes, and lizards, often carry Salmonella bacteria. Petting zoos, farms, county fairs, and other sites that allow human contact with farm animals pose a risk for the spread of E. Coli, among other diseases. Simple handwashing can reduce that risk, according to the AVMA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 5,000 people die from food-borne illnesses each year. Poor handwashing 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.

For National Handwashing Week and all year long, 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.

Since 2002, the CDC has recommended that healthcare workers use these sanitizers after treating patients, and Cook has fitted his animal hospital with sanitizer dispensers outside of each exam room. “Simple steps such as these go a long way in preventing the spread of disease among my staff and clients,” Cook said.


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Candy   Lesterville, SD

12/30/2008 4:41:41 PM

Handwashing is very important. I work in nursing I was my hands when I get to work so I dont bring anything form home to my residents, wash before I leave work and wash my hands soon as I get home from work before I take out my dogs. I dont want to bring anything home and to them from work!

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Galadriel   Lothlorien, ME

12/14/2008 10:42:54 PM

I cannot believe that people do not wash their hands. Where were their mothers when they were growing up? We weren't allowed to come to the table without washing our hands and even our faces. Being clean and hygenic should just be a part of everyone's automatic routine. Maybe it should be taught in school since it seems to have become a lost skill.

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trina   irvine, KY

12/14/2008 10:33:53 AM

good story!

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Jay   fairfield, CT

12/13/2008 7:42:02 AM

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

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

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

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 least that is what Kathleen Stewart, a senior spokesperson from CDC has repeatedly

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

A good blog on the topic is :

Mata Global Solutions,Inc.

d/b/a MGS
d/b/a MGS
2490 Black Rock
Fairfield, Connecticut

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