•   The cold and flu season is upon us once again and we are all eligible to catch these nasty illnesses. The cold and the flu are caused by viruses.  Did you know that one simple act can prevent the spread of these illnesses?  According to the United States Center for Disease Control, there is one single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.  Do you know what it is?  Raise your hand if you do!  Yes, handwashing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease. 
     
       Most diseases are spread through body fluids. The cold and the flu are spread indifferent ways. Cold viruses are spread are transferred by way of the hands when we touch something or someone and then brush our noses, mouth, or eyes.  For instance, if one sneezes into his hands and then touches a doorknob, then the next person to open that door will get the virus germs on their hands and may infect themselves.  Flu viruses, however, are spread by small airborne droplets.  Highly contagious infectious particles from an unprotected sneeze or cough can travel up to 200 miles per hour, landing almost at a distance of three feet from the sick person.  These particles can survive for almost 24 hours.
     
         Practice prevention.  WAS YOUR HANDS OFTEN!  Colds are contagious for as long as one has symptoms.  The flu is contagious for 24 hours before symptoms appear and for up to 10 days after one comes down with the flu.  That is why it is important to wash your hands often and use formulated anti-viral tissues in your daily routine.  Cough and/or sneeze into a tissue, if one is handy.  If not, cough or sneeze into your sleeve  Get a flu shot!  The best time to get a flu shot is from October to December.  Don't share utensil.
     
        Pay attention to what you touch and wash you hands immediately when in the following situations:
     
                            After you use a bathroom
                            Before and after you eat
                            Before you touch your eyes, mouth, or nose
                            Before and after you prepare food, and after you handle meat or fish
                            Before preparing another food item
                            After you change a diaper
                            After you pet a dog, cat, or other animal
                            After you touch plants or soil
                            After you visit a hospital or nursing home
                            After you come in contact with any body fluids or touch items that may have come in 
                            contact with body fluids, (e.g. a used tissue)
     
         Scrub your hands with soap and water for 15 to 30 seconds before rinsing.  Soap is soap.  It does not necessarily have to be anitbacterial soap.  It is the length of time scrubbing that creates the friction necessary to remove dirt and germs.  Carry a waterless antibacterail gel with you if soap and water are not readily available.
     
        Remember it is all in YOUR HANDS.  Teach your kids to wash their hands often.  Teach them cold and flu etiquette.  Parents, you be the role model. " IT'S ALL IN YOUR HANDS!"