Washing your hands does not prevent spread of influenza.

Vastet
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Washing your hands does not prevent spread of influenza.

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The Public Health Agency of Canada, which commissioned the 2007 study by the Council of Canadian Academies, continues to recommend hand-washing as the primary preventive measure to prevent flu transmission.But the study notes that "no evidence has been found that hand hygiene or other interventions that might prevent contact transmission (e.g. glove use in health care facilities) prevent the transmission of influenza."The study does note that "contact transmission likely occurs," but continues that "the only interventions that have . . . shown unequivocally to reduce the spread, and to mitigate the impact, of influenza in populations are vaccines and antivirals."

http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Hand+washing+recommended+against+despite+evidence+works/2056398/story.html

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Thomathy
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That's not surprising

That's not surprising considering that influenzas are spread mostly through the air, as in particulate matter from coughs and sneezes.  One good way to prevent contact transmission, though, is not to cough or sneeze in your hand, but rather somewhere else and certainly not into the open air when there are people around.

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Vastet
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You and I don't find it

You and I don't find it surprising, but apparently a large number of people do. Including the health organisation that commissioned the study, and continues to claim that it's the number 1 method of prevention.

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Thomathy
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Vastet wrote:Including the

Vastet wrote:
Including the health organisation that commissioned the study, and continues to claim that it's the number 1 method of prevention.
I didn't read that in the article.  Hand washing is the number one method of prevention for a great deal of diseases.  Everyone should wash their hands.  Just because hand washing doesn't appear (in one study) to significantly reduce the rate of infection of influenzas doesn't mean people shouldn't wash their hands.  Further, the study was specific to health care workers.  Other studies have shown, I think, that 60% of nurses actually wash their hands and that, on average, a similar number will actually get flu shots, and that doesn't tell us whether they are washing their hands properly or frequently enough.

I agree that for a disease spread mostly through the air, hand washing is not going to significantly reduce transmission in closed spaces like hospitals.  In more public settings, however, a hand unwashed of shed virus particles grasping a metal pole on the subway can transmit the virus and the virus may sustain on that metal pole for some 15 minutes.  I would be hesitant in that case to believe that hand washing would not reduce transmission (since the washed hand would be free of virus particles).

What I get from the study is that it found hand washing (in hospitals) not to be a significant modifier of infection rates.  That doesn't mean that it doesn't reduce transmission outside of that setting.

(Edit: I write this to qualify my original post considering a closer read of the article.  I'll maintain, however, that contact transmission, in the case of viruses spread mostly through the air, is obviously not the biggest contributor of transmission.)

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


Vastet
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Frankly, even assuming you

Frankly, even assuming you are absolutely right (and that is not certain), excessive hand washing is a greater threat than no hand washing at all. Articles like this are a good thing. Lack of exposure to ailments cripples the immune system. Not to mention the greater danger of viri and bacteria becoming immune to the process altogether.

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Vastet wrote:Frankly, even

Vastet wrote:
Frankly, even assuming you are absolutely right (and that is not certain), excessive hand washing is a greater threat than no hand washing at all.
What do you mean by excessive?  When I write 'proper' and 'frequent' hand washing, I mean hand washing before and after eating, using bathrooms and handling dirty items.  I'm not talking about the hand washing that a person with OCD engages in.  Also, the article is specific that the study looked only at hospitals.

Quote:
Articles like this are a good thing. Lack of exposure to ailments cripples the immune system.
I never said it didn't.  You don't want to catch a virus that can kill you, though.  Also, you may not want to catch the flu.  It's a highly mutating virus.  Catching the flu does not necessarily help you fight future infections.  And remember, the article is only about influenza and only includes hospitals.  It simply isn't transferable to the general public or to hand washing that has been shown to be effective at reducing the spread of other viruses or bacteria.

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Not to mention the greater danger of viri and bacteria becoming immune to the process altogether.
Immune to hand washing?  That's silly.  Hand washing with simple soap doesn't kill viruses or bacteria, it traps the particles so that they can be washed from the skin with water.  Further, so-called antibacterial soaps aren't more effective (nor do they necessarily kill bacteria and they don't kill viruses) than regular soap at washing organic soil from the hands.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


Vastet
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You don't need to have ocd

You don't need to have ocd to cross the line into excessive.

"I never said it didn't."

It wasn't my intention to imply otherwise.

"You don't want to catch a virus that can kill you, though."

Depending on your age and general state of health (and the virus), yes you do. You become immune to the strain once having fought it off. Flu, chicken pox, and the common cold for that matter.

"Immune to hand washing?  That's silly.  Hand washing with simple soap doesn't kill viruses or bacteria, it traps the particles so that they can be washed from the skin with water.  Further, so-called antibacterial soaps aren't more effective (nor do they necessarily kill bacteria and they don't kill viruses) than regular soap at washing organic soil from the hands."

I should have been more specific, I was referring to use of antibacterial soaps.

Finally, though the study was conducted in hospitals, that doesn't mean it can't or won't apply to the world in general. Most places of work have as strict or stricter proceedures.

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