Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hygiene Expert: Reduce Harmful Bacteria by Changing Your Culture!

A novel idea is proposed by Virologist Dr. John Oxford of the Royal London Hospital. Dr. Oxford suggests that governments can change public hygiene behavior by changing public perception. In other words, let’s treat hygiene issues the same way we’ve attacked smoking and seatbelt use.

A coordinated public PR campaign taught in schools and broadcast as PSA’s could change the way people think about hand washing, house keeping and other hygiene issues. Dr. Oxford chairs the Hygiene Council, a think tank that promotes better understanding of the role microorganisms play in infectious disease. The Hygiene Council is funded by Reckitt Benckiser marketers of such brands as Calgon, Lysol, Woolite and Spray-N-Wash.

The Hygiene Council has just conducted a survey of Canadian hygiene practices that found:
  • 36% of respondents did not properly wash hands after sneezing
  • 37% of respondents didn’t wash hands after petting animals
  • 9% of respondents failed to wash their hands after using the restroom

Back to the war on germs. Oxford’s recommendations are an excellent start to reduce infections such as colds and flu. I see it as an important part of disrupting the chain of transmission, an idea that recognizes infectious disease is an environmental issue which includes all modes of transmission.

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