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Hand Washing Key to Fighting Flu this Winter

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – With a shortage of flu vaccine this year, the Centers for Disease Control has been stressing to Americans that hand washing could prevent the spread of the flu. One organization, that takes hand washing very seriously, is working to promote clean hands for the cold and flu season.

The Hand Washing for Life Institute -- based in Chicago -- is working to promote hand hygiene in order to reduce the risk of illnesses caused by a lack of hand cleaning. Institute Director Jim Mann says viruses and bacteria live on our hands.

"The common cold and norovirus are two most common found on hands. Norovirus is the pesky bug that has been plaguing the cruise industry. There is an outbreak in Las Vegas right now," Mann said. "Good hand washing could prevent these problems."

Mann says even if you received a flu shot, it's only 50 percent effective. He says washing your hands is still the best defense against catching and spreading the flu.

But even with all the new anti-bacterial products for hand washing, many people are failing to follow through.

"It has a rather disgusting reality to it for a good many of these bugs, in particular the Norovirus. The root of transmission is fecal and there is no other way to say it. Washing after use of the restroom or being in the restroom is pretty important," Mann said.

The Hand Washing for Life Institute says many areas around the thumbs, fingers and nails are often missed by a quick wash. So the institute suggests taking a little more time to clean our hands.