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stomach acids
smooth surfaces
daily basis
exact spot
bodily functions
Germs Dont Jump
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As an Infection Control Practitioner, it is amazing to see how many commercials and products are available for cleaning surfaces that we encounter on a daily basis. Disinfectants for cloth, curtains, sinks, bathing, washing, and floors. Before considering products to use, it is important to understand the Germ.

The term Germ in this context represents common bacteria and viruses. The bacteria can include things like streptococcus (strep), staphylococcus (staph), and others. The viruses can include the cold (rhinovirus), flu (influenza), and others. Both bacteria and viruses can be easy to control and others are very difficult.

Germs are transferred from one person to another in several ways. Most of the time, the germs will die if there is no contact with a live vehicle (person, pet, food) within a few hours. Germs don't jump from vehicle to vehicle. Germs need nutrition to live and grow, just as we do. The difference is that in the Germs case, we are the nutrition for them. Some Germs are good for us, we cannot survive without them and they cannot survive without us.

Germs that are on us can be transferred to another person through an object. The person with the Germ, for instance a wound, touches the wound and touches a shopping cart or other object. You come along and touch the exact spot the other person touched. That alone will not necessarily make you ill; however, then you touch an open scratch on your leg and……now you have an infected scratch. In most instances, Germs don’t grow well on cloth material, paper, or other porous objects. They still grow, just not that well. Germs love smooth surfaces like cell phones, door knobs, sink handles, countertops, and other surfaces that we touch frequently.

Germs that are in us can be transferred to another person through coughing, sneezing, singing, speaking, and other bodily functions where a fluid leaves our body. Remember, germs don't jump. Most of the time, vomiting does not transfer Germs because the stomach acids kill them. A word of warning here: a cough or sneeze can travel at least three feet and spray from vomiting can spread ten feet if in an open area and not in the commode. Intestinal Germs that mimic the, “stomach flu” are usually the Norovirus. The Norovirus is easily transferred from one person to another and it is a hearty little virus.

Germs don’t jump. If the Germs are on the floor, the only way they can get on a counter is if they are transferred there from a hand or object. Not that we don’t need to clean the floor, we just don’t need to be obsessive about it. The exception to this is if you have a young child crawling on the floor. Then you want a clean floor; just don’t use heavy chemicals that begin with the word ammonium in them. These are what you call quaternary products and can be poisonous to the very young.

Basic soap and water are fine for everyday cleaning around the house. Some people use 50/50 solution of vinegar to water for general cleaning. For degreasing a solution of 25/75 solution of ammonia to water with a few drops of dish detergent is used by some folk (use in a well ventilated area). Do NOT mix chemicals, or acids with alkalis; that can send you to the hospital. Trust me on this one; these mistakes are made all of the time.

Now that we know that Germs don’t jump. For our hands, the Health Tip for you is to use an alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not convenient. Your hands need to be visibly clean before using it though because these products cannot work through dirt. I would stay away from the gold products that are waterless hand sanitizers that are not alcohol based. The reason is that these products need to stay on the skin for at least five minutes before the Germs are killed. The gold products are also quaternary products and should not be used on children. Carry hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket. Beware; don’t light up a cigarette with damp alcohol based hand sanitizer on your hands. It has a flash point of just over 70 degrees. Recent studies show that alcohol based hand sanitizer used very often as in a medical professional at work, can result in a weakly positive drug screen for alcohol as it is absorbed through the skin.

Street Talk

Kylie R  

Good to know that 'germs don't jump'. I wasn't aware of the alcohol based sanitizers. Thanks for sharing.

  about 6 years ago
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