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Cute but nasty germs on the loose this week

Cute but nasty germs on the loose this week!

It’s Patient Safety Week and who would have thought germs could be this cute!

This year’s focus is on hand hygiene, and nasties like Campylobacter, Streptococcus and E. coli will be under the spotlight.

Patient safety is always a priority. Patient Safety Week is a chance to highlight a particular topic, and this year it’s hand hygiene. Having clean hands is the easiest and best way to prevent the spread of germs that can make you and others sick. By helping prevent sickness, hand hygiene also helps to reduce the use of antibiotics.

To help spread the message, eight animated germs have been developed - Campylobacter, group A Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, norovirus, E. coli, influenza, viral conjunctivitis and hepatitis A like you’ve never seen them before!

Look and listen out for these germs everywhere (other than on your hands). They could be in social media, on posters and stickers, on websites, in general practices, hospitals, on the radio, or anywhere in the community where infection can spread - and that’s everywhere!

The germs may look cute, but they can make you really sick. They can get onto your hands and items you touch throughout the day, like door handles, tables and toys, then transferred to other people. They can get into your body when you touch your eyes, nose and mouth, or into your food and drinks when you prepare them.

The nasty consequences of coming into contact with these germs can be a sore stomach and diarrhoea (Campylobacter), a sore throat and rheumatic fever (Streptococcus), food poisoning (E. coli), the flu, sore eyes (viral conjunctivitis) and boils and skin infections (S. aureus).

Don’t give germs a free ride! Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the ‘Happy birthday’ song twice. Remember to dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.

For more information about Patient Safety Week, go to the Health Quality & Safety Commission website.

Patient Safety Week is coordinated by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, with support from ACC and the Ministry of Health.

About hand hygiene

When should I wash my hands?

Handwashing at any time of the day can help get rid of germs, but there are key times when it’s most important to wash your hands:

-before, during and after preparing food

-before eating food

-before and after caring for someone who is sick

-before and after treating a cut or wound

-after using the toilet, changing nappies or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

-after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

-after touching an animal, animal food or treats, animal cages or animal poo

-after touching rubbish

-after working in the garden

-if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

How does hand hygiene help fight antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic and change to resist its effects.

Sicknesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be harder to treat.

Simply using antibiotics creates resistance. Avoiding infections in the first place reduces the amount of antibiotics that have to be used, therefore reducing the opportunity for germs to develop resistance to them.

Handwashing helps prevent many sicknesses, meaning less use of antibiotics.

For kids, try to make washing hands fun and entertaining. Once kids learn how to properly wash their hands, they can show their family and whānau how to do it and encourage them to wash their hands too.

Parents can help keep their families and whānau healthy by:

-teaching them good handwashing techniques

-reminding their kids to wash their hands

-washing their own hands with their kids.

ENDS


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