Hand Hygiene. How Germs Spread

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 3
Words: 591
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

The single best way to prevent the spread of illnesses such as the common cold is simple handwashing. Germs may get onto hands in many ways, such as after using a toilet, handling raw meat, touching various objects in public places, etc. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016). If microbes that occurred on hands are not washed off with soap, they are likely to penetrate the organism, multiply, and cause disease. This paper will consider how unwashed hands help germs to infect the human body and prove that non-compliance with hand hygiene leads to illnesses.

It is common knowledge that there are microorganisms living within the organism without causing any harm. On the skin, there are also germs, for example, Staphylococcus epidermidis (Wahrman 3). However, people may add transient microbes to their skin flora by picking them up from surfaces they touch, and some of these terms may be malignant (Wahrman 3). For example, Staphylococcus aureus may cause various skin infections or food poisoning (Wahrman 3). Neglecting washing hands after using a toilet may add “Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus” to skin flora, which may lead to diarrhea (CDC). Consequently, rare handwashing will allow malignant bacteria to multiply and get a chance to penetrate the body, where they may infect other organs and cause disease.

Washing hands seems to be an obvious and simple procedure, yet many people neglect it because they do not realize in what ways dirty hands may contribute to infection. People often unconsciously touch their noses, mouths, and eyes, which may help germs to get into their bodies through the mucosa (CDC). Furthermore, unwashed hands are unacceptable for those engaged in cooking since pathogenic bacteria will be transmitted to the dish and cause food poisoning. It is clearly illustrated by the case of Typhoid Mary, a cook who communicated typhoid fever to many of her customers because she rarely washed her hands (Wahrman 2-3). Germs are also spread when an individual puts dirty hands on any surface or object like toys, tables, or door handles so that others pick up microbes when they touch the same thing (CDC). Finally, respiratory diseases may also be transmitted in this way if people sneeze or cough covering their faces with their hands rather than handkerchiefs, and do not wash their hands after this.

Although hand hygiene is crucial for preventing illnesses, some people oppose its necessity by saying that being subject to germs helps to build immunity. Indeed, some scientists believe that “exposure to microbes in childhood is essential to the development of the body’s ability to fight infection” (Cockerill et al. 56). However, this opinion seems to be misunderstood since it does not relate to handwashing. It concerns the overuse of antibiotics, which leads to the development of superbugs and weakens the immune system (Cockerill et al. 56). Thus, the avoidance of excessive use of antibacterial medicines will indeed benefit human health, while non-compliance with hand hygiene will do quite the opposite. There is no need to incur a disease if there is a possibility of preventing it.

In conclusion, there are many transient malignant germs that are not supposed to be a part of the normal flora. These microbes can easily get onto their hands after a single touch of an infected surface. If humans do not wash their hands after such contact, they risk transmitting these bacteria to their bodies, where the germs will multiply and cause disease. Consequently, disregard of hand hygiene leads to illnesses, while adherence to it helps to prevent infection.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Show Me the Science – Why Wash Your Hands?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016, Web.

Cockerill, Kristan, et al. Environmental Realism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Wahrman, Miryam Z. The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World. University Press of New England, 2016.