Flu season may have peaked, but health professionals say it's still important to thoroughly wash your hands until flu season is officially over.
Shasta Community Health Center chief medical officer Jeff Bosworth said even though we're at the tail end of flu season, he's still seeing cases of flu popping up in Shasta County.
“We've seen the volume this year of our patients that we're seeing in our urgent care department as walk-in patients is definitely up this year from previous years,” Bosworth said.
He said until flu season is over, good hygiene is still one of the easiest ways to stop the virus in its tracks.
“Which means good hand washing techniques,” Bosworth said. “Covering your mouth appropriately when coughing, wearing a mask is you're ill and those sort of simple yet important preventive measures.”
We talked with infection control nurse Heidi Chamberlain to learn just what areas we should pay special attention to when washing hands.
“And really getting that soap onto the skin and vigorously washing so that when you wash your hands all those germs go down the sink,” Chamberlain said. “And getting those important spots like underneath the fingernails and in the crevices of the fingers.”
So I did a test to see just how good my handwashing technique was.
First, I rubbed a black-light reactive lotion on my hands and waited about a minute before washing it off.
Then we fired up the black light to see just what areas I missed, and the results were eye-opening.
It turns out, even though I thought I was thorough, there were some areas I missed, namely the areas around my fingernails and wrists.
Chamberlain says it shows just how easily the flu can be transmitted through touching.
She says we touch everything with our hands, so the old etiquette of sneezing or coughing into our hands isn't the best practice.
“So you don't want to use your hands because then you touch things,” Chamberlain said. “So cough or sneeze like this or in to your clothing like this. And if you can't do that, then turn away if you need to.”
Chamberlain said you should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, which is about the equivalent of singing the “Happy Birthday Song” twice.
And if you haven't gotten the flu, flu season isn’t over yet.
And it's still not too late to get vaccinated.