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Fighting the Flu
October 3, 2009 4:13 AM   Subscribe

Whether it is seasonal flu or novel H1N1, people have been touting the need to wash hands often. Some evidence suggests that since the virus is airborne, washing hands may not be the most effective strategy to prevent it. This evidence is hard to swallow by some.
posted by reverenddrjice (58 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wash my hands of hard to swallow evidence.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:30 AM on October 3, 2009


Who needs science when you've got random testimonials?
posted by zennie at 4:31 AM on October 3, 2009


H1N1 is such a weird little meme. The interesting contagion is not the virus, which is one of a thousand such asteroids zooming around us, but the widespread fear of it. I can assure you that inside of healthcare, H1N1 is barely a topic of conversation. But once you walk outside the door of the hospital, people seem to be talking and thinking of nothing else. The contrast between the small, realistic concern about this virus among caregivers, and the thick dense anxiety about it on the street, is striking. Really, if you're all so concerned about your health, do indeed wash your hands, lose weight, stop eating animal products, exercise, wean yourself from unnecessary medications, protect yourself from STDs, and probably about half of you who drink should stop drinking altogether. Did I say lose weight? There's nothing like sitting there listening to someone fret about swine flu in between gulps of sticky brown Pepsi.
posted by Faze at 4:32 AM on October 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


So, if I wash my hands twenty-plus times a day, am I an obsessive-compulsive nut or simply someone with good personal hygiene - or both?

What a horny dilemma it all is.
posted by metagnathous at 4:39 AM on October 3, 2009


Handwashing gave my child autism! Or maybe it was because I once rode in a Mercury. But after I made him eat nothing but lutefisk for a year, his autism is all better.

Did Kottke get up on the wrong side of the hospital bed or something? He's smarter than that post. He's also encouraging dysfunctional behavior. 50 percent of parents are delaying the vaccination decision, mainly because they were wary about whether the new H1N1 vaccine has been tested enough. The same concerns were shared by 14 percent of parents who have ruled out vaccination altogether.

The CNN article was reasonably nuanced, more so than one expects from mass media treatment of medical issues. "CDC has communicated from the get-go that hand washing is only one tool in the toolbox used to prevent the transmission of influenza"

Thank you. Yes, that's it exactly. Why must we either wash our hands OR be vaccinated? Why not both? Plus keep our kids home from school if they have a fever. All of these will help, and they are probably additive.

On preview: Faze: I can assure you that inside of healthcare, H1N1 is barely a topic of conversation.

I work in health care, and I can assure you that H1N1 is a topic of avid interest. We're sticking swabs up patients' noses, we're putting masks on them and on us if they have a fever, we're sticking them in the negative pressure room if it's free. We're hand-washing. There are thousands of things that can kill you, and H1N1 is among them. We are not panicking, but we're giving it the attention it deserves.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:52 AM on October 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


Kottke's kind of got a point, there - there is a lot of FUD, hand-wringing, and pearl-clutching ninnyism. And it seems to me that people want very badly to be afraid. They're afraid of the flu, they're afraid of the vax, and they appear to really get off on sitting at home, marinating in their fear. I don't get it.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:07 AM on October 3, 2009


I don't understand what people are so afraid of. Have you SEEN these viruses? Virii? Whatever? They're TINY!

Anyway, if one can kill you then you deserve to die.
posted by Eideteker at 5:45 AM on October 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


"Washing hands really is wonderful for preventing many diseases, such as the common cold, but it's not very helpful to prevent influenza," said Arthur Reingold, professor of epidemiology at the University of California-Berkeley.

While I'm sure the professor is a very thoughtful man who gave a very nuanced and honest explanation of the mechanics of influenza transmission, the advice he gave to a major news outlet boils down to this: "Don't bother washing your hands." I doubt that's a message that anyone in public health would agree with. Clearly he's a professor of epidemiology, not epistemology. Note to scientists everywhere: Don't expect news people to pay attention to details that seem obvious to you. Think of them as the worst possible students you could have, and that they're only going to fuck up the message so keep it simple.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:05 AM on October 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


But Eideteker, they live inside you! That's all sci-fi spookiness.

I work at an outpatient pulmonary clinic. We've just been told, yesterday, that we're something like fourth or fifth in line (within the outpatient hospital) for h1n1 vaccine - we'll be getting it in mid-November. I'm the one who gets to tell people that. It's all the patients ask about - mostly the ones who aren't really, really sick. Those patients have enough to concern themselves with and often already use precautions in their everyday lives. Some of our doctors treat patients they want to make sure get it; but of the others, many of them are at lower risk than they think.

Eggs give me migraines, so I'm stuck in the middle. Do I defer, because it will cause me 12-20 hours of blinding, "turn that LED indicator light off, it's too bright," queasy headache? Or do I just suck it up and try to premedicate before I get vaxed? (Probably the latter, just because I get exposed to so many people.)
posted by cobaltnine at 6:17 AM on October 3, 2009


Friend of mine is a doctor in an urgent care/GP office associated with the local children's hospital. She's been working 15-16 hour days since the start of September, and says it's worse than the winter peak of any flu season anyone's ever seen. And H1N1 is just getting started!
posted by notsnot at 6:26 AM on October 3, 2009


So should I panic or what? I'm getting mixed messages here.
posted by diogenes at 6:32 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Panic on weekdays, party on weekends. You have to keep a balance!
posted by jamstigator at 6:43 AM on October 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


I had flu symptoms last week. Because I had flu symptoms I couldn't come back to work until I saw our company's nurse. I had to be free of fever for 24 hours. The nurse said that they are calling everything H1N1 since it is too early for regular flu. it is sweeping the Southeastern US like a giant broom of sick.

It moved pretty quickly, I must say. At nine in the morning last Friday I had a tickle in my throat and at ten that night I was feverish, nauseated and coughing. I couldn't make it out of the house for three days. I still have a cough, but I'm not feverish. I wasn't any worse off than with regular flu, the course of the illness was just faster. But I am not in any risk groups for flu, so my experience may be different than that of someone with risk factors.

It is also a bizarre relief for a hypochondriac to find out that when I told everyone last Friday night I had H1N1 I was right! I have MEDICAL AUTHORIZATION! for telling people about my brush with swine flu!
posted by winna at 6:46 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even if handwashing is not effective against H1N1 at all, all of the cases that I have heard of that have resulted in death H1N1 was just one factor. Studies show hand washing is very effective against pneumonia and diarrheal diseases. Decreased respiratory function and massive fluid and electrolyte loss are both going to make your case of H1N1 much less pleasant.

I'll echo Faze's sentiments that no one thing that you do will dramatically change your health. This is just a small piece in a healthy lifestyle. So, please continue to wash your hands, get vaccinated, stay home if you have a fever, don't cough on the young or ill, and wear the mask provided in the emergency room, drink plenty of water, establish a exercise routine, have regular medical check ups, learn the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke, eat a nutritious and well balanced diet, find methods for coping with anxiety,don't smoke.
posted by betaray at 7:02 AM on October 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


We recently went to Mother-in-law's birthday party. One email informed us that one family was not coming because the two small children had come down with H1N1. Then we got an email saying the children were better, and they were coming. When we got to the party, however, we were told they weren't coming. At that point genial Father in law, who is gentleness personified, said in a very surly manner, "It's a good thing those kids aren't here, who knows if they are still infectious." I was taken aback, he sounded so out of character, but later I reflected that the man is 70 and has diabetes so I imagine he must be in fear for his life.

As for me, I have had some terrible bouts of eczema on my hands which is kept under control with steroid creams and less frequent hand washing. As my dermatologist once said, "For you, washing with water is like throwing gasoline on the fire." a vivid image which I always bare in mind.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:06 AM on October 3, 2009


I work in health care, and I can assure you that H1N1 is a topic of avid interest. We're sticking swabs up patients' noses, we're putting masks on them and on us if they have a fever, we're sticking them in the negative pressure room if it's free. We're hand-washing. There are thousands of things that can kill you, and H1N1 is among them. We are not panicking, but we're giving it the attention it deserves.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:52 AM on October 3


I agree. It is a huge topic, for the simple fact that we don't know when or if it may mutate into something more lethal. Some physicians cannot have the vaccine due to underlying conditions as well, so imagine our glee when a room full of coughing children and mom and dad come into a 6x8 exam room because they don't understand that viral illnesses aren't treatable (these aren't high-risk or early onset cases where anti-virals are applicable). So if, as it turns out, a perfectly healthy person who exercises and avoids crap diets can die for the simple lack of hygeinic efforts of a random stranger, then a certain amount of reactivity seems reasonable. Or you could adopt the uber-hip disdain of Kottke and add not a whit of useful discourse.

There's a lot to be said for "hysteria" if it has the following impact:

People mask up in our offices whereas before they considered it a personal affront.
They don't feel offended if I decline to shake their snot-encrusted hand.
They learn better infection control procedures.
It improves awareness of vaccination protocols (and yes, for every person in a lather over the vaccine, twenty more are clamoring for it.
posted by docpops at 7:14 AM on October 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Consider as well that hand-washing may prevent a secondary illness that may precede or follow a bout of H1N1. Consider also that a surfeit of handwashing is a fantasy that exists only in some middle-American 50's homemaker's mind. Most people have thirty years of fecal remnants and Cheerios under their nails given the alacrity that they bring to the wash basin, so a few more exhortations to wash up probably isn't a bad thing.
posted by docpops at 7:19 AM on October 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


It kind of amazes me how many people think they can slap on any old hand sanitizer, many of which rely on triclosan (an antibacterial). This goes back to a lack of education on the difference between bacteria and viruses, which usually gets wrapped up in that cozy catch-all word "germs".
posted by crapmatic at 7:37 AM on October 3, 2009


We can all agree that this kind of behavior is gross, right - swine flu or not? Florida dept. of health: Cougher (QT advert from 07)
posted by dabitch at 7:40 AM on October 3, 2009


Handwashing? Better than duct tape and plastic wrap.
posted by Balisong at 7:43 AM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude, you're supposed to wash your hands BEFORE you duct tape and plastic wrap them!
posted by jamstigator at 8:28 AM on October 3, 2009


H1N1 mania is in full swing in South Korea. They shipped in portable hand sanatizer stations to my school. At the theme park today they were testing people AT RANDOM to see if they had a fever. Jeez.
posted by GilloD at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2009


I can assure you that inside of healthcare, H1N1 is barely a topic of conversation. But once you walk outside the door of the hospital, people seem to be talking and thinking of nothing else.

I have not had a single person talk or think about H1N1 to me. But I hang out with well-educated people who don't believe everything they see on teevee.
posted by DU at 8:37 AM on October 3, 2009


You'd think that if there is fanatical hand-washing going on the results would already be noticeable in decreased transmission rates of something - betaray lists a few - so has transmission of those changed recently?
posted by jet_silver at 8:42 AM on October 3, 2009


You're foolish if you freak out over H1N1. You're just as foolish if you ignore it. One of these days, there will be another flu epidemic. A lot of people will die. Probably H1N1 isn't it, you shouldn't worry, but you should be careful and take common sense precautions.

Washing your hands is good hygienic practice regardless of the flu. I started washing my hands religiously when I got off the subway and the colds I used to get once or twice a year have dropped to once every two or three years. (Yes, I know it's an anecdote.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:53 AM on October 3, 2009


I work at a nursing home and it is a big topic there. If a resident shows symptoms their whole floor is put on 'quarantine' (can't come down for activities, people can still go to them just not off the floor) till they're free of symptoms. Plus we get calls and emails every week from the CDC to 'update' us on the status of the virus and the vaccine. It does feel a bit ridiculous but because older people have significantly weaker immune systems it's a legitimate concern for nursing homes. Same thing for schools because some children are in the same boat as the elderly when trying to fight off viruses.
posted by abitha! at 9:08 AM on October 3, 2009


I can assure you that inside of healthcare, H1N1 is barely a topic of conversation.

What? No. It is the topic of many conversations along the lines of "the h1n1 was negative, so you can take him off precautions," or the reverse. If you mean no one is panicking, then ok, but how many people are panicking outside of healthcare? I hear more people complain about how the media is trying to scare them than expressing fear of a pandemic.

Also, it turns out that even people who don't drink Pepsi can die of pneumonia.
posted by molybdenumblue at 9:18 AM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am against H1N1.
posted by everichon at 9:19 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


The confusing messages are expected. They're annoying, but expected.

I've been privy to discussions at the university concerning handling H1N1, and I'd say there's three things going on here: A genuine concern for community members and their families who can't get the flu, a fear that H1N1 will mutate into something with a higher mortality rate, and a general attitude that the H1N1 response is a test to see if all the emergency plans actually work and how people respond to them.

Seems like you can't walk on campus without running into a Purell dispenser. I'm not sure they're the right thing, since people are barely using them (and still not washing hands) it does seem like a lot of effort for little gain.

The advice from public health has been pretty consistent across the board: Wash hands thoroughly, cough/sneeze into your sleeve, stay at least 3 feet away from people who look sick, stay home if you're sick and don't come back until you're not (though no one can agree if it's 24 hours or a week after fever breaks), and if you start getting complications seek medical help immediately. If you do all five, the risk of contracting H1N1 goes down, the risk you'll spread it to others does down, and the risk of dying also goes down.

But here's the thing: If handwashing doesn't work, that's fine IF you're practicing social distancing as well. But more importantly, getting yourself distanced when you start to get sick will prevent you spreading it to more people.

It does seem like H1N1 is burning through fairly quickly. Washington State University peaked at 2000 cases last month, but a week later it was down to 200, and now they're seeing only a few a day. I've heard similar things about high schools in the South -- they'll see 40-50% absenteeism one week, then everything is back to normal two weeks later.

For the public health world, this is a dress rehearsal for when H5N1 ("bird flu") finally breaks out and becomes a pandemic. H5N1's mortality rate in a pandemic will probably settle between 14-33%; H1N1's mortality rate will settle between 0.1-0.2%.
posted by dw at 9:23 AM on October 3, 2009


I agree that social distancing is an important strategy -- goes without saying that you should practice it if you start feeling sick or have symptoms that are flu-like. But that's a lot easier said than done. I ride public transit every day to work and every day, without fail, someone sits near me who is coughing or sneezing and not even bothering to cover a mouth with a hand, let alone cough or sneeze into a sleeve. And a bus is a traveling contagion box. The only way you can avoid it, I suppose, is to drive to work instead of riding the bus. I could do that, but I prefer not to drive. Some people don't have any choice -- the bus (or train) is their only way to get to work. All personal precautions that you take yourself are fairly ineffectual if people around you aren't following the same precautions. I was standing in a line the other day and a woman nearby coughed without covering her mouth and got visibly offended when I moved away from her, as though I were committing some social faux pas by distancing myself from her.
posted by blucevalo at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


IMO, H1N1 is purposefully overhyped for one damn fine reason: the more people go to hospitals/doctors to get tested, the better the disease can be tracked. The better we can track this virus, the better off we are when a real threat comes down the line.

IOW, this is useful preparation for the huge pandemic that will inevitably come up.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2009


Washing your hands is good for all kinds of things (other viruses, bacteria, not having smelly hands), so you should just do it just because, regardless of flu.

But I'm curious - what's the geography of flu outbreaks right now? Because over in Toronto, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.
posted by jb at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2009


I have not had a single person talk or think about H1N1 to me. But I hang out with well-educated people who don't believe everything they see on teevee. posted by DU at 11:37 AM

I'm thinking H1N1 at you right now. I've talked casually with several highly educated people with advanced science degrees, and they're concerned about it. For them, it has nothing to do with teevee, and everything to do with crowded campuses and students that couldn't be bothered to put down the cell phone long enough to cover a sneeze. Sometimes, it's more about context than education, DU.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:49 AM on October 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whether or not you work in or are otherwise frequently around the heathcare industry, you're going to hear at least some about H1N1, and you're going to hear conflicting information about it. The public, regardless of H1N1's heavy coverage, is not very well informed about this flu and we all know the public at large is prone to panic and then, strangely enough, act in a cavalier fashion toward anything that deals with them personally. That is, they will talk and talk and panic and gossip about H1N1 until they start getting symptoms, when they reason that no, they couldn't possibly have it and it's just fine to keep the plans for the concert they made two weeks ago. All they have to do is wash their hands and it will be okay. I think the point of the article wasn't so much to state that hand washing is useless, but to highlight the public's ignorance and attempt to turn it around ... not that it will do much of anything.

"For you, washing with water is like throwing gasoline on the fire."
Same issue, although my eczema isn't nearly as severe. The sanitizing gels are hell when I'm having an outbreak that's risen to the cracked-skin stage, though. Sort of a damned-if-you-do (etc.) situation.
posted by neewom at 11:10 AM on October 3, 2009


Re hand-washing - I'm quite convinced that physical contact is the most common mode of transfer for many diseases, including flu. Even if airborne is the main vector for flu virii, physical contact still can pick up virii that you wouldn't have encountered otherwise.

Hand touches previously coughed-on doorknob, hand touches face...

So wash your hands, already.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:02 PM on October 3, 2009


Bad move, corporations. You'd be smarter to sell people stylish, expensive antimicrobial disposable gloves and face masks, and depict people who don't wear them as gross. Sure, right now you get to sell alcohol gel and soap, but those are cheap commodities. If we get every celebrity to wear a pair of cute gloves with pastel designs to "do their part to contain the epidemic and look cool," we'll at least get the preteens and some 18-24s to wear them. And if you get the doctors on Grey's and House to wear them, the public will get it in their mind that they're more hygienic than the ones surgeons currently use.

This is the difference between telling women to shave their legs and telling women to wear long dresses/pants. Under one system, you sell razors, blades, and shave foam, and under the other system, they wear their existing wardrobe. There's a lot of money to be made in convincing people their bodies are disgusting disease vectors nobody wants to see.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:16 PM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


This will be the first year I get the flu vaccine, mostly because my employer is willing to pay for it. That means they must have run a cost-benefit analysis that said it's cheaper just to vaccinate all of their employees than the deal with all of the people not showing up for work.

Or, you know, some VP is panicking. Whatever.
posted by Talanvor at 12:17 PM on October 3, 2009


"At one point at my daughters' school, they were sending home a dozen students a day sick with symptoms of H1N1 flu."

Just for the record, can I point out that this says exactly nothing about the effectiveness of handwashing in stopping the flu?

If you would normally (in the absence of this handwashing routine but with the same amount of flu virus currently existing in the community) expect to send home 3 dozen students a day, then this routine was amazingly effective at an amazingly low cost.

If you would normally expect to send home 3 students a day then it appears to have somehow made the situation worse.

If you would normally expect around a dozen students a day then it has made no difference at all.

Without this baseline to compare it to, the effects noticed could mean absolutely anything at all about the effectiveness of handwashing.
posted by flug at 12:24 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's my issue about the hand sanitizing/washing. In my workplace, there are now containers of hand sanitizers placed in various public places - the front desk, conference rooms. That's fine. But they have also helpfully placed hand sanitizer next to the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Am I wrong in thinking that sanitizer is meant as a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water when water isn't available? It's not actually better than soap and water, and if people can actually wash their hands instead of using sanitizer, they should. It does give me the impression that sanitizer is seen as a magic talisman against flu transmission.
posted by yarrow at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I fully expected the cure to involve making nice, warm grilled cheese sandwiches.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2009


Here's a TED talk on how to domesticate germs. Short answer: If you live where there is a clean water supply, staying home (or otherwise isolated) when you are sick, would be effective at reducing both the spread of disease, but also reduce pathogenic harmfulness over time.

At work we can give people more sick time and encourage them to take it. We'll can figure out some supplementary staffing for the industries that need it during outbreaks. At school we can figure out better ways of getting lesson materials to quarantined students and use flexible scheduling of the finishing work (examinations, projects etc). There's a whole bunch of technological and simple social engineering we could do to reduce negative effects of people staying home when they are sick. Here in the first world we don't have to gather together in one place at one time quite so often. And we, our children, and their children, and so on, don't have to get seriously sick from it when we do.
posted by wobh at 1:05 PM on October 3, 2009


> I fully expected the cure to involve making nice, warm grilled cheese sandwiches.

The efficacy of nice, warm grilled cheese sandwiches can be enhanced with 500 cc of hot tomato soup. Mmmmm, mmmmm, therapeutic benefit.

(from the journal of Dr Campbell)
posted by Artful Codger at 1:49 PM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a public health issue. I think the media does public health poorly. Often they do overhype issues ("Which common household item harbors more flu virus than any other? We'll tell you at 11") but for some people, even the mere presence of news coverage seems to translate to them as mass panic. For instance, my newspaper published a wire story about an annual groundwater study or something along those lines, and the comments ranged from "nosy scientists who don't live here" to "now I have to worry about my tap/well water? might as well give up". You know, it's just data.

Public health requires public knowledge, interest, and -- this is key -- participation. Some people will not be motivated to get vaccinated by the usual posters and simple reminders. The benefits are pretty clear, but they still won't. So you have to reach them with a news story. But even a straightforward news story comes across as panic, even straightforward advice such as washing hands (IMO the single most important thing we can do for H1N1 or any other spreading illness) is evaluated according to some high-bar pass/fail standard. Does hand-washing prevent all flu? No? Maybe only some of the time? It's dumb advice then! What kind of maroon would present this as a solution to the flu?! And so on.

I don't know how to solve this, but I'm happier that the information is getting out there. I'm worried about the cry-wolf effect, though, when all the vaccination and hand-washing and whatnot contributes to a lesser impact.
posted by dhartung at 1:55 PM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


But I'm curious - what's the geography of flu outbreaks right now? Because over in Toronto, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.

Map of Influenza Activity in US

Map of Influenza Activity in Canada
posted by Ery at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2009


Pig catapult = Swine flew
posted by ...possums at 4:01 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


dunkadunc, codger, don't forget the warm chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:19 PM on October 3, 2009


Am I wrong in thinking that sanitizer is meant as a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water when water isn't available? It's not actually better than soap and water, and if people can actually wash their hands instead of using sanitizer, they should.

The short answer to this question is, "You are right," but this is MetaFilter, so the short answer won't do.

According to this article, hand sanitizer is not a good substitute for soap and water. However, the research is from 2000, so it might be outdated. Currently, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable, but washing your hands is better than just using a hand sanitizer, especially if your hands are visibly soiled.
posted by lexicakes at 4:26 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a teenager down the street from me who has swine flu. I hope he's okay. So far his symptoms have been pretty mild, for the flu.

A couple of years ago, I worked in a huge office. There were upwards of 160 people sharing a couple of bathrooms and three break rooms. Microbe-wise, it was like being exposed to ten kindergarten classes, and I got sick all the time with colds and stomach upsets. At one point, I moved to a new area where everyone had hand-sanitizer on their desks. I remember asking one of my new team members, "If most illnesses are viruses, and hand sanitizer only kills bacteria, why would that work?" He just shrugged and said "I don't know, it doesn't make sense, but it does work." So I put hand sanitizer on my desk, too, and developed a new routine. I would wash my hands in the bathroom to protect other people from my germs, and then go back to my desk and use the hand sanitizer, to protect me from all the people who didn't wash their hands. It worked great. I quit getting every little thing that was going around. In retrospect, it also made me mostly quit picking my nose (unevaporated hand cleaner stings), but whatever. It works!
posted by zinfandel at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2009


zinfandel, are you confusing the (usually triclosan) antibacterial soaps with alcohol-based hand sanitizer? Antibiotics only kill bacteria, but alcohol sanitizers are good against most things (bacteria, viruses, fungi).

And if it gets you to avoid touching your face, that's probably beneficial as well…
posted by hattifattener at 4:51 PM on October 3, 2009


I'm going the full bubble-boy. Fortunately it's October so I can just tell everyone the 'old timey' diving bell suit is a holloween costume. Planning ahead, I'm going to talk up Bio Shock so much that I get a fan-boy rep. That way, in November I'll just add some drill hands and pass myself off as a Big Daddy.

The more people who copy me, the more normal it will look. Who's with me? :)
posted by Davenhill at 6:57 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's what I learned about germs in my own household; I can withstand a pretty reasonable exposure to other people's colds, and rarely get symptomatic. However my aging stepdad that lived in the house was terribly susceptible as he aged, and I realized those of us more social might easily be vectoring illness to the weaker members of our households.

So the better you protect yourself, the better you're protecting *them*.
posted by uncorq at 7:35 PM on October 3, 2009


Does anyone know if they're going to be offering H1N1 shots in grocery and drug stores like they do with regular flu vaccine? Or will you have to make a doctor's appointment to get one?
posted by Justinian at 9:16 PM on October 3, 2009


don't cough on the young or ill

Oh ...

Right. Well, I was already doing that. Not doing it.

I was not. Coughing on sick people.

Stop looking at me like that.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:49 PM on October 3, 2009


KRINKLYFIG HATES THE YOUNG AND THE ILL!
posted by everichon at 9:30 AM on October 4, 2009


I think the handwashing is valid. Most people sneeze in their hands or touch their nose, blow their nose, etc. thus droplets are on the hands.

All I know is that many people in my office don't wash their hands after suing the toilet. So now I've gotten into the habit of using the hand sanitizer to wipe down the door handles on my way out.

My husband still insists that after taking a leak, his hands are clean and thus doesn't need to wash his hands. I'm blaming H1N1 on him.
posted by stormpooper at 8:21 AM on October 5, 2009


What do you think is going to be on his hands that you haven't had in your mouth?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on October 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am against H1N1.

I have a soft spot for it myself, since it looks like it should be pronounced heiny. Too cute.
posted by rokusan at 9:24 AM on October 5, 2009


My husband still insists that after taking a leak, his hands are clean and thus doesn't need to wash his hands.

Q: Didnt your mother teach you to wash your hands after you went to the bathroom?
A: Nope, she taught me not to piss on my fingers.


(Annie Potts and John Laughlin in Crimes of Passion.)
posted by rokusan at 9:28 AM on October 5, 2009


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