Hand Washing And the Flu Virus

RENO, NV - “It is one of the least expensive most effective things you can do to protect yourself from getting a number of diseases,” says Dr. Randal Todd with the Washoe County Health Department.

But it requires more than just putting your hands under water.

To prove our point we took a little test.

It involves a special gel that both Dr. Todd and I rubbed all over our hands.

A flick of the light switch, and a black light, the gel shows up white on our hands.

This can represent viruses--those which cause the flu--and notice they can be on both the top and palms of our hands.

“Cause you don't have to be around somebody who was sick. They just need to have been around something in your environment and contaminate those things you come in contact with,” says Dr. Todd.

That's where hand washing comes into play.

Use a good lathering soap, and warm water.

Make sure you get under your nails, between your fingers.

And take your time---the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Then as not to mitigate all your hard work, grab a paper towel, turn off the faucet, then dry your hands.

As a comparison, Dr. Todd uses the alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel.

He works it into this hands, and even uses a paper towel to wipe it off.

While he says this stuff is good in a pinch, look at the black light and see it really can't compare to the soap and water hand washing.

Dr. Todd's hands are white much like before.

The soap and water hand is nearly free of white.

“Soap and arm water isn't going to kill the virus that might be on your hands. It's gong to physically remove it,” says Todd.

Again the alcohol gel is good in a pinch.

But the alcohol-based gel doesn't kill all viruses like the Norovirus and some influenza viruses.