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Handwashing Keeps Germs Away No Matter What the Season

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Now that summer is here we tend to think less about germs. Although it is true that “sick” season does slow down for children during the spring and summer months (and happily so does our office) some pesky germs, both viral and bacterial manage to tolerate the warmer temperatures and cause illness. Parents are always amazed that their child might show up with a fever, or vomiting, right in the middle of summer camp or swimming lessons, I agree very inconvenient. This is the time of year for enteroviral infections and fevers that we talked about earlier, as well as for some of those other pathogens that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The best protection against all of these summer germs continues to be good hand washing. Remind your children to wash their hands when they are around their friends at camp, after the playground, or even when older kids have been shopping at the mall or at the movies.

It is especially important to wash your hands after swimming, as germs may be present in pool and lake water. Putting your hands into your mouth to eat right after getting out of the pool is not a good idea. Have your child head to the sink and wash their hands with soap and water, for a minimum of 10 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”, before they eat those fries or popsicles poolside. Old-fashioned hand washing with soap is still preferable to hand sanitizers whenever possible.

The same is true after using the restroom, as kids are in a hurry to head back to the pool or to the playground and may skip the sink and the soap! That is how the germs are then spread to the pool water or the swing set or jungle gym for the next person to touch and then rub their own nose or eyes or put their little fingers in their mouths and become ill. It all sounds a little gross, but fecal material may be found in pools and with last summer’s outbreak of Cryptosporidium in different areas of the country good hand washing continues to be of upmost importance.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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