Norfolk and Waveney germ-busting campaign launched
Health bosses are appealing for people to do all they can to stop the spread of everyday infections this autumn and winter.
The colder months are traditionally when illnesses such as flu, tummy upsets and sickness can sweep through the population - causing havoc in schools, care homes and hospitals.
Today, public health experts at NHS Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney have a launched a new campaign to promote three simple messages about personal and home hygiene.
The poster campaign, which comes during National Infection Control Week, is encouraging families to pay a little more attention to good hygiene to keep bugs at bay.
One of the most important steps is washing hands before preparing food and after using the toilet. You just need hot, soapy water. Alcohol hand gels and 'wet wipes' do not kill norovirus bacteria, which cause sickness and diarrhoea.
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Families are also advised to wash household surfaces, to avoid sharing towels and to keep towels clean.
Dr Jenny Harries, director of public health for Norfolk and for Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: 'With everyone's help we can keep infections such as norovirus and flu at bay.
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'This is a time when the NHS begins to see more patients who have norovirus, the family of bugs which cause tummy upsets and sickness. It is also a time when flu can sweep through schools and offices. But we can reduce the number of people who become ill and reduce the disruption this cases simply by washing germs away.
'There are simple things we can all do which can have a massive impact. We cannot see germs but we can fight them.'
A 'Germbusters' tool kit has also been set up at www.norfolk.nhs.uk/germbusters and www.gywpct.nhs.uk which has more information, such as links to videos, fact sheets, helpful hints on how to prevent infections and what to do if someone falls ill. There are also useful resources for schools, homes and offices.
On the NHS Germbusters website there is even a video and leaflet available to show how to wash hands because, as Dr Harries explained, there is more to it than you might think.
She said: 'Doctors and nurses are trained to wash their hands using a six-step method which really makes sure they are germ free. There is no reason why this should be an NHS secret, so we are sharing it with everyone on the Germbusters site.
'I particularly like the fact file we have on household germs which we guarantee will make you squirm. Altogether there's so much to read, watch and make practical use of at home.'
Your kitchen sink contains 100,000 times more germs than your bathroom or lavatory
A swab of a handbag showed up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch.
A bug called Campylobacter is carried by about half of all dogs and cats and can cause food poisoning. So always wash your hands after coming into contact with pets.
Top tips contained within the NHS Germbusters site include:
• Do not go to school/work until 48 hours after the last symptom. Even if you no longer feel ill, you can still pass the illness onto others.
• Avoid handling or preparing food for others during this time.
• Close the toilet lid and immediately flush away any vomit or diarrhoea to keep the surrounding area clean.
• Disinfect any surfaces that could have been contaminated with the virus, such as washbasins, taps, toilet seats and toilet flush handles.
• Keep contaminated laundry separate from the rest of the family laundry and wash them at the highest temperature suitable for the fabric as indicated on the wash label.
• Ironing or tumble drying clothes will also help to kill norovirus.
• Any items of cutlery or crockery that might be shared, should be washed after each use, in hot water and washing up liquid or in a dishwasher.