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Soap and water can fight this nasty virus

Do you feel safe from the Norovirus because you’re using a hand sanitiser? Did you know it is better if you wash them with soap and water?

According to guidelines from the Bermuda Hospitals Board, hand sanitisers do not kill as many germs as a simple hand-washing with soap and water.

A nasty stomach bug has swept across the Island felling hundreds to diarrhoea and vomiting. While the Health Department does not have exact figures it suspects that hundreds of people have fallen victim. Details were published in last week’s Body & Soul after which many people stopped me in the street to relay their personal stories of entire families hit.

Based on descriptions I’ve received, and then on personal experience, the symptoms led to an educated guess that the culprit was either Norovirus or Rotavirus. In fact news in recent days pinpoints the Norovirus as the cause in several cases of gastroenteritis on cruise ships. Several passengers on Holland America’s

Maasdam, Royal Caribbean’s

Vision of the Seas, Celebrity’s

Millennium and its Mercury cruise ships have been hit, prompting the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate.

Late last week the CDC also revealed it was investigating a stomach bug outbreak following a youth basketball tournament in Kentucky and Washington State health officials were probing an outbreak among attendees at a cheerleading competition.

And two North Carolina residents commented on

The Royal Gazette online that a stomach bug was also sweeping through their towns.

If you suspect you’ve got the virus, local health officials urge you to stay home and rest. The Norovirus can be passed from person to person, so vigilant hand washing is a good way to try and avoid it.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board provided the following guidelines for hand washing:

What is the right way to wash your hands?

Ÿ Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.

Ÿ Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Ÿ Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Ÿ Rinse your hands well under running water.

Ÿ Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Ÿ Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitisers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

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Published February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 14, 2012 at 6:25 am)

Soap and water can fight this nasty virus

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