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35. Handwashing in a highly infectious epidemic
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35. Handwashing in a highly infectious epidemic

Last update: 2022-09-14

Overview

Why is handwashing important and why is handwashing different in epidemics?
  • Highly infectious germs are spread very easily through body fluids and certain diseases can even be transmitted via the bodies of people who are dead.
  • Very vigorous and comprehensive handwashing is needed in such cases.
  • When working in such epidemics, it is critical to use all available forms of protection. (See Action tools  Volunteer protection and safety and Personal protection equipment (PPE) for highly infectious diseases on volunteer protection and using personal protection equipment.)
  • When you wash your hands during an epidemic, to eliminate all the germs on your hands you need to: 
    - Use soap or an alcohol-based disinfectant.
    - Wash your hands as usual. 
    - Then wash thoroughly between your fingers. 
    - Scrub the tips of the fingers of the two hands together. 
    - Wash each of your thumbs with the other hand.
    - Scrub the tips of the fingers of each hand on the palm of the other hand. 
    - (See instructions on the other side of this card.)
  • During an epidemic (of a highly infectious disease, or another disease such as diarrhoea or cholera, or a respiratory infection), it is a good idea to use this handwashing method every time you have touched something that can pass on an infection.
Handwashing steps