Clean up your act: We all have a hand in the spread of bugs, campaign says

WHO plans to reveal 'hand scans' designed to highlight the invisible effects of bad hygiene

"Now wash your hands." For years public health officials have relied on such well-worn exhortations to persuade the rest of us to rinse with soap.

But their pleas are often ignored. A 2011 study found that, while 95 per cent of Britons claim to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom, barely a tenth actually do.

The World Health Organisation's new plan is to scare soap-dodgers into submission, with the release of a new series of "hand scans" designed to highlight the invisible effects of bad hygiene.

The images will leave few in any doubt, revealing disturbing levels of bacteria on unwashed fingers after a series of tasks such as cutting chicken, handling an old dishcloth or going to the toilet.

Happily, the photographs have been published alongside another set of images of showing how easily the bacteria can be removed with a simple wash in the sink.

The publicity campaign coincides with Global Handwashing Day, an international awareness campaign that aims to spread the message of how the simple act of washing your hands with soap can reduce the spread of fatal diseases including E.coli and the winter norovirus.

The spread of these illnesses poses a major threat to public health, policy makers say, asserting that soap could save more lives than any single vaccine or other form of medical intervention.

Dr Paul Cosford, Director of Health Protection at Public Health England (PHE), which has supported the campaign's launch, said: "If we don't wash our hands properly then just one bacterium can grow into hundreds and thousands in a relatively short space of time.

"These are then spread around our environment and onto other people.

"This is why it is so important that we wash our hands thoroughly particularly before preparing food, after handling raw meat and after going to the toilet."

Failure to wash hands after visiting the toilet is thought to have fuelled the spread of recent viruses such as the winter vomiting bug, which travels from person to person through a process doctors call the "faecal-oral route".

A study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine three years ago revealed that more than nine out of 10 mobile phones are coated with some kind of bacteria, including E.coli and MRSA.

Peter Hoffman of PHE, added: "Just as contamination was passed from my hands to the growth surfaces in the pictures, so it could be passed from your hands to your mouth, the food that you handle or any other route of infection.

"Washing the hands using soap and water is integral to breaking the cycle of transmission of harmful bugs, whether that is in a hospital or in our own homes and everyone needs to adopt this very good habit."

The awareness campaign comes just weeks after nurses were reminded to wash their hands in the wake of new NHS guidance warning that the levels of infection in UK hospitals are "unacceptable and avoidable".

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - CIPD - Buxton A highly...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server Engineer/ Systems Engineer (Windows Server, Networking)

    £23000 - £27000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server Enginee...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Head of Regional Sales - Financial Software - £130,000 OTE

    Negotiable: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly expanding, global Software/ SaaS Vendor ...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Contact Centre Sales - £100,000 OTE

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: h2 Recruit Ltd: After a highly successful 2014, a m...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?