What have ice cubes, sesame seeds and festival wrist bands got in common?
Public Health England reports these are all items that have all tested positive for the presence of ‘E.coli’ bacteria which indicates faecal contamination.
That is PHE is issuing a reminder to everyone today on Global Handwashing Day (15 October) of the importance of washing their hands – particularly after going to the toilet.
The presence of ‘E.coli’ bacteria on any surface is a sign of faecal contamination and any gastrointestinal infection caused by ‘E.coli’ is a result of ingesting faecal bacteria from a human being or an animal. Infections caused by this bacteria can be very serious with symptoms ranging from mild gastroenteritis to severe bloody diarrhoea.
Washing the hands regularly using soap and water can minimise the risk of spreading harmful bacteria to other people as well as reducing the individual risk of becoming unwell, as the likelihood of ingesting harmful bacteria is reduced.
Previous studies have shown faecal contamination on a wide variety of surfaces including:
- bank notes
- kitchen taps
- sesame seeds
- cleaning cloths
- bar snacks
- shopping bags
- computer keyboards
- mobile phones
- wrist bands
- ice cubes
- preparation surfaces in mobile kitchens
Dr Bob Adak, head of the gastrointestinal diseases department at Public Health England (PHE), said:
No-one would wilfully want to touch or eat faeces but that is what millions of us are doing every day by not washing our hands. Many diseases are spread through faecal matter so if we all improved our hygiene this could prevent many infections and stop people becoming unwell.
Today, on Global Handwashing Day, we need to remind ourselves that we all need to wash our hands thoroughly using soap and water and then dry them. This is particularly important before preparing food and eating and especially after going to the toilet or changing a nappy as you have double the amount of bugs on your hands after using the loo.
If you want to see the correct technique for washing your hands, see this video which is slowed down so you can see every step. The video lasts 1 minute 18 seconds.