It’s right there at our fingertips – and we never even know it.
None of the usual suspects either – not norovirus or c.difficile or salmonella or e.coli.
Not even campylobacter – though messing around with raw chicken can make you pretty queasy.
Sticky fingers us
Nope, it’s all of these and more. And the REAL villain of the piece is right under our noses – our own greasy, cotton-picking mitts.
A bit harsh isn’t? A bit rude?
Ah, but reality is harsh. The truth hurts, especially in denial.
Sure we washed our hands at some stage during the morning. And then?
What about all the things we’ve touched, grabbed hold of, carried, pushed, pulled, fingered all over or thrown away? Were they clean too? Were they safe to handle without scrubbing up afterwards?
And, ew! How about when we went to the loo? Super gross, or what?
Apparently not. No less a superstar than Hunger Games heroine Jennifer Lawrence publicly admits she doesn’t wash her hands after spending a penny. She even pees in the basin.
And she’s not alone.
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of people don’t even wash their hands properly.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
So, yes. Greasy, cotton-picking, GERM-LADEN mitts.
Only sort of.
Because we’re not really to blame. Just forgetful.
See, if our hands were VISIBLY DIRTY, pretty well all of us would wash them off right away. We know we don’t want that yuck going on our food – collywobbles for sure.
But they’re not visibly dirty, are they? They LOOK clean.
And that’s the problem – you can’t see germs. They’re too darned small. Two or three thousand on the POINT of a pin. Nothing to see here, move on, move on.
Not the same as if they itched like crazy (which some of them do, of course). Or caused a rash (they do that too). Or made us feel cold, or like our hands were in hot water.
But there’s no reminder, nothing.
And so we go merrily on, blissfully unaware – from one potential health hazard to the next.
Like when was that hanging strap on the Jubilee Line last wiped down with bleach? Or the escalator handrail? Or the grab-rail on the No 19? Does anyone ever wipe the push-rail of street door to the office building? Or even THINK about wiping the Lift Call button?
Plus then of course, there’s the hiccup that we’re late – signal failure at Oxford Circus. But when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go – so the pee-break is a rush before we get to the office. And then, wouldn’t you know, it’s our turn to make coffee for everyone.
Rush, rush, rush – no time to wash our hands. But what the heck, they look OK, don’t they?
So Priscilla on the Help Desk never knows how she caught that stomach bug straight of nowhere. Gastroenteritis – nasty. Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea – three days off, like death warmed up. And there’s us, praying we’ll never get it.
OK, just wash our hands.
Because there’s germs all around us, all the time.
And even when we’ve washed your hands, THEY’RE STILL THERE.
Our hands might be clean but everything else isn’t. Like our desks probably have 10 million bacteria on them each, right now.
It gets worse.
Like we probably think that washing up when we get home gets rid of the germs on our plates and knives and forks – just before we come down with – not gastroenteritis this time but salmonella. Vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea – same difference.
And no wonder. All that glurk, all in the one place – water, suds, grease, sauce, food bits, crumbs, dust – a totally iffy bacterial soup. Possibly the worst thing we could ever do to stay healthy. And we’re going to put our hands in that?
So, no reminder.
As soon as we wash our hands, they get dirty again. Dirty in germ terms – cramps, diarrhoea, hospital, life support. Which means we have to remember, they’re DIRTY ALL THE TIME.
Kinda changes the rules in keeping ourselves healthy, doesn’t it? Not just avoiding food poisoning, but more serious stuff too. Bird flu, asthma, TB – or some hooligan virus we picked up on holiday chasing the sun. One of those serious, life-threatening ones.
To really play safe, we’ve got to wash our hands all the time too. Kinda impractical that, so make that wash hands before anything critical – and certainly after anything yucky. Like, before food, after loo.
And everywhere in between if we remember. Because among all the other things, we’re touching our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day too. Wiping our invisibly dirty hands on the germ-entry points of mouth, nose, eyes and ears.
So it’s not just food poisoning we’re worried about – it’s finger poisoning.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
And you imagined the worst that could happen today was a broken nail.