Now wash your hands

In Orpington Quaker Meeting House, there is a damp towel in the loos to wipe my hands on. So, if I go to the loo and wash my hands, any gut bacteria I miss I wipe onto the towel, which is damp, to join gut bacteria from everyone else who has wiped their hands on it. I will get a few back. That damp towel is as good a culture medium as one can get outside a petri dish. And, I hear, if the lid is left up when you flush the loo, an aerosol of the liquid inside it rises up and circulates round the room, including that damp towel. If I wipe them there, the last state of my hands will be worse than the first.

I understand peanuts in a bowl for sharing are a great way of sharing urinary tract infections.

My colleague in the hospital was very concerned that she had to see people on the wards suffering from MRSA, but actually all the precautions, such as disposable aprons and intense hand washing, were to protect the patient rather than me. I had to do the handwashing in a sink where unless I took great care the water sprayed over my clothes: ready to drip off, or be breathed in by the hapless patient. A nurse told me that properly drying my hands was most important, as the tiniest droplets can just shake off. My own healthy immune system is quite capable of dealing with these bugs, until it is not. With Superstaph, the patient’s wasn’t.

On home visits, I always take a cup of tea if offered. It is in the giving and receiving of hospitality that we build trust, and anyway, the mugs in the office are far more disgusting than anything in anyone’s kitchen.

4 thoughts on “Now wash your hands

  1. We are completely surrounded by bacteria both good and bad, both inside and outside of our bodies. It is only the bad ones we need worry about but of course we cannot see them and have to take all the necessary precautions to avoid infection. We sometimes get complacent when it comes down to hygiene and that can be dangerous both to ourselves and to others. Have you shaken someone’s hand lately? How do you know they were not transferring a deadly germ? You cannot tell. We don’t go rushing to the bathroom each time and it might be that the bathroom is more deadly as you said!

    Shirley Anne xxx


    • I read that most people have a bacterium that causes meningitis inside their mouths. So to say the cause of meningitis is that bacterium misses an important detail: how does it go from harmless in the mouth to deadly on the meninges? I think we are all right until we are not, generally the immune system deals with any bugs. So I would think the loss I have from not shaking hands, and losing that human contact, is greater usually than the risk I face from the bacteria on the hand.


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