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Arm Yourself for H1N1 Prevention

If you’re tired of singing the Birthday Song or the A-B-C song while washing your hands, here’s good news: experts have said that hand washing will not go very far in preventing the spread of H1N1. 

The pandemic flu virus known as H1N1 is spread chiefly through coughs and sneezes.  When we sneeze and cough microscopic droplets are emitted from our mouths.  Those that are infected with H1N1 will expel germs from the virus that are encased in these droplets.  It is thought that the droplets themselves create a hospitable environment to transport and protect the germs while they travel through the air until inhaled by another human.

Skin contact is not generally viewed as a major threat to spreading the disease.  In order to catch the virus while shaking hands with an infected person, you would have to shake hands with them immediately after a sneeze which the person improperly shielded with their hand (the conventional wisdom is to sneeze and cough into your sleeve or elbox) and then touched your mouth, nose or eyes.  Even then it’s possible that you might not contract H1N1.  It is inhaling the virus that gives the strongest H1N1 dose and hence likelihood of contracting th disease, according to Arthur Reingold, professor of epidemiology at the University of California-Berkeley.

The CDC seems to concur.  "We don’t have solid data on the effect that hand washing has on the transmission of H1N1," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner was quoted by CNN.

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