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Hand Hygiene

Washing hands thoroughly at certain intervals, such as after using the bathroom and before cooking, goes a long way toward helping to keep you and those around you healthy.

Good hand hygiene is key to limiting the spread of diseases. Hands should be washed at certain intervals (after using the bathroom, before cooking, etc.) and in a thorough manner, using warm water and soap and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

Download a handwashing sign to use in your facility.

Key times to wash hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage


According to the National Institutes of Health, hygiene did not become a common practice before the mid-1800s. It was not uncommon for a physician to go from dissecting a corpse to delivering a baby without washing hands in between. This caused a high percentage of new mothers who gave birth in a hospital to contract puerperal fever.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who introduced the concept that simple handwashing could prevent the spread of infectious diseases, although some individuals in the health-care field were resistant to this claim. This was in spite of the fact that after he encouraged students to wash their hands, the maternal death rate was reduced from 12% to 1% in two years.

In recent years, the H1N2 outbreak of 2009 and the COVID pandemic brought new awareness to the importance of handwashing, and it is an important component of a good infectious disease prevention plan. Food establishments are encouraged to place handwashing signs in bathrooms and Monongalia County Health Department has provided one that can be downloaded on this page.

One disease that can be transmitted by a lack of handwashing after going to the bathroom is hepatitis A, which is transmitted via the oral-fecal route. Hepatitis A can be avoided with thorough handwashing. Both hepatitis A and B can be prevented with a vaccine. Call 304-598-5119 to make an appointment.





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