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Old 03-04-2008, 09:06 AM   #1
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Handwashing after coughing

Can someone direct me to some factual information or definitive statements about the need to and benefits of washing your hands after coughing into your hands while working with food at home?

My question comes as a result of an event (and subequent argument) last night with someone who was working with me at home preparing dinner. The other person coughed into their hands several times and just kept on working with the food. Parts of the subsequent discussion were (1) it was a dry cough and (2) we are around each other "exchanging germs" by virtue of our proximity all the time so this (not washing after coughing into the hands) wasn't going to expose us (me) to anything that we (I) were not already being exposed to.

I have done a bunch of internet searches this morning on "coughing" and "handwashing". I found a lot of generic information and information about working in a commercial/restaurant kithcen, but nothing that comes right out and says "when working with food at home, if you cough into your hands then you need to wash your hands before you do anything else."

Washing is what I think I always do and I don't think I'm acting like Felix Unger, Adrian Monk or a germophobe. (If I am, please feel free to let me know.)


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Old 03-04-2008, 09:11 AM   #2
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No you are not being paranoid. You are correct and your friend is wrong. If you cough into your hands then you are transferring germs, no matter how dry the cough is. those germs can then be transfered to food that is touched.

I have started coughing into my bent arm by the elbow. that way my hands are not being exposed.

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Old 03-04-2008, 09:15 AM   #3
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CDC Features - Wash Your Hands
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:55 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by LadyCook61 View Post
Linked from that page: CDC - Clean Hands Save Lives!

Look under "When should you wash your hands?"

If someone doesn't want to take the time to wash their hands, maybe you could keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the kitchen. HTH.
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:05 AM   #5
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There's no such thing as a truly "dry" cough. Saliva always becomes airborn when you cough and saliva can carry infection.

If your friend is only going to wash their hands when they hock up something, I think you need to eat at your house instead!
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:10 AM   #6
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yeah. Wash your hands.
From Wikipedia:

[edit] Droplet Contact

Microorganisms (bacteria and viruses) that cause disease may be transmitted from one person to another by aerosols created when a patient sneezes or coughs

Also known as the respiratory route, it is a typical mode of transmission among many infectious agents. If an infected person coughs or sneezes on another person the microorganisms, suspended in warm, moist droplets, may enter the body through the nose, mouth or eye surfaces. Diseases that are commonly spread by coughing or sneezing include (at least):
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Old 03-04-2008, 11:13 AM   #7
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What he said. ^^^^

One more article about hand washing: Hand washing: An easy way to prevent infection - MayoClinic.com

BTW, coughing (as well as sneezing) is the body's way of getting rid of substances that are irritating the breathing passages.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:56 PM   #8
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Someone didn't wash their hands on this site, I am coughing after reading this thread . I always say, wash as you go along. When you cut up meat, wash before you cut onions. Wash wash wash. I am not paranoid either, well I probably am actually after I suffered food poisoning 15 years ago when my flat-mate re-froze a chicken breast and I had to miss my exams after eating the re-frozen chicken breast.
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:19 PM   #9
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Gross. I wonder where people think germs come from sometimes. Why on earth would you argue AGAINST washing your hands?!?!
Not that there's anything wrong with that.....
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Old 03-04-2008, 03:36 PM   #10
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Your friend would be locked out if I were doing a PD exchange here at home..We wear a mask and not only wash hands for a full 15 seconds, we then use a hand sanitizer..I have to have a sterile connection and anyone who coughs or sneezes, would contaminate my field..So, if your friend won't wash, he doesn't get the heck in the kitchen..

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