I Have A Cold

A colleague that I work with shared a story with me the other day that is definitely worth repeating.  Now and again this gentleman goes out to dinner with a group of friends.  This particular evening, he said that he walked up to one of his acquaintances at the dinner and put out his hand for a welcoming hand shake.  He was then impressed when the gentleman folded his arms, refusing the handshake, and informed my friend that he has a cold. 

My colleague watched, inconspicuously, throughout the night.  This gentleman with a cold was consistent the entire night about not touching anyone or getting too close to anyone.  He did not reach for the bread or butter and did all he could not to touch any communal cutlery.  This gentleman was being as conscientious as he was able to help prevent transmission of his cold to any unsuspecting neighbor.

I am truly impressed when someone goes to great lengths to help protect their neighbor.  My only concern here is did he do enough to prevent the spread of his cold virus?

The only way to get a cold is to get the virus from someone giving it to you directly (i.e. touching you or sneezing/coughing in your direction), or, putting the virus on something that you touch.  Generally, the most common way to catch a cold is from someone who sneezes or coughs in their hand and then touches you with that same hand. 

The gentleman who was doing his best to help prevent transmission of his cold may not have been doing enough.  It is possible for cold virus to live on many surfaces such as door knobs, chairs, table cloths, forks and wine glasses for several hours.

Other individuals may have been infected when they moved the chairs, cleaned the table, walked out the door, used the sink in the bathroom, or flushed the toilet.    Of course, we run into this every single day of our life as we go to work and use phones, computers, cafeterias, restrooms, elevators and all of the other public space our life is made up of.

The following two paragraphs come directly from this web page:

“Hand washing is an essential and highly effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Hands should be wet with water and plain soap, and rubbed together for 15 to 30 seconds. Special attention should be paid to the fingernails, between the fingers, and the wrists. Hands should be rinsed thoroughly, and dried with a single use towel.”

“Alcohol-based hand rubs are a good alternative for disinfecting hands if a sink is not available. Hand rubs should be spread over the entire surface of hands, fingers, and wrists until dry, and may be used several times. These rubs can be used repeatedly without skin irritation or loss of effectiveness. Hand rubs are available as a liquid or wipe in small, portable sizes that are easy to carry in a pocket or handbag. When a sink is available, visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water.”

So, please, this cold and flu season, if you have a cold, do all you can to keep from passing it on to someone else.  If you are in a public space and touch anything, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleanser as soon as possible.

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