This could be the most important time to wash your hands

A recent study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases emphasizes how important it is to wash your hands after using the restroom.

You’re diligent about washing your hands after working with the raw chicken you thawed for tonight’s dinner. But washing your hands in the kitchen might not be enough to help you prevent getting sick and contracting a dangerous strain of E. coli.

It outlines how more than 5,000 people became seriously ill after coming in contact with human feces. In the study, British researchers found the ST131 E. coli strain was most prevalent in human samples for feces, sewage and blood, compared to other sources. This E.coli strain was found in the bloodstream of more than 60% of people.

Researchers noted while interventions to keep food or animals free from these dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli are important, it’s more vital to prevent the spread through other people by practicing good hygiene after using the restroom.

“It’s a good reminder that we need to always be vigilant about washing our hands, especially after using the bathroom or changing a diaper,” says Dr. Maryana Yevtukh, a family medicine doctor at Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha, WI.

To help you stay healthy, here’s a reminder of the Dos and Don’ts when washing your hands.


  • Use warm running water to wet your hands.
  • Apply soap all over your hands and under your fingernails.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. If it helps, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice to make sure you wash your hands long enough.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • Dry your hands well with a clean towel or automatic hand dryer.

Don’t forget to wash your hands after:

  • Using the toilet.
  • Changing a diaper or assisting a child who’s using the toilet.
  • Handling animal waste.
  • Caring for people with an illness, especially if they’re vomiting or have diarrhea.

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