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Beat the bugs...

Date published: 25 May 2018


With a Bank Holiday on its way, people are being encouraged to remember simple tips when filling their three-day weekend with fun activities.

As temperatures rise, there is typically an increase in gastro-intestinal infections which are often associated with warm weather favourites like barbeques and picnics - where food has been poorly stored or cooked – as well as family trips to parks and petting farms.

Good hand hygiene for all and supervised hand hygiene for small children is essential to minimise the risk of developing a stomach bug.

Following some simple hygiene rules can help to prevent or limit the spread of these infections:

  • Wash your hands regularly - handwashing is especially important after going to the toilet, before preparing or consuming any food or drink and after outdoor activities like visits to the park, farms or contact with animals.
  • Don’t rush - washing your hands properly should take at least 15 seconds – use soap and warm water, rubbing the front and back of hands and between fingers, rinse carefully with water and then dry hands thoroughly.
  • Hand gels can be used if appropriate but shouldn’t replace washing hands with soap and water if it’s available.
  • Children need to be encouraged to wash their hands by being shown how to do it properly and having a good example set for them by adults

BBQs

  • Thaw meat and poultry fully before cooking and cook through at a high temperature.
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready to eat foods and wash your hands after touching raw meat.
  • Never leave food lying around in the heat - keep it in the fridge.

Visiting a farm

  • Hand gels and wipes don’t remove the germs found on farms so always wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Don’t put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking around the farm.
  • Don’t let children put their faces close to farm animals or kiss the animals.
  • Don’t eat or drink while touching animals or walking around the farm – this includes not eating sweets, crisps or chewing gum.
  • Remove and clean boots or shoes that might have become soiled and clean pushchair wheels – then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Only eat and drink in designated picnic areas or cafes

Rita Huyton, Senior Health Protection Nurse Practitioner at Public Health England North West, said: “Diarrhoea and vomiting can be a particular problem with consuming undercooked, poorly prepared or stored food from barbeques and picnics, whilst putting dirty fingers in the mouth after contact with animals or animal faeces also raises the risk of infections.

“We know that by washing hands with soap and water it can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by nearly 50 per cent and these simple measures are a great way to stop people becoming unwell.

 “Enjoy your bank holiday, but following a few simple steps can help make sure you stay well whilst doing so.”

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