Our Guard Is Down For Infectious Diseases

December 26, 2013

Washing Hand“There’s a widespread, mistaken belief in this country that infectious disease is under control, which has led to complacency and to us letting our guard down,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, chief executive officer for the UPMC Center for Health Security, a non-partisan center that works to protect Americans against epidemics and disasters.

“Fighting these diseases requires constant vigilance. You can never relax. That’s how you lose lives,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health.

Trust For America’s Health has issued a report card for each state looking at how they handle (prevent, report, treat) infectious diseases, and the results are… mediocre (unless you’re in New Hampshire, then go you!).

But it’s not just how states run things. Most people, since the invention of antibiotics and vaccines, have become pretty complacent about germ theory and preventing disease. I mean, your great-grandmother probably use to boil her sheets. Most washers (and water heaters) aren’t set that hot because today’s fancy fabrics wouldn’t hold up.

Sure, in the 90’s we got a little crazy, and we all agree you shouldn’t live in a bubble—exposure to germs builds the immune system.

But there are a few little things that aren’t taken as seriously as they should be, because they’re little, and because of our faith in the medical system and our new long life-expectancies:

-Hand washing. When followed in hospitals, hand washing dramatically reduces disease transmission to a single digit percentage. Out in the world, hand washing can save someone’s grandma or baby from a stay in the hospital (rates have been increasing for both groups thanks to flu, whooping cough, and other easily transmissible diseases).

-Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Sure, you’re washing your hands often now, but probably not as much as you sneeze when you’re sick! (I mean, my hands are horribly dry with just regular hand washing!)

-Stay home when you’re sick. You’ll limit exposing others, and you’ll get better sooner. (1-2 sick days vs. a week++ of low output).

-Take care of yourself! Because after all, you can’t control whether people are considerate and do all of the above. Rest up, feed your body a healthy diet, and support your immune system with colloidal silver.

How else can we help prevent the spread of infectious diseases?

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