20h00 02/11/2019 | Opinion

Susan Barnett | Donor

As a former news producer of the network, it's sometimes happened to me to live in airports. I'm sure Fox News host Pete Hegseth also spends a lot of time at airports. So when he ad Fox and his friends that he had not washed his hands for 10 years because "germs are not a reality", I immediately recalled a recent incident. report track down the dirtiest part of an airport. This is not where you might expect.

The highest concentration of germs in an airport is not the toilet. That's where we put our hand luggage. Hand is the key word here because it's about the plastic safety bins that practically everyone handles, which contain the highest concentration of germs. We can take all the vitamins we want or "inoculate" as Hegseth claims. (Even though he said he "could not see" the germs, "so they're not real", so I do not understand how he gets in with something that he says does not exist .)

Nevertheless, I am not confused about hand washing. It's actually the most effective way to stay healthy. Unfortunately, Mr. Hegseth is not alone in his habits. Less than 40% of men and only about 60% of women take the trouble to washing their hands after using the toilet.

Do not wash your hands means that real germs leave the toilet with us, landing on credit cards, cell phones, computer keyboards, grocery carts, doorknobs, these security bins for airports and even end up in our portfolios. It turns out that the American currency is a nice mix of cotton and linen, providing a comfortable environment for germs and a new definition of dirty money.

A study 2017 found hundreds of species of microorganisms on US dollar banknotes. The most common ones have caused acne. Many were harmless. But researchers have also discovered microbes from the mouth, vaginal bacteria, pet DNA and viruses. A 2002 study found that 94% of the dollar bills tested by researchers contained pathogens, including faeces. Traces of cocaine have also been found about 80 percent of the dollar bills. According to one theory, ATMs distribute the dollars processed by dealers and users.

No, you're not going to get high and you can not literally launder your money. Fortunately, money is not good for transmitting most diseases. It does not maintain the temperature and humidity necessary for growth, although some viruses and bacteria can survive for about 48 hours on most surfaces, and some flu viruses can live with a ticket. dollar. 10 days and more.

I'm concerned that national figures like Pete Hegseth, whether jokingly or not, take for granted how lucky we are to be able to wash our hands effectively with soap and clean water. Consider that the Centers for Disease Control indicates that US health care providers usually wash their hands less than half the time they should. Maybe Mr. Hegseth agrees with that. I am not and I bet that the case of one in 25 hospitalized patients in the United States who contract an infection contracted in the hospital is also not.

We have it here in the United States only 44 percent health centers and hospitals in low-income countries have water and soap, which has caused the disease in one out of six patients. Worldwide, 1.1 billion people still do not have access to safe drinking water, 2.6 billion people do not have adequate sanitation and 1.8 million people die every year from diarrheal diseases, especially children under five, according to the report. World Water Council.

Cristian is a little boy I have never known, but I often share his story because Cristian suffered from what is called a neglected tropical disease. NTDs are bacteria and parasites that spread through unsafe water, adequate sanitation and poor hygiene. They therefore tend to attack the poorest. 1.4 billion people become ill; 500 million are children. But for Cristian, the news was good because it was treatable with just a regular routine of washing hands and face.

Yet despite the doctor's orders, his eye infection became a tumor covering part of his face. He suffered for two years and, at the age of 11, he died as a result of a totally preventable and treatable disease, because in the poor suburbs of the Honduran capital, where he lived, the bacterium is very real.

This combination of safe and adequate water, sanitation and hygiene in our country has virtually eliminated the epidemics of diseases that once tormented us – such as typhoid and cholera. But faeces will continue to cause dysentery, shigella, salmonella, rotavirus, E. coli, hepatitis A and viral meningitis. These diseases, preventable with hand washing, are dangerous and cost tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

Our health is really in our hands.

I am not even a "germphobe" at a distance. But I must admit that, given his irresponsible attitude to public health, if I were to meet Mr. Hegseth, I'm just not sure I would shake his hand.

Susan Barnett, a former investigative producer from the Emmy-named network, is the founder of Beliefs for healthy water, a non-profit group seeking to unite the voice of faith around the shared symbol of water. She also directs communications for Global Water 2020, Which aims to accelerate progress towards the resolute challenges of global water security.


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