Montano: Wash your hands of whole flu situation


It happens every year and without any type of warning. Well, other than the warning signs from the guy coughing all over everyone in class, the girl too busy on her phone to cover her sneeze or the added stress of the semester that breaks down your immune system. All signs point to the flu.

The movie “Contagion” really did a number on me. It got me thinking about all the different places where germs lurk and to also buy a full-body hazardous material suit or at the very least, a face mask.

According to the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health, dorm room refrigerators contain twice as much bacteria than a dorm room toilet handle. Desktops can contain almost 400 times the amount of bacteria than the average toilet. You might be thinking, “Should I just stay in the bathroom because that’s my best option if I want to avoid germs?” No; just wash your hands.

The Centers for Disease Control says the most simple, most effective way to ward off diseases and germs leading to the flu is to wash your hands. I always wash my hands but not long enough. Your hand washing should last as long as it takes you to say the alphabet in your head, or say it out loud – whatever works. After you dry your hands, use the same paper towel to open the door and leave feeling clean. We’ve all seen the guy that turns on the faucet or opens the door with a paper towel. He’s on to something. What about the guy that leaves the bathroom without washing his hands? Well, he’s just doomed.

And don’t forget about getting your flu shot. I ask my friends and they typically say the same thing. “I’m not getting my flu shot because I don’t want to get sick.” Like an episode of “MythBusters,” I’m here to say that is a myth. Yes, the flu shot contains actual strains of the viruses but it’s killed bacteria. The risk of getting the flu from an actual flu shot is minimal. I’m not a doctor, though I might look like one if you see me on campus with my facemask trying to stay healthy, but ask your doctor for side effects.

Lastly, this goes to all student body: If you are sick and have a fever, do us all a favor and stay home. I got the flu pretty early this year and I’m confident I know the class I was sitting in when I, along with other classmates, were hit with cough after cough of spewing mucus from a sick person. Even if your fever is gone, it’s advised to stay home 24 hours after your fever subsides.

People do not just miraculously get the flu. It’s through human contact and it could be the person you’re standing or sitting next to right now. Overall, your best defense is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face throughout the day. While the movie “Contagion” left us with the horrific statistic that the average person touches their face between 2,000 to 3,000 times a day, it hasn’t been proven. Still, I’d be conscious of anything that could get you sick. If you see me on campus with a facemask, you know why.

Montano is a senior majoring in journalism from Topeka. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMontanoME.

  • Updated Nov. 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm
  • Badkitty Jones

    I agree handwashing is best. So is getting rest, avoiding undue stress and staying home when sick. The flu shot, however, certainly does not work as promoted. Cochrane evidence reviews find the efficacy to be about 6% and Osterholm did an evidence review of 5707 influenza studies and found only 31 to be scientifically credible. There is alot of misinformation that is perpetuated by our doctors and the media. Also, adjuvanted flu vaccines can most certainly cause the flu. The H1N1 shot in canada was found to cause the flu more then it prevented it. The same shots caused a narcolepsy epidemic in Sweden that even the complacent WHO recognized. The flu shot is not the way to go.

    • Mike Montano

      Thanks for commenting. I agree; other factors go into preventing getting sick or staying healthy. I just don’t have enough space to fully write everything nor am I a doctor but overall, I did some extensive research on the website. To sum things up about the flu shot, it’s not going to work for everyone but compared to everything out there (hand sanitizers, over-the-counter meds) getting a flu shot is your best bet. I’m all for conspiracy theories as much as the next person but the CDC is a federal agency with researched reports and statistics. Until I read or see concrete evidence proving them otherwise, the CDC will remain a credible source.

      • Badkitty Jones

        hey mike, fair enough. many still trust them. However, see what Osterholm and Cochrane have to say about CDC and WHO regarding the flu vaccine. These guys are not wack job conspiracy theorists. They are high level scientists, who look soley at evidence. The history of recommendations on the flu vaccine are mostly personal opinions that were not backed by science and made their way into our daily lives. Its like the butter/margarine thing..People still believe to this day that margarine is more healthy because their government told them that for years and they dont look behind the “evidence” touted by our doctors.