LSU AgCenter experts say it’s important to remember the importance of good hygiene in preventing the spread of diseases, including proper hand washing, particularly before eating but also in a variety of other situations.
Hand washing is especially important for people to use and avoid contracting E. coli, or Escherichia coli – the disease that’s been in the news recently because of an outbreak in Florida. Dr. Beth Reames of the LSU AgCenter says to practice good personal hygiene, such as hand washing, to prevent contracting E. coli.
At least four strains of E. coli cause gastrointestinal diseases. The diseases include infant diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, dysentery and severe bloody diarrhea and other life-threatening illnesses.
The LSU AgCenter has several educational programs, such as their Hooray for Hand Washing is an interactive educational program that is used to teach adults and children about the importance of hand washing to prevent diseases.
“Several people said they were very appreciative of the fact that we had hand-washing stations set up,” said Cathy Agan, an LSU AgCenter agent in Monroe. “A lot of parents were happy we asked the children to wash their hands, because it reinforced what they were trying to teach the children.”
Although proper hand washing is important in reducing your chances of contracting E. coli, additional means of preventing illness include keeping refrigerator temperatures at 40 degrees F or lower, cooking foods to recommended temperatures and keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold while serving them.