World / Asia-Pacific

Japan urges regular hand washing to prevent norovirus

By News Desk (asianewsnet) Updated: 2012-12-30 14:39

The number of people in Japan suffering from infectious gastroenteritis, which causes frequent diarrhea and vomiting, has been increasing recently. Norovirus--one of the major causes of the condition--is highly contagious, and health officials advise regular hand washing to help prevent infection.

Contracting infectious gastroenteritis is potentially fatal for children and the elderly as they are more vulnerable to dehydration and asphyxiating on vomit.

According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, this year's norovirus outbreak is the second-worst of the past decade, after 2006.

People are often infected with the virus by eating contaminated food. If people infected with the virus prepare food, the virus can contaminate food around them. The virus sometimes spreads from contact with the vomit of infected people.

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government's Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health, a key to preventing infection is regular hand washing.

As an effective method of hand washing, the bureau advises first washing the palms of the hands with soap.

Then, in the same manner, wash the backs, the tips of the fingers and the skin around the fingernails. Lastly, wash the skin between the fingers.

Pay particular attention to the skin around the thumbs and wrists as they are often neglected.

After washing, rinse the hands sufficiently with water and dry them with a paper towel or clean towel.

If family members are infected with the virus, be careful to prevent it from spreading to other family members.

Carefully clean up their vomit and properly disinfect anything that might have come in contact with the virus.

The Osaka prefectural government's Public Health and Infectious Disease Control Division suggests making a disinfectant by diluting one part chlorine bleach with 10 parts water.

If clothing comes into contact with vomit, it is best to discard it. However, if you do not want to throw it away, wash the soiled area by rubbing it with water and then dip the item in water heated to at least 85C for at least one minute. Use a thermometre to check the temperature.

If a mattress is soiled, clean the vomit and steam the soiled area with an iron. When cleaning, wear a mask and vinyl gloves. If your hands or body comes in contact with vomit, wash and rinse thoroughly with soap and water.

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