"Hand washing is the number one way to prevent disease." (Gay
Scott, Infectious Disease Control ? Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital)
Historically, people have washed their hands with water, sand, animal products,
sanitary wipes, bar, liquid, flake, and foam soaps. The most recent
development in hand washing products is the waterless hand sanitizer gels
and sprays. The active ingredient in these sanitizers is alcohol.
In order to determine whether waterless hand sanitizers are effective and
which one is most effective, a person must study various topics.
There are many parts involved in proper hand washing techniques.
Lots of time should be taken when a person washes their hands. The
way a person washes their hands is also important. Hands should be
washed in the palm areas, in between the fingers, on top of the hand, and
underneath the fingernails. It is also important to use enough pressure
(friction) when rubbing hands together.
The earliest proof, in writing, of soap being used dates back to the
3d millennium BC when references of soap were made on clay tablets found
in Mesopotamia. The earliest ingredient in soap was potash, a potassium
compound made from wood ashes, and oil. Soap is a natural cleansing
material. Soaps are manufactures for personal hygiene and household
cleaning purposes. During hand washing, physical and chemical processes
occur. The general explanation of how soaps works is that their surfactant
s (surface active agents) attract water molecules. Other ingredients
do not attract water. Surfactants improves the water’s ability to
loosen soil. Other molecules surround and lift dirt particles until
they are rinsed away.
Bacteria are one of the many harmful germs throughout the body and in
the environment. Other types of germs besides bacteria are viruses, fungi,
protozoans, and parastic worms. Germs and bacteria are almost everywhere
in the world. Bacteria are kept out of the body by an oil that the body
produces. These oil glands are located all over the body, though there
are none found on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. These
glands produce an oil called sebum. It keeps the skin from getting infectious
diseases by keeping large amounts of bacteria out of your body.
Bacteria gets into the body when there is an open wound or an open patch
of skin. When a knee is scraped and a person has an open wound, it gives
bacteria a chance to come directly into the body. When looking under a
microscope, bacteria can be seen. The can be shaped spherical, like rods,
and in spirals. Many diseases are caused by germs. In the following paragraphs,
some common but deadly diseases caused by germs, will be discussed.
Tuberculoses is an infection that usually just affects the lungs, but
can also affect other organs in the body. This particular disease is caused
by a rod shaped bacteria called Tubercle Bacilli. Most of the people that
have it get infected when they inhale tiny droplets of moisture containing
mycobacterium tuberculoses. Mycobacterium tuberculoses is a bacteria
that is transmitted when people sneeze. People can also get it by drinking
milk from an animal that has it.
" The Tracheobronchial tree is the branching system of tubes that bring
air to and from tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. It consists
of the trachea (windpipe), two bronchi, and hundreds of thousands of smaller
airways called bronchioles. It is lined with cells that can move the layer
of mucus covering them upward. Bacilli trapped in the mucus layer
are moved up the airways toward the throat, mouth, and nose. The Bacilli
may then be sneezed, spat, coughed out, or blown out. They also may be
swallowed and passed harmlessly through the digestive system." (Michael
E. Levitzky, World Book Encyclopedia).
Boils, a painful disease under the skin is caused when Staphylococcus
enters the skin under the hair. Boils begin looking like a hard, red, bump.
In a few days, the boils’ center starts to fill up with pus. After the
skin breaks, the pus drains out. After this happens, the boils start to
heal. White blood cells can commonly fight the infection but sometimes
they can not. The boils are most commonly found on the face, armpits, arms,
and buttocks. Boils start to get smaller and reduce their size, when hot,
moist, pads are placed over it. If a person tries to manually reduce the
boil’s size, an infection can be caused in the blood stream.
Staphylococcus is an organism that belongs to a group of round bacteria
called cocci. Looking through a microscope, staphylococcus looks like it
is growing in bunches just like grapes. They usually can be distinguished
by their structure or where they grow. Pimples, boils, and impetigo are
caused by staphylococcus. They are caused when it enters the body by a
scrape in the skin. Other staphylococcus goes deeper into the body. This
disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Cholera is an infection in the intestine. It is caused by a comma shaped
bacterium, vibrio chaolerae. It is transmitted by water that is contaminated
by feces. People get cholera by drinking this contaminated water and getting
it inside their intestines. The toxins in it create a large amount of water
and salt. A person that gets this disease can suffer from diarrhea. The
fluid loss causes severe dehydration. The easiest way of treating this
infection is by adding five grams of salt and twenty grams of sugar to
every liter of water that is drunk. This treatment makes up for the loss
Lyme disease is a disease caused by bacteria found in ticks. It is caused
by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorefri. Borrelia burgdorferi infects
certain types of ticks found in woodland, brushy areas, and grasslands.
People and animals get Lyme disease by being bitten by a tick with Borrelia
burgdorferi for at least thirty- six hours. When a person gets Lyme disease,
their first symptom is getting a big rash somewhere, though many people
do not get this rash. Other symptoms are fevers, headaches, and muscle
and joint pain in the body.
E. Coli is the term for Enterobateriaceae. The recent E. Coli strain
that is especially bad for humans is E. Coli; 015:H7. E. Coli 015:H7
is infected with a virus that is able to insert it’s own DNA into the bacteria
chromosome. Vero is a toxin that that the E. Coli produces. The toxin is
a protein that causes bad damage to the intestinal epithelial cells.
A person will lose water and salt. Blood vessels will be damaged
and bleeding will occur. The disease is harmful to children because they
aren’t able to tolerate that much blood loss.
" Alcohol refers to a class of chemical compounds, all of which consists
of chemically bonded atoms of the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen" (Enoch
Gordis). All the molecules in alcohol contain one or more hydroxyl group(s).
Hydroxyl groups are specific arrangements of atoms where a hydrogen atom
is bonded to an oxygen atom. Here are some specific types of alcohol.
Ethyl alcohol is also called ethanol. It is the alcohol found
in alcoholic beverages. Its chemical formula is CH3 CH2 OH. Ethanol
can be used to dissolve other substances in lacquers, varnishes, and stains.
It is also important in the preparation of detergents, flavorings, and
Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol. It has only one hydroxyl group.
Its chemical formula is CH3 OH. Methanol was first produced from wood.
Now it is produced by methane. Most of the methanol produced by methane
is converted to make a chemical called formaldehyde, which is used to make
plastics. Another one of methanol’s purposes is to dissolve substances.
It is an important solvent in dyes, and in medicines.
Isopropyl alcohol is best known as the main ingredient in rubbing alcohol.
Its chemical formula is CH3 CH2 CH2 OH. It is also an ingredient
in window cleaners, toiletries, disinfectants, antifreeze, and paint remover.
Early Experiments with Alcohol as a Disinfectant:
In 1939, an experiment was done and the data showed that cleansers containing
seventy percent alcohol were most effective at disinfecting hands.
Other studies done in 1939 show that up to seventy percent alcohol types
was more effective also. In the middle 1900’s, studies show that the amount
of alcohol past 70% did not work quite as well.
Microbiology and how to become a Microbiologist:
Microbiologists are scientists who study bacteria, viruses, molds, algae,
yeasts, and similar organisms. Microbiologists study the form, structure,
and physiology of microorganisms, their metabolism, how they reproduce
their effects on living things and physical/ chemical changes they do to
our world. They do their work in laboratories, government/private facilities,
and medical institutions such as hospitals.
There are two types of microbiologists. They are medical and clinical
microbiologists. Medical microbiologists diagnose, treat, and help
prevent diseases. Clinical microbiologists also help treat and help prevent
diseases. Their research has helped prevent diseases such as typhoid fever,
influenza, measles, polio, whooping cough, and small pox. Now, microbiologists
are trying to figure out a way to cure diseases like aids, cancer, cystic
fibrosis, and alzheimer’s diseases. In high school, if a person would want
to become a microbiologist, they would need to take courses in biology,
chemistry, English, and computer science.
Human health is important to the body. Antibiotics, such as the waterless
hand cleansers, can help people to live longer and healthier lives.
Common people need to know what type of waterless hand cleansers to buy
to help prevent diseases.
Top of Page
“Antibiotics.” December 5, 2001 available @ http://www.prairiepublic.org/features/healthworks/antibiotics/
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Boyce, John M. “Using Alcohol for Hand Antiseptics.” Infection Control
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Dattwyler, Ramond J. “Lyme Disease.” World Book Encyclopedia.
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Gordis, Enoch. “Alcohol.” World Book Encyclopedia .1999. Pp. 334-335
“Human Disease.” Microsoft Encarta 2001. CD ROM
Levitzky, Michael G. “Tuberculosis.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1999.
Liptzin, Yelva Lynfeild. “Boils” World Book Encyclopedia
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“ Microbiologists.” Career Discovery Encyclopedia. Pp. 102-103
Nardo, Don. Germs Sandiago California. Discovery and Invention, 1991.
Plaut, Andrew G. “Cholera.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1999.
Schlessinger, David. “ Staphylococcus.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1996
Scott, Gay. Infectious Disease Control, Yakima Valley Memorial
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“Skin Glands.” Microsoft Encarta. 2001. CD ROM
Sladek, N.E. “ Antibiotic.” World Book Encyclopedia. 1999.