Handwashing care

Regular hand-washing and the use of disinfectant alcohol solutions, for example before the ingestion of food, reduces not only the interpatient spread of infection but also staff contamination. Gloves provide further protection, since the presence of even small cuts in the natural defense barrier of the skin may allow viruses to enter the bloodstream. Even blood products from a blood bank should be handled with care, because the lifespan of HIV and the hepatitis viruses in stored blood is almost indefinite and screening may fail to detect them. Other viruses survive for differing times: cytomegalovirus survives for only a few days, whereas Epstein-Barr virus may survive for long periods in stored blood.

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