National Handwashing Week!

Here’s Nurse Karen’s monthly column! Very timely… wash your hands this week!

What is the “single most important method for preventing infectious disease” according to the Centers for Disease Control? Infectious diseases include the common cold, the flu, and foodborne illnesses like E-coli. The answer is surprisingly simple…..handwashing! National Handwashing Awareness Week this year is December 6th-December 12th.

CDC recommendations include washing hands with soap and warm running water for 20 seconds. Wash all hand surfaces thoroughly including wrists, palms, the back of the hands, fingers, and under fingernails. Rinse well in warm water and pat skin dry with a clean or disposable towel. If clean water is not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Try singing the chorus to your favorite song while washing your hands. That should take at least 20 seconds!

Handwashing should be done before (more…)

Fleeing From The Flu

  “Nurse Karen” has agreed to be a regular contributor of information regarding health concerns. This is a timely one… while I was at the school today, the kids were working up their courage for their shots!

There is still a lot of media coverage regarding H1N1 flu on TV, radio and in the newspapers. It is important to me, as a Public Health Nurse, to provide the most current information. The high priority groups for receiving the H1N1 vaccine are pregnant women, children and young adults 6 months through 25 years of age, caregivers and household contacts of infants under 6 months of age because this population is too young to receive a flu immunization, persons 25 through 65 years of age with underlying health conditions, especially respiratory conditions, health care workers, and then all others who want a vaccine.

H1N1 is widespread in Maine. Most available vaccines are going to pregnant women and school children. Vaccinating children, who are major transmitters of the flu, does provide some protection to the entire community. Since April, 2009, 134 children have died in the United States after becoming ill with H1N1.

Remember to avoid close contact with people who are sick, wash/sanitize hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are ill, and get the seasonal and H1N1 vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

For the most up to date information go to or You can also e-mail flu questions to

On a personal note, I assisted at the large flu clinic at the Bangor Auditorium on October 28th. I arrived at 8:30AM. The line of school children and (more…)