Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The New Cough and Sneeze Etiquette

I have blogged frequently about the new cough and sneeze etiquette. There is now a fine educational video that will teach you how to execute this useful technique and cough/sneeze onto fabric instead. Watch and learn from Why Don't We Do It In Our Sleeves?

I recently accompanied an elderly neighbour to our local surgery for his flu shot. The waiting room was packed with elderly people getting their shots. A high number of them coughed-all of them covered their mouths with a hand. It might be useful if some waiting-rooms played this film, it might do a lot to reduce transmission.

Learn the new etiquette for coughs and sneezes. It's not what your mummy taught you. If you can't cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, use your upper sleeve whenever you cough or sneeze. Do not cover your mouth and nose with your bare hands. If you cough or sneeze into a tissue that covers your hands, then dispose of the tissue carefully and quickly, and then clean your hands (admire the thoroughness of the handwash technique in this video. It is important that you dispose of the tissue: do not shove the tissue back into your sleeve or a pocket.

It is time to trot out one of my favourite obscure words: fomites.
A fomite is any inanimate object or substance capable of absorbing, retaining, and transporting contagious or infectious organisms (from germs to parasites) from one individual to another.
If you sneeze or cough into your hands, or you handle a tissue into which you have sneezed, coughed or blown your nose, then you will contaminate other people or surfaces that you touch. The telephone in the video is an example of fomites.

I'm editing the above to include an item that HCW and others have sent to me. It seems as if people who are carriers for various bacteria such as Staphylococcus disperse the bacteria when they sneeze.
Nasal carriers of Staphylococcus aureus expel substantial amounts of the microbe when they sneeze, new research suggests. While the presence of the common cold does not affect this dispersion, respiratory allergies seem to increase it.
In fact, the researchers report that
having a respiratory allergy increased S. aureus spread during sneezing by 3.8-fold.
So, there are even more reasons to adopt the new coughs and sneezes etiquette.


Anonymous HCW said... - this recent article on Medscape suggests that large amounts of StaphA are aerosolized by sneezes, especially in people with respiratory allergy.

10:38 am  
Blogger Shinga said...

Thanks, HCW. I'll edit the piece to incorporate this - this etiquette isn't just for colds and flu, it's for all coughs and sneezes.

Regards - Shinga

12:33 pm  
Blogger Kal said...

Awesome! Loved it, my sneezing process is greatly altered!

6:07 pm  
Anonymous Kim said...

Shinga, that has to be the most hilarious, most informative and most needed video I've ever seen.

I'm playing it for my co-workers the next time I'm in the department.

And I"ll be doing a lot of patient education in the next few months.....

8:10 pm  
Blogger Shinga said...

Thanks, Kim and Kal. I like this video and hoped others would too. I think that it would be perfect for an ER waiting room.

I have to admit that I've had very annoyed mothers tell me off for teaching this. When I was teaching it in a recent workshop one of the mothers interrupted me to tell her son that he wasn't to do that on his school blazer. I did say that the only reasonable option was one of the smart paper sleeves that I was delighted to see turn up in the video. Laundry is cheaper than time off work to care for a sick child or other family members.

I'd really like to see more public health messages communicated in a similarly light-hearted way.

Regards - Shinga

8:48 pm  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

I love that video! I am now firmly committed to teaching my kids to cough and sneeze in their sleeves.

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