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Trying the old soft soap to prevent disease

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If in doubt, wash your hands

If in doubt, wash your hands.

This medical maxim, which is being tried out with good success by surgeons (see past stories in Treatment of the Month), has found its way into the military.

Doctors had been asked to investigate why so many naval recruits were suffering from respiratory diseases. Probably remembering their own enormous success when they washed their hands, especially after an operation, the doctors suggested that the young military recruits might like to try out something similar.

The result was an almost immediate 45 per cent decrease in the number of cases of the disease.

But despite the obvious benefits, keeping up the 'hand-washing programme' is proving difficult for the rushed recruits (Am J Prevent Med, 2001; 21: 79-83).


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