March 12, 2019


During Cold and Flu Season, Killing Germs is Key to Avoiding Sickness

WAUPACA, Wis. – Conscious hand-washing in the cold and flu season just takes a little extra time and can save days—or even weeks—of illness in the long run.

While keeping anti-bacterial hand sanitizers in your pocket is smart, the old-fashioned way of killing germs is an effective mainstay, according to Christine Burnett, nurse practitioner at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca and the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.

“I’m a soap-and-water person; I prefer to lather up,” said Burnett. “Proper hand-washing technique means wetting the hands, applying a generous dollop of soap and rubbing the hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds – singing “Happy Birthday” twice is a good measure of the time.”

Plain soap in any form is acceptable to use, but if a bar soap is offered, small bars are best, and soap racks should facilitate drainage, Burnett said.

When washing, Burnett recommends covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers to make sure the soap reaches everywhere, including under the nails. When you’re finished, rinse the hands with water and dry with a disposable towel. If the faucet isn’t an automatic one, be sure to use the towel (or your elbow) to turn it off. You can also consider using a towel to open the bathroom door. Some businesses are implementing foot-based or arm-holder door openers to cut down on spreading germs, too.

Proper hand-washing kills common germs like the flu virus and adenovirus, which can lead to the common cold, bronchitis, sore throat, diarrhea or pneumonia. It also can wipe out dangerous salmonella, E.coli and norovirus that can cause diarrhea and serious illness.  Good hand-washing habits are important to remember, particularly in the winter months.

“Most people are spending more time inside, so it’s a more concentrated space where people are coughing and airborne germs can circulate,” Burnett said.

While old-fashioned soap and water is best, Burnett said if you must choose an alcohol-based sanitizer, apply the product to palm of one hand and rub hands together, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers, until the hands are dry. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the volume of product to use.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.