About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Shake hands with someone who’s just sneezed?

I called Dr. Christopher Harrington, a local family practitioner, yesterday for the swine flu story that appeared in today’s paper. While we were talking, he mentioned that he is nearly 50 years old and remembers being taught as a child to cover his cough or sneeze. He did that by placing his hands up to his mouth.

Today, however, kids are taught a different way, Harrington said.

“They cough basically in their bicep area, which is much better,” he said, since it does not contaminate the hands.

Harrington worked for Pratt Medical Center for many years, then had an office in King George County. Now he has a practice near the Spotsylvania Courthouse.  

He described hand-washing as “the number one way of limiting the transmission of infection.” And he described a scene that he encounters often:

“You walk-in a patient’s room, and they’ve just finished coughing in their hand, then you’ve got to shake their hand.”

“Do you?” I asked.

“You do a lot of hand-washing,” he laughed.

Today’s story on the local reaction to swine flu is here