At the time of a pandemic which has cost millions of lives globally, the importance of washing hands cannot be stressed enough when the virus behind this prevalent disease is proven to spread through contact with hands. A look at the numerous species of bacteria and fungi growing on your hands will make you want to wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day.
To demonstrate the importance of frequently washing hands, Tasha Sturm who is a lab technician from California, USA came up with this idea to physically show the microbes residing in the hands of her child. Right after her son returned from playing outside, she asked him to put his hand on a nutrient agar plate to show the sickening results to her students.
Tasha wanted to show the students the numerous bacteria and fungi present on the hands. The gut-wrenching results showed the growth of colonies of multiple microorganisms where the hand was imprinted on the agar plate.
Tasha works in a microbiology lab and she is responsible for giving an idea to the students that microorganisms reside everywhere and have been doing this for around 20 years. She said the handprint is a depiction of the microbes present on the person’s hand at that exact time when the print was taken.
She also said that the handprint of the microbes varies from person to person and it cannot be recreated. It is more of like a fingerprint which is never the same.
Agar is a nutrient medium that supplements the required nutrients to microbes for them to grow. The microbes on the agar plate have a different assortment of colors, shapes, and textures. The plate looks like an abstract art painted by an artist while it is just the microbes present on the hand of Tasha’s son.
Tasha stressed the importance of handwashing as bacteria resides everywhere and it is necessary to wash hands before eating or after a trip to the toilet.
She also received a lot of criticism from people online for her son’s hands being so dirty but she emphasized the fact that everyone else’s hand would also look the same after being outside.
Tasha said that microorganisms are present all over the body and they play an important role in sustaining the immune system of the human body. Some microorganisms are the normal flora of the body and important in sustaining the regular functions.
She believes that demonstrating the microbes in a practical everyday way of life would help the students understand the microbial diversity a lot better. She also has seen progress in bridging the gap between everyday language and scientific language.
Tasha also said that if a person cannot explain science at a beginner level then they cannot make everyone take an interest in it.
This simple experiment at the time of a pandemic emphasizes washing hands at least twice a day if not more along with other preventive measures to stay safe as much as possible.
The handwashing practices have already been a highlight this year as the COVID-19 continues to infect more people and kill thousands of them. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have encouraged people to take care of their hand hygiene even more, as it might be the only way to prevent getting coronavirus.