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Hand-Washing Drills in Basic: Military recruits have plenty to worry about during basic training. Keeping their hands clean usually isn't a priority. It should be, says Dr. Margaret Ryan of San Diego's Naval Health Research Center. Thrown together from all over the country into crowded, stressful conditions, recruits get a lot of colds and other respiratory infections during their first few months of training. Enough of them become seriously ill that their sick time is both a budgetary and readiness issue for the military. Regularly washing hands can dramatically reduce those illnesses, Ryan's research shows. Ryan ran an experiment at the Naval Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill., in which all recruits were ordered to wash their hands at least five times a day. In addition, the rules were changed so that wet sinks passed inspection. In the two years after the Operation Stop Cough program began, the number of visits to the training center's health center for respiratory illness dropped by 45 percent.

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