There are many germs that can be spread or picked up through inadequate hand washing. For example, cold viruses can be spread by touching people or objects. The flu virus is often spread by contact with infected people. Salmonella, a bacterium that causes severe upset stomach, can be picked up from surfaces where raw foods--particularly meats--have been sitting. That's why hand washing not only protects you from illness, but also helps protect all those people you come into contact with.