Dear Santa,

Thank you for coming to my house. However, I have a question. Are you washing your hands in between residences?  With all the people you are visiting, cookies you are consuming, and who knows what else, I just want to be sure you don’t bring hepatitis A to my house. Granted, we are all vaccinated against it, so I don’t have to worry about this, but are you immunized? It would be tragic if you got sick over the holidays and couldn’t fulfill your duties. Imagine all the disappointed children!

Hepatitis A is rampant in the United States. It seems like every time I read the news there is a new outbreak. You may want to download this map to see the areas you need to be extra careful.

Speaking of careful, do you know how to wash your hands properly? None of this rinse and go stuff. It takes friction and time. In fact, you need to wash for at least 20 seconds, about the time it takes to sing the refrain of Jingle Bells, slowly without cheating.

You probably will use hand sanitizer, but that involves a bit of know-how too. In case you need a refresher, here is information on the proper way to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Mrs. Claus will thank you for this. I heard that last year you brought home the flu and passed it to her. Then the elves got it and things were dreary at the North Pole. A flu shot usually prevents that.

Since you have access to the homes of influential people, I am wondering if you would put in a good word about addressing our current rise in hepatitis cases due to the opioid crisis. So, when you see Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, please ask him to include $40 million in funding as authorized for implementation of the “Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018” in the Administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2020. Also, please thank President Trump for this, and ask him if he would increase the amount next time.

The number of new hepatitis C cases increased by 350 percent in the United States between 2010 and 2016. Hepatitis B (HBV) is also on the rise for the first time since 2006. There are numerous other direct consequences of the opioid epidemic, not least of which is the tragic 72,000 deaths in the country last year. Please give the children who lost one or both parents to opioid deaths something extra this year. 

Merry Christmas,


P.S. I washed and peeled Rudolph’s carrot this year. Tell him not to eat any romaine lettuce. Mrs. Claus would not like to nurse the reindeer through an E.coli outbreak. There is no immunization for that. And you might consider skipping cookies and losing a bit of weight. Fatty liver disease could be a career-ender. And don’t even get me started on alcohol. Do you know how much damage that can do to your liver? Just relax with a nice cup of tea or coffee, watch It’s a Wonderful Life and give thanks for your health.