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Washing with soap and water is one of the key public health practices that can significantly slow the rate of a pandemic and limit the number of infections.Credit...Alex Welsh for The New York Times  By Ferris Jabr It probably began with an accident thousands of years ago. According to one legend, rain washed the fat and ash from frequent animal sacrifices into a nearby river, where they formed a lather with a remarkable ability to clean skin and clothes. Perhaps the inspiration had a vegetal origin in the frothy solutions produced by boiling or mashing certain plants. However it happened, the...

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