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Study: Soap And Water Work Best In Ridding Hands Of Disease Viruses

iam A. Rutala and David J. Weber, professors of medicine and epidemiology at the UNC schools of medicine and public health; Dr. Mark D. Sobsey, professor of environmental sciences and engineering in public health; and medical technologist Maria F. Gergen-Teague. Dr. Gregory P. Samsa, a Duke University biostatistician, helped analyze the data.

"These findings are important because health-care associated infections rank in the top five causes of death, with an estimated 90,000 deaths each year in the United States," Rutala said. "Hand hygiene agents have been shown to reduce the incidence of health-care associated infections, and a variety of hand hygiene agents are now available with different active ingredients and application methods.

"Our study showed that the anti-microbial hand washing agents were significantly more effective in reducing bacteria than the alcohol-based handrubs and waterless handwipes," he said. "Our study also showed that, at a short exposure time of 10 seconds, all agents with the exception of handwipes demonstrated a 90 percent reduction of bacteria on the hands."

Alcohol-based handrubs were generally ineffective in demonstrating a significant reduction of a relatively resistant virus, Rutala said. While the use of alcohol-based handrubs will continue to be an important infection control measure, it is important to recommend or require traditional hand washing with soap and water throughout each day.

Researchers first had volunteers clean their hands and then contaminated their hands with Serratia marcescens and MS2 bacteriophage. Those are, respectively, a harmless bacterium and virus comparable to, and substituted for, disease-causing organisms. After that, scientists had the subjects clean their hands with various agents and measured how much of the bacteria and virus remained afterwards.

Sixty-two adults volunteered for and participated in the study. Investigators performed five evaluations on each
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Source:University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine


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