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Graduation contamination
Date:5/16/2011

fter the application of commercial hand sanitizer and immediately before a graduation ceremony. In addition, researchers measured bacteriological culture of each hand immediately after the ceremony. Pregraduation and postgraduation samples were collected from the left and right hands of each participant. One of 25 pregraduation bacterial isolates was identified as a pathogen, specifically methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus and was cultured from a right hand specimen. Of the postgraduation specimens, 96 percent grew bacterial from the enrichment broth. All samples from left hands and 93 percent of samples from right hands showed bacteria after graduation.

Bishai got the idea for the project after years of attending Bloomberg School's graduations and wondering what would be growing on the dean's hand at the end of the day. His interest was piqued when he learned than some officials at Johns Hopkins graduations were sneaking squirts of hand sanitizer behind the podium. When he raised the issue in a class full of Hopkins undergrads in his Health Economics class, six volunteered as research assistants to help collect samples that spring.

Bishai goes on to say, "Based on the evidence from this study, the probability of acquiring bacterial pathogens during handshaking could be lower than is commonly perceived by the general public. Individuals who already engage in hand hygiene after handshaking should not be dissuaded from this practice. With a lower bound estimate of one bacterial pathogen acquired in 5,209 handshakes, the study offers the politicians, preachers, principals, deans and even amateur hand shakers some reassurance that shaking hands with strangers is not as defiling as some might think."


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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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