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Study Shows College Students Are Not Following CDC Recommendations to Help Protect Themselves from H1N1 and Other Threatening Germs
Date:9/29/2009

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of bacteria lurk in college dormitories, but students are not following proper hygiene routines to help protect themselves from serious illness, according to a study released today from the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, sponsored by an educational grant from LYSOL® brand products.(1) Despite growing concerns about influenza A (H1N1) on college campuses and recent study results estimating that of the ways influenza infection may be contracted, contact with contaminated surfaces may account for thirty one percent (31%) of the infection risk, only sixty three percent (63%) of students polled had cleaned their dorm room in the past week.(2) Eighty three percent (83%) had never cleaned their light switch and seventy three percent (73%) admitted they had never cleaned their dorm room door handle, one of the most frequently-touched surfaces and a conduit for germ spread.(3)

Such habits expose students to thousands of bacteria, including MRSA, E. coli, fecal organisms, streptococcus and more, just by touching common surfaces in their dorm.(4) Study results show:

  • Communal shower floors were the most contaminated surface in the dorm, harboring more than 40 times the number of bacteria found on the toilet seat.(5) Forty three percent (43%) of shower floors were contaminated with bacteria that can indicate fecal contamination and twenty percent (20%) hid streptococci.
  • Dorm room refrigerator door handles harbored twice as many bacteria as shared dorm toilet handles. Thirty seven percent (37%) encountered bacteria that can indicate fecal contamination and thirteen percent (13%) encountered staph.(6)
  • Fifty six percent (56%) of students admitted they had never cleaned the interior of their dorm room refrigerator, making it no surprise that thirty percent (30%) of refrigerators harbored fecal indicators.(7)
  • While television remote controls and shared bathroom sink handles fare relatively well, both were found to be contaminated with MRSA, the dangerous drug-resistant bacteria, in some dorm rooms studied.(8)

"These findings compound the concerns many parents have about their child's health when they're away at college and out of their home," says Dr. Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Parents can help students stay healthy at college by encouraging them to take small preventative measures every day to help protect themselves from germs."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, universities and parents should encourage students to follow these healthy hygiene routines:(9)

  • Practice good hand hygiene. They should wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.(10)
  • Practice respiratory etiquette. The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it's important that people cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. If they don't have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow or shoulder, not their hands.(11)
  • Stay home if they are sick. Stay home or in their place of residence for at least 24 hours after they no long have a fever.(12)
  • Talk to their health care providers about whether they should be vaccinated. More information about priority groups for vaccination is available at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/acip.htm.(13)

In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, families and students can help protect themselves and prevent the spread of influenza virus by keeping surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.(14)

Many LYSOL® Disinfectant products are effective against strains of influenza A virus and specifically the H1N1 strain, including LYSOL® Disinfectant Spray, LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes, LYSOL® All Purpose Cleaner Pourables and LYSOL® All Purpose Cleaner Triggers.

To find more information and resources to help protect families of all ages, visit:

About Reckitt Benckiser

Reckitt Benckiser is a world leader in household, health and personal care. It is a FTSE top 15 company and since 2000 net revenues have doubled and the market cap has quadrupled. Today it is the global No 1 or No 2 in the majority of its fast-growing categories, driven by an exceptional rate of innovation - near 40% of revenue comes from innovations launched in the prior 3 years. It has a strong portfolio led by 17 global power brands which are: Finish, Lysol, Dettol, Vanish, Woolite, Calgon, Airwick, Harpic, Bang, Mortein, Veet, Nurofen, Clearasil, Strepsils, Gaviscon, Mucinex and French's, and they account for over two thirds of its net revenue. Reckitt Benckiser people are at the heart of the company's success. They have an intense drive for progress and action and a desire to outperform wherever they focus, including in CSR where the Company has the most ambitious corporate responsibility program in the industry through its Carbon 20 initiative. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, the Company employs 23,000 people worldwide, with operations in 60 countries and sales in 180 countries. For more information visit RECKITTBENCKISER.COM.

(1) Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Report on Dorm Study." February 2009. Page 3.

(2) "Relative Contributions of Four Exposure Pathways to Influenza Infection Risk." Risk Analysis, Vol. 29, No. 9, 2009.

(3) Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Report on Dorm Study." February 2009. Page 15.

(4) Reckitt Benckiser, BRT-0008 Research & Development Claim Support Document, February 2009. Page 5.

(5) Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Report on Dorm Study." February 2009. Page 9. Statistic found by comparing mean aerobic count of shower bases vs. toilet seats.

(6) Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Report on Dorm Study." February 2009. Page 9. Statistic found by comparing mean aerobic count of dorm refrigerator handles vs. shared toilet handles.

(7) Reckitt Benckiser, BRT-0008 Research & Development Claim Support Document, February 2009. Page 5.

(8) Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. "Report on Dorm Study." February 2009. Page 9.

(9) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preparing for the Flu (Including H1N1): A Communication Toolkit for Institutes of Higher Education http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/pdf/InstitutionsHigherEducation_toolkit.pdf.

(10) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preparing for the Flu (Including H1N1): A Communication Toolkit for Institutes of Higher Education http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/pdf/InstitutionsHigherEducation_toolkit.pdf.

(11) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preparing for the Flu (Including H1N1): A Communication Toolkit for Institutes of Higher Education http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/pdf/InstitutionsHigherEducation_toolkit.pdf.

(12) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preparing for the Flu (Including H1N1): A Communication Toolkit for Institutes of Higher Education http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/pdf/InstitutionsHigherEducation_toolkit.pdf.

(13) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preparing for the Flu (Including H1N1): A Communication Toolkit for Institutes of Higher Education http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/institutions/toolkit/pdf/InstitutionsHigherEducation_toolkit.pdf.

(14) www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu.

SOURCE Reckitt Benckiser, Inc., makers of LYSOL


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