Print Edition - 2018-03-01  |  Health and Living

Do hand sanitisers cut down on illness?

  • ASK WELL

Mar 1, 2018-

The short answer is no one knows, because no one has studied whether hand sanitisers have cut down on the number of infectious diseases among the public at large. On a personal level, good hand hygiene clearly can make a difference in health. A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that improvements in hand hygiene, regardless of how the participants cleaned their hands, cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent and respiratory infections by 21 percent.

The key to stopping disease is breaking the chain that allows pathogens to be transmitted from person to person. Either hand washing or sanitising can do that. Grocery carts can be particularly risky points of transmission. Someone grabbing chicken or meat can leak the juices onto a cart and their hands, and then continue to push the cart around, transmitting pathogens like Salmonella and E coli onto the handle. The next person who handles the cart, or the next child who sits in the top of the wagon, can then pick up the bugs.

Published: 01-03-2018 07:47

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