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Hand sanitizers may increase norovirus risk

August 11, 2011 Comments off

cmaj

Of the 45 facilities that reported preferential use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in a recent survey, 53% experienced a confirmed outbreak of norovirus, compared with 18% of the 17 facilities that used hand sanitizers less often than soap and water.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not be the panacea for hand hygiene they were once supposed, as mounting research indicates they may not be effective substitutes for soap and water, and in some cases may actually increase the risk for outbreaks of highly contagious viruses in health care settings.

Public health experts, however, say more rigorous investigations will be necessary to trump the convenience of using hand sanitizers, among other benefits, or substantially alter existing recommendations that strongly encourage their use by health care professionals.

It’s widely recognized that improper use of antibiotics contributes greatly to the development and spread of super bugs in health care settings, but the link between hand sanitizers and Read more…