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Germicidal Wipes Can Spread Bacteria

It's All in How You Swipe, Says Study Examining Antibacterial Products

Wipes Can Spread Bacteria continued...

While most of the wipes tested did remove large numbers of bacteria from contaminated surfaces, they also commonly transferred live bacteria to uncontaminated surfaces when used in more than one place. Even some wipes that claimed to kill bacteria were found to transfer live bacteria from one surface to another, the researchers report.

"Many of the wipes were effective, but the message is that they have to be used properly," Williams says.

That means using one swipe per wipe on a single surface, Maillard tells WebMD.

Targeting Germs in the Classroom

Colds, flu, and stomach bugs result in millions of lost school days each year.

Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious illness, but new research suggests that commercially available hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes can also help reduce the spread of infectious disease in schools.

Researchers from Children's Hospital Boston conducted a randomized, controlled trial at an Ohio elementary school in which the wipes and sanitizers were used in some classrooms, but not in others.

For eight weeks, teachers in the intervention classrooms used the wipes to disinfect each student's desk once a day after lunch, and the students were told to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer several times a day. The classes without hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes followed usual cleaning procedures and hand hygiene practices.

There was no difference in the absentee rate due to respiratory illness between the intervention and non-intervention classes over the course of the study, but the extra sanitation did seem to reduce the incidence of GI illness.

Twenty-four percent of students in the classes that did not use the wipes and hand sanitizers were absent from school during the study because of gastrointestinal illness, compared to 16% of students in the intervention classrooms.

The study was funded by The Clorox Company, which manufactures the disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer used by the researchers.

"Hand washing is really the best way to prevent the spread of infection, but this study suggests that hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes can also play a role," researcher Thomas J. Sandora, MD, MPH, tells WebMD. "This is a relatively low cost and simple way for schools to help keep kids healthy."

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