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Germicidal Wipes Can Spread Bacteria

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

Targeting Germs in the Classroom continued...

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."

 

Industry Responds to Studies

Soap and Detergent Association spokesman Brian Sansoni agrees.

"This research reinforces the commonsense message that proper and regular use of cleaning and hygiene products enhances public health," Sansoni tells WebMD. "Soap and water are the gold standard, but when they aren't available hand sanitizers are effective for killing germs."

Sansoni also agreed that proper use of disinfecting wipes in the hospital setting is key to their effectiveness.

"(The Welsh) study shouldn't be perceived as saying that these products aren't effective," he says. "But it is absolutely critical that they be used properly."

 

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