Survey Reveals Americans are Unaware of Germ Threat to Children in the Home

PARSIPPANY, N.J. -- A new survey sponsored by Lysol(R) brand products reveals Americans are ignorant to the potential germ hazards threatening their children.(1) Only 5 percent identified the home as the place where children are most likely to catch an infection when, in fact, studies show that there is a greater risk of transmission within the home than outside.(2)

Soliciting data from more than 10,000 people in 10 countries, the survey is part of a global effort by the Hygiene Council to educate the public about the importance of hygiene for family wellness. Comprised of leading scientists from around the globe, the Council works to dispel myths about germs and educate consumers about basic hygiene practices, such as proper handwashing, food handling and regular surface disinfection.

"The survey shows that there is a great misunderstanding about where families and children come into contact with germs," said professor Philip M. Tierno, U.S. representative to the Hygiene Council and director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center. "Germs often lurk in what appear to be the cleanest places in the home."

A mere 3 percent of Americans believe the bathtub poses the greatest risk of transmitting germs to themselves or their children.(3) However, the bathtub is one of the germiest surfaces in the home.(4) A recent study found Staph aureus, the most common cause of serious staph infections, in 26 percent of bathtubs tested, vs. only 6 percent of garbage cans.(5)

The Hygiene Council survey also found that 4 out of 10 Americans admitted that they most regularly clean their kitchen surfaces with a dishtowel or sponge(6), both of which can harbor and spread dangerous bacteria. When asked how long they believe that germs can survive on surfaces, only 13 percent were aware that some viruses can live on common surfaces, such as countertops and door handles, for up to a full month.(7) The majority, 33 percent, believed the lifespan to be only days.(8)

Where germs can really live and breed in the home:

These surfaces can contain up to the following number of bacteria:

    --  Bathtub: Up to 250,000 total bacteria per square inch(9)

    --  Sponge: Up to 250,000 total bacteria per square inch (10)

    --  Kitchen faucet handle: Up to 25,000 total bacteria per square inch(11)

    --  Kitchen floor: Up to 3,500  total bacteria per square inch(12)

    --  Kitchen countertop: Up to 2,500 total bacteria per square inch(13)

    --  Bathroom sink: Up to 2,500 total bacteria per square inch (14)

    --  Pet food dish: Up to 2,500 total bacteria per square inch (15)

"Scientific evidence shows that simple good hygiene practices can reduce the risk of illness and infection at home and in the community, so we must protect ourselves by putting these measures into practice," said professor John Oxford, chairman of the Hygiene Council and professor of virology at St. Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry.

According to the Hygiene Council, standards for good hygiene in the U.S. peaked just before World War II and then began to decline when antibiotics became widely used. The Council recommends good hygiene practices, including handwashing, surface disinfection and proper food handling, as critical in combating infectious disease.

    --  Handwashing - Wash your hands frequently and regularly, especially after going to the toilet, before and after preparing food, after touching animals and pets and if someone in your household is ill.  It is important to use soap and water, scrub underneath your nails and the back of your hands and dry thoroughly with a paper or clean dry towel.(16)

 --  Surface Disinfection - Commonly touched surfaces should be regularly disinfected. Kitchen surfaces should also be cleaned and disinfected before preparing food and immediately after they have been in contact with raw foods such as meat and poultry, to reduce the chances of cross contamination.(17)

 --  Proper Food Handling - To avoid food-borne illness, cook and store food at the proper temperature; separate raw meats from fresh produce and packaged goods in your grocery bag and refrigerator; and regularly disinfect surfaces to prevent cross contamination.(18)

Now in its second year, the Hygiene Council is funded by an educational grant from Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Lysol. Their recommendations are consistent and in support of recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their Ounce of Prevention materials (http://www.cdc.gov/ounceofprevention).

 References:

 (1) The 2007 Global Hygiene Survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres plc, TNS House, Westgate, London, W5 1UA. February 2007.

    (2) Scott E, Gaber DJ, and Cusack TM. Chemical Disinfection of MicrobialContaminants on Surfaces. Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:1205-1219.

    (3) The 2007 Global Hygiene Survey

    (4) " Characterization and Quantification of Bacterial Pathogens and Indicator Organisms in Household Environments"  Report on the in-home bacterial study, June 2006 , Elizabeth Scott, PhD , Susan Duty, RN, ScD, Simmons College Center for  Hygiene and Health in Home and Community.

    (5) " Characterization and Quantification of Bacterial Pathogens and Indicator Organisms in Household Environments"

    (6) The 2007 Global Hygiene Survey

    (7) The 2007 Global Hygiene Survey

    (8) The 2007 Global Hygiene Survey

    (9) "Characterization and Quantification of Bacterial Pathogens and Indicator Organisms in Household Environments"

    (10) Ibid.

    (11) Ibid.

(12) Ibid.

    (13) Ibid.

    (14) Ibid.

    (15) Ibid.

    (16) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ounce of Prevention Initiative, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/op/_resources/OOP percent20Brochure percent2012.20.05.pdf

    (17) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ounce of Prevention Initiative, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/op/_resources/OOP percent20Brochure percent2012.20.05.pdf

    (18) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ounce of Prevention Initiative, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/op/_resources/OOP percent20Brochure percent2012.20.05.pdf

Source: Lysol

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