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SANTA BARBARA, Calif -- In response to the SARS crisis, Sprixx is providing field test units of their body-worn hand sanitizer by the thousands to the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO to be distributed to their members who are flying routes to Asia. Not scheduled to release their products until this June, the company is sending its pre-launch inventory and sending it out to the front lines of the SARS outbreak to raise awareness of the importance of hand hygiene.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites hand hygiene as the first line of defense in preventing the spread of SARS. The CDC's newly posted "Interim Guidelines about SARS for Airline Flight Crews" recommends handwashing and specifically alcohol hand sanitizers. It is believed that SARS can live for three to six hours out of the body, making hands the most likely transmitter. Alcohol hand sanitizers have been shown to kill germs in seconds, without the need for water or towels.
The new Sprixx products are uniquely suited for the hand hygiene needs of flight attendants in this crisis because they are always within reach, by clipping to belt, clothes, or cart. Designed to operate with one hand, the sprayer deploys the sanitizer easily and instantly allowing its use to quickly become second nature. Many smaller aircraft lack appropriate hand sanitization facilities. Busy flight attendants who cannot run to a stationary dispenser or a sink every time hand hygiene is needed can sanitize hands without interrupting their work.
"We are responding to our mission statement - to prevent all hand transmitted infection in the workplace," explains James Villaveces, MD, the inventor of the unique "Sprixxer." "The flight attendants need this now. Our market focus is medical and product launch isn't until June. However, to be responsive to our mission, the threat of the spread of SARS warrants our immediate action. We're taking every sample and field test unit and sending it where it will do the most good now."
The AFA was contacted by Sprixx a few days after the CDC posted its interim guidelines for flight crews regarding SARS. The union had asked the Federal Aviation Administration to issue an emergency order to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS on aircraft to cabin crew. The request was denied. The AFA quickly accepted the offer for the complementary, body-worn hand sanitizers to protect flight crews and help quiet fears facing aviation regarding SARS.
"We were happy to accept their offer," said Chris Witkowski, the union's safety director. "The union will be looking at a variety of ways to improve sanitation while in flight."
"SARS is only the tip of the iceberg," says Villaveces. "SARS is a pointed example of the need for major advancements in hand hygiene practices, as the problem of hand-transmitted infection in the workplace is of epidemic proportions." According to the CDC, nosocomial infection, infection contracted inside a hospital, is the fourth leading cause of death claiming 104,000 lives annually and hand hygiene is the number one line of defense. Last October, the CDC published their updated "Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings." Their recommendation to use alcohol hand sanitizers has resulted in the installation of wall-mounted dispensers in hospitals across the country. Villaveces invented Sprixx to take hands out of the deadly chain of infection. Twenty thousand deaths annually are attributed to hand-transmitted infection in hospitals alone. That is more than die of HIV each year. "This is part of a 150-year-old struggle," explains Villaveces. "Complacency is the killer. Hand hygiene must evolve, awareness must rise, and new tools must be employed."
Sprixx has been developing the products for two years. There are three models: The stylish Sprixxer XE looks like a beeper, comes in 5 colors, and takes an economical replacement cartridge. The Sprixx HP is a holster with a 2.35 fl. oz. spray bottle and is good for heavier use. The light, unobtrusive Sprixx LT is a half-ounce spray bottle with a convenient, reusable clip. The alcohol sanitizer is designed for professional and repeated use, having a pleasant, but light scent, and emollients to protect and soothe hard working hands.
"Body-worn hand sanitation makes 100 percent hand hygiene compliance possible," says Denise Bleak, Infection Control Disease Coordinator at Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC). Bleak and VCMC have been field testing the Sprixx dispensers for more than a year. "It has to be within reach and super easy to use - that's what makes Sprixx such a viable answer to hand sanitation."
Sprixx is a spin off from Life-Like Cosmetic Solutions of Santa Barbara, Calif.. The Sprixx product line will be launched June 8, 2003 at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) conference in San Antonio. APIC has more than 12,000 members who work mostly in hospitals and medical centers.
More than 50,000 flight attendants at 26 airlines join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union.