A newly developed ethanol-based hand sanitizer may significantly impact public health by minimizing the transmission of multiple viruses, including norovirus, from food handlers and healthcare providers. The researchers from the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and North Carolina State University, Raleigh report their findings in the August 2008 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
The annual number of food-related infections in the U.S. is an estimated 76 million, with norovirus accounting for up to 59 percent of the viral cases. Contamination of ready-to-eat items by food handlers largely attributes to the high rate of infections, emphasizing the importance of proper hand hygiene. In addition to washing with soap and water some organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers citing such advantages as faster and greater microbial kill, ease of use and time savings, as well as independence from sinks and running water.
In the study the researchers formed a synergistic blend of ethanol, polyquaternium polymer and organic acid and tested its capability to inhibit human and animal viruses. When compared with a benchmark alcohol-based hand sanitizer, results showed higher levels of reduced infectivity of human rotavirus, adenovirus type 5, poliovirus type 1, and norovirus, as well as feline calicivirus and murine norovirus type 1 from the new ethanol-based sanitizer.
"Based on these results, we conclude that this new ethanol-based hand sanitizer is a promising option for reducing the transmission of enteric viruses, including norovirus, by food handlers and care providers," say the researchers.
Reference: D.R. Macinga, S.A. Sattar, L. Jaykus, J.W. Arbogast. 2008. Improved inactivation of nonenveloped enteric viruses and their surrogates by a novel alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 74. 16: 5047-5052.