ST. LOUIS (May 9, 2006) – Conscientious hand hygiene and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers made the list of recommendations in the Department of Homeland Security’s recently-released pandemic preparedness report. Certainly, as the Midwest fights a recent outbreak of mumps and the government outlines pandemic influenza preparedness plans, the public should be reminded that preventative health habits, such as hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, can control the transmission of bacteria and viruses from person to person, surface to person and animal to person.
Dr. Richard Lazaroff, a St. Louis pediatrician, emphasizes that proper hand hygiene is the best first-defense against the transmission of disease. “With all the media attention on communicable diseases and pandemic influenza preparedness, it’s easy to get nervous about catching some serious illness. The most important thing you can do to prevent illness is to clean your hands frequently, either using soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” says Lazaroff.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are included in the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. Issued by the Homeland Security Council May 2, 2006, the report includes alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a resource to support prevention among employees and customers during a pandemic. It also encourages communities to educate employees on the importance of hand hygiene as a response strategy. While many people are concerned with catching viruses and bacteria from others, they should be equally aware of spreading germs. The report outlines on page 171 that, “Given the characteristics of influenza transmission, a few simple infection measures may be effective in reducing the transmission of infection. Persons who are potentially infectious should…wash their hands (with soap and water, an alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic hand wash) after having contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials (hand hygiene).“
Likewise, the Department of Health and Human Services includes the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in their National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan. The benefits of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in certain situations also have been noted by the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
Hand sanitizers can be used anywhere and are an excellent option when soap and water are not available. Independent tests confirm that Germ-X® hand sanitizer is effective at eliminating over 99.99 percent of many common harmful germs and bacteria in as little as 15 seconds, reducing a large number of germs that could potentially cause disease. There are approximately 130 uses in an 8-oz. bottle of Germ-X Hand Sanitizer, which is the same usage as traditional liquid hand soap.