Hygiene horror in commuter study

Hygiene horror in commuter study
More than one in four commuters have bacteria which come from faeces on
their hands, an investigation finds.
Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine swabbed
409 people at bus and train stations in five major cities around the UK.
The further north they went, the more often they found commuters with faecal
bacteria on their hands – men in Newcastle were the worst offenders.
Experts stressed the importance of hand hygiene for preventing illness.
The bacteria found suggested people were not washing their hands properly
after using the toilet, said the researchers.
Toilet hands
In Newcastle and Liverpool, men were more likely than women to show
contamination – 53% of men compared to 30% of women in Newcastle and 36% of
men compared to 31% of women in Liverpool.
    We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had faecal
bugs on their hands
Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
In the other three cities – London, Cardiff and Birmingham – the women’s
hands were dirtier.
People who had used the bus had higher rates of hand contamination than
those who had used the train.
Manual workers had cleaner hands than other professionals, students, retired
people or the unemployed.
Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "We were flabbergasted by the finding
that so many people had faecal bugs on their hands.
"The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there
is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK.
Newcastle – men 53%, women 30%
Liverpool – men 36%, women 31%
Birmingham – men 21%, women 26%
Cardiff – men 15%, women 29%
Euston (London) – men 6%, women 21%
"If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhoeal disease, the
potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their
failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet."
Professor Mike Catchpole, director of the Health Protection Agency’s Centre
for Infections, said: "These results are startling and should be enough to
make anyone reach for the soap.
"It is well known that hand washing is one of the most important ways of
controlling the spread of infections, especially those that cause diarrhoea
and vomiting, colds and flu.
"People should always wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating
or handling food, and after handling animals. And remember to cover all cuts
and scratches with a waterproof dressing."
Winter vomiting
The HPA’s monitoring of infections over recent weeks suggests that cases of
norovirus – the winter vomiting bug – are rising and that the annual
norovirus season is likely to have begun.
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal disease in the UK
with peak activity in terms of numbers of cases and outbreaks during the
winter months, from October to March.
It has been estimated that between 600,000 and a million people in the UK
are affected each year.
Professor Catchpole said: "Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread
in settings where people are in close contact with one another so good
hygiene, including frequent handwashing, is really important."
The study was part of the world’s first Global Handwashing Day, dedicated to
raising awareness about the importance hand hygiene plays in public health.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7667499.stm #Prahladananda Swami – 16/10/08

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