Epidemiology and Infection

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Epidemiology and Infection (2010), 138:409-414 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009
doi:10.1017/S0950268809990641

Original Papers

Hygiene

Dirty hands: bacteria of faecal origin on commuters' hands


G. JUDAHa1 c1, P. DONACHIEa1, E. COBBa1, W. SCHMIDTa1, M. HOLLANDa2 and V. CURTISa1

a1 Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, UK
a2 Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Maidstone Hospital, Hermitage Lane, Maidstone, UK
Article author query
judah g [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
donachie p [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
cobb e [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
schmidt w [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
holland m [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
curtis v [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]

SUMMARY

Although many studies have investigated bacteria on the hands of health-care workers and caregivers, few have looked at microbiological contamination on the hands of the general adult public. This study investigated faecal bacteria on the hands of commuters in five UK cities. Of the 404 people sampled 28% were found to have bacteria of faecal origin on their hands. A breakdown by city showed that the proportion of people with contaminated hands increased the further north the city of investigation (P<0·001), an effect which was due in large part to a significant trend in men but not in women. Bus users were more contaminated than train users. The results of this exploratory study indicate that hand hygiene practices in the UK may be inadequate and that faecal indicator bacteria on hands may be used to monitor the effect of hand-washing promotion campaigns.

(Accepted July 29 2009)

(Online publication September 02 2009)

Key Words:Enteric bacteria; Enterococcus; hand hygiene; prevention; public health

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Mrs G. Judah, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK. (Email: Gaby.judah@lshtm.ac.uk)


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