Keep your hands clean

A alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be as effective as surgical scrub solution in reducing the number of bacteria present on your hands.

Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand recently compared the efficacy of Avagard hand- sanitizing gel with the anti-septic chlorhexidine, which is commonly used in pre- surgical disinfection.

On four separate days, 12 human study participants followed standard sanitation protocols to clean their hands with either the alcohol-based gel or chlorhexidine. For the first cleaning with each solution, the hands showed no signs of contamination.

Next the hands were cleaned after they had obvi-ously been contaminated with equine fecal matter to simulate what might happen when a veterinarian examines a horse for colic or a foaling problem and then has to go to surgery. (Prior to the use of each product, the gross contamination was removed from hands under running water without soap.)

Bacterial samples were taken before each cleaning, immediately afterward and again two hours later, and the samples were placed in blood or MacConkey agar growth media.

After 48 hours, the researchers counted the bacterial colonies in the culture dishes. They found that the percentage reduction in bacterial colonies was similar after the sanitizing gel or the chlorhexidine scrub was used.

“The results,” the researchers conclude, “indicate equivalent efficacy of the alcohol-based gel and the pre-surgical chlorhexidine protocol.”

Reference: “Comparison of an alcohol-based hand sanitation product with a traditional chlorhexidine hand scrub technique for hand hygiene preparation in an equine hospital,” New Zealand Veterinary Journal, July 2017

This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #480)

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