View Full Version : Can hand sanitizers like Purell really stop people from getting the flu?

03-08-2010, 04:00 PM
Our homes and workplaces, we're told, are trying to kill us. Recently, a University of Arizona microbiologist named Charles Gerba, author of hundreds of scientific papers about household microbes, gave a terrifying lecture at the offices of the Food and Drug Administration. Gerba—who, incidentally, has a child with the middle name Escherichia—that's what the "E" in E. coli stands for—explained that a kitchen sponge and sink are home to thousands of times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Plus, 10 percent of household dishrags contain salmonella. After playing with other children, toddlers have more fecal bacteria on their hands than does a person exiting a public toilet stall. Those toilets, by the way, aerosolize so many droplets with each flush that Gerba compares their dispersion to "the Fourth of July." And every public swimming pool he's ever tested has contained disease-causing viruses.

... But in hospitals, outside of these clinical trials, just half of doctors and nurses regularly clean their hands before patient care, despite widespread publicity. More worrisome: In hospitals where massive educational efforts have increased hand-washing rates from 40 percent up to 70 percent, there has been no overall reduction in infection rates. Even in highly regulated places like hospitals, the promising benefits of hand-washing remain largely unrealized. ...

link (http://www.slate.com/id/2245896/?from=rss)

There's something in here that robs this story of credibility. ;) Not to say he's wrong though.

03-08-2010, 04:22 PM
Crazy as I am about cleanliness, I only use hand sanitizer (or any "antibacterial" product) in an emergency, i.e., when I have to eat lunch while walking somewhere and I can't wash my hands.

The best defense against germs is a good immune system and good immune systems are built through warfare. You have to come into contact with it and defeat it (whatever it is). Antibacterial products just kill most of the bugs thus clearing the field for the more vigorous survivors.

If I really have to decontaminate a surface or a sponge, I use bleach. It has 100% effectiveness as a killer when used properly.

Wei Wu Wei
03-08-2010, 04:39 PM
Seems like they can kill most germs but viruses like influenza are tough to kill

03-08-2010, 04:42 PM
But in hospitals, outside of these clinical trials, just half of doctors and nurses regularly clean their hands before patient care :eek::eek:

I use sanitizer at work often between customers. Customers can tend to hand you some pretty gross stuff, and walking away and washing my hands is not always an option when I have ten people standing in line waiting to speak to me.....When I do have the luxary of soap and water close by, I follow it with sanitizer..

I keep sanitizing wipes in the car.

03-08-2010, 05:03 PM
I rarely use hand sanitizers, if ever. I use anti-bacterial soap at home. I use whatever soap is in the dispenser at work. I don't think they are that effective, and I have a pretty good immune system.

I'm concerned that if I used the sanitizers all the time, I'd lose some of my natural resistance to diseases.

03-09-2010, 03:15 PM
I never use anti-bacterial soap at home, think regular soap is sufficient if used frequently. They have hand sanitizers stationed all over the zoo, particularly in the Children's Zoo, where the kids often touch the guinea pigs and sometimes reptiles.

The one place I do use the anti-bacterial wipes is at the grocery store. All the local stores have them at the entrances, near the carts. I regularly wipe down the handles of the carts and wipe my hands.

03-09-2010, 04:19 PM
Hand sanitizers do go a long way towards the creation of super germs. Evolution... working to create a better flu.