Health professionals and organizations are encouraging the public to take preventative measures to decrease the spread of illness during cold and flu season. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “3 Actions to Fight the Flu”:
- Take the time to get a flu vaccine,
- Take everyday preventative actions, including washing your hands with soap and water and if soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and
- Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
Marla Dalton, PE, CAE, executive director at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) notes the importance of a ‘Take 3’ approach in protecting public health. “Following an annual flu vaccine, effective hand hygiene is the most important step to help reduce the spread of infections that cause illness. This has been well documented by microbiologists and scientists.”
Studies have been conducted on the effects of hand hygiene related to influenza, respiratory and viral infections. A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control and led by Elaine Larson, RN, Ph.D., from the School of Nursing and Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, found that alcohol-based hand sanitizer whether foam, gel or wipes all significantly reduce viruses on hands. “Further research has been published in the American Journal of Public Health by Allison Aiello, Ph.D. and Larson, concluding hand hygiene interventions are efficacious for reducing gastrointestinal illnesses.“
According to the CDC, important steps for good hand hygiene are to: wash or sanitize hands before preparing food, before eating, before and after caring for someone who is sick or around someone who has a cold, after using the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing and after touching anything that may carry germs such as grocery carts, diapers, raw food, animals or trash.”
GOJO has published and conducted scientific research with national and international thought leaders in the field on the effectiveness of hand hygiene in reducing the spread of illness and infection. GOJO Scientist Jim Arbogast, Ph.D., says in these studies, providing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and education about good hand hygiene has led to significant, documented results.
“The two measures of using PURELL hand sanitizer and hand hygiene education led to 20 percent reduction in absenteeism in a workplace setting and 50 percent reduction in absenteeism in schools. These results point to the attention that must be paid to good hand hygiene throughout the day, at home, at work, at school and especially in public areas where people congregate,” said Arbogast.
GOJO has the following recommendations to help minimize the spread of germs and infection:
- Schools and businesses should start by making sure all hand soap dispensers are in good working order, with sealed refills available. Dispensers that use SANITARY SEALED™ refills are best for reducing the spread of germs.
- Businesses and families should establish norms and etiquette for good hand hygiene. Make hand sanitizers easily accessible and available in areas where people are together so hands can be sanitized after sneezing, coughing and at mealtimes.
- Businesses should place hand sanitizer dispensers near restroom exits to help prompt the 1-4 people who don’t typically wash their hands after using the restroom. Touch-free dispensers, in fact, have been shown to increase use by nearly 20 percent.
- Individuals should carry portable wipes or hand sanitizer for use when soap and water are not available or practical.
GOJO is providing information and education on its GOJO website to help businesses promote hand hygiene as a wellness initiative at www.gojo.com/coldandflu and for the public at www.purell.com/coldandflu.