Impact of the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the home on reduction in probability of infection by respiratory and enteric viruses

Epidemiol Infect. 2015 Nov;143(15):3335-41. doi: 10.1017/S0950268815000035. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


The goal of this study was to determine the reduction in risk of infection by viruses with the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, used in addition to routine hand washing, in family members in households. A quantitative microbial risk model was used to determine the probability of infection from the concentration of virus on the hands. The model incorporated variation in hand size, frequency of touching orifices (nose, mouth, eyes), and percent transfer to the site of infection, as well as, dose-response for each virus. Data on the occurrence of virus on household members' hands from an intervention study using MS-2 coliphage was used to determine the reduction of viruses on the hands pre- and post-intervention. It was found that the risk of rhinovirus, rotavirus or norovirus infection after the intervention was reduced by 47-98% depending upon the initial concentration of virus on the hands.

Keywords: Hand hygiene; risk assessment; virus infection.

MeSH terms

  • Caliciviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Gastroenteritis / prevention & control*
  • Hand / virology
  • Hand Hygiene / methods*
  • Hand Sanitizers / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Norovirus
  • Picornaviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Probability
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control*
  • Rhinovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Rotavirus Infections / prevention & control*


  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Ethanol