Background: Hand hygiene is important for interrupting transmission of viruses through hands. Effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectant has been shown for bacteria but their effectiveness in reducing transmission of viruses is ambiguous.
Aim: To test efficacy of alcohol hand disinfectant against human enteric and respiratory viruses and to compare efficacy of an alcohol-based hand disinfectant and handwashing with soap and water against norovirus.
Methods: Efficacies of a propanol and an ethanol-based hand disinfectant against human enteric and respiratory viruses were tested in carrier tests. Efficacy of an alcohol-based hand disinfectant and handwashing with soap and water against noroviruses GI.4, GII.4, and MNV1 were tested using finger pad tests.
Findings: The alcohol-based hand disinfectant reduced the infectivity of rotavirus and influenza A virus completely within 30s whereas poliovirus Sabin 1, adenovirus type 5, parechovirus 1, and MNV1 infectivity were reduced <3 log10 within 3 min. MNV1 infectivity reduction by washing hands with soap and water for 30s (>3.0 ± 0.4 log10) was significantly higher than treating hands with alcohol (2.8 ± 1.5 log10). Washing with soap and water for 30s removed genomic copies of MNV1 (>5 log10), noroviruses GI.4 (>6 log10), and GII.4 (4 log10) completely from all finger pads. Treating hands with propanol-based hand disinfectant showed little or no reduction to complete reduction with mean genomic copy reduction of noroviruses GI.4, GII.4, and MNV1 being >2.6, >3.3, and >1.2 log10 polymerase chain reaction units respectively.
Conclusions: Washing hands with soap and water is better than using alcohol-based hand disinfectants in removing noroviruses from hands.
Keywords: Carrier test; Enteric virus; Finger pad test; Foodborne viruses; Hand disinfection; Norovirus; Respiratory viruses.
Copyright © 2015 The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.