Wednesday, 13 August 2014

New study finds that using hand sanitiser may not be effective in preventing illness among school children

A recent study co authored by SPHPM's Dr Joanne McKenzie has found that hand sanitiser in addition to usual hand hygiene in primary schools in New Zealand does not prevent disease of severity sufficient to cause school absence.

According to the study, the control of infectious disease transmission in children is a particularly important component of disease control because children tend to have high rates of infectious disease and to have more physical contact with peers and with adults than other age groups, particularly in the school environment. 

The study notes that in health care settings, good hand hygiene is a key component of infectious disease control. The researchers randomly assigned 68 city primary schools to the intervention or control group. All the children (aged 5–11 years) attending the participating schools received a thirty-minute in-class hand hygiene education session. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers were installed in the classrooms of the intervention schools during the winter term, and the children were asked to use the dispensers after coughing or sneezing and on the way out of the classroom for morning break and lunch. 

Among the follow-up children, the provision of hand sanitizer did not reduce the number of absences due to a specific illness (respiratory or gastrointestinal), the length of illness and length of absence from school, or the number of episodes in which at least one other family member became ill.

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