SATURDAY, Oct. 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Hand sanitizers can help prevent the spread of infections in your home, says new research.
The study found that 155 families that used alcohol-based sanitizer gel had a 59 percent reduction in the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses, compared with 137 families that didn't use the sanitizer.
There was no significant decrease in the spread of respiratory illnesses in the families who used the sanitizer. However, families that used greater amounts of hand sanitizer were less likely to spread respiratory illnesses.
The study was presented this week at the Infectious Diseases Society of America's annual meeting in Boston.
"We believe hand sanitizer reduces the transmission of the cold and other respiratory illnesses in the home, too, although the evidence wasn't as strong as it was for stopping the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses," lead researcher Dr. Thomas J. Sandora, an assistant in medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital Boston and an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said in a prepared statement.
"We think that's probably because people were more diligent about using the sanitizer after a gastrointestinal-related incident, such as using the bathroom or vomiting, than after a respiratory incident, such as nose-wiping or sneezing," Sandora said.
The families that were given the hand sanitizer were told to place bottles of it at different places around the home and to use it after using the toilet and after changing diapers, before preparing food, and at other times when they needed to clean their hands. Hand sanitizers are used without water.
"Using hand sanitizers is an excellent method for hand hygiene and can be an alternative to soap and water, particularly when a sink isn't convenient," Sandora said.
The U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases has advice on how to prevent the spread of germs.