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Infection Control

Hand sanitizers have a place of prevention in schools

November 17, 2011
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WASHINGTON — A hand and respiratory hygiene program including frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help to reduce illness caused by influenza A and missed school days in elementary school children, according to a press release.

"Respiratory hygiene education and the regular use of hand sanitizer can be an important adjunct to influenza vaccination programs to reduce the number of influenza A infections among children," according to the study by Dr. Samuel Stebbins of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues.

According to the release, in a study published in the November issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, five Pittsburgh elementary schools were assigned to receive the five-step training "cough etiquette and hand hygiene" program. In the program, called "WHACK the Flu," in which children were taught:

(W)ash or sanitize your hands often
(H)ome is where you stay when you are sick
(A)void touching your eyes, nose and mouth
(C)over your coughs and sneezes
(K)eep your distance from sick people.

Another five schools received no special hygiene training: During the school year, children who developed a flu-like illness were tested to determine if they had influenza and whether the cause was the influenza A or B virus, the release stated.

Schools assigned to "WHACK the Flu" had a significant — 52 percent — reduction in the rate of confirmed illness caused by influenza A, the release noted.

Click here to read the complete release.

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