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J Vis Exp. 2017 Jun 7;(124). doi: 10.3791/55604.

A Method to Test the Efficacy of Handwashing for the Removal of Emerging Infectious Pathogens.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University;
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University.


Handwashing is widely recommended to prevent infectious disease transmission. However, little comparable evidence exists on the efficacy of handwashing methods in general. Additionally, little evidence exists comparing handwashing methods to determine which are most efficacious at removing infectious pathogens. Research is needed to provide evidence for the different approaches to handwashing that may be employed during infectious disease outbreaks. Here, a laboratory method to assess the efficacy of handwashing methods at removing microorganisms from hands and their persistence in rinse water is described. Volunteers' hands are first spiked with the test organism and then washed with each handwashing method of interest. Generally, surrogate microorganisms are used to protect human subjects from disease. The number of organisms remaining on volunteers' hands after washing is tested using a modified "glove juice" method: the hands are placed in gloves with an eluent and are scrubbed to suspend the microorganisms and make them available for analysis by membrane filtration (bacteria) or plaque assay (viruses/bacteriophages). Rinse water produced from the handwashing is directly collected for analysis. Handwashing efficacy is quantified by comparing the log reduction value between samples taken after handwashing to samples with no handwashing. Rinse water persistence is quantified by comparing rinse water samples from various handwashing methods to samples collected after handwashing with just water. While this method is limited by the need to use surrogate organisms to preserve the safety of human volunteers, it captures aspects of handwashing that are difficult to replicate in an in vitro study and fills research gaps on handwashing efficacy and the persistence of infectious organisms in rinse water.

[Available on 2019-06-07]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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