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J Hyg (Lond). 1984 Jun;92(3):345-55.

An extended model for transfer of micro-organisms via the hands: differences between organisms and the effect of alcohol disinfection.


A model for contact transfer of micro-organisms by hand has been extended to include representatives of bacterial species responsible for a majority of hospital-acquired infections. The ability of the organisms to transfer from contaminated fabrics to hands and from hands to sterile fabrics was measured, as was their ability to survive on the skin of the hands. There were differences between the species. Staphylococcus saprophyticus transferred well to the hand but not as well from hand to fabric as the other species; it survived well on skin. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella aerogenes and Serratia marcescens transferred moderately well overall and also survived on the skin. These results were in contrast to those obtained with a strain of Escherichia coli and one of Streptococcus pyogenes. The contact transfer model was used to investigate the use of small volumes of alcohol in preventing transfer via the hands. An alcohol handrub of either 0.3 ml 80% ethanol or 0.3 ml 70% isopropanol gave reductions in transfer slightly less than that of a soap and water wash. Raising the volume, and consequently the contact time, to 0.5 ml 70% isopropanol gave a 14000-fold reduction in transfer, statistically indistinguishable from that of a thorough soap and water wash (9800-fold reduction).

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