Dry hands with single-use paper towels to keep you and your family healthy
Monday 19 January, 2018
Europe is currently in the grip of a flu epidemic. WHO and ECDC’s FluNewsEurope reports both influenza A and B viruses as widespread across the continent .
As health services are strained to the limit, major public information campaigns such as the UK’s ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ are being run in an attempt to reduce infections of both flu and norovirus, which are being recorded in rising numbers.
Most of us come into contact with literally hundreds of people every day. Hence every time we touch a door or hand rail or handle cash we are potentially exposing ourselves to a host of viruses.
Leading virologist and epidemiologist Marc Van Ranst, of KU Leuven and the Rega Institute for Medical Research, has undertaken extensive research into virus transmission and has some important advice: “Viruses can survive on the hands for a considerable time: Influenza viruses last 10-15 minutes, herpesviruses for up to two hours, and the common cold virus and the rotavirus, which causes gastro-intestinal infections, for even longer. Hence proper hand washing and hand drying are essential to keeping infection at bay.”
In public washrooms, people should use single-use paper towels to dry their hands after washing in order to minimise the risk of infection and there is extensive research to support this. Experts at the University of Westminster and University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals have studied different hand drying methods and their potential to spread bacteria and viruses. They found jet air and warm air dryers can result in the widespread dispersal of micro-organisms – both in the air and through cross contamination.
Van Ranst concludes: “Fostering good hand hygiene habits within the family is crucial in keeping people healthy – particularly during the winter months when flu and colds abound. The body of research confirms that single-use paper towels offer superior hand drying and minimise the spread of infection following hand washing.”