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Do Hand Sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap Remove Viruses?

While reading my back issues of Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), I came across an interesting paper that detailed an in-depth study on the effectiveness of hand cleaners to remove Norwalk virus (NV) from intentionally contaminated hands.

Yes that’s right – intentionally contaminated, and how. The study volunteers allowed a 20% stool suspension containing Norwalk virus to be pipetted onto their fingers and then examined how well the different hand sanitizers and liquid soap removed the virus. Nice.

Because of the uniqueness of the study and because hand santizers are everywhere now, even at the bank to disinfect hands after touching the “community pen”, I thought it would be interesting to review this paper and summarize the results.

The paper is called Effectiveness of Liquid Soap and Hand Sanitizer against Norwalk Virus on Contaminated Hands by Pengbo Liu, Yvonne Yuen, Hui-Mien Hsiao, Lee-Ann Jaykus, and Christine Moe. All authors were from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta except for Lee-Ann Jaykus who is from the Dept. of Food Science at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The paper was published January 2010, vol. 76, No. 2, p. 394-399.


Norwalk virus infects 23 million people a year and is the cause of 81% of non-bacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks. While the virus can contaminate inanimate surfaces, hand to hand transmission is thought to be the primary vehicle for spread of infection. Hand sanitizers make no virucidal claims against noroviruses because proving it is difficult. The virus can’t be cultured so experiments need to be performed with clinical samples. And that is what this research team did. The authors infected the fingers (called “finger pads”) of volunteers with human Norowalk virus and then used RT-qPCR to evaluate the effectiveness of liquid hand soap, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ethanol, and water for inactivation of the virus and removal from the surface of skin.

Methods: ....to read more, click over to the Source link.

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