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Originally published June 22 2008

Regular Hand Washing Makes Tremendous Positive Impact on Family Health

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Several new studies published in the American Journal of Infection Control have demonstrated just how important hand washing is in preventing the transmission of disease in a household setting.

The majority of prior studies on the importance of hand washing, which have implicated touch as the single most important disease transmission route, have focused on workers in the food and health industries.

In the first study, researchers tested various household surfaces for traces of the polio virus in homes where infants had recently been vaccinated against the disease. Because the weakened virus from the vaccine is shed in infants' feces for a short time afterwards, traces of the disease would indicate exposure to feces. The researchers found that 13 percent of bathroom, kitchen and living room surfaces tested positive for polio.

In a second study, researchers tested toilet bowls in homes where at least one person had been diagnosed with a salmonella infection. As much as three weeks after the infection, toilet bowls were still found to be contaminated with the bacteria. This suggests that even long after an infection has passed, it still has the capability to spread throughout a house - by means of water splashing on the toilet lid, for example.

In a third study, a volunteer touched a door handle that had been contaminated with a virus, then shook hands with a number of other volunteers. Tests later determined that this spread the virus to six other people.

Study authors said that people should focus on cleaning key disease transmission surfaces like doorknobs, faucets and toilet flush handles. In addition to washing their hands after sneezing or using the toilet, or before eating, people should also do so after changing diapers, cleaning up after pets, touching trash cans or cleaning any surfaces or utensils that might have come into contact with waste or raw food.

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