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Kiwis Hand Hygiene Habits And Attitudes Worrying

16 April 2006

Kiwis Hand Hygiene Habits And Attitudes Worrying Given Threat Of Viral Pandemic

New research indicates that New Zealanders are not cleaning their hands well enough to stop the spread of disease.

The Tork* Hygiene Survey, conducted in late March by international research company TNS, explored kiwis habits and attitudes about hygiene.

It was prompted by the threat of Bird Flu and the Ministry of Health saying that one of the biggest defences against a viral pandemic was for people to wash and dry their hands.

“I know it sounds ridiculous to suggest that adults don’t know how to wash their hands properly” said SCA Spokesman, Mark Stevens.

“What’s surprising is that 46% of kiwis don’t perceive that drying their hands is extremely important, as important as washing them”.

Wet hands can transfer 70,000+ microbes by touch contact but once they are dried properly that number reduces to just a few hundred.**

Similarly, wet hands can transfer 35,000+ microbes to food but once they are dried properly that number reduces to just 550.**

The laboratory research was conducted by Dr Tom Miller and Daniel Patrick of The University of Auckland’s Department of Medicine in 1999.


They concluded there were two quick and efficient ways of drying hands:
1) 10/20 method - 10 seconds with a paper towel and another 10-20 seconds under a hot air blower
2) If no hot air blower is available then a further 10-15 seconds with fresh paper or cloth towels

To achieve the same result with a hot air blower on its own, it needed to be used for 45 seconds but most people only use them for 15 seconds.

“The reason why we commissioned this research was because we suspected that a lot of people didn’t know how to clean their hands well enough to stop or slow the spread of disease”.

“We are releasing the data in the hope it will focus attention on this very important issue and generate debate about good hygiene practises”.

OTHER HAND WASHING DATA FROM TNS RESEARCH

- 86% of women consider washing hands to be extremely important compared to 68% of men
- 93% of women wash their hands after using the toilet at home compared to 82% of men
- 36% of men and 20% of women don’t always wash their hands before preparing a meal
- 9% of people always wash their hands after shaking hands


BIRD FLU RESULTS FROM TNS RESEARCH

- 26% of men are not at all concerned about Bird Flu
- People who are unconcerned about Bird Flu appear to believe that it won’t spread to NZ
- 11% of people said they would not go to work if there was a Bird Flu pandemic
- 9% of people said they would stop buying or eating chicken if there was a Bird Flu pandemic

The TNS research questions and responses are on the enclosed CD Rom/attached in a PDF File.

  • Hygiene Research
  • ENDS

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