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Evaluation of the impact of antimicrobial hand towels on hand contamination with Escherichia coli among mothers in Kisumu County, Kenya, 2011–2012
  • Published Date:
    March 29 2019
  • Source:
    Water Res. 157:564-571
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-506.84 KB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Water Res
  • Description:
    Poor hand hygiene contributes to diarrhea in developing countries. Handwashing with soap reduces diarrhea risk, but drying hands on contaminated towels can compromise the benefits of handwashing. In response to the challenge of keeping hands clean, an antimicrobial hand towel was developed and shown to be promising in the laboratory, but has not been adequately tested in the field. We evaluated the effectiveness of an antimicrobial towel in two randomized, double-blinded crossover trials among mothers with children<5 years old in 125 households in western Kenya. In trial 1, we randomly assigned mothers to use either the treated towel or an identical untreated (placebo) towel and made surprise home visits at random times once a week for three weeks. At each visit, we tested hands for Escherichia coli using sterile hand rinses, then switched towel types in the two groups and repeated three weekly rounds of E. coli testing. In crossover trial 2, we compared E. coli contamination of maternal hands immediately following three different handwashing/drying procedures: soap and water + treated towel, water only + treated towel, and soap and water + air dry. There was no statistically significant difference in the level of E. coli contamination on maternal hands by type of towel used during trial 1 (odds ratio for treated vs untreated towel: 1.14, 95% confidence interval 0.83-1.56). In trial 2, there were no significant differences in E. coli contamination of maternal hands by handwashing/drying procedure. In these trials, use of antimicrobial hand towels did not prevent E. coli contamination of mothers' hands in Kenyan households during random testing and offered no advantages over standard handwashing and drying practices. Handwashing with soap and clean water and drying with clean towels are recommended.

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