-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- The next time you reach out
to shake someone's hand, consider this finding: A recent study of
hand-washing habits found only 5 percent of people who used the
restroom scrubbed long enough to kill germs that can cause
Thirty-three percent didn't use soap, and 10 percent didn't wash
their hands at all, according to the study, based on Michigan State
University researchers' observations of more than 3,700 people in a
college town's public restrooms.
"These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate," lead investigator Carl Borchgrevink, an associate professor of hospitality business, said in a university news release.
Among the other findings:
Hand washing is the single most effective thing a person can do
to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Failure to sufficiently
wash hands contributes to nearly 50 percent of all foodborne
illness outbreaks, the agency says.
It takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and
water to effectively kill germs, the CDC says, but people only wash
their hands for an average of about 6 seconds, according to the
study, published recently in the
Journal of Environmental Health.
The findings have implications for consumers and restaurant and
hotel owners, says Borchgrevink.
"Imagine you're a business owner and people come to your establishment and get foodborne illness through the fecal-oral route -- because people didn't wash their hands -- and then your reputation is on the line," he said. "You could lose your business."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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