According to a recent study, feacal matter can be found on just over a quarter (26%) of British hands. The research, carried out by experts at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has been published to promote Global Handwashing Day. The study found 11 percent of our hands are so “grossly contaminated” with germs they are the equivalent to a dirty toilet bowl. Faecal material was also found on 14 percent of bank notes and 10 percent of credit cards.
Hand washing helps prevent the spread of norovirus, influenza and rotavirus. During the 2009 global swine flu outbreak public service ads were broadcast, such as the “Catch it, bin it, kill it” campaign in the UK, to promote good hygiene practices. A survey of five countries carried out shortly after the flu pandemic found Britons had the least concern for infecting others.
Britons in particular were less likely to extra take care when coughing or sneezing, or about hand washing, travelling on public transport and keeping away from people with flu symptoms. Just over half (53%) of Britons said they washed their hands more frequently, or used a hand sanitiser, compared with 72% of US and Japanese citizens, 86% of Mexicans and 89% of Argentinians.
Would you lie about washing your hands?
A UK-wide study asked people using motorway service stations whether they had washed their hands after using the bathroom. Nearly all (99%) claimed they had washed their hands. Electronic recording devices found only 32 percent of men and 64 percent of women had in fact done it.
Even if people do wash their hands many don’t do it effectively, a quick run under the tap is not enough to wash away undesirable bacteria warn hygiene experts. You should always use soap where possible and rub between all your fingers. If you wash your hands properly it should take the same amount of time as singing Happy Birthday twice, experts advise.