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Hand gels falter.

Alcohol-based gels may not effectively eliminate from people's hands a type of virus that causes millions of cases of diarrhea worldwide each year, say researchers.

Such hand sanitizers are rising in popularity because of their convenience, says Christine Moe of Emory University Emory University (ĕm`ərē), near Atlanta, Ga.; coeducational; United Methodist; chartered as Emory College 1836, opened 1837 at Oxford. It became Emory Univ. in 1915 and in 1919 moved to Atlanta.  in Atlanta. Unlike washing with soap and water, using these gels doesn't require rinsing or drying one's hands.

Because the gels have been shown to kill a wide variety of bacteria and viruses, Moe adds, they're becoming a common fixture in places where frequent hand washing This article or section contains .
The purpose of Wikipedia is to present facts, not to teach subject matter.
 is necessary. Until now, however, researchers hadn't tested the effectiveness of such sanitizers against noroviruses, a family of viruses that causes gastrointestinal infections and has become notorious for spreading among passengers on cruise ships This is a list of cruise ships, both those in service and those that have since ceased to operate. Both cruise ships and cruiseferries are included in this list. (Ocean liners are not included on this list, see List of ocean liners. .

Moe and her colleagues recruited five volunteers to come into the lab. The scientists spread a known amount of Norwalk virus Nor·walk virus
A norovirus.

Norwalk virus (nôr´wôlk),
, a common type of norovirus, on the volunteers' fingers. To each of three fingers, the researchers then applied one of three cleansing agents--antibacterial soap rinsed with water, plain water, or a popular alcohol-based hand sanitizer sanitizer

a sanitizing product capable of cleaning and disinfecting; usually a formulation containing a disinfectant and a detergent.
. Each volunteer's fourth finger remained unwashed for comparison.

To the researchers' surprise, plain water was most effective, removing 96 percent of Norwalk virus. Antibacterial soap antibacterial soap A bactericidal agent used to clean the skin–eg, Betadine, pHisoHex  was close behind, reducing viral counts by 88 percent. The alcohol-based hand gels reduced the virus by only about half.

Alcohol-based hand gels "are better than nothing, but in areas where soap mad water are available, people should use those first," Moe says.--C.B.
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Title Annotation:HYGIENE
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 10, 2006
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