CDC: Hand sanitizers no match for soap and water in battle against norovirus

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Thorough hand-washing with soap and running water is a more proven method of preventing the transmission of the norovirus than alcohol-based and other hand sanitizing methods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC's “Updated Norovirus Outbreak Management and Disease Prevention Guidelines” were officially released Friday.

In its report, the CDC notes that long-term care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals are the most commonly reported settings of a norovirus outbreak in the U.S. Outbreaks can last longer in these places and be more severe than outbreaks among otherwise healthy populations. Hand hygiene is likely the most effective method of preventing the spread of norovirus, according to the CDC.

Hand washing with soap and running water has been demonstrated to reduce the presence of norovirus in finger-pad studies. Alcohol-based sanitizers, however, did not appreciably reduce the presence of viral RNA, according to the CDC. Still, hand sanitizers can be an effective norovirus prevention strategy when used between hand washings, experts say. The full norovirus prevention guidelines can be viewed at the CDC website.

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