Author(s): Weber DJ, SickbertBennett E, Gergen MF, Rutala WA
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Abstract CONTEXT: The intentional use of Bacillus anthracis transmitted via the US mail in October-November 2001 resulted in 22 people developing inhalation or cutaneous anthrax. Glove use with handwashing prior to and after contact with potential contaminated environmental surfaces and cutaneous lesions has been recommended. However, only limited data are available on the susceptibility of B anthracis to antiseptics. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of several hand antiseptics (interventions) and soap and water (control) against Bacillus atrophaeus, a surrogate of B anthracis. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Challenge study conducted among healthy adult volunteers, using the Standard Test Method for Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Health Care Professional Handwash Formulations (American Society for Testing and Materials E 1174-94) to determine the efficacy of various hand hygiene products at wash times of 10, 30, and 60 seconds. Volunteers were excluded if they had eczema, psoriasis, or other chronic skin conditions; nonintact skin; or allergies to any study agent. Study agents were a waterless rub containing 61\% ethyl alcohol, a 2\% chlorhexidine gluconate preparation, and an antibacterial microfiber towel that releases hypochlorite. A nonantimicrobial soap was used as a control. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Reduction of B atrophaeus spores (log10 CFU/mL) on contaminated hands. RESULTS: Washes of 10, 30, and 60 seconds with either soap and water or 2\% chlorhexidine gluconate eliminated 1.5 to 2.0 log10 CFUs/mL of B atrophaeus spores at wash 3. Mean reductions (95\% confidence intervals) with 10-, 30-, and 60-second washes with soap and water were 2.4 (2.2-2.5), 2.3 (2.2-2.4), and 2.1 (1.9-2.4) log(10) CFUs/mL, respectively; and with 2\% chlorhexidine gluconate, 2.1 (2.0-2.3), 1.8 (1.5-2.0), and 1.7 (1.5-1.9) log10 CFUs/mL, respectively. Handwashing with chlorine-containing towels was increasingly effective as the wipe time increased; reductions at 10, 30, and 60 seconds were 1.3 (1.1-1.5), 1.6 (1.2-2.0), and 2.2 (2.1-2.2) log10 CFUs/mL, respectively. A waterless rub containing 61\% ethyl alcohol was ineffective in eliminating B atrophaeus spores at all times tested (0 [-0.1 to 0.1], -0.2 [-0.3 to -0.1], and 0 [-0.2 to 0.2] log10 CFUs/mL). CONCLUSIONS: In this evaluation of hand hygiene agents, handwashing with soap and water, 2\% chlorhexidine gluconate, or chlorine-containing towels reduced the amount of B atrophaeus spore contamination, whereas use of a waterless rub containing ethyl alcohol was not effective in removing spores.
This article was published in JAMA
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense