Panic over last year’s swine flu pandemic led to the installation of millions of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers in places like grocery store checkout lines, restaurants and schools. Many people also began carrying with them travel-size hand sanitizers for additional protection from germs. But a new study out of the University of Virginia (UV) has found that hand sanitizers do practically nothing to prevent the transmission of viruses like influenza and rhinovirus, a major cause of the common cold.
Dr. Ronald B. Turner and his colleagues from UV evaluated 212 volunteers as part of their study, 116 of which were instructed to carry with them an “enhanced antiviral activity” hand sanitizer to be used every three hours throughout the day. The other 96 volunteers simply lived their routine lives with no interventions.
For ten weeks, researchers collected periodic samples from both groups to test the presence of