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Male commuters in north and south England: risk factors for the presence of faecal bacteria on hands

BACKGROUND: A previous study found that the prevalence of contamination with bacteria of faecal-origin on the hands of men differed across UK cities, with a general trend of increased contamination in northern cities. The aim of this study was to (1) confirm the north-south trend (2) identify causes for the trend. METHODS: Hand swabs from commuters (n=308) at train stations in 4 cities were tested for the presence of faecal bacteria. RESULTS: The prevalence of hand contamination with faecal bacteria was again higher in cities in the north compared to the south (5% in London, 4% in Birmingham, 10% in Liverpool and 19% in Newcastle). Contamination risk decreased with age and better personal hygiene (self-reported). Soil contact and shaking hands increased contamination with faecal bacteria. However, in multivariable analysis, none of these factors fully explained the variation in contamination across cities. CONCLUSION: The study confirmed the north-south differences in faecal contamination of hands without finding a clear cause for the trend. Faecal contamination of hands was associated with personal hygiene indicators suggesting that microbiological testing may contribute to evaluating hygiene promotion campaigns. BMC Public Health. 2011;11:31.

Author: Dodrill L, Schmidt WP, Cobb E, Donachie P, Curtis V, de Barra M

Published: 01/01/2011

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: BMC Public Health