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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 293-297

A study on prevalence of bacteria in the hands of children and their perception on hand washing in two schools of Bangalore and Kolkata

1 Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine, KPC Medical College, Kolkata, India
2 SRO, Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
3 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Bangalore, India
4 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, KPC Medical College, Kolkata, India

Correspondence Address:
Sandip Kumar Ray
Professor and Head, Department of Community Medicine, KPC Medical College, Kolkata
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Source of Support: Hindustan Lever Ltd., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.92408

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Background: Contaminated hands play a major role in fecal-oral transmission of diseases. In 1847, Dr Semmelweis Ignac pointed to the link between infection and unclean hands, and demonstrated that washing hands could reduce transmission of puerperal fever (child birth fever), a dreaded disease with high mortality in those days. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted to find out the extent of germs present in hand, and also the students' perception on hand washing. This was assessed by questionnaire as well as by collection of swab from hand and performing bacteriological culture in the laboratory. Results: In regard to students' perception about the dirty areas of the hands, it was observed that majority (78%) felt palm was likely to be more dirty while less than 70% felt that web spaces could harbor dirt. Almost 86% reported that they washed hands before eating lunch, but only 21.3% said they always used soap while 47.3% never used it. Availability of soap all the time in the school was reported by only 18.4% students. The swabs of 61% children showed potential pathogens. The commonest of these was Staphylococcus aureus which was seen in 44% samples. Conclusion: The students' hands were contaminated before taking food. Although they washed hands before meals, they hardly used soap due to non-availability of soap. The school authority should be asked to keep soaps in the toilets for hand washing.

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