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

Dodrill, Laura; Schmidt, Wolf-Peter; Cobb, Emma; Donachie, Peter; Curtis, Valerie; de Barra, Mícheál
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
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.


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