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Global perspective in home hygiene


Swissatest Testmaterialien AG, former EMPA Testmaterials AG
Moevenstrasse 12, CH-9015 St. Gallen, Schweiz, Switzerland


People often have the perception that their home is a clean and safe place compared to public areas. In reality, the majority of infections are transmitted at home. From a hygienic point of view kitchen surfaces are often more critical than public restrooms surfaces. Proper and adequate hygiene practices are a key measure to prevent infections. But how much hygiene is beneficial and what should be avoided? And how can we cope with future challenges like scarce resources, a growing and aging world population and increasing antibiotic resistant microorganisms? Improved and targeted hygiene at home and in the community can have a significant impact on reducing the global burden of infectious diseases.It can also help to break the chain of infection and lower the unnecessary use of antibiotics.


Today, infectious diseases cause worldwide over 13 million deaths every year (1). The majority of deaths arise in the developing world, where water supply and sanitation are key requirements to reduce diarrhoeal, respiratory and skin diseases. But without hygiene education programs, water availability and sanitation may not prevent infectious diseases as effective as they could. It is hygiene practice as handwashing with soap, handling of food and water, disposal of faeces and other waste material that breaks the chain of infection and reduces the burden of infectious diseases within and between communities (2). Fewtrell et al. (2005) has shown that the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases in developing countries has decreased for 32-36%, if sanitation is available and even for 39%, if safe water at the point of use is available (3). Affordable access to water, sanitation and hygiene education is not only a health issue, it is furthermore a key factor for reducing poverty and improving the socioeconomic status of a community (4).
In developed countries, infectious diseases still contribute to around 5% of deaths. Vaccination strategies a ...