Norovirus and Enteroviruses May Be Resistant to Alcohol Based Hand Disinfectants Interview with:
Erwin Duizer, PhD
Head of section Enteric Viruses
Centre for Infectious Diseases Control
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment
The Netherlands

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Duizer: Hand hygiene is important for interrupting the transmission chain of viruses through hands. Alcohol-based hand disinfectants are widely used in hospitals and healthcare facilities, due to convenience, rapidity, and broad acceptance by healthcare personnel. The effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectant has been shown for bacteria and enveloped viruses but their effectiveness in reducing transmission of non-enveloped viruses, such as norovirus, is less certain. Therefore we tested, in a joint project of the RIVM and Wageningen University, the virucidal activity of a propanol based product and an ethanol based product in quantitative carrier tests. Additionally, the virus reducing effect of hand washing (according to health care guidelines) and the use the propanol based product was tested in a quantitative finger pad test.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Duizer: With the quantitative carrier test we found that the virucidal effect of the ethanol and propanol based products against the non-enveloped noroviruses, enteroviruses, parechoviruses and adenoviruses was limited; after 3 min still 1% or more was left infectious. The propanol based product performed slightly better than the ethanol based product, with good activity, within 30 s, against rotavirus and influenzavirus.

The average virus reduction from finger pads was close to 3log10 (ie from 100% to 0.1%) for the propanol based products, but a transferable quantity of virus could still be detected on 5 out of 12 fingers. After hand washing with water and soap, no virus was detected on any of the finger pads.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Duizer: Often, the use of alcohol based hand hygiene products will contribute to reduced spread of many pathogens, including bacteria, enveloped viruses and rotavirus. However, many non-enveloped viruses such as noroviruses and enteroviruses, are quite resistant to alcohols and may require strict hand washing to prevent transmission.


Reducing viral contamination from finger pads: handwashing is more effective than alcohol-based hand disinfectants, by Tuladhar et al.
Journal of Hospital Infection Published Online: April 09, 2015


[wysija_form id=”1″] Interview with: Erwin Duizer, PhD (2015). Norovirus and Rotovirus May Be Resistant to Alcohol Based Hand Disinfectants

Last Updated on April 21, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD