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Hand hygiene and risk of influenza virus infections in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • V. W. Y. WONG (a1), B. J. COWLING (a2) and A. E. AIELLO (a3)
Summary

Community-based prevention strategies for seasonal and pandemic influenza are essential to minimize their potential threat to public health. Our aim was to evaluate the efficacy of hand hygiene interventions in reducing influenza transmission in the community and to investigate the possible modifying effects of latitude, temperature and humidity on hand hygiene efficacy. We identified 979 articles in the initial search and 10 randomized controlled trials met our inclusion criteria. The combination of hand hygiene with facemasks was found to have statistically significant efficacy against laboratory-confirmed influenza while hand hygiene alone did not. Our meta-regression model did not identify statistically significant effects of latitude, temperature or humidity on the efficacy of hand hygiene. Our findings highlight the potential importance of interventions that protect against multiple modes of influenza transmission, and the modest efficacy of hand hygiene suggests that additional measures besides hand hygiene may also be important to control influenza.

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Corresponding author
* Author for correspondence: Dr B. J. Cowling, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Units 624-7, Core F, Cyberport 3, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. (Email: bcowling@hku.hk)
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