Hand sanitizer may help fight bird flu

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bird flu Influenza Antiseptic

Responding to recent research questioning the efficacy of hand
sanitizers, a US skin care specialist is claiming that its hand
sanitizer can be used to cut the risk of spreading bird flu through
skin contact.

Skinvisible, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, says that a virology study carried out by research scientists at Queen Mary College, University of London, proves that the company's chlorohexidine hand sanitizer has a greater than 99 per cent kill on the bird flu virus.

Accordingly, in vitro study results showed that the active ingredient demonstrated a sustained release that lasted over a six hour period - results that was emphasized during a presentation by Skinvisible at the upcoming Retroscreen Virology Convference, at St. Bartholemew's Hospital in London.

The company's claims follow the publication of a study last year initiated by the FDA that concluded under normal domestic conditions, hand sanitizers were only a viable alternative if regular soap and water was not available.

In response a number of manufacturers of hand sanitizers launched campaigns defending their product, and indeed the Cosmetics Toiletry and Fragrance Association and the Soap and Detergent Association also jumped into action to defend anti-bacterial soaps.

But with the global threat of bird flue still looming, Skinvisible might be on to something. It says that the active ingredient in its formula is Chlorohexidine, an antiseptic that is known to kill or inhibit the growth of a host of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. The substance is incorporated as part of the Invisicare formula for which a patent is now pending.

Terry Howlett, president and CEO of Skinvisible, says that the formula should prove ideal as a sanitizer for use in poultry farms or quarantine units to prevent the further transmission of bird flu, adding that anyone else coming into contact with the virus, including healthcare workers and scientists, could benefit from its use.

"The avian flu virus can survive on human hands for several hours,"​ said Howlett. "The virus can also survive up to 48 hours on non-porous surfaces such as a telephone, computer keyboard, doorknobs, kitchen utensils and toys, for example. This is what makes hand-washing so important.

"We are seeking to broaden our marketing and distribution efforts in order to make our Chlorhexidine Hand Sanitizer available as soon as possible to the broadest market."

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