Hand washing practices and the occurrence of enteropathogenic bacteria among residents of a Nigerian University
Hand washing is known to be an important preventive strategy and a major step in infection control. However, compliance is low in most communities. The present work investigated the relationship between the levels of compliance to hand washing and related this to the occurrence of infectious bacteria in the test population. A questionnaire which contained information on bio-demographic characteristics and hand hygiene practices was applied to 100 individuals in the study population. Microbiological samples were obtained, Total Colony Counts was done and the isolates were identified using standard bacteriological methods. The results showed that 46% of the respondents wash their hands before eating food; 40% of the test population washes their hands after using the toilet; while none of the respondents wash their hands after handling money. The highest bacterial load was found in the 0-15 years age group. The most highly occurring isolate was Salmonella enterica (23.7%). These results confirm the low level of compliance to hand hygiene in the test population and underscores the need to effectively break the fecal–oral transmission route via hands through effective interventions such as hand washing with soap and water.
Keywords: enteropathogenic bacteria, hand washing, compliance