Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cleanliness


There has been extensive outsourcing of hospital cleaning services in the NHS in England, in part because of the potential to reduce costs. Yet some argue that this leads to lower hygiene standards and more infections, such as MRSA and, perhaps because of this, the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish health services have rejected outsourcing. This study evaluates whether contracting out cleaning services in English acute hospital Trusts (legal authorities that run one or more hospitals) is associated with risks of hospital-borne MRSA infection and lower economic costs. By linking data on MRSA incidence per 100,000 hospital bed-days with surveys of cleanliness among patient and staff in 126 English acute hospital Trusts during 2010-2014, we find that outsourcing cleaning services was associated with greater incidence of MRSA, fewer cleaning staff per hospital bed, worse patient perceptions of cleanliness and staff perceptions of availability of handwashing facilities. However, outsourcing was also associated with lower economic costs (without accounting for additional costs associated with treatment of hospital acquired infections).

Concepts: Staphylococcus aureus, Hospital, England, Scotland, Hygiene, Cleanliness, Irish language, Irish people


BACKGROUND: Although the wearing of face masks in public has not been recommended for preventing influenza, these devices are often worn in many Asian countries during the influenza season. In Japan, it is thought that such behavior may be an indicator of other positive hygiene practices. The aim of this study, therefore, was to determine if wearing a face mask in public is associated with other positive hygiene practices and health behaviors among Japanese adults. METHODS: We initially recruited around 3,000 Japanese individuals ranging from 20 to 69 years of age who were registered with a web survey company. Participants were asked to recall their personal hygiene practices during the influenza season of the previous year. Logistic regression analysis was then used to examine the associations between wearing a face mask in public and personal hygiene practices and health behaviors. RESULTS: A total of 3,129 persons responded to the survey, among whom 38% reported that they had worn a face mask in public during the previous influenza season. Wearing a face mask in public was associated with various self-reported hygiene practices including: frequent hand washing (adjusted Odds Ratio [OR]: 1.67; 95% Confidence Interval [95%CI]: 1.34-1.96), occasional hand washing (OR: 1.43; 95%CI: 1.10-1.75), frequently avoiding crowds (OR: 1.85; 95%CI: 1.70-1.98), occasionally avoiding crowds (OR: 1.65; 95%CI: 1.53-1.76), frequent gargling (OR: 1.68; 95%CI: 1.51-1.84), occasional gargling (OR: 1.46; 95%CI: 1.29-1.62), regularly avoiding close contact with an infected person (OR: 1.50; 95%CI: 1.33-1.67), occasionally avoiding close contact with an infected person (OR: 1.31; 95%CI: 1.16-1.46), and being vaccinated of influenza in the last season (OR: 1.31; 95%CI: 1.17-1.45). CONCLUSIONS: Overall, this study suggests that wearing a face mask in public may be associated with other personal hygiene practices and health behaviors among Japanese adults. Rather than preventing influenza itself, face mask use might instead be a marker of additional, positive hygiene practices and other favorable health behaviors in the same individuals.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Health, Person, Hygiene, Hand washing, Cleanliness, Masks


It is commonly assumed that cats actively avoid eliminated materials (especially in multi-cat homes), suggesting regular litter box cleaning as the best defense against out-of-box elimination. The relationship between previous use and litter box appeal to familiar subsequent users is currently unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between previous litter box use and the identity of the previous user, type of elimination, odor, and presence of physical/visual obstructions in a multi-cat household scenario. Cats preferred a clean litter box to a dirty one, but the identity of the previous user had no impact on preferences. While the presence of odor from urine and/or feces did not impact litter box preferences, the presence of odorless faux-urine and/or feces did - with the presence of faux-feces being preferred over faux-urine. Results suggest neither malodor nor chemical communication play a role in litter box preferences, and instead emphasize the importance of regular removal of physical/visual obstructions as the key factor in promoting proper litter box use.

Concepts: The Key, Household, Cat, Preference, Income quintiles, Home, Cleanliness


BackgroundBreath odor is a nuisance problem for many people around the world. Bad breath affects social interactions of people in daily life by causing personal discomfort and emotional stress. There are chemical and mechanical methods for controlling oral malodor. Many studies of various mouth rinse applications and tongue cleaning procedures have been conducted. However, few studies have compared the effect of simultaneous chemical and mechanical procedures on the reduction of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in subjects with oral malodor. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of different oral hygiene procedures on reduction of VSCs in subjects with oral malodor.MethodsThirty male volunteers who matched with study criteria were divided randomly into two groups. Both groups performed tooth brushing, mouth washing with chlorine dioxide, tongue cleaning and combination of those in different sequence for five weeks. Total VSCs of subjects were measured with a Breathtron®, and oral health status was also examined. Quantitative analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS 16.0).ResultsThere were no significant differences in oral health status between the two groups at the baseline. No significant decrease in oral malodor was detected after one week of tooth brushing. Significant reductions in VSCs were shown by adding mouthwash or tongue cleaning to tooth brushing from the second week to fourth week (P <0.01). The greatest reduction in VSCs was found at the fifth week after the practice of all three oral hygiene regimens.ConclusionsTooth brushing alone does not significantly reduce oral malodor. Mouth washing and tongue cleaning significantly reduce oral malodor, but combining tooth brushing, mouth washing and tongue cleaning regimens is most effective for oral malodor reduction. The results of this study could contribute to the formulation of appropriate preventive strategies against oral malodor not only for the general public but also for dental professionals serving as oral malodor-related service providers.Trial registrationRegistration number - NCT02113137. Registration date ¿ April 7th, 2014.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Effectiveness, Hygiene, Oral hygiene, Mouthwash, Halitosis, Cleanliness, Tongue cleaner


Although facial cleanliness is part of the SAFE strategy for trachoma there is controversy over the reliability of measuring a clean face. A child’s face with no ocular and nasal discharge is clean and the endpoint of interest, regardless of the number of times it must be washed to achieve that endpoint. The issue of reliability rests on the reproducibility of graders to assess a clean face. We report the reproducibility of assessing a clean face in a field trial in Kongwa, Tanzania.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychometrics, Quantity, Hygiene, Face transplant, Tamil language, Cleanliness, Washing


Trachoma is the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed the SAFE strategy in order to eliminate blindness due to trachoma by 2020 through “surgery,” “antibiotics,” “facial cleanliness,” and “environmental improvement.” While the S and A components have been widely implemented, evidence and specific targets are lacking for the F and E components, of which water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical elements. Data on the impact of WASH on trachoma are needed to support policy and program recommendations. Our objective was to systematically review the literature and conduct meta-analyses where possible to report the effects of WASH conditions on trachoma and identify research gaps.

Concepts: Medicine, Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Effect size, Meta-analysis, World Health Organization, Hygiene, Cleanliness


Preventive chemotherapy with donated anthelminthic drugs is the cornerstone for the control of helminthiases. However, reinfection can occur rapidly in the absence of clean water and sanitation coupled with unhygienic behaviour. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of an integrated package of interventions, consisting of preventive chemotherapy, community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and health education, on the prevalence of helminth and intestinal protozoa infections and on participants' knowledge, attitude, practice and beliefs (KAPB) towards these diseases including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Concepts: Public health, Health, Epidemiology, Disease, Hygiene, Sewerage, Cleanliness, Community-led total sanitation


Persons experiencing homelessness in the United States experience significant barriers to self-care and personal hygiene, including limited access to clean showers, laundry and hand washing facilities. While the obstacles to personal hygiene associated with homelessness may increase risk of infectious disease, hygiene-related behaviors among people experiencing homelessness has received limited attention. We conducted a cross-sectional study of individuals experiencing homelessness in Boston, MA (n = 194) to identify hygiene-related self-care practices and risk factors for reduced hygiene in this population. Most participants (72%) reported taking a daily shower. More than 60% reported hand washing with soap five or more times each day, and use of hand sanitizer was widespread (89% reported using sanitizer in the last week). A majority (86%) used a laundromat or laundry machine to wash clothing, while 14% reported washing clothing in the sink. Heavy drinking, injection drug use, and sleeping outdoors were identified as significant risk factors for reduced hygiene practices. People experiencing homelessness who also engage in these activities may be among the most difficult to reach for intervention, yet targeted efforts may decrease illness risk associated with reduced hygiene. Housed friends and family play a critical role in assisting homeless individuals maintain hygiene by providing showers and laundry facilities.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Person, Bathing, Hygiene, Homelessness, Hand washing, Cleanliness, Washing


Poor nutrition and hygiene make children vulnerable to delays in growth and development. We aimed to assess the effects of water quality, sanitation, handwashing, and nutritional interventions individually or in combination on the cognitive, motor, and language development of children in rural Bangladesh.

Concepts: Health, Effectiveness, Childhood, Developmental psychology, Malnutrition, Hygiene, Hand washing, Cleanliness


This paper describes a novel method for removal of particulate contamination - loosely referred to as dust - from solid surfaces using polymeric micropillars. In this paper, we illustrate for the first time that polymeric microfibrils of controlled interfacial and geometrical properties can effectively remove micrometric and sub-micrometric contaminant particles from a solid surface without damaging the underlying substrate. Once these microfibrils are brought into contact with a contaminated surface, due to their soft and flexible structure, they develop intimate contact with both the surface contaminants and the substrate. While these intrinsically non-sticky micropillars have minimal interfacial interactions with the substrate, we show that they produce strong interfacial interactions with the contaminant particles, granting the detachment of the particles from the surface upon retraction of the cleaning material. The origin and strength of the interfacial interactions at the interfaces between a contaminant particle and both the substrate and the cleaning materials are thoroughly discussed. Unlike flat substrates of the same material, using micro-fibrillar structures of controlled interfacial and geometrical properties also allows the elimination of the adsorbed particles from the contact interface. Here we demonstrate that by moving the adsorbed particles from the tip to the side of the fibrils and consequently removing them from the contact interface, polymeric microfibrils can clean all contaminant particles from the surface. The effects of the geometrical and interfacial properties of polymeric micropillars on removing the adsorbed particles from the tips of the pillars are fully discussed. This research is not only important in terms of introducing a novel method which can offer a new paradigm for thorough yet nondestructive cleaning of dust particles from solid surfaces, but also it is of fundamental significance for researchers with interests in exploiting the benefits offered by micro-structured surfaces in development of interfacially-active materials and devices.

Concepts: Materials science, Surface, Particle, Object-oriented programming, Differential geometry, Analytic geometry, Dust, Cleanliness