This New York Times article answers the question with a resounding “No one knows.” No studies have been done yet that show whether hand sanitizers cut down on infectious diseases spread in public places. However, we do know that on a personal level keeping your hands clean can make a difference. The key to putting a halt to spreading disease is breaking the chain that allows germs to pass from one person to another. Washing or sanitizing hands can definitely do that. A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health found that clean hands cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent and respiratory infections by 21 percent. Thus, it is important to get into the habit of washing your hands when you return from any public place as a part of good hygiene practices. Although we don’t know for sure how much hand sanitizers are currently affecting the spread of disease, it’s not a bad place to start.
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