Background: Human enterovirus 71 (HEV71) infections are a significant public health threat in the Asia-Pacific region and occasionally cause severe neurological complications and even death in children. Although good hand hygiene is important for controlling infection, relevant data regarding the efficacy of widely used hand disinfectants against HEV71 are still lacking. Aim: To investigate the virucidal activity of alcohols and alcohol-based hand disinfectants against HEV71. Methods: A common alcohol-based hand disinfectant (0.5% chlorhexidine gluconate + 70% isopropanol) as well as different concentrations of isopropanol and ethanol were tested for virucidal activity against HEV71 using the suspension and the fingerpad tests. Findings: In suspension tests, 85% and 95% ethanol achieved a mean log10 reduction factor in HEV71 titre of >3 and nearly 6, respectively, within 10 min. By contrast, 70% and 75% ethanol and any concentration of isopropanol (70-95%) produced a factor of <1 in this test after the same exposure time. In fingerpad tests, only 95% ethanol showed a mean log10 reduction factor of >4, while both 75% ethanol and a chlorhexidine gluconate-containing formula were ineffective against HEV71 with a mean log10 reduction factor of <1 after a 30 s exposure time. Conclusions: Widely used alcohol-based hand disinfectants based on 70% ethanol or isopropanol have poor effectiveness against HEV71. Ninety-five percent ethanol is the most effective concentration, but still cannot fully inactivate HEV71 and may be impractical for use in many instances. Hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand disinfectants alone is not recommended for preventing HEV71 transmission.
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