To assess the health impact of reusable, antimicrobial hand towels, we conducted a cluster randomized, yearlong field trial. At baseline, we surveyed mothers, and gave four towels plus hygiene education to intervention households and education alone to controls. At biweekly home visits, we asked about infections in children < 2 years old and tested post-handwashing hand rinse samples of 20% of mothers for Escherichia coli. At study's conclusion, we tested 50% of towels for E. coli. Baseline characteristics between 188 intervention and 181 control households were similar. Intervention and control children had similar rates of diarrhea (1.47 versus 1.48, P = 0.99), respiratory infections (1.38 versus 1.48, P = 0.92), skin infections (1.76 versus 1.79, P = 0.81), and subjective fever (2.62 versus 3.40, P = 0.04) per 100 person-visits. Post-handwashing hand contamination was similar; 67% of towels exhibited E. coli contamination. Antimicrobial hand towels became contaminated over time, did not improve hand hygiene, or prevent diarrhea, respiratory infections, or skin infections.
Slayton RB, Murphy JL, Morris J, Faith SH, Oremo J, Odhiambo A, Ayers T, Feinman SJ, Brown AC, Quick RE. (2016). A Cluster Randomized Controlled Evaluation of the Health Impact of a Novel Antimicrobial Hand Towel on the Health of Children Under 2 Years Old in Rural Communities in Nyanza Province, Kenya. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 94(2)