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Hand Sanitizer: H1N1 Killer?

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Sometimes there's just not a sink around when you need one so you have to use the next best thing: Hand sanitizer. But will it kill H1N1?

H1N1 is an enveloped virus meaning it has a sort of shell. Alcohol can dissolve the shell and kill the virus, but it won't kill viruses with no shell like the norovirus, or protozoa like what causes malaria. Those are sort of tough, even without the shell.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the alcohol content has to be at least 60 percent to kill the H1N1 virus. Brenda Elrod with the North East Texas Health District says to be vigilant.

"The more you can reduce those numbers on your hands the less likely you are to transmit them to your nose or your mouth or shake hands with somebody and give it to them," said Brenda.

According to Dr. Ed Dominguez there have been no studies to show sanitizer alone will keep you safe. Hospital studies have shown soap and water used properly is your best bet.

"The idea is the dose makes the poison so if you have germs on your hands you want to get rid of as many as many as you can as quickly as you can, so a good warm water, soapy wash is the best way with friction because then you have the warm water breaking down the dirt and you got the soap working and you have the friction to reduce the numbers of things that might be on your hands," Brenda said.

And the clear rinse washes it all away, but you have to scrub for at least 20 seconds to get into all the cracks and crevices, under nails and jewelry.

Brenda says it's not a bad idea to use sanitizer after you dry your hands if you think you may have touched something around someone who has the flu.

Doctors say to use sanitizers if no soap and water is available, but it's a good idea to use soap and water for every five applications of sanitizer.

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