Toronto travelers wash their hands of disease

From Chicago, at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

Air travelers in Toronto are more likely to wash their hands after using public restrooms than are travelers in at least five other major North American airports. Donald Low of Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital says he suspects that people are taking extra care with hygiene in the aftermath of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak that struck the city this year.

Undercover observers with the survey firm Wirthlin Worldwide of Reston, Va., noted that just 5 percent of men and 3 percent of women using restrooms at Toronto International Airport during August 2003 didn’t wash their hands with soap and dry them. At the other airports in the study–O’Hare in Chicago, John F. Kennedy in New York, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami, and San Francisco–20 to 38 percent of men and 8 to 41 percent of women didn’t wash up before leaving restrooms.


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