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South Africans among least hygienic

15 June 2011 - 00:21 By HARRIET MCLEA

South Africans are some of the dirtiest people in the world when it comes to personal hygiene, a study has found.

The study conducted by antibacterial products manufacturer Dettol and released yesterday, found that, together with China, South Africans care the least when it comes to hygiene.

The survey was done on the hygiene habits of 12000 people in 12 countries, 1000 from each.

Messy people are less likely to wash their hands, which were described as "the vehicles which transmit infections".

The study revealed that stay-at-home moms were the most hygienic, with 64.5% washing their hands more than five times a day.

University students fared the worst, with only 44.5% washing their hands as often.

Older South Africans (aged over 55) are more likely to wash their hands regularly than people between the ages of 16 and 24.

It was found that women from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Middle East, the UK and US were more likely to wash their hands than their male counterparts.

But in South Africa it made no difference, where men and women are equally likely to wash their hands.

In South Africa "a sense of disgust about the possibility of contamination" was the main determinant for hygiene, followed by good manners.

Consultant to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and Wits university professor of virology Barry Schoub said hand washing was an easy way of preventing the spread of infections and he bemoaned the number of people who walked out of public toilets without washing their hands.

"Cough and sneeze etiquette" are also crucial ways to preserve good hygiene, said Schoub.

He recommended that a sick person coughs "into a tissue and then disposes of it, or cough into the crook of your elbow or arm, rather than in your hand".