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It Kills Germs For Up To 6 Hours. Can It Wipe Out Ebola?
National Public Radio

Clean hands go a long way toward preventing the spread of many illnesses, including Ebola. But finding the right hand-wash to impede deadly germs is tricky.

A squirt of alcohol-based sanitizer like Purell kills or denatures many microbes on contact. In the case of bacteria, essentially poking holes in their cell membranes, causing them to shrivel up like water balloons. For viruses, the mechanism is not well-understood. But alcohol evaporates after 15 seconds, allowing for rapid recontamination. Also, alcohol-based sanitizers are mostly ineffective against norovirus, which causes stomach and intestinal issues. And they can chafe the skin.