A simple task such as hand washing can be the difference between preventing or contracting diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. According to a study conducted by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, several hand samples tested positive for traces of fecal contamination.

Researchers collected hand samples from nearly 300 participants and also tested other samples such as money and credit/debit cards. The results demonstrated the level of bacteria detected is equivalent to the contamination of a dirty toilet bowl.

The study also discovered 26 percent of hands tested contained E. coli, which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory conditions and pneumonia. Eleven percent of hands and eight percent of cards revealed "gross" contamination.

"Our research shows just how important handwashing is - the surprising levels of contamination that we found on everyday objects is a sign that people are forgetting to wash their hands after the toilet, one of the key moments for infection prevention," said Dr. Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In honor of Global Handwashing Day, Oct. 15, the international campaign hopes to reiterate the importance of appropriately washing your hands. According to the international campaign, pneumonia and diarrheal disease are responsible for more than 3.5 million children deaths under the age of five every year.

Although hand washing seems like such a simple task, many people do not wash their hands appropriately with soap, especially after using the restroom or before handling or consuming food. Global Handwashing Day, which is the cornerstone of the campaign, will consist of several activities throughout the week to spread awareness of the importance of washing your hands.

Dr. Curtis said, "We hope that on Global Handwashing Day, people take the time to think about washing their hands with soap and make it a routine part of their daily lives."

To participate in the campaign's activities visit Global Handwashing Day.