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September 29, 2005

Clean hands the way to stop flu

We're going into the next pandemic with the basic hygienic techniques of 1918, according to a story on BBCNews Online.

If everyone was to wash their hands the risk of colds, flu and even bird flu would be much less, say UK experts.

Professor John Oxford, of London's Queen Mary's School of Medicine, warns many people are failing to do so and are complacent about personal hygiene.

His team looked at the most effective methods to prevent the transmission of colds and flu, including bird flu.

Rather than relying on products such as antiviral tissues, personal cleanliness should be a priority, they say.

Hand cleaning came out top, followed by disinfecting surfaces.

kind of story that tells us more about our fellow-citizens than we want to know. During the SARS outbreak, the toilets on my campus had big "wash your hands" signs, but they've long gone. And of course even if you do wash your hands, you then have to turn off the tap (which some slob may have used, if only to fill his water bottle) and then pull the handle on the door (which some other slob has just used).

Automatic taps and doors might help a bit, but it's too late to retrofit our whole sanitary system. Besides, a third slob may then hand you an assignment he's just sneezed on.

It's easy to understand why Howard Hughes tried to avoid infection by walking around in empty Kleenex boxes. But unless paranoia results in demonstrable enhancement of the immune system, we're probably better off just washing our hands.

Posted by dymaxion at September 29, 2005 03:48 PM

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