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Simple things stop flu pandemic

28th November 2007

Researchers point to simple physical measures such as hand washing and wearing masks as playing a key role in blocking the spread of a flu pandemic.

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The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, come as the UK government is doubling its stockpile of antiviral medicines in preparation for any future pandemic.

The study was led by Australia’s Bond University and found that simple measures should be given higher priority in the fight against any pandemic.

Researcher Dr Tom Jefferson said people should wash their hands and if it was a particularly bad epidemic, avoid contact with people and consider wearing masks or disposable gloves.

He said: “Soap and water is cheap and if you come from a poor country it could save your life or your baby’s life.��?

Professor John Oxford, chair of the Hygiene Council and an expert in respiratory diseases based at Queen Mary College School of Medicine, agreed that barrier methods had a role to play.

But he said the UK government was right to emphasise the primary importance of stockpiling antivirals and vaccines.

“Any suggestion that a bit of hand washing could replace the need for vaccines and antiviral drugs would be dangerous and foolhardy,��? said Professor Oxford.

The Department of Health is launching a campaign to reduce the spread of flu in the Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign, which emphasises the need to cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, dispose of the tissues as soon as possible and clean your hands at the earliest opportunity.

 

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