Hand hygiene helps keep flu bugs at bay

Source: Medical Xpress

With flu cases still on the rise, people are reminded that simple hygiene such as regularly washing hands will help stop the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases, said while the flu vaccine is still the best protection, simple hand hygiene is also important.

“Basic hygiene can help prevent flu and other infections spreading in the community, so it’s really important to cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands regularly,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“If you are unwell with the flu, stay at home and minimise contact with other people if possible, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly. Avoid visiting aged care facilities and child care centres until you have recovered.

“It’s also not too late to vaccinate and we’re encouraging everyone, particularly pregnant women and parents of young children, to arrange flu shots for themselves and their children as soon as possible.”

Dr Sheppeard said NSW Health is working hard to stop the spread of the flu but members of the community can also make a difference.

“Just using soap and water to wash your hands regularly or an alcohol-based antibacterial hand gel is a very effective way of killing germs that could be passed on or ingested.”

The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows 2969 flu cases for the week ending 9 June, up from 2382 notifications the previous week and 49 confirmed deaths.

The NSW Government is spending a record $22.75 million on statewide immunisation programs which will assist with flu prevention this season. This includes $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign.

The NSW Government has invested about $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Flu shots are also free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.