Washing your hands does ward off colds
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The spread of colds and other viruses could be slowed and winter pressures on the medical services reduced if people are encouraged to wash their hands more frequently, researchers say.
They found that those who were prompted to wash via the internet reported fewer gastrointestinal infections, saw their GP less and were given fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.
Professor Paul Little of the University of Southampton said the ‘simple and cheap’ regime could reduce the risk of infection by around 14 per cent.
He added: ‘Because most of the population catches coughs, colds, sore throats and other respiratory infections, this could have an important impact on reducing the spread of these viruses in the general population, and also help reduce the pressure on medical services during the winter months.’
A trial of 16,000 UK households was used to examine the effectiveness of an internet service called Primit during three winters, from January 2011 to March 2013. The program has four weekly sessions that explain medical evidence, encourage users to learn simple techniques to avoid catching and passing on viruses, monitor hand washing behaviour, and provide tailored feedback.
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