Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases

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New Campaign to Help Combat Colds and Flu

Sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth is more annoying than people talking loudly on their mobile phone and more annoying than people who don't say please and thank you - yet nearly half of people do not always carry a tissue outside the home, a new survey has found.

And more than three in ten people interviewed in the survey said they would use a tissue at least two or three times before throwing it away, while one in ten people admitted to not always washing their hands before preparing food.

Following findings such as this which show that general attitudes and knowledge of effective coughing and sneezing etiquette are poor, a new Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases campaign has been launched in a bid to halt the spread of germs, diseases and infections through simple hygiene steps.

The campaign aims to remind people of the importance of remembering that simple steps can help stop the spread of colds and flu to you and others.

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The main messages of the campaign are:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Use disposable tissues and throw them away afterwards in a bin
  • Clean your hands regularly - especially after coughing and sneezing

Campaign posters are being distributed to a wide variety of health and public settings including GP surgeries, health centres, pharmacies, schools, libraries and workplaces. In addition, retail organisations and major employers are also being encouraged to support the campaign by raising awareness amongst employees.

A survey has provided insights into the current hygiene practices of the nation. Women are almost twice as likely than men to have tissues with them outside of the home whilst nearly half of all people surveyed said they caught colds at least twice a year. The North West was found to be the region where people washed their hands the most while London proved to be the place were people were less likely to wash their hands.

Professor Lindsey Davies, National Director of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Department of Health said:

"Washing your hands regularly and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze are simple actions which stop the spread of infections yet our research has shown that many people are forgetting to carry out these basic hygiene steps. This campaign will serve as a timely reminder of correct coughs and sneezes etiquette and will help people get into good hygiene habits. This is particularly important now, as February and March are traditionally the months for coughs and colds."

Professor Brian Duerden, Inspector of Microbiology and Infection Control, said:

"Many people don't realise that a cold or flu virus can survive on the skin for several hours and thus spread to others, but they can easily be removed by regular hand washing. This is why respiratory hygiene is so important. You can reduce your chances of transmitting a cold or flu virus, and may even prevent catching the infection in the first place by: always covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue, binning the tissue afterwards and ensuring that you regularly clean your hands".

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