The report warns that good hygiene is about more than just washing our hands. Although the hands are the main superhighway for the spread of germs because they are the last line of defence, surfaces from which the hands become contaminated, such as food contact surfaces, door handles, tap handles, toilet seats and cleaning cloths also need regular hygienic cleaning. Clothing and linens, baths, basin and toilet surfaces can also play a part in spreading germs between family members in the home.
Professor Elaine Larson, of the Mailman School of Public Health in New York and another co-author, says: Because so much attention has been paid to getting people to wash their hands, there is a danger that people can come to believe this is all they need to do to avoid getting sick.
Professor Bloomfield concurs. 'We hear a lot of discussion about whether being "too clean" is harming our immune systems, but we believe that this targeted approach to home hygiene, which focuses on the key routes for the spread of harmful organisms, is the best way to protect the family from becoming ill whilst leaving the other microbes which make up our environment unharmed'.
Dr. Val Curtis, Head of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Hygiene Centre concludes: 'Handwashing with soap is probably the single most important thing you can do to protect yourselves and your loved ones from infection this Christmas'.
|Contact: Sally Bloomfield|
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine