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Flu not the only germ threat this time of year

have a fever and body aches, and someone with RSV is more likely to have a runny nose, a cough that produces mucus, and wheezing.

Flu is more likely to spread as an aerosol ?someone coughs and the airborne virus lands on another person, or they cough and then touch the faucet or doorknob. RSV, like the common cold, spreads mainly as large droplets via surfaces ?doorknobs, faucets, dishtowels, and hand-to-hand contact, for instance.

"Unlike the flu, RSV is more often spread directly by secretions," said William Hall, M.D., a geriatrician and pulmonary specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has studied how respiratory viruses are spread in communities like nursing homes. "RSV lives on objects including faucets, door handles, and change from the coffee shop, for quite awhile, for at least a day. If you put your finger in your mouth, or touch your eye, or pick your nose, you're a spreader, to put it bluntly. People share cell phones, they shake hands to be social. These are effective ways to transmit disease."

While RSV may sound new, the best way to prevent it ?washing your hands ?is not.

"We've known for more than 100 years that hand washing prevents infection, but we still can't get people to wash their hands," said Falsey. "Hand washing is the simplest, most effective way to keep from getting sick and making others sick. But it's hard to get people to wash their hands."

In the early 1990s Falsey led an experiment involving hand washing among staff members at an adult day care center. She found that respiratory infections were less frequent among residents cared for by workers equipped with packs containing germ-killing hand gels who used the gels regularly. The team also found that RSV was spread to residents mainly through health care workers who had young children at home.

While investigators like Falsey and Walsh search for a vaccine against RSV, and a better way to check people who may have th
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Source:University of Rochester Medical Center


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