Hygiene and masks better for fending off swine flu

Yet again we have been doing it all wrong when it comes to protecting ourselves against pandemic flu.

According to Professor Tom Jefferson and his colleagues in a 2007 study published on bmj.com today, hygiene and physical measures including isolating any potentially infected patients are the most effective way of preventing the spread of viral infections.

Higher priority should be given to these preventative measures in national pandemic plans, instead vaccines and antiviral drugs are used instead with little evidence supporting their effectiveness, crucial considering how mild the H1N1 virus currently is.

The best preventative measures showed that regular hand washing, wearing simple surgical masks, gloves and gowns were effective against all forms of acute infectious respiratory disease, even sars.

Personal hygiene and hand washing programmes should also be introduced to schools.