Concern about pandemic flu has positive impact on personal hygiene behaviors

May 27, 2010

Fear of the H1N1 virus appears to be the driving factor behind the adoption of preventive behaviors, according to a study published in the June issue of AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, (APIC). Researchers studying the public response during the recent H1N1 outbreak in Hong Kong concluded that fear about the pandemic prompted residents to frequently wash hands and wear face-masks.

A team led by Joseph T.F. Lau, PhD, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, investigated the prevalence of self-reported preventive behaviors in response to the influenza A/H1N1 epidemic in Hong Kong, including wearing face-masks regularly in public areas, wearing face-masks after the onset of influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms, and frequent hand-washing. Previous research shows that both frequent hand-washing and wearing face-masks can control the spread of influenza.

The study's results showed that 47 percent washed hands more than 10 times per day, 89 percent wore face-masks when having influenza-like illness (ILI) and 21.5 percent wore face-masks regularly in public areas.

The authors note that pandemic outbreaks "have had a sustained impact on personal hygiene and protective behaviors. Our study showed that people with a higher level of mental distress due to A/H1N1 were more likely to adopt some of the three preventive measures." They go on to say that emerging "provide a window of opportunity for health education to improve personal hygiene."

According to the authors, these preventive behaviors can play an important role in controlling pandemic , but they cautioned that there is a lack of data on their adoption by the public and see a need for more research.

Explore further: Number of people susceptible to painful mosquito-borne virus increasing, says leading researcher

More information: Ref: AJIC 2010; 38[5].

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Students too cool for surgical masks?

Mar 11, 2007

A project at the University of Michigan has students wearing surgical masks to monitor possible flu outbreaks, but some students have been slacking off.

Recommended for you

Chicken off McDonald's HK menu after food scandal

2 hours ago

(AP)—McDonald's restaurants in Hong Kong have taken chicken nuggets and chicken filet burgers off the menu after a mainland Chinese supplier was accused of selling expired meat.

User comments : 0