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More Wisconsinites Concerned About Contracting Flu This Year
Vaccine Worries and Flu Incidence Cited as Reasons
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Feb. 5, 2015) – According to a statewide survey, 25 percent of Wisconsinites are more concerned about getting sick with the flu than they were one year ago. The top two reasons driving their worry include new strains that aren’t covered by the flu vaccine (31 percent) and they’ve noticed more people sick with the flu (30 percent).
The findings are part of the 2015 Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted Jan. 5-16 by Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, partition cubicles, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers.
“Influenza is an unpredictable virus and this year the flu has been particularly widespread, partly because this year’s vaccine is not a great match with the current circulating strains of virus,” says Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Hospital and Clinics. “The virus is transmitted by contact and by droplets from sneezing and coughing. Thus, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are essential for prevention.”
Wisconsinites Take Precautions
Fortunately, the vast majority of state residents know how to protect themselves from the cold and flu.
97 percent agree hand washing is the best way to remove germs and avoid spreading them.
89 percent know that sneezing into the crook of their elbow reduces the risk of sharing an illness.
And 62 percent wash their hands more frequently, more thoroughly or longer in response to flu outbreaks.
The Healthy Hand Washing Survey also found that female hand hygiene in Wisconsin seems to be better than the rest of the country. Wisconsin women wash their hands 96 percent of the time after using a public restroom compared to women nationally who wash 88 percent of the time. However, Wisconsin men are similar to the rest of the country as both groups say they wash their hands about 86 percent of the time after using a public restroom.
While Wisconsinites recognize the best ways to shield themselves from cold and flu germs, some popular myths still exist. For example, 70 percent of state residents erroneously think that taking vitamin C protects against colds, hand washing with hot water is more effective (61 percent) and dressing in warm clothes protects one from a cold (37 percent).
Even though vitamin C has been touted for the common cold since the 1970s, experts say there’s very little scientific proof it has any effect. In terms of hand washing, the temperature of the water makes no difference. Instead, the keys are lathering up thoroughly and scrubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Finally, there’s no evidence that bundling up wards off colds.
Stopping Germs in Their Tracks
The Healthy Hand Washing Survey also revealed that 68 percent of Wisconsinites take some practical steps to avoid getting or spreading germs but, in general, don’t obsess about it. Thankfully, 68 percent say they stay home when they’re sick. And, although surgical masks are common in other countries, just three percent of state residents say they’d wear a mask as a way to deter germs.
However, when using public restrooms, Wisconsinites do feel the need to employ a variety of germ avoidance strategies. 52 percent operate the toilet flusher with their foot, 51 percent use a paper towel to avoid touching the door handle directly and 46 percent use their hip to open and close doors.
Germs At Work
In the workplace, Wisconsinites take definitive steps to reduce their contact with a sick colleague’s germs. 56 percent stand further away when talking to the colleague, 55 percent say they avoid being near the ill co-worker, 53 percent wash their hands more frequently and 45 percent avoid shaking the person’s hand. Interestingly, 28 percent say they’ll tell the sick colleague to go home and three percent will cancel meetings with them.
The Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 307 Wisconsin residents online Jan. 5-16, 2015 about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older. The national survey was conducted during the same time with a total of 1,030 American adults.