Handwashing and other hygiene measures

Added March 4, 2015

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Frequent handwashing with or without antiseptics reduces the transmission of viral respiratory diseases, such as influenza. It may also have benefits for preventing or slowing the spread of Ebola.

Viral epidemics or pandemics of acute respiratory infections like influenza or severe acute respiratory syndrome pose a global threat. Antiviral drugs and vaccinations may be insufficient to prevent their spread. The following effective interventions should be implemented, preferably in a combined fashion, to reduce transmission of viral respiratory disease:

  1. frequent handwashing with or without adjunct antiseptics;
  2. barrier measures such as gloves, gowns and masks with filtration apparatus; and
  3. suspicion diagnosis with isolation of likely cases.

Special efforts should be focused on implementing the three above interventions in order to reduce transmission from young children, who are generally the most fecund sources of respiratory viruses.