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Non-Pharm Interventions: Only Half the Battle

Non-Pharm Interventions: Only Half the Battle...the other half is doing them correctly!

A recent study from New Zealand doesn't give us much hope the public will practice good hand hygiene or respiratory etiquette; two actions that are vital to prevention of disease spread. The researchers studied the habits of general public over two weeks in late August; a time when H1N1 Swine Flu was a concern and the work "pandemic" was all over the news.
Full article as found at MSNBC.com here.

What they found was 3 out of 4 people at least made an attempt to cover their cough. But, they didn't do a very good job as most people coughed or sneezed into their hands. Contaminating the hands is a great way to spread disease to surfaces or items. They also found that people were in the habit spitting on floors. You'll recall that spitting on streets and public places was implicated in the spread of SARS.

All this should come as little surprise following that a 2007 study noted that one in four adults still do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.

This study leaves me wondering about the impact of public information campaigns and disease prevention strategies. Were public information programs ineffective? Was the message poorly received or not understood? Or, do we still suffer from Optimism Bias...it can't happen to me! In either case, we have to stress that the non-pharmacological interventions; hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distancing are keys to preventing spread of any biologic agent. These interventions become even more vital when vaccine is not readily available.

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