More Americans Concerned About Contracting the Flu This Year

According to a national survey, this year more than one-quarter of Americans (28 percent) are more concerned about getting 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 and strains that are mutating or becoming stronger.

On a positive note, the vast majority of Americans know how to protect themselves from the cold and flu; 96 percent agree handwashing is the best way to remove germs and avoid spreading them and 87 percent know that sneezing into the crook of their elbow reduces the risk of sharing an illness. The survey also found that 61 percent wash their hands more frequently, more thoroughly or longer in response to flu outbreaks.

The findings are part of the 2015 Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted 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."

The survey also revealed that 70 percent of Americans take some practical steps to avoid getting or spreading germs but, in general, don't obsess about it. Thankfully, 73 percent say they stay home when they're sick. And, although surgical masks are common in other countries, just 3 percent of Americans say they'd wear a mask to deter germs.

However, when using public restrooms, Americans do feel the need to employ a variety of germ avoidance strategies. 57 percent operate the toilet flusher with their foot, 55 percent use a paper towel to avoid touching the door handle directly and 45 percent use their hip to open and close doors.

The Healthy Hand Washing Survey queried 1,030 American adults online Jan. 5-16, 2015 about their handwashing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (47 and 53 percent). 

Source: Bradley Corporation

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