Tips to avoid catching flu viruses

You can get a flu jab but the flu virus mutates, added to which antibiotics don’t work  – so what can you do to lessen your chance of being ill this winter?


First and foremost you should look after your general health by eating fresh and healthy food, taking exercise and be getting sufficient sleep.

Cold virus

Common Cold virus

Flu Virus

One of the many strains of the flu virus


But here are some specific actions you can take to cut your risk:

Good hygiene

1. Avoid close contact with people who are already ill – that including shaking hands!
2. Don’t spread your germs to others. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
3. Don’t under-estimate the importance of washing your hands. Use soap and water or an anti-bacterial cleanser
4. . Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
5. Clean surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Treatment is largely limited to alleviation of symptoms, with generally helpful measures such as:

  • Relieve nasal congestion: Use saline (salt water) drops, 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 quart of water
  • Relieve chest congestion: Inhale steam from a pan of boiled water for 15 minutes every 2-4 hours or take a long hot shower and inhale the steam
  • Relieving sore throat: In 8-ounces (236 mL) of warm water, dissolve 2 aspirin tablets (325 mg each) and 1 teaspoon (5 ccs) of salt. Gargle for 5 minutes and spit it out (do not drink it).
  • Get rid of lung congestion: Use an ultrasonic, cool-mist humidifier and drink warm teas and water.
  • Cough up mucous
  • If you think you have a fever check with your doctor
  • Get plenty of bedrest to minimise aches and pains.
  • Keep hydrated: Drink 8 ounces (236 mL) of water every hour while awake (more if you have a fever), in which you have added 2 tablespoons (30 ccs) of freshly squeezed lemon juice (for added flavonoids and to help alkalinize the body).
  • Consider natural antiviral compounds:

Flu-fighting supplements
Vitamin C
Vitamin C taken in a strength between1000-6000 mg/day may help to shorten the length of colds and flu. Various studies have found that taking vitamin C helps to reduce cold symptoms and help fight the infection.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is now seen as one of the most potent anti-oxidants. And since most flu epidemics occur during the winter when there is less sunlight to help our bodies make this important vitamin it may help to take a supplement. Several animal studies support the theory that vitamin D prevents the flu.

Selenium is also a potent antioxidant. It is helpful across a range of inflammatory or infectious diseases including the flu.

Green tea
Green tea polyphenol antioxidants stimulate the production of several immune system cells, and possess antibacterial properties. So drinking green tea may also be a key flu-fighting strategy. Research reveals that drinking green tea particularly stimulates gamma-delta T-cells that boost immunity against viruses. Furthermore, a substance in green tea called L-theanine causes T cells to secrete 10-times their normal output of the virus-fighting interferon.

Glutathione is a tripeptide made of the three amino acids glycine, glutamic acid (glutamate), and cysteine. Glutathione has been called the “master antioxidant.” It is also able to refresh and recycle other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Results of several studies suggest that glutathione has antiviral properties and inhibits activation and replication of the influenza virus. One study also reported that glutathione could help prevent infection by the influenza virus if administered directly to the tissues lining the mouth and upper airway. The scientists suggested that glutathione concentrated in a lozenge or spray might be the most effective way to use the compound as a flu preventive.

Probiotics contain live microorganisms, which colonize the intestines and help to prevent intestinal infections. Lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, are the most commonly used “friendly” strains of bacteria used in probiotic products. Their important action is helping to boost the immune system and reduce the incidence of one or more episodes of the common cold.

Some flu-fighters to try here:

Superbug epidemic fuelled by antibiotic misuse, warns World Health Organisation

Geneva: Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Viruses, which antibiotics do not affect, cause 9 out of 10 sore throats and 10 out of 10 cases of influenza. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily weakens their ability to work against infections when they are needed. This enables bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.


On European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2012 (1), WHO advises the public to use antibiotics only when and as prescribed by a doctor.Since their discovery over 70 years ago, antibiotics have kept most of us alive by overcoming bacterial infections that could otherwise have been fatal. The use of antibiotics – and vaccines – has lengthened our life-spans by 20 years on average,” says Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“If we want to retain this medical miracle, we must fully understand when antibiotics work and do not work, and act accordingly. This is a matter for everybody, from those who set policies and strategies, carry out research, and produce and distribute antibiotics to those who prescribe and use them.
Awareness of the effects of overusing and misusing antibiotics is higher globally but lower in countries where antibiotics are less regulated and can be obtained over the counter, without prescription: in two out of three countries in the eastern part of the WHO European Region.
A global WHO survey indicated that over half of all medicines – including antibiotics – are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, while half of all patients fail to take medicines correctly. This leads to increased antibiotic resistance and thereby decreases the number of effective antibiotics. In addition, it is alarming that no new antibiotic classes have been discovered in the last 25 years, despite the efforts of research.
The problem has not only enormous health consequences but also large economic effects for both individuals and societies, as resistant infections can be up to 100 times more costly to treat. Incurable or hard-to-treat infections are already found in the European Region. Every year, over 80 000 people develop tuberculosis that is resistant to antibiotics. Some developed European countries recently reported cases of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhoea, which is extremely difficult to treat.In this area, one of today’s main threats to the Region is the spread of bacteria that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics of the carbapenems family.
These antibiotics are the only available cure for serious diseases such as those from multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria. Virulent strains of E. coli can cause gastroenteritis, urinary-tract infections and more severe conditions, such as meningitis, haemolytic-uraemic syndrome, septicaemia and pneumonia. In the last two years, resistance to carbapenems has surfaced in several European Union (EU) countries, jeopardizing the ability to treat patients. The easy transmission of carbapenem-resistant bacteria between patients and the increasing introduction of these bacteria into Europe from countries where they are widespread worsen the situation.
Mapping antibiotic use and resistance is a key aspect of the European strategic action plan on antibiotic resistance, endorsed by all Member States in the Region in 2011. On 30 October 2012, the WHO Regional Office for Europe signed an agreement with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) of the Netherlands and the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) to survey, contain and prevent emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance in countries that are in the Region but outside the EU. This complements surveillance conducted in EU countries by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) through the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-Net). A harmonized and coordinated surveillance network in all countries in the European Region is key to protect health from a cross-border threat.ECDC has coordinated European Antibiotic Awareness Day since 2008. This year, WHO has joined forces with ECDC to extend the event to all 53 Member States in the European Region. For the first time, eastern European and central Asian countries are joining EU countries in activities that promote the prudent use of antibiotics. The WHO Regional Office for Europe and ECDC will host a joint Twitter session, with the support of the European Commission, on 20 November 2012 from 15:00 to 16:00 CET.
More information can be found by clicking on the following links:

ECDC resources include:

European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

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Shocking state of UK home cleanliness, new study from Zoflora experts

ZOFLORA, the home cleanliness experts, mark 90 years of keeping British homes armed against nasty bugs and bacteria. Their little bottles of household disinfectant have become one of the nation’s favourites since the company’s founding in 1922. Below you can see photos of how the range has changed over time.
Zoflora range shot small.jpg
But have the nation’s cleaning habits changed since then?  Well according to a recent study by Zoflora, we are still at risk, with our homes “a hotbed of potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses with all too many people failing to eliminate them through proper cleaning.”
Bacteria and viruses can trigger sometimes serious health problems unless they are eliminated from surfaces around the house. The World Health Organisation says that about 40% of food-related outbreaks occur in the home.
To paint a picture of the attitudes and habits of householders when it comes to cleanliness and tidiness, Zoflora commissioned a study of 2,000 adults from across the UK. Ninety percent of study respondents admitted their homes were not clean with just 5% noting their home was spotlessly clean and 6% highlighting that they were immaculately tidy. 
Two thirds (66%) of us reckon our homes should be cleaner than they are. 
One in five (19%) of us admit our homes are not clean at all. 
Dirty dish cloth shock
The same research also found that 20% of people clean with the same cloth for over a fortnight without disinfecting it or replacing it and wet cloths are one of the biggest breeding grounds for microbes in the home!

In the same Zoflora research study, just two in 10 (20%) correctly agreed with the statement that ‘a bad smell in the house meant that surfaces were unhygienic’. By far, the two most common causes of unpleasant household smells were old food in the bin (20%) and pets (20%). Other reasons included young children and toilet smells. 
However, when asked what they did when they had a bad smell in the home, less than one quarter of people (23%) said they would clean the location or cause of the bad smell. Other ways of dealing with the smell included opening windows (25%), burning a fragrant candle (19%) and spraying perfume or even deodorant around the home (7%). However, while scents can mask a smell they don’t address the cause of the problem, leaving potentially harmful bacteria lurking and multiplying.

Very few people are happy with an untidy and unclean house. 
One third (33%) said it made them feel stressed
20% felt anxious
13% felt depressed. 
The aspects that worry people the most about having an untidy or messy home are that others may come round and see an unclean house (28%) or that the clutter makes them feel trapped (28%). Just 16% are most worried that it could be unhygienic. Just under one-third of people (32%) admit that having an unclean house can keep them awake at night. Of these people four in five (81%) have got up at some time between midnight and 4am.
Fewer than one in ten (8%) said they employed a cleaner, with the most common reason not to have one being given as not being able to afford one (46%). 
Nearly a quarter (23%) said that pride stopped them from having a cleaner and they were quite capable of looking after their own home while 17% said they did not like the idea of a stranger in their home. 
Of those with a cleaner, more than half (60%) said they cleaned around the house a bit before the cleaner arrived because they were embarrassed about the state of their home.
The importance of fragrance
The majority of people like rooms to smell good (71%), and nearly one in five (18%) said they would walk out of a room if it had a bad smell. A quarter of people (26%) said that smell affected their mood. When it comes to scent choices, the Zoflora research study found that:
Linen fresh is the most popular choice of how people would like their homes to smell, followed by:
¥  Warm Cinnamon 
¥ Citrus Fresh 
¥  Lavender 
¥ Cherry Blossom 
Zoflora fragrance and home bacteria expert, Nicola Hobbs notes: “Our homes are fertile breeding grounds for bacteria to grow and multiply. Common microbes found in our houses include ‘superbug’ methicillin – resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteria like Campylobacter, a common source of food poisoning. A study commissioned by Zoflora found that a shower head had 300,000 times more bacteria than a set of front door keys – bacteria thrive in warm, damp places. Research has shown that flushing a toilet sends a spray of water droplets into the air which may be contaminated with bacteria and viruses, and that these germs can float around in the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush before landing on surfaces. A study of 60 kitchens where raw chicken was prepared found that bacteria were frequently spread around – and that cleani
ng with detergent and hot water had little effect compared with the cleaning action of a disinfectant.
“There is no getting away from it: homes are havens for bacteria. That said, with the right cleaning routine and the best products, bacteria needn’t be left to thrive to the point where they become a health hazard. It’s important to clean the home regularly and frequently and use a disinfectant that is proven to work on bacteria and viruses. Bad smells can be an important sign of bacteria present on a surface or area in the house, so it’s crucial it’s dealt with properly. Simply masking the smell with an air freshener or other scents is no good – it’s crucial the cause of the problem is tackled thoroughly.
“The good news is that if you use Zoflora as a disinfectant as part of your cleaning routine, you can not only be confident that it will kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses but also that it will banish any unwanted odours and leave a long-lasting freshness. Having a really clean and fragrant house needn’t be onerous or expensive. It is simply a matter of choosing the right product, and longevity of Zoflora – now celebrating its 90th anniversary – shows that it has been, and still is, trusted by many to do just that job.”
Guest habits…
Around one-third of participants in the survey (36%) had found that visitors had started cleaning their home without being asked, most commonly a parent or parent-in-law. More than half (56%) of those affected in this way didn’t mind, but a further 20% thought it ‘a bit odd’ and 21% were upset or angry. Over half of those surveyed (58%) said they asked people to take off their shoes when they visited. Over a quarter (27%) say they always take their shoes off in other people’s homes and another quarter (24%) do so when they remember. Nearly one-third (31%) take them off if prompted but a stubborn 18% say they try not to or even refuse outright.
Zoflora – or www, or @LoveZoflora on twitter
The survey of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned by Zoflora and conducted by OnePoll on October 2012.
About Zoflora 
Zoflora’s range of disinfectant products have been protecting and disinfecting British homes for over 90 years. It is a unique concentrated disinfectant that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, eliminates odours and comes in a range of 12 long-lasting fragrances. Simply added to water, Zoflora can be used all over the home – including floors, tiles, work surfaces, sinks, toilets and bins. The concentrated formula can be diluted 1 part Zoflora to 40 parts water to make full strength disinfectant for large areas, such as floors and bathrooms, making them hygienically clean and welcoming. With its three in one action, Zoflora kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, eliminates household odours and leaves a long lasting-scent. Zoflora is available nationwide from supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets. Zoflora is available in 12 fragrances including Cherry Blossom, Citrus Fresh and Lavender and Linen Fresh. A variety of the Zoflora fragrances are available in each size.
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