Regular Sciencebase readers may recall that my family and I were recruited and took part in the participation in the 2009/2010 Flu Watch Project. During the whole period of the study we had just one cold or flu-like illness in the family, which was rather unusual for us. Personally, I almost reached the anniversary of not having had a cold until mid-October. Normally, I suffer at least 3 or 4 doses of man-flu during the year. Possibly down to my daily walk with the dog or just not getting out enough to be exposed to the viruses. Who knows?
Anyway, the Flu Watch team just sent back their findings from the survey about flu and what happened in the H1N1 pandemic. The survey and swabs we all sent back when we had a cold/flu revealed that 15-20% of the population are infected, children more commonly and the elderly less. On the whole, a large proportion of infections were accompanied by only very mild symptoms. One of the most startling findings was that despite our being in the midst of a pandemic, the amount of flu like illness and confirmed cases reported during the pandemic (2009/10) were similar to previous years.
The results also showed that people who regularly wash their hands with soap and hot water have a substantially lower risk of contracting flu. “This suggests that a lot of people catch flu by touching their mouth, eyes or nose with contaminated hands,” the team says. “We found that men were less hygienic than women and of course children were the least hygienic.”