What to know: controlling the spread of cold and flu germs

What’s the difference between a cold and the flu? How is the flu spread? Who’s at greatest risk of catching a flu virus? Find out the answers to these important questions and many more

Controlling the spread of cold and flu germs

Controlling the spread of cold and flu germsCold and flu viruses are easily spread, so you need to take care to help prevent you and your family from becoming unwell. Colds and flu can be serious for some people. They can lead to complications and can be particularly hazardous for at-risk groups such as young children and the elderly.

The good news is that there are some simple steps that you can take to help protect you from colds and flu, and help stop germs spreading:

  • Practise good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly.
  • Use an alcohol- based hand sanitiser to kill the germs on your hands when soap and water are not available
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, especially the surfaces that people often touch with their hands. Eg: handles, taps, work surfaces in the kitchen.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissues in the bin and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Those at high risk for flu complications should contact their GP

Who is at most risk?

Anyone can get the flu, but there are certain groups of people who are at more risk of developing serious complications. These include:

  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • If you or someone you care for is in one of these at risk groups, talk to your GP

Prevention

Practising healthy habits, such as good hand hygiene, can help stop cold and flu viruses spreading around your home and making you and your family unwell:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water and practice good hand hygiene
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser for optimal hand hygiene to help kill the germs on your hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, especially the surfaces that people often touch with their hands, eg: door handles, taps and bench tops
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Put your used tissues in the bin and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards

In addition, to help you avoid flu:

  • If you or someone you care for is in one of the 'at-risk groups', talk to your GP for further information
  • Avoid close contact with people who have had the flu
  • Since colds and flu can spread via hands and surfaces, good hand hygiene is essential during flu season, it is important to make sure you follow the latest government advice

Tips to help protect children:

  • Wash your hands: teach your children about the important of washing their hands after coughing and sneezing, and after touching dirty tissues. Make sure they understand the importance of hand hygiene in handling food, going to the toilet and playing outside.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes: show children how to use a tissue to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. Teach them to put their used tissues in the bin and to wash their hands afterwards.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces: it is vital that you clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, especially the surfaces that people often touch with their hands, such as taps, handles and bench tops
Always read the label and use only as directed.