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Hand hygiene is the best defence against flu says CDC6th of April 2013
Hand hygiene remains the single most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases according to the Center for Disease Control.
This winter's flu vaccine is only nine per cent effective against the most virulent form of the illness for seniors, according to its latest report.
The report states that the 2012-2013 flu vaccine used in North America and Europe is only nine per cent effective against the most common and virulent strain of flu for the over-65s. The vaccine is said to be 27 per cent effective for seniors against all three strains of the illness - the lowest level of protection in a decade.
However its effectiveness in protecting all age groups is 56 per cent, which is on a par with other flu seasons.
The CDC says hand hygiene is the most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases in general. "Seniors must now roll up their sleeves and commit to improved hand, surface and respiratory hygiene if they want to make it through flu season unscathed," it claims.
At least 31 influenza pandemics have been recorded since the "grande influenza" of 1357. Seasonal flu epidemics today result in up to 500,000 deaths worldwide, rising to millions and tens of millions in pandemic years.
Flu symptoms weaken the immune system and make the body more vulnerable to serious infections such as pneumonia. All age groups are susceptible but most fatalities are among older people who are more likely to have an underlying health condition. More than 90 per cent of influenza-related deaths are in people age 65 years or older.