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Sneezing into elbow to stop germs from spreading

November 10, 2007 17:46 IST

Those with a cold should sneeze into the crook of the elbow and not their hands -- this would stop germs from spreading, according to researchers.

"About half of all common cold viruses are transmitted via the hands, with the rest caught by breathing in infected droplets that others have sneezed out.

"The new etiquette should be to cough and sneeze into your elbow which can stop germs from spreading.

"Sneezing into a tissue is better, but germs will still escape," The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, quoting lead researcher Prof John Oxford of the Queen Mary Medical School in London as saying.

According to him, millions of people catch a cold or flu each year. "The thousands of viruses subtly change all the time, meaning that people's immune systems cannot develop antibodies against all of them."

Stressing that there's no cure for the common cold, although there are medicines that reduce the symptoms of flu, he said that it's better to sneeze into the sleeves.

In Britain, there is also an annual flu vaccination programme for the over-65s and those with chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease, or those who have a lowered immune system because of cancer.

"This scheme has been very successful in limiting the number of vulnerable people who catch flu, which still contributes to the deaths of about 25,000 patients each year," the daily claimed.

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