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Virus-proof your kids this winter (it’s easier than you think)

Protect your child from viruses this winterViruses are everywhere and there are thousands of different types, that are constantly changing.

Like bacteria, viruses usually live among us without causing too much trouble. Until the weather gets colder, and we tend to spend more time indoors and closer together.

Viruses love these cold, wet conditions.

So, how can we protect our kids (and ourselves!) from bugs this winter?

Here are some of the best things you can do.

4 ways to help virus-proof your kids this winter

Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub

Washing your hands can get rid of nasty viruses like norovirus and enterovirus (stomach bugs) and cytomegalovirus (a virus that can cause malformation and hearing loss in a baby that was infected in the womb).

Scientific systematic reviews — carefully planned studies that examine several other studies to draw conclusions — have shown that children who practise hand hygiene can lower their rates of respiratory infections.

Teach children to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub – particularly after sneezing and coughing. This can also help reduce asthma attacks caused by rhinovirus (back-to-school asthma).

Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes

Respiratory viruses like influenza (flu) and rhinovirus are transmitted through the mucus membranes of your nose, mouth or eyes.

Quarantine sick kids

Try to keep sick kids at home to prevent the virus from spreading.

Vaccinate against influenza and rotavirus

Influenza kills 12 Australian children every year. The influenza season has already begun in many Australian states, at levels higher than last year, so talk with your doctor about vaccinating your kids if they are older than 6 months. This is especially important for children with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes.

Following these four simple steps can help minimise the impact and virus-proof your kids this winter.

References
van Zuylen et al. (2014) Congenital cytomegalovirus infection: Clinical Presentation, epidemiology, diagnosis and prevention. Obstetric Medicine 7(4): 140-146.
Warren-Gash et al. (2012) Hand hygiene to reduce community transmission of influenza and acute respiratory tract infection: a systematic review. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7(5), 738–749.
Wilmott et al. (2015) Effectiveness of hand hygiene interventions in reducing illness absence among children in educational settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Disease in Childhood 101:42–50.

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