Human cases of avian (bird) flu continue to be reported in China and visitors should avoid exposure to wild birds and poultry.

Public Health England offer the following advice.

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  • Avoid visiting live bird, animal markets and poultry farms
  • Avoid contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers
  • Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, eggs or duck dishes
  • Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
  • Do not bring poultry products back to the UK

Wash hands on a regular basis preferentially with soap and water or hand rubs if available.

A new Royal Pharmaceutical Society survey shows that 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough to clean them of the bacteria which can cause infections such as diarrhoea, upset stomachs or pneumonia, or viruses which can cause colds and seasonal flu.

The recommended time to spend washing your hands is 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice. Some people use hand gels on a regular basis, but nothing is as effective as washing hands properly with soap and hot water.

Effective handwashing is important especially whilst travelling. Even in the UK around 30% of diarrhoea and 16% of respiratory infections can be prevented through handwashing.

The handwashing habits of those surveyed showed:

  • 2 in 3 people (65%) don’t always wash their hands before eating
  • 1 in 2 people (50%) don’t always wash their hands after handling animals, such as pets
  • 1 in 3 people (32%) don’t always wash their hands before preparing food
  • 1 in 5 people (21%) don’t always wash their hands after going to the toilet

Even when we remain unaffected by the bugs we carry, if we don’t wash our hands we can transmit infections which then become a real problem for those who are more vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, who may then need to be prescribed antibiotics.

We can never know what we are carrying or what impact it may have on those around us, which is why good handwashing is so important.

Find out more about good handwashing, visit

or watch the NHS Choices video on

Remember ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice!