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A web-based programme encouraging people to wash their hands more frequently could reduce the risk of catching and passing on infections, a study suggests.
Researchers writing in The Lancet tested it on around 16,000 households in the UK during the winter flu season.
They found a 14% reduction in general risk of infection and a 20% lower risk of catching flu in those who used it.
This group also visited their GP less and needed fewer antibiotics.
Most people wash their hands five or six times a day, but Prof Paul Little, from the University of Southampton, who led the research, said that if that could be increased to 10 times a day it would have an important effect on reducing the spread of bugs and infections.
Previous research has shown that infections in adults could be prevented if they washed their hands more often and reduced their 'viral load'.
This would be of particular benefit to people who do not want to catch flu, such as those with heart or lung problems or the elderly.
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