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Avian flu emerges as a top concern this year

More than half the people in a new survey about the upcoming cold and flu season say they are concerned about the possibility of a flu strain jumping from animals to humans.

The results represent a big shift from a year ago when only one percent of respondents to a similar question reported being worried about avian or bird flu.

Both surveys were conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional. Some other key findings in the new survey were:

  • 51 percent of respondents expect to catch one or more colds this season; 12 percent expect to get the flu.

  • 37 percent of survey respondents say scientists should find a cure for the common cold because of the economic benefits that would result from reduced absenteeism at work and school.

  • 71 percent of respondents believe frequent hand-washing is the most effective way for people to avoid spreading cold and flu germs to others.

  • 58 percent of respondents selected strategic placement of waterless hand sanitizers in public places and workplaces as the most effective way to encourage more frequent hand-washing during cold and flu season.

    For working respondents, the top worry about getting the flu involved those closest to them, with a quarter saying that infecting friends and family was what bothered them most about getting the flu. Concern for the health of co-workers was minimal, with only five percent of employed respondents worried about passing germs to colleagues.

    Forty percent of employees reported bringing their own cold and flu “supplies” to work, such as facial tissue and waterless hand sanitizers. Eleven percent said they didn’t have either at work, but wished their employers would provide these products.

    When sick co-workers show up at the office, 46 percent of their colleagues say what they’d like to do most is send them packing.

    The survey of 1,042 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone from October 7-10, 2005, by Opinion Research Corporation. Of those surveyed, 622 were employed either full or part-time outside the home.

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