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As colds, flu, RSV and COVID-19 continue to circulate, washing up with soap and water is a tried-and-true way to fight the spread of infections.

Three children wash up at a public restroom sink.

With respiratory illnesses stressing health care systems, it’s good advice to start 2023 with clean hands.

High levels of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are affecting the United States, the United Kingdom, parts of Europe. Many hospitals are struggling to keep up with the number of patients who need care. Last week, Belgium declared a flu epidemic.

Conscientious handwashing is always recommended, but with infections that often spread person to person through droplets, it can be especially effective.


It’s also not too late to get a flu vaccine, which is recommended for most people 6 months of age or older.