Good hand-washing with normal soap and water is an effective way of containing respiratory virus epidemics, according to Cochrane researchers who looked at 51 studies.
They also found using simple barriers such as face masks and gloves worked well. However, there was little if any evidence that expensive and uncomfortable N95 masks were any better than simple surgical masks, they added.
'There is a strong indication that introducing hygienic measures around younger children can be a very powerful way of blocking spread, protecting them and the community they live in' said lead reviewer Tom Jefferson from the Cochrane Vaccine Field in Italy.
'Many simple and probably low-cost interventions could help reduce transmission of epidemic respiratory viruses,' he added.