Spitting spreads swine flu

LONDON - Footballers were warned that spitting could increase the risk of catching swine flu as Bolton joined English Premier League rivals Blackburn in saying squad members had contracted the virus.

LONDON - Footballers were warned that spitting could increase the risk of catching swine flu as Bolton joined English Premier League rivals Blackburn in saying squad members had contracted the virus.

England's Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the "disgusting" habit - a common sight at football matches - could spread the disease. Blackburn and Bolton are set to be without several players for their League Cup matches this week because of swine flu.

"Spitting is disgusting at all times. It's unhygienic and unhealthy, particularly if you spit close to other people," said an HPA spokesperson.

"Footballers, like the rest of us, wouldn't spit indoors so they shouldn't do it on the football pitch.

"If they are spitting near other people it could certainly increase the risk of passing on infections.

"Certainly, spitting is a nasty habit that should be discouraged - and it should be discouraged by the clubs. It's about setting examples for young people who idolise them."

Bolton manager Gary Megson said on Tuesday that several players were suffering with swine flu.

His comments came a day after Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce said the virus had struck players at his club. - Sapa-AFP

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