Preventing the Spread of Germs

Senior Man blowing his nose

Many diseases and illnesses, including the flu, the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis, are easily spread by contact from person to person. No one wants to catch someone else’s germs, or to give an illness to someone else. You can prevent the spread of diseases, protecting yourself and others in the process, with a few simple precautions.

Prevent Seasonal Flu: Get Vaccinated

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Clean Your Hands Often

Washing handsHandwashing plays a major role in preventing the spread of diseases. According to the CDC, handwashing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infections. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water can protect you from many illness caused by viruses and bacteria. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based handrub (wipes or gel).

When to Wash:

Overall, wash your hands as frequently as you can; however, it is essential to wash your hands at these special times:

  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • Before touching any food or eating
  • After getting visible soil on hands
  • After touching pets, or pet waste
  • After touching sores, lacerations or infected areas

How to Wash:

The following procedure will remove up to 99.9 percent of the germs that get on your hands during the course of daily activities:

  1. Wet your hands with clean warm water
  2. Apply soap
  3. Rub your hands together vigorously, lathering the entire surface of the front and back of the hands, and between fingers. Rub in the soap for at least 20 seconds. (Tip: sing Happy Birthday twice)
  4. Rinse with clean water
  5. Dry hands briskly, and use paper towel to turn off faucet

Avoid Close Contact

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. If you see someone sniffling, sneezing and coughing, keep your distance. Many illnesses can be transmitted through the air, and you can pick them up just by breathing air that was coughed or sneezed into.

Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough into your elbow. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose or Mouth

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

Clean and Disinfect Surfaces or Objects

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu can help slow the spread of influenza.