It may seem a daunting task to keep yourself and your loved ones free of infections. Beyond the obvious—steering clear of runny noses and hacking coughs—you may be wondering about some other practical ways of staying infection-free. Your skin acts as a natural barrier against harmful microbes that cause infections, but smart “bugs” have found alternative routes to get into your body and cause infection. By making a few simple behavioral changes (which ultimately reduce their access into your body), you can easily prevent the spread of many infectious diseases.
Most infections are spread by picking up germs on our hands from contact with other people or by touching contaminated surfaces. Clean, healthy, intact skin is the best barrier against infection. One of the best ways to stay healthy is to wash or decontaminate your hands. “Hand hygiene” describes either hand washing or decontaminating hands. Washing hands removes the germs from your hands. Decontaminating kills the germs on your hands with the use of alcohol-based hand rubs. If your hands are visibly dirty, wash away the dirt. Otherwise, decontamination is a convenient way to kill the germs.
Don’t share personal items
Toothbrushes, towels, razors, handkerchiefs, and nail clippers can all be sources of infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, and fungi). In kindergarten, you were taught to share your toys, but keep your hands to yourself. Now try to remember to keep personal items to yourself as well!
Cover your cough
Many respiratory diseases can be spread person-to-person by respiratory droplets.
How do I prevent spreading a respiratory infection to others?
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing
- If a tissue is not available, sneeze or cough into your sleeve to contain the droplets (don’t sneeze or cough into your hands)
- Clean hands with soap and water or decontaminate hands with an alcohol-based hand rub
- Stay home if you are ill.
Don’t pick your nose (or your mouth or eyes either)
Not only is it a social taboo, but it also leads to the spread of a number of infections. Look around, and you’ll notice how many people have their hands next to their faces. Many microbes prefer the warm, moist environment inside your nose, as well as other mucous-covered surfaces such as your eyes and mouth. Infections can be easily prevented by avoiding touching of these areas.
Practice safe sex
Sexually-transmitted diseases are probably the most easily preventable infectious disease. By being smart about safe sex (using condoms), transfer of infectious bacteria or viruses from one person to another can be prevented.
Use a registered disinfectant cleaner on hard surfaces that are touched frequently, such as cafeteria tables, door knobs and door push plates, elevator buttons, light switches, desks, restroom fixtures, telephones and computer keyboards. Organisms can survive on hard surfaces for two hours or longer. Frequently cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces can help reduce the spread of infection in homes and in community settings such as offices, stores, schools, hotels, restaurants and healthcare facilities.
Cook food thoroughly
Heating to 70oC (160oF) will inactivate EHEC. When cooking food it is important to use a food thermometer as color is not always a good indicator of cooking temperatures.
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