How Can You Prevent Spreading Germs That Cause Sickness?

There was a time when people got sick and no one knew why. They didn’t know that germs invisible to the naked eye were common.

It was 1676 when the first bacteria was discovered. And it was 1898 when the first virus was observed and noted by scientists. Scientists also learned fungi and protozoa were out there looking for ways to spread using humans as hosts or carriers.

We’ve been learning about germs and how to stop them ever since.

One thing we’ve learned is that each of us can help prevent the spread of potentially life-threatening germ-borne infections and infectious diseases by taking a few simple steps.

How to Prevent Infections

The National Library of Medicine points out some steps we can all take to save ourselves and others from illnesses ranging from cold or flu to worse infections.

  • Proper hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes using a strong tissue or the crease of your elbow.
  • Keep tissues and hand cleaners handy and use them.
  • Do not cough into your hands.
  • Do not sneeze into your hands.
  • Keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay up to date on your immunizations.

To effectively wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands and wrists, then apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds so the soap gets bubbly.
  • Remove rings or scrub under them.
  • If your fingernails are dirty, use a scrub brush.
  • Rinse your hands clean with running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean paper towel.
  • Do not touch the sink and faucets after you wash your hands. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

Here’s an option for cleaning your hands: Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner (sanitizer). These products work if your hands aren’t visibly soiled.

  • Take about a dime-size dollop in your hand.
  • Rub your hands together covering all hand surfaces front and back.
  • Rub your hands until they’re dry.

Another Way to Prevent the Spread of Germs and Sickness

Stay home if you feel sick or have a fever. This helps protect everyone at work, school or the places you routinely go to.

If you’re sick and have questions about the potential to infect others, check with your health care provider.

Meet the Author

Angela Tonozzi, MD, MS is the System Director-Infection Prevention at Aurora Health Care in Elm Grove, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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