The most important thing you can do to avoid contagious diseases such as the common cold, strep throat, or even the flu, is to wash your hands. By frequently washing your hands, you wash away germs that you have picked up from people or contaminated surfaces. There are several ways you can prevent the spread of infection, such as:
- Clean your hands. Spend at least 15 seconds working up a good lather with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Pay special attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. Be sure to clean your hands before touching or eating food and after you use the bathroom, take out the trash, change a diaper, or visit someone who is ill.
- Make sure healthcare providers wash their hands or wear gloves. Before your healthcare provider treats you, ask them if they've washed their hands. Don't be afraid to ask them if they should be wearing gloves.
- Cover your mouth and nose Many diseases are spread through sneezing and coughing. when you sneeze or cough, germs can travel three feet or more. Cover your mouth and nose to prevent the spread of infection to others. Keep a tissue handy and be sure to throw it away after coughing or sneezing into it. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the bend of your elbow. If you must cough or sneeze into your hands, immediately clean your hands, as described above.
- If you are sick, avoid close contact with others.
- Keep your vaccinations current to avoid diseases nd fight the spread of infection.
- Do not visit a patient if you are not well.