Have you ever done one of these things?
- come in contact with other human beings
- shared a razor, earrings, or toothbrush
- helped a child blow his or her nose
- tended to a sick friend
- entered a public bathroom or gym
- ridden public transportation
- had a tattoo or body piercings
- petted an animal
- just moved around in your own home
If you answered yes, then you have transferred germs.
It’s okay; it’s the world we live in, and our world is so much safer than the world used to be.
In truth, we must have a certain amount of exposure to germs to build up immunity. The good news is, there are some really simple habits you can adopt to prevent risk of illness, keep yourself healthier, and prevent infection from spreading to others. Simply understanding the principles behind the prevention of disease transmission helps.
Most infections are spread by:
- direct contact (touch)
- indirect contact (touching objects that have been infected)
- a vector (bites from infected persons, bugs, or animals); or
- an airborne pathogen (breathing infected droplets).
The number one way to spread infection is by direct hand contact. Hands touch things, wipe noses, cover coughs, clean infected surfaces.
Hand washing is the single most effective prevention for the spread of infections and the key to infection control.
E.coli, which can cause a range of diseases from pneumonia to diarrhea, is often spread by indirect contact—for instance, touching objects and eating food that has been infected by germs on hands.
Washing your hands frequently with warm soapy water, especially after toileting, goes a long way to prevent the spread of germs. Wash all parts of your hands and nails for at least 15 seconds. If necessary, use an alcohol-based hand hygiene product as an alternative when you cannot wash.
Influenza, an airborne disease, can easily be spread by picking up fluids and passing to others. A flu shot is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu, but it’s not 100 percent effective.
So, cover your coughs and sneezes and safely throw away infected tissues.
Wash pillow coverings and bedding often.
Wearing a face mask can help protect you as well as those around you if someone in your community might have the flu.
It’s not always possible to avoid germs, but you can help protect yourself and others with safe practices.
Sources of information: The Center for Disease Control, The Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
By: Lev Norford, Director of Communications, BRC