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Preventing Infections


An infection

is an illness that is caused by germs, such as bacteria or a virus. Infections can spread from one person to another through direct contact or the air. You can be infected when you touch things that are used by people with infections. These things can include doorknobs, used tissues, and sometimes dirty laundry. Germs can spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes.

Prevent the spread of infection:

  • Wash your hands. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent infection. Wash your hands several times each day. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they use the bathroom. Everyone should also wash their hands after they change a child's diaper and before they prepare or eat food.
    • After you wash your hands, gently rub them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Hold a paper towel in your hand while you turn off the water tap. When you leave the bathroom, hold a paper towel in your hand as you touch the door handle.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand rub if there is no water. Carry it with you when you leave the house. Before using a hand rub, wipe dirt off of your hands as much as you can. Your hands should be dry before hand rub is used. Rub your hands together until all of the hand rub liquid has dried up.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, sneeze and cough into the bend of your elbow.
  • Use a disinfectant cleaner. If you do not have a disinfectant cleaner, create a cleaning solution by mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Keep surfaces clean. Surfaces include the toilet, the area around the toilet, the sink, the area around the sink, and faucets. The toilet should be cleaned after each use if you have infectious diarrhea. If someone in your home has an infection, items that you use often should be cleaned daily. These items include phones, doorknobs, and remote controls. Clean the shower or bathtub after each use.
  • Wash dishes and silverware in a dishwasher or in hot water. Do not use unwashed dishes or silverware. .
  • Do not share personal items. Do not use toothbrushes, towels, or washcloths that have been used by others.
  • Get vaccinated. Flu and pneumonia vaccines can help prevent infection. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about getting vaccinated.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.