Infectious agents can enter your body through:
- Skin contact or injuries
- Inhalation of airborne germs
- Ingestion of contaminated food or water
- Tick or mosquito bites
- Sexual contact
Follow these tips to decrease your risk of infecting yourself or others:
July 23, 2014
- Wash your hands. This is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet. And try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, as that's a common way germs enter the body.
- Get vaccinated. Immunization can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep up to date on your recommended vaccinations, as well as your children's.
- Stay home. Don't go to work if you are vomiting, have diarrhea or are running a fever. Don't send your child to school if he or she has these signs and symptoms, either.
- Prepare food safely. Keep counters and other kitchen surfaces clean when preparing meals. Cook foods to the proper temperature using a food thermometer to check for doneness. For ground meats, that means at least 160 F (71 C), for poultry, 165 F (74 C), and for most other meat, at least 145 F (63 C). In addition, promptly refrigerate leftovers — don't let cooked foods remain at room temperature for extended periods of time.
- Practice safe sex. Always use condoms if you or your partner has a history of sexually transmitted infections or high-risk behavior.
- Don't share personal items. Use your own toothbrush, comb and razor. Avoid sharing drinking glasses or dining utensils.
- Travel wisely. If you're traveling out of the country, talk to your doctor about any special vaccinations you may need.
- Understanding microbes in sickness and in health. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/microbes/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed May 20, 2014.
- McPhee SJ, et al., eds. Pathophysiology of Disease. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=339&Sectionid=42811304. Accessed May 20, 2014.
- Levinson W. Review of Medical Microbiology & Immunology. 12th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=400&Sectionid=42098466. Accessed May 20, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed May 20, 2014.
- Walker BR, et al., eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Stopping the spread of germs at home, work & school. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Basics for Handling Food Safely. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/default.htm. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Viral meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html#transmission. Accessed May 22, 2014.