Prevent Germs from Spreading
You can find germs everywhere—in the air, on food, plants, animals, your body, and pretty much every other surface—and most of them won’t affect you. Your body is protected from germs thanks to your immune system.
However, when harmful germs breach the immune system, you can become sick. The flu, for example, spreads mainly through droplets made when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes. The common cold can spreads in a similar way.
When your child or a loved one has a cold, the flu, or an infection, you can take the following steps to prevent the spread of illness:
- Get the flu vaccine to protect yourself and loved ones from the infection.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick when possible. If your child is sick, keep him home to stop the spread of illness.
- Wash your hands. This is one of the single best ways to stop the spread of infection and avoid getting sick. Scrub hands with soap for at least 20 seconds—or the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Encourage respiratory hygiene, or covering the nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow when sneezing and coughing. Discourage the use of a hand to cover or wipe the nose and mouth, because this contributes to the spread of germs. Teach your child to throw away tissues immediately after use.
- Disinfect. Wipe off all of the surfaces in your home, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, with a household bleach solution or disinfectant to eliminate germs.
If you or your child have symptoms that persist for longer than 10 days or are severe or unusual, or if you have a fever of greater than 100.4 degrees, call your physician or pediatrician.