As we wrote last month, there are some things people can do to help reduce infectious diseases like flu, coronaviruses and other cooties in your home and work environments.
How infectious diseases spread…
Most infectious diseases are spread by close person-to-person contact primarily by touching people or things contaminated with bodily fluids (like pee, poop, sweat, droplets from sneezing, etc) — then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Other diseases (like MRSA) can be spread by sharing personal items like towels or razors or by medical staff using contaminated items like stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, clipboards or charts, and pens. Keep in mind some bacteria or viruses can survive on objects for days, weeks or months.
Some things YOU can do to reduce the spread of germs
Since Bill is very immunocompromised, we are again sharing some things I / we do constantly to keep germs at bay with links to some of our blog posts.
- Carry disinfecting wipes in your vehicles and backpacks, and put some in a baggie before you go out in public to wipe down surfaces of things you have to touch and/or to wipe your hands. (Keep in mind most wipes use ammonia, but there are some industrial wipes that use bleach instead. But never mix ammonia and bleach!)
- Keep a box of cheap plastic disposable gloves in your vehicles so you can put on a pair when pumping gas or using ATMs or even shopping.
- Wipe down everything that comes into your home with disinfecting wipes (or a rag dipped in water and bleach solution) including groceries or other items you buy at stores or something that is delivered to your door via ground or postal service.
- Before you set your purse, backpack or briefcase on your kitchen table or countertop …think about all the places you put those things during the day! Either have a special place for these items in your home or office … or be meticulous about wiping them down before putting them on furniture, counters, carpet, desktops, etc. Also consider getting portable purse hooks to keep it off the floor of restaurants, public restrooms, etc.
- Did you know cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats..?! Think about all the places you use and place your phone every day. Then remember … germs thrive in warm environments and smartphones generate heat — plus your hands, face, mouth and body heat (if you carry your phone in a pocket) all add to the cootie cocktail so learn how to clean your phone.
- Consider getting a UV disinfectant wand because its light rays kill up to 99.9% of germs and comes in handy for all types of handheld devices, ear buds, keyboards, remotes and many other gadgets and household items where cooties can thrive.
- Fist bump rather than shaking hands — or just tell people you don’t shake hands. And if you do shake someone’s hand don’t touch your face (esp. eyes or mouth) before you are able to wash your hands.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to mark the time is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing. If in a public bathroom, use paper towels to turn off water and to open the door when leaving.
- When should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
- When you can’t wash hands while out in public, use a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol in it) or disinfectant wipes on hands (and keys, glasses, door handles, steering wheel, etc.) to reduce the spread of germs. But keep in mind sanitizers don’t work against some bugs so it’s best to wash up. Also people with celiac disease (like Bill) can’t do alcohol sanitizers so find other options like disinfecting wipes or gluten-free sanitizers.
- Tell healthcare workers and visitors to wash their hands before they touch you or your stuff — don’t be timid!
- If you have a fever, stay home! And wait at least 24 hours after fever breaks before you return to work or school.
- Use antibiotics or antiviral meds only when absolutely necessary. Consider boosting your immune system to help fight infections.
- Sick people should cover mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, wash hands often, and wear a face mask around others so you don’t spread your germs to others.
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed.
- Clean counters, doorknobs, fixtures, phones, remotes, nurse call buttons, linens, phones, etc. often with a bleach solution ~ esp. if in a nursing home or hospital room.
- Disinfect things many people at work and school use like microwave buttons, spigots on water coolers, keyboards, calculators, phones, pens, staplers, etc. with a UV wand or bleach solution often or at least carry around some disinfecting wipes so you can clean items before use.
- Don’t share silverware, razors, clothing, towels, or bedding and wash objects with soap and hot water.
- Follow doctor’s instructions and limit activities outside home until fever and symptoms have gone away.
For more information about infectious diseases, visit…
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases