Do your part to stop the spread of germs and infections. Keep these simple tips from Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group in mind to stay healthy, especially during cold and flu season.
Wash Your Hands
The most important step in stopping the spread of germs is washing your hands. It takes more than a spritz of water and soap, though. Use clean, preferably warm water and wet your hands. Then rub soap all over the backs and fronts of your hands, your wrists, and between your fingers. Continue rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds to thoroughly spread the soap and work off grime. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean towel or air dryer. Remember to wash your hands often before preparing food, before eating, after using the restroom, after cleaning, after blowing your nose, after sneezing, after coughing, and whenever someone near you is sick. If water and soap are not available, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Apply the gel to the palm of your hand and rub it all over both hands until your hands are dry.
Get Your Shots
While most people receive many vaccines they need while children, people of all ages still need to receive shots. Immunizations, including the annual flu shot, help not only the person who’s receiving them, but also those with compromised immune systems and those who aren’t vaccinated who can easily catch illnesses from others. Being unvaccinated can be very dangerous. For unvaccinated adults who contract common childhood illnesses such as mumps, there can be serious complications. Make appointments with your primary care physician to be sure you and your kids are up-to-date on vaccines.
Take A Sick Day
If you feel sick, stay home from school or work. Avoid hugging, kissing, shaking hands, or any other physical contact so you don’t spread your illness to others. If you have a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, have symptoms for longer than 10 days, or have unusual or severe symptoms, see your primary care physician.
Don’t Forget About Animals
Keeping your pets healthy and clean prevents the spread of germs from animals to humans. If you have a pet, be sure it is up to date on immunizations and vet visits. Always clean your pet’s bed and living area and wash your hands after handling a pet. If you have a pet reptile, especially turtles, wash your hands very well. Reptiles carry salmonella, which can infect humans and cause diarrhea and stomach cramps. If you are pregnant, never clean a cat’s litter box as the germs are dangerous for your baby.
Also, be careful with wild animals and insects. Wear insect repellent and protective clothing like thick socks to avoid insect bites, especially from disease-carrying mosquitos. If you are bit or scratched by a warm-blooded animal, wash the bite or scratch with soap and water, utilizing the pressure of water coming from a faucet to clean the wound. However, don’t scrub the bite. If you’ve been injured by an animal, visit a doctor. If the wound is severe, call 911 or visit a St. Luke’s Emergency Department. Some animals can carry dangerous diseases, including rabies, so it’s always best to have a physician check your wound. In North America, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and bats most often carry rabies.
Simple steps can stop germs in their tracks. Make an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician to make sure you are doing everything you can to halt the spread of germs and infections.
Pets and Infectious Diseases