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Infection Control

How Germs Spread

The main way that illnesses like colds and flu are spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes.

This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and are deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Germs also can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches his or her own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands. We know that some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks.

Stop the Spread of Germs

• Cover your mouth and nose

• Clean your hands often

• Remind your children to practice healthy habits, too

Remember: Keeping hands clean is one of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy.

Hands should be cleaned:

- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- Before preparing or eating food
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers or helping a child in the bathroom
- After handling animals or animal waste
- Before and after treating a wound
- After handling garbage
- Before and after caring for the sick
- After contact with a patient’s equipment
- When your hands are dirty

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands.

Soap and Water Procedure

1. Wet hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
2. Rub hands together to make a lather. Scrub the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails.
3. Continue scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
4. Rinse hands well under running water.
5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry.
6. Use paper towel or elbow to turn off faucet

Waterless Procedure

1. Apply handrub to the palm of one hand.
2. Rub hands together, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers.
3. Rub until handrub is absorbed.