PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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:
- Wash your hands. This is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating and after using the toilet.
- Get vaccinated. Immunization can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep your recommended vaccinations, as well as your children's, up to date.
- Stay home. Don't go to work if you're 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. In addition, promptly refrigerate leftovers — don't let cooked foods remain at room temperature for extended periods of time.
- Practice safe sex. 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. Don't fly when you're ill. With so many people confined to a small area, you may infect other passengers on the plane. And your trip won't be comfortable, either. If you're traveling out of the country, talk to your doctor about any special vaccinations you may need.
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- Facts about infectious diseases. Infectious Diseases Society of America. http://www.idsociety.org/Facts_About_ID/#. Accessed Oct. 8, 2012.
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- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2006/clinical.htm. Accessed Oct. 10, 2012.