Stopping the spread of germs

We all have germs. Some germs are helpful and some germs are harmful. People, animals and the environment always carry bacteria, although most bacteria don’t cause illness and may even be good for us.

But some germs, such as viruses that can cause coughs and rashes, may cause infections making you and others sick. These germs are called pathogens. Preventing illness, such as influenza and COVID-19, means stopping the spread of the germs that can cause illness. Here are some ways to stop the spread.

Clean your hands

People spread germs by coughing and sneezing or by not washing their hands often enough. Someone else can pick up these germs on their hands. But they won’t get sick unless the germs get into their body. This happens when soiled hands touch the mouth, nose, or eyes. Washing your hands properly, and often, will help keep you and those around you healthier.

Cover your cough or sneeze

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. If one isn’t handy, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, the germs can land on the next surface you touch. If it’s a surface that a lot of other people touch, like a doorknob, the germs can spread to a lot more people.

Clean and disinfect surfaces

Soiled items and surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and then disinfected

You can use a household sanitizer or disinfectant or make your own - look for a label that says it is a disinfectant or sanitizer. Follow the instructions carefully on how long the product needs to stay on the surface to work.

Make your own sanitizer

To disinfect surfaces that can be bleached, you can mix up a mild solution (1:100) of bleach and water:

  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) bleach in 2 cups (500 millilitres) of water

If you are cleaning and sanitizing after a surface is soiled with body fluids (vomit or diarrhea), use a stronger solution (1:10):

  • ¼ cup (62 millilitres) bleach in 2¼ cups (562 millilitres) of water

The bleach solution should stay on the surface for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Stay home if you’re ill

It is important to stay at home and not go to work or social events when you are sick. By doing so, you may avoid spreading germs to coworkers and friends.

  • Children should stay home from school and daycare when sick.
  • Foodhandlers with diarrhea must not work with food until they are symptom-free for 24 hours
  • If you work in a healthcare facility, you may be asked to stay off work for longer periods during outbreak situations.

Get immunized

Make sure you and your children get the vaccines recommended by your health care provider at the proper times. Adults need tetanus and diphtheria boosters repeated every 10 years. Additional vaccines may be needed for protection from illnesses when traveling to other countries.