Some background: I was a former biology major and "whiz kid". In my immunology and pathology lab, my lab class was given the assignment to identify
an unknown bacteria. I was one of the three students in the class that was entrusted with an actual contagion and the most highly contagious one at
that (conjuctivitis, oooo so scary lol). Nobody got conjuctivitis. In other labs, I also uncovered E. Coli contamination in a man-made water feature
in my area and was given special permission by the university to continue testing. My results were given to the local government and the lake was
closed. The reason why all the trust? I had great lab safety practices. That said, my daughter still invariably gives me her colds because I can't
refuse her wishing to sleep in my room when she's sick. God knows, I'll be the first to fall because I'm a mother and a sucker, lol.
never goes the other way around because of what I learned in all those bio labs. And I also fell ill from H1N1 back in 2009 after going to a
convention. The catch on that is that I didn't pick it up from the convention. I caught it from my fiance who got sick while at the convention. My
infection began several days after the convention was over. And yes, I still hassle him about that.
Understanding how to prevent an infection is very important especially with more and more nasty diseases coming about. There are multiple ways that a
disease can be transmitted. Knowing and understanding these pathways are very important in helping reducing the risk during an epidemic or pandemic.
The most common methods are contact, airborne, waterborne, and through a vector (ie. the female mosquito is the vector for malaria).
1. Wash your hands and frequently. It doesn't even have to be an anti-bacterial soap. Most viruses and bacteria are either washed away or killed
by regular soap. Also important to note is that anti-bacterial soaps are indiscriminate killers. We have a whole slew of friendly bacteria on our
skin that helps shield us from infection that also get killed through the use of hand disinfectants and anti-bacterial soaps. We have a combination
of regular bar soap and anti-bacterial in our home. The anti-bacterial soap gets used in the kitchen and in the bathroom with the cat litter
box--high risk areas. And most importantly, make sure your kids use soap and wash their hands both at home and at school.
2. Wash your hands effectively, especially when ill or dealing with a sick family member. The best routine that I know of is to lather all the way
up to the elbows and rinse the arms and then hands with the fingers pointing down. Don't miss the fingernails or between the fingers and don't
rush. Instead, mentally sing "Happy Birthday" twice before rinsing if you really want to be certain that your hands are truly clean and free of bad
bacteria and viruses. When shutting off the water, especially in a public area, avoid placing your hand on the faucet. Use a paper towel or a part
of your arm that isn't going to make it up to your mouth, nose, or eyes. Same goes with the bathroom door.
3. Most colds/flus that cause coughing are airborne. All that coughing is basically their way of getting to a new host. In the case of a possible
epidemic, having a few medical masks on hand isn't a bad idea and it reduces spread of an illness within a home (I did this when I had H1N1 and
neither of my children fell ill).
4. Quarantine any sick individual to their room with the door closed. Fresh air isn't a bad thing but keeping them away from all other family
members in the same house and from touching shared objects helps prevent transmission.
5. Disinfect surfaces regularly, including door knobs and phones. You'd be amazed at how many lovelies grow in a culture just from a quick swab of
a door knob. There's a reason why I'm OCD. lol
6. Control potential vectors for disease. Most vectors fall under what I call the "creepy bloodsucker" rule. If it sucks blood, then odds are
it's a vector for a disease. With temperatures being warmer and some areas increasing in precipitation, this has lead to increases in flea and lice
populations. Keeping your animals free from fleas is always a good idea to keep them from suffering but also keep an eye out for lice in your kids'
hair. Even clean kids can get lice. There's a ton of information on the net about controlling both of these. Also avoid having standing pools of
water in your yard to avoid attracting mosquitoes.
Also be careful in dealing with mouse droppings. Warmer weather and increased precipitation are also associated with increased population sizes of
mice and rats. There are multiple states in which mice may carry Hantavirus. Follow all the instructions available online when disposing of mouse
7. Stay home when you're sick. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why there seems to be so many bugs about and it may be pointless to say
as many employers don't take too kindly to people calling in sick. Just understand that when you leave your house sick, you are exposing just about
everyone you come into contact with to the same thing that you have.
If you must go to work, there are few common courtesy rules for you:
1. Wear a medical mask to avoid airborne transmission. Yeah, it's embarrassing but you'd be a tool if you didn't. When I had H1N1, that's what I
did because there was nobody else to go to the grocery store and my kids needed food. I survived the awkwardness.
2. Wash your hands frequently using the techniques above. Don't be the jerk that gets everybody sick.
3. Avoid touching common objects. Use your arm or wrist to open doors when possible. No touchy!
4. Use the crook of your elbow to cover your face when you cough or sneeze and for the love of God, wash your hands thoroughly after a nose blowing
That's all I can think of offhand. Even following these rules with the kiddy exception (how can I refuse THAT? lol), I still will pick up colds.
However, I don't pick up nearly as many as I probably could as my immune system is naturally suppressed. Considering I typically catch 1 cold a year
and generally do not catch the flu, I do pretty darn good.