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Modern Prevention Tips on Infectious Disease Pt2

Infectious Disease Prevention Pt2

 

In part one of this series on Infectious Diseases it was explained what infectious diseases were…in this article, the basics of prevention will be discussed.

 

Basic Hygiene and safe food handling procedures will prevent or stop most if not all of these viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa. We are fortunate to currently live in a time when sanitation and personal hygiene are easy and affordable for many people. More will be discussed at a later time on hygiene and sanitation in undesirable or ‘unmodern’ situations and suggestions will be given on the how to part ‘just in case’.

Hygiene
Hygiene is the science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health by reducing harmful levels of germs through cleanliness and sterilization. The two most common hygienic practices are: 1) washing hands and food preparation areas with soap, and 2) cooking food and boiling drinking water. Washing with soap removes oils and breaks up dirt particles so they may be washed away, whereas cooking and boiling kill harmful organisms that cannot be removed by washing. You can prevent diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites by keeping a clean environment and by handling food in a sanitary manner. Most intestinal parasites are transmitted by contact with feces from an infected person or pet. These are some of the most important sanitation practices to help you maintain your health:

  • Wash your hands before cooking or eating.
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing a child’s diapers, shaking hands, handling money, touching door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, handrails in public places, and handling pets.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or any food after touching any contaminated surfaces until after you have washed your  hands. Wear gloves to prevent contamination. On average, according to the CDC, human beings will touch their eyes, mouth, face, nose or ears at LEAST 3,000 times a day.
  • Do not share personal items such as a tooth brush, hair brush/comb, toe nail clippers or even towels.
  • Keep cutting boards and food preparation areas clean  by washing them with soap and water and allowing them to dry thoroughly.
  • Cook meats and seafood. Cooking to a temperature of  180°F (82°C) will kill disease-causing organisms. Use a meat thermometer when cooking roasts or whole turkeys to be sure food is cooked to a safe temperature.
  • Keep raw food away from cooked food. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate plates for the cooked and the raw      food.
  • Drink purified water and use purified water for washing hands and cleaning food preparation areas. Water can be purified by boiling for a few minutes or by chemical treatments such as chlorination.
  • Keep food refrigerated to delay spoilage. Low temperatures slow down reproduction of bacteria.
  • Don’t let cooked food sit at room temperature too long. Food should be promptly packed in shallow containers so it can chill quickly, and put in the refrigerator. Keeping food refrigerated at or below 4°C/40°F slows down bacterial growth.
  • Vegetables that are eaten raw, such as carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., should be washed thoroughly. The vinegar in some salad dressings will also kill many types of bacteria.
  • Wash fruits that are cut, such as melons, to avoid  transferring any dirt or contamination from the outside of the fruit to  the inside during cutting.
  • Do not eat spoiled food, or any food that has an unpleasant smell or taste. You cannot always see, smell or taste harmful organisms. When in doubt, throw out old food rather than risk getting sick.
  • Breathe clean air. Avoid smoky, dusty, musty environments, or confined places where people are coughing or sneezing.  Wearing a surgical face mask can reduce the chances of contracting or spreading diseases caused by infectious organisms carried in the droplets  from coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid insect bites by using window screens, mosquito netting, insect repellents, and by being indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Many viral, bacterial, and protozoan diseases are transmitted by insect bites from mosquitoes, flies, fleas, and ticks. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include Dengue Fever, Malaria, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, and various types of viral encephalitis such as West Nile virus. Keep your yard clean and devoid of places (or at least make it hard for them to breed in your yard) where they can breed…it goes without saying, empty that pot that is holding water and keep the grass cut short.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on soil or swimming in water contaminated by feces. Hookworm and schistosomiasis infections start when the larvae penetrate the skin. It is possible to get parasites from cats and dogs. Test your pets for parasites regularly and dispose of their feces in a sanitary manner.
  • To prevent wart infections and athlete’s foot, avoid walking barefoot in public areas such as showers or communal changing rooms. Avoid sharing shoes and socks.
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day before going to bed to prevent gum diseases and dental decay.
  • Many diseases are transferred by close contact with an infected individual. Be very selective in your intimate personal relationships, and avoid touching any sores, feces, or body fluids from a sick person. If you must come in contact with someone who maybe sick, wear gloves or wash your hands and wear a face mask if you have to.
  • Keep the kitchen and bathroom areas clean at all times.
  • If you are having symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, tearing eyes, diarrhea, vomiting or are running a temperature…STAY  HOME and avoid as much contact with others as possible to prevent spreading a possible infectious disease…this goes for keeping children home as well unless you know for sure its ‘just allergies’.
  • Stay away from those displaying symptoms if at all possible.
  • Maintain a healthy immune system by eating a proper diet, exercising and low stress levels.
  • Take all prescriptions as prescribed, from heart medication, to antibiotics. A body that is well regulated tends to be able to fight infection better than one that is not.
  • Stay out of the doctors office unless absolutely necessary…doctors can’t help you with a cold and they can’t help with an inner ear infection, only time can. Unless you are experiencing symptoms beyond your control with an OTC, homeopathy or herbs, stay out of the doctors office…many people go in for ‘routine’ yet unnecessary reasons and bring something else home with them…and if you do have to go…insist the doctor and nurses wash their hands when they come in and don’t hesitate to ask about their ‘cleanliness policies’.
  • Reduce situations in which you may come into contact with large numbers of people when there is a high chance of the flu, a      warning has been put out about a possible infectious threat or be sure to take measures to keep yourself safe.
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July 27, 2012 - Posted by | Guidelines, Infectious Disease

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