There are literally trillions of germs in the world, with a good number of them being able to spread disease. These include bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, and viruses like the rhinovirus and the coronavirus.That said, it’s important to understand the difference between infectious diseases and contagious diseases first. This way, you can behave accordingly and make the right decisions in order to protect yourself and/or your loved ones. Knowing the distinction between the two is also crucial in times of health emergencies, so that certain policies can be enacted for the good of the public.
Now, onto broad definitions. An infectious disease is something that can get passed onto you by an infectious agent, like an animal, insect, or even spores from a plant, but you cannot pass it on to someone else. For example, you can get food poisoning from the bacteria in spoiled food but you can’t pass this condition to others.
Meanwhile, a contagious disease is an infectious disease that can spread from one person to another through a variety of means. For example, if a person has influenza or flu, commonly known as trangkaso, they can expel droplets into the air when they cough or sneeze. Then, if you inhale enough of these droplets, you may also get sick. Some other ways contagious diseases can spread to others include direct physical contact and exposure to bodily fluids like saliva or blood.
With that out of the way, below is a list of some of the many things you can do to avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of contagious diseases:
Wash Your Hands Frequently and Properly
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease, both infectious and contagious, is frequent and proper handwashing. You never know what kinds of germs you pick up from the objects and surfaces you come in contact with; so, it’s best to be cautious and get rid of microbes before they get the chance to cause illness.
When you wash your hands, make sure to be thorough. Remember to scrub not just the palms, but also the backs of your hands, individual fingers, and under the fingernails. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. If you don’t have access to soap and water, alcohol or alcohol-based sanitizers will do. Just make sure to wash your hands properly again once you’re able.
A lot of contagious diseases can be prevented by vaccines, including measles, whooping cough or pertussis, and chickenpox. If it’s available to you and you don’t have any conditions that result in incompatibility, it’s in your best interests to get a vaccine for as many diseases as you can. Even if a vaccine doesn’t guarantee 100% prevention, it can still reduce the severity of the disease and even decrease the risk of transmission.
For children, it’s important to get the following vaccines when they reach the right age: chickenpox, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), HepA, and Hib. You can also have them vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, as well as COVID and HPV (human papillomavirus). Getting an annual flu vaccine is also highly recommended.
For adults, the HPV vaccine is recommended if you haven’t had it yet. A DTaP booster is also ideal every 10 years, as well as a flux vaccine every year. For pregnant women, an extra shot for DTaP and tetanus is recommended during the 27th to 26th week.
Don’t Share Personal Items, Especially Those That Can’t Be Disinfected
As mentioned, contagious diseases can be spread through a variety of means. These include fomites, which are objects that carry infection. Some examples of fomites are eating utensils, clothes, and hygiene items like toothbrushes and nail cutters. Do note that many fomites can also be washed or disinfected; however, it’s better not to risk anything, especially if the disease is highly contagious.
Take Care of Your Pets and Don’t Touch Wild Animals
If you have pets, make sure that they’re vaccinated. It’s also important to bathe them regularly, so that they’re less likely to pick up and transmit germs. While zoonotic diseases are rarely contagious, your pets can still get exposed to other illnesses that can be spread by humans.
It’s also best if you stay away from wild animals, even those that seem harmless enough like small birds. If you or anyone you know has touched or has been exposed to wild animals, wash hands immediately and take a thorough shower as soon as you’re able.
Stay Home If You’re Sick
Finally, if you’re feeling sick, it’s best to limit your close contact with other people. This is especially true if you’re working in an office, because the air in an enclosed, air-conditioned space can recirculate bacteria and viruses. The same can be said for children going to school.
You should also practice coughing and sneezing etiquette by coughing or sneezing into a tissue. You can also do this in the crook of your elbow. This limits the number of aerosols released into the air, thereby lowering the risk of contamination and infection. Make sure to throw the tissue (use a hazmat bin, if available) and wash your hands afterwards. If available, spray some alcohol onto the crook of your elbow as well.
As you can see, many of these things are pretty easy to follow. In fact, you might think of them as basic. However, there are many people who actually forget to do these things and end up getting sick. Remember these health tips to lessen the risk of spreading contagious diseases. This will not only protect yourself, but also those around you.