Preventing all infections is not possible, but the risk of infection can be minimized
by sanitary day-to-day behavioral practices.
Cover up and wear a face mask
To minimize spreading germs, it is better to cough and sneeze into a tissue or your
sleeve, not your hand. If you are ill, or taking care of someone who is ill, or are in
public during an outbreak of respiratory diseases such as the coronavirus, wearing
a face mask that covers both your mouth and nose. A face mask or covering will
provide some, but not perfect protection for you and others. The amount of protection
provided by masks of various types is still being investigated but it is clear
that they significantly decrease transmission of COVID-19. Infection with a low
number of SARS-CoV-2 particles will increase your chance of a mild or inapparent
case of COVID-19.
Physical distancing and ventilation
Social distancing (really physical distancing) of 6 feet or more can curb the spread
of a respiratory virus, including the coronavirus. Avoiding long periods of exposure
and closed-in, poorly ventilated spaces also helps limit the spread of respiratory
Stay home when you have an infectious disease
Isolate yourself when you have an infectious disease. You may infect your colleagues,
members of the public, and slow your own recovery. If you have a fever,
skip your exercise regimen.
Wash your hands often
Use soap, rub hands for at least 20 seconds and use a clean towel. The use of
anti-bacterial soaps are not recommended; they are no better than regular soap at
preventing infections. But if washing with soap and water is not possible, an alcohol-
based hand sanitizer is a reasonably good substitute. It is especially important
to wash after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, using the bathroom or
changing diapers, before eating, when cooking or serving food, touching frequently
touched areas or contaminated items, such as face masks, after contact with a sick
person, or touching an animal or pet. As much as possible, avoid touching the front
of your face mask, your nose, mouth, and eyes with your hands.
Handle and prepare food safely
Food can carry germs. For example, raw eggs may carry salmonella. Wash hands,
utensils, and surfaces often when preparing any meal. Be especially careful with
raw meat; use a separate cutting board for meat and cook meat well to kill germs.
Some authorities suggest always to wash fruits and vegetables. Cook and keep
foods at proper temperatures. To prevent the growth of bacteria, keep food hot or
cold because germs grow best at room temperature. Don’t leave food out—refrigerate
Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces
Bacteria and viruses live on surfaces. The COVID-19 virus can persist on a surface
for up to 72 hours. Cleaning surfaces with soap and water is usually adequate.
However, you should disinfect your bathroom and kitchen regularly and other areas
if someone in the house is ill. You can use an EPA certified disinfectant (look for the
EPA registration number on the label), bleach solution, or rubbing alcohol.
Don’t share personal items
Avoid sharing personal items that can’t be disinfected, like toothbrushes and razors.
Avoid sharing towels. To avoid needle-stick injuries, disposable needles should not
be shared, should only be used once and then placed in a sharps disposal container.
The container can then be disposed of the according to community guidelines.
Avoid touching wild animals
You and your pets should avoid going near or touching living or dead wild animals
that can carry germs or may be infested with fleas (they can jump on you), ticks, or
lice that can cause infectious diseases such as Lyme disease. If you are bitten, talk
to your doctor about the need for specialized treatments. Make sure that your pet’s
vaccinations are up-to-date.
Practice safe sex
Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and have your partner tested.
To avoid STDs, use condoms or abstain. If you have HIV or are at risk of exposure
to HIV, talk to your doctor about treatment and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Be a smart traveler
The risk of getting an infectious disease may be heightened when traveling, particularly
when traveling to developing countries where the standards of sanitation for
food and water may be less stringent. If you travel to a place where water safety is
questionable, use a safe water source such as boiled or bottled water for drinking
and brushing your teeth. Remember that not all bottled water is safe. Some investigation
may be required to discern a reliable source of drinking water. Don’t trust
that the ice in your drink is from a safe source. International soft drink brands and
beers are generally safe. When in developing countries, stick to foods that have
been cooked, and avoid raw vegetables and unpeeled fruits.
Respect others and don’t fly when you are ill. Because you are in a confined space,
you are more likely to infect other passengers. Look up what you need to do for
your health before travel. The CDC website has recommendations for specific
countries. Depending on your destination, you should follow recommendations to
update immunizations, and you may need special immunizations. You may need to
take prophylactic drugs such as antimalarials. Insect repellents may be advisable in
some travel settings.
Use antibiotics sensibly
Take antibiotics only when prescribed. Unless otherwise directed, or allergic to
them, the usual advice is to take all prescribed doses of your antibiotic, even if
you begin to feel better before you have completed the medication. Remember
that most antibiotics are ineffective against viral diseases. Inappropriate overuse
of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant germs, and you may become allergic to the
antibiotic and not be able to use it later on when you need it.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.