Infection is defined as the entry and an increase in number of an infectious agent in the tissue of a host (in this case, you). If those infectious agents cause harm to the host (by making you sick), then the infection can manifest signs and symptoms. If the infectious disease can be transmitted either directly or indirectly from one person to another, then it is called a communicable disease or infectious disease. You can limit your exposure to these diseases by taking precautions, and using self-help strategies.
Wash your hands before and after contact with an infected person.
In standard or universal precautions, all bodily fluids from the infected person are considered contagious. Hand washing is one of the most standard ways that you can avoid becoming infected once you have had contact with an infected person. When you rub your hands together while washing them, you remove the microorganisms that could be present. To wash your hands thoroughly:
Get a paper towel to turn on the faucet. Wet your hands with soap and water. Apply enough soap and let it lather in your hands. Rub your hands palm to palm. Put your right palm over the other hand with the fingers interlaced and vice versa.
Rub your hands palm to palm with interlaced fingers. Rub the backs of your fingers to the opposing palms, interlocking your fingers. Rub the left thumb in a rotating motion together with the clasped right palm and vice versa. Rub your clasped fingers back and forth
Rinse your hands with water. Pat dry with a towel. Get a new paper towel and turn off the faucet.
Wash for the appropriate amount of time, or use hand sanitizer.
According to the World Health Organization, the ideal duration of washing your hands is to sing the Happy Birthday song two times while you wash.
You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an alternate if soap and water are not available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can kill microorganism by dissolving their cellular membrane.
Take precautions against diseases that are transmitted through direct contact.
Infections can be spread through stool, urine, vomitus, wound drainage, and other bodily fluids. These are considered forms of direct contact. Diseases can also be spread when you touch something that an infected person has touched (this is called indirect contact). You can use personal protective equipment to guard against both direct and indirect contact.
Gloves. These create a barrier between your hands and any infected surface.
Also, hand washing is done before and after contact with infected persons if you work in a hospital or are taking care of someone that is ill.
Take precautions against diseases that are spread through droplets.
If you are taking care of someone who is sick, you should wear a face mask in case the person sneezes or coughs. When a person sneezes or coughs, microorganisms can be projected into the air.
However, they do not remain in the air for long, but face masks can still help to protect you.
Protect yourself from airborne diseases.
Airborne diseases specifically spread through the air. The disease particles are very small, so a specific mask must be used. Get a N95 face mask that can protect you against these tiny airborne diseases.
Keep in mind that a person who is infected with an airborne disease will be kept in a special room at the hospital. This room will suck the air out through special ventilation devices. This may, anyone who enters the room will not be exposed to a great amount of the disease.
Get vaccinated against communicable diseases when possible.
There are some vaccines against communicable diseases like Yellow Fever. The vaccination process involves exposing you to a controlled amount of the virus, so that your immune system gains the ability to fight the virus off.
Talk to your doctor about what vaccines may be available for the diseases in your specific area. You should also get certain vaccines if you are planning on travelling to areas that have communicable diseases.
Clean your house thoroughly.
Some surfaces and equipment are more commonly exposed to microorganisms than others. These items include:
Cloths and sponges. These materials are home to different microorganisms because they often come in contact with dirty surfaces such as the floor and dirty counters. As much as possible, use disposable cloths or paper towels. Reusable cloth or sponges should be disinfected in a bleaching solution after use and sundry.
Mops and buckets. These are considered one of the dirtiest tools at home as they always come in contact with the floor. Use two buckets when mopping. One for the detergent and one for rinsing. Also, after each use, disinfect the mop and bucket in a bleaching solution and leave to sun dry.
Lavatories. Always flush after each use and use antibacterial or antimicrobial disinfectants to clean the toilet at least every other day.
Sinks. Disinfect it with antibacterial or antimicrobial disinfectants at least every other day.
Curtains. They absorb most of the dust and other particles suspended in the air. Wash them at least once a week and use detergents that have antimicrobial properties.
Floors. Use a mop soaked in an antimicrobial solution to clean the floor. Clean up spills as they happen, as microorganisms generally thrive in wet environments.
Pets. Separate pet food from human food.
Ensure proper waste management.
Spoiled foods must be properly disposed of and trash cans should be kept sealed at all times to avoid attracting pests like rodents and cockroaches. Garbage also can be a place for microorganisms to thrive in.
Remove any stagnant water from around your home.
Stagnant water can be a place for mosquitoes and other intermediate carriers of communicable diseases, such as flies, to thrive in and lay eggs.
Avoid drinking contaminated water.
If you are concerned that your water has been contaminated, there are ways that you can sterilize the water so that you can drink it. However, it is often best to call in professionals so that they can test the water first..
Boiling. Water should be brought to a boiling point for at least 15 minutes before removing it from the fire. This ensures that microorganisms in the water are killed.
Chemical Disinfectants. Substances like chlorine and iodine are dissolved in water to remove parasites. However, this is not 100% effective, thus filtering or boiling water should also be used.
Portable Filtration Devices. Contains a pore size of less than 0.5 microns to filter viruses. It should be used in combination with either a boiling method or chemical disinfectant.
Bottled Water. Rather than risk your health, you could simply opt to buy bottled water instead of drinking possibly contaminated water.
Avoid eating street foods.
It is hard to know how street foods have been prepared, so try to avoid them as much as possible. If food is undercooked, or prepared in dirty environments, there is a good chance that it could cause you to get sick.
Practice safe sex.
There are communicable diseases that can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse. If you are sexually active, use a condom because it can serve as a physical barrier between your genitals and bodily fluids.
Avoid sharing personal items.
This includes eating utensils, toothbrush, razor, handkerchiefs and nail clippers. These items are potential sources of harmful microorganisms.
Increase your self-awareness.
Watch the news and keep track of any outbreaks of communicable diseases in your area. Maintain a good understanding of how those diseases are transmitted (are they airborne? are they passed through bodily fluids only?).
Understand that there must be a causative agent .
A causative agent is any microorganism that is capable of producing an illness. These include bacteria, virus, parasites, fungi protozoa and other harmful microorganism..
Know that there must be a reservoir of infection.
This includes the environment and objects which an organism can thrive in and multiply.
Be aware that there must be a portal of exit.
This is the path or way in which a certain organism leaves the reservoir.
Recognize the different modes of transmission.
This is the means by which a certain infectious agent passes from the portal of exit from the reservoir to the susceptible host. It can be transmitted through four modes:
Contact Transmission – the most common mode of transmission which is divided into:
Direct contact – the infection is transferred from person to person.
Indirect contact – the infection is transferred when a person comes in contact with a contaminated object.
Droplet spread – the infection is transferred through respiratory secretions that can travel up to 3 feet (0.9 m).
Airborne transmission – the infection is transferred through fine particles that are suspended in the air for a prolonged period and inhaled.
Vehicular transmission – the infection is transferred through articles or substances that harbour the organism until it is ingested by the host; transmission by inanimate objects such as food, water, fomites or dust.
Vector-borne transmission – the infection is transferred by intermediate carriers such as mosquitoes, flea, flies and other bites from animals or insects.
Understand that there must be a portal of entry.
This is the venue wherein the microorganism gains complete entrance into the host.
Be aware that the microorganism must have a susceptible host.
This includes a weakened human body or animals; in cases where their immune system cannot fight the microorganism, the microorganism will launch an infectious disease.
Know that avoiding communicable diseases is best done by breaking the chain of infection.
That is, altering the mode of transmission. If the person knows how to prevent it, then the likelihood of getting a communicable disease is lower.