How to Prevent Bacterial Diseases

A bacterium is a microscopic germ that can create human disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 160,000 people die due to infectious diseases, many caused by bacterial infections. People are exposed to numerous types of bacteria every day 1. While various theories explain the reasons why some individuals become infected and die from bacterial diseases while others show no symptoms, scientists do agree on the best methods to prevent bacterial infection.

Wash your hands. The hands are exposed to a myriad of bacteria from surfaces in the home and work environments 1. Bacteria thrive on coins, other humans and animals 1. Hands should be washed with warm water and soap, or an alcohol hand gel, after touching bodily fluids, before and after using the restroom, after touching animals, after touching an injury of any kind, and after exposure to soil and dirt. Wash the hands more frequently when exposed to sick people at home or work.

Disinfect home and work. Use a product that uses the word “disinfectant” to clean all surfaces that are routinely used. Products that destroy germs are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and have received an official registration number.

Practice sound food preparation safety. Hands should be washed before, during and after food preparation, especially when cooking beef, poultry, eggs and seafood. Never reuse plates used in preparation of these items. Disinfect all kitchen surfaces, tools and cutting boards. Never thaw foods on the countertop, eat food that has passed its expiration date, or eat raw or uncooked food.

Practice proper food storage. Store refrigerated food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and frozen food at 0 degrees or below. Refrigerated and frozen food should not be left out for more than two hours. If this happens, discard the items.

Use common sense in handling animals. Avoid exposure to all wild animals, which can carry bacteria harmful to humans 1. Household pets also carry bacteria, and care is necessary when children are exposed to animals 1. Washing hands after any pet exposure is recommended by the CDC (saliva exposure is particularly dangerous). Do not allow children to place their mouth on the pet. Animal toys should be kept outdoors, not in the home, when small children are also in the home. Disinfect animal food and water dishes every day when the pet’s food is prepared.


Do not self-medicate with antibiotics. These drugs are the last line of defense against bacteria, and taking leftover antibiotics (especially when not actually needed to cure an illness) helps bacteria to develop a resistance to the medications. Follow advice from a medical practitioner.

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