How to Prevent the Spread of Diseases

Many diseases and illnesses, including the flu, the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis, are easily spread by contact from person to person. No one wants to catch someone else's germs, or to give an illness to someone else. You can prevent the spread of diseases, protecting yourself and others in the process, with a few simple precautions.

Wash your hands. To prevent the spread of diseases, wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with warm water and soap. Lather the entire surface of the front and back of the hands, rubbing in the soap for at least 20 seconds. Rinse and dry hands well. Don't touch the faucet or door handles with your clean hands. Carry a bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer with you to clean your hands when you can't get to a sink.

Wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing or wiping your nose, coughing, sneezing or being around someone who is sick. Also wash them before eating or handling any food, and before touching an animal or touching garbage.

Stay away from sick people. If you see someone sniffling, sneezing and coughing, keep your distance. Many illnesses can be transmitted through the air, and you can pick them up just by breathing air that was coughed or sneezed into. Avoid people who are sick, as much as possible. If you're sick, do everyone a favor, and stay away until you're better.

Contain your own germs. If you sneeze, grab a tissue and cover your nose. Completely cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands frequently, don't touch others and properly dispose of any tissues or products that contain your germs from coughing and sneezing.

Give your body time to heal. If you've got a fever and are sick, stay home until you're better, and not contagious. Call in sick to work or school. If you have a bacterial infection, and your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed to kill the bacteria and reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Get immunized. Immunizations can be effective in stopping the spread of disease—keeping you from both getting and giving a disease. Get any immunizations that are recommended for your age and risk factors. Get vaccinated against pneumonia and the flu.


Follow good hygiene tips to stop the spread of disease year round, but especially during seasons when certain diseases are most common, such as fall and winter for the flu.


If you do get sick, see a doctor to find out if you are contagious and need medication to treat your illness. Don't take antibiotics unnecessarily, to prevent antibiotic resistance.