Staying Healthy – Preventing the Spread of ALL Viruses

Staying Healthy – Preventing the Spread of ALL Viruses


SPOTLIGHT ON HEALTH

Staying Healthy – Preventing the Spread of ALL Viruses

By Kendra Gohl, RN

Good hand hygiene fights off infection

To ward off viral infections, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Recent news about the new coronavirus, COVID-19, has many people worried. While there are good reasons for our public health officials to urge caution, there are many things you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy—without going to extremes.

Viruses are microscopic organisms that vary from simple to highly complex. Each has unique traits, including how it moves from one person to another, how it infects people, and who it infects.

Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. They can only be prevented through vaccines and healthy habits. The best way to prevent getting and spreading viruses is by building these healthy habits into your everyday life:

  • Clean your hands often. See the sidebar for the best way to clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday with a bleach-based cleanser. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  • Take care of your immune system by getting proper nutrition, hydration, sleep and exercise.

When you are sick, it’s important that you prevent spreading the virus to others. One thing that makes COVID-19 concerning, is that it spreads quickly. Early data suggests that one sick person can infect several others.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in Hubei province and other parts of China. In the United States, spread from person-to-person has occurred only among a few close contacts and has not spread any further to-date.”

With any infection, you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick, unless you need medical care. Avoid public places, including work, school, stores, etc.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately clean your hands.
  • Clean your hands often. See the sidebar for the best way to clean your hands.
  • Limit contact with other people in your household to prevent spreading the virus to them.
  • Avoid sharing items, including glasses, cups, utensils, towels.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to practice good hygiene. Together, we can slow or stop the spread of virus, including COVID-19, the flu and the common cold.

Cleaning Your Hands, Tips from the CDC

Washing your hands often with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs. Here’s how:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When you can’t use soap and water to wash your hands, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60- to 95-percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.


Columbia Memorial Hospital Director of Nursing, Kendra Gohl

Kendra Gohl is an infection prevention nurse and CMH’s Director of Nursing Services. She was recognized by the March of Dimes as Small Hospital Nurse of the Year in 2016. She has been at CMH since 1992.

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