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Infectious Diseases

What is an Infectious Disease?

An infectious disease can be caused by a virus, bacteria, fungi or parasite. These diseases can be spread by; people, the environment (mosquitoes, ticks), animals, or through contaminated food or water.

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases

You’ve probably heard of infectious diseases like the stomach bug (Norovirus), or respiratory viruses like Influenza (the Flu). These diseases are spread by coming into contact with germs from someone who is sick. Below, we list 5 ways you can prevent yourself and others from getting sick.

Hand washing with soap and water or with hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol content) is the best way to prevent the spread of infections. Not only is using hand sanitizer the easiest way to clean your hands when they don’t have visible dirt on them, it’s also more effective than using soap and water. Rubbing your hands together for 15–20 seconds will remove germs from your hands. For more information on teaching your child how to wash their hands, and other ways you can protect your child from getting sick, visit the Caring for Kids website.

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Many infectious diseases can be prevented by getting immunized. Keeping your immunizations up-to-date; especially your yearly flu shot, can help keep you from getting sick and from spreading germs to other people.

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Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or into your sleeve traps germs and prevents them from spreading to others. It is important to remember that germs are most commonly spread through our hands, so coughing or sneezing into our hands is NOT an effective way to prevent the spread of germs.

  • Cover Your Cough Poster
  • Covering Your Sneeze and Cough Video – Eastern Health Unit; demonstrates how far germs spread and how to effectively cover your cough or sneeze

Infectious diseases spread more easily in group settings; like schools, workplaces and long-term care or retirement homes. If you have any of these symptoms; fever, sore throat, coughing, vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay at home until you are feeling well enough to carry out your normal daily activities.

Germs can live on surfaces for hours, and sometimes even for days. It is important to clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot, like desks, door handles and computer keyboards.

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