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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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Keeping Catchy Infections Contained

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Stomach flu. Chickenpox. Pinkeye. Strep throat. These bugs spread fast. You can catch some of them, like the flu, from a person who doesn’t have symptoms yet.

Sickness spreads in many ways. You can breathe in germs when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes. You get some diseases, like chickenpox or pinkeye, if you touch a person who has it. And you can catch others, like hepatitis B, by having sex with an infected person or by coming in contact with their blood.

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What Adults with HIV Infection Should Know About the Novel H1N1 Flu (formerly called swine flu)

This document has been updated in accordance with the CDC Recommendations for the Amount of Time Persons with Influenza-Like Illness Should be Away from Others. This document provides interim guidance and will be updated as needed. Are people with HIV/AIDS at greater risk than other people of infection with novel H1N1 flu? At the present time, we have no information about the risk of the novel H1N1 flu in people with HIV/AIDS. In the past, people with HIV/AIDS have not appeared to be at...

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Germs are everywhere. Follow these five easy steps to help keep your family clear from catchy infections.

Get Your Shots

You don’t have to get sick. There’s a vaccine for many common contagious diseases.

Make sure your family is up to date on their vaccinations. That includes adults, who should get a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster vaccine (also called Tdap) if they haven’t had one yet. Then they should get a diphtheria/tetanus, or Td, booster every 10 years. People over 60 should get a shot to prevent shingles. People 65 and over need to get two pneumonia shots. And most everyone over 6 months old should get a yearly flu vaccine. Adults may also need any vaccinations that they didn't get as children.

Remember, more shots means fewer chances for disease to spread.

Wash Your Hands

The CDC calls hand washing a “do-it-yourself vaccine.” It’s one of the easiest things you can do to stop germs in their tracks. Follow these steps to make sure:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold).
  • Use soap. Rub your hands together for 20 seconds - about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.

Don’t have soap and water? Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat
  • Before and after you care for a sick person
  • Before and after you treat a cut or wound
  • After you use the bathroom
  • After you change a child’s diaper or clean up after a child who’s used the bathroom
  • After you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze
  • After you touch an animal or its waste
  • After you feed your pet
  • After you touch garbage

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