Stop Germs Cold
When one member of your family gets sick, does everyone else usually get sick, too? This winter, take steps to leave germs out in the cold.
“Spread of colds and flu within households is very common,” says Ericka Hayes, MD, a Washington University pediatric infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “It is more common in winter because more viruses often circulate that time of year.”
When someone with a cold or flu coughs or sneezes, the germs pass to other people through the air or through contact with contaminated surfaces. To help stop this cycle, Dr. Hayes advises that you:
- wash your hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- keep surfaces clean, particularly in areas your family shares
- get flu shots for the whole family, especially children
“Flu shots are very effective in preventing the flu,” says Dr. Hayes. “Without a flu shot, up to 40 percent of children may get influenza, then make everyone at home sick. This can be dangerous for younger siblings, especially infants, who can get very sick or even require hospitalization.”
To prevent illness from spreading to other families:
- Keep children out of day care and school until fever is gone and symptoms have decreased.
- Parents who are sick should stay home from work if at all possible