What Is an Infection?

You get an infection when germs enter your body and multiply, causing illness, organ and tissue damage, or disease.  Infection can develop after an injury or wound to the skin or mucous membranes (such as the inside of the nose or mouth), a bite or sting, a tattoo or piercing, or other skin problems. Symptoms of infection may include:

  • Fast pulse rate
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing and/or wheezing
  • Stiff neck and/or headaches
  • Yellow, tan or green drainage from a cut or wound
  • Swelling near a cut or wound
  • Red skin, skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Cloudy or very dark urine
  • Pain and/or burning with urination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Chills and/or sweating
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Illnesses that spread from one person to another are called infectious diseases. Each one has its own way or ways of spreading. Contact with infected body fluids (such as blood, urine, feces, mucus) or with the droplets that are sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs is a way an infectious disease can spread. Sometimes, the illness can spread through an indirect ling, such as having contact with items that have been freshly soiled by drainage from infected sores or discharges from the patient’s body openings (nose, mouth, eyes, rectum).

Controlling the spread of an infectious disease means interrupting the way the illness travels from an infected person to a noninfected person. For example, if you have a cold and cover your mouth when you sneeze, you are stopping the spread of infected droplets.

Careful personal hygiene and household cleanliness are very effective in preventing the spread of disease. These and other helpful infection control measures are discussed below.


Decrease your exposure to people with infectious diseases:

  • Do not lick your fingers or taste from the mixing spoon while cooking.
  • Do not share foods and drink with others
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or your hand when sneezing and coughing. Put the soiled tissue into waste bag. Wash your hands.
  • Avoid people with bacterial infections, cold sores, shingles, influenza, colds, chickenpox, measles.
  • Avoid people who have been recently vaccinated.
  • Avoid crowds whenever possible.

Clean your household thoroughly:

  • Clean the kitchen counter with scouring powder.
  • Dust and vacuum weekly.
  • Mop the kitchen and bathroom floors weekly and when spills occur
  • Clean the inside of the refrigerator weekly with soap and water.
  • Add a teaspoon of bleach to each quart of water used foi flower vases
  • Add a teaspoon vinegar to each quart of water or saline used for respiratory equipment, humidifiers or dehumidifiers.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning bird cages, litter boxes, aquariums and the like.
  • Use exhaust fans vented to the outside.
  • Thoroughly ventilate your home with fresh air.
  • Avoid household clutter

Clean contaminated household and medical equipment thoroughly.

  •  Clean such articles as soap dishes and denture cups weekly.
  • Do not use the same sponge to clean the bathroom and tlv kitchen
  • Do not pour mop water down the kitchen sink.
  • Do not clean sponges or rags at the kitchen sink.
  • Disinfect mops and sponges weekly by soaking in a one part bleach to nine parts water solution for 5 minutes.
  • Flush body wastes down the toilet,
  • Do not clean bedpans, potty seats and urinals in the kitchen sink.
  • Do not share towels, washcloths, lingerie, undergarments and toothbrushes.
  • Scrub medical equipment with a 70% alcohol solution or a solution of one part bleach to 30 parts water.

Wash your hands thoroughly:

  • Wet your hands with plenty of soap and warm water
  • Work up a lather over your hands and wrists.
  • Rub the palm of one hand over the back of the other and rub them together several times. Repeat for the other hand.
  • Interlace the fingers of both your hands and rub them bac and forth.
  • Clean under your fingernails with a nail brush or orange stick.
  • Rinse your hands and wrists thoroughly.
  • Dry your hands and wrists thoroughly.

Maintain good personal hygiene:

  • Change dirty clothing and bed linens as soon as you notice soiling.
  • Wear clean and laundered clothes.
  • Trim your fingernails and toenails weekly
  • Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth after every meal and at bedtime,
  • Wash your hair at least weekly.
  • Wash your body every day.