Communicable Disease Control
The health department receives many calls from people concerned about the risk of exposure to various germs and illnesses. A person can become infected by germs in many different ways, including:
- From person to person through direct contact, such as kissing.
- From touching infectious material and then touching eyes, nose or mouth.
- From a healthy person who is not sick, but carries a germ and passes it to others. (The story of “Typhoid Mary” is a famous example of this.)
- From household pets and other animals that may be a carrier of germs.
- The rabies virus, which can infect cats and dogs, is one of the more serious illnesses that can infect humans. Pet reptiles, such as turtles, can transmit Salmonella bacteria to humans.
- From tiny critters, such as mosquitoes and ticks, that carry a variety of germs such as the germs that cause West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.
- From contaminated water and food resulting in foodborne illness or “food poisoning”.
The number one tool for preventing the spread of germs is practicing good hand washing. This seems so simple, yet many people do not pay attention to this very basic germ stomper. It is best to wash hands with soap and clean water for 20 seconds (for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), rubbing hands together to make a lather. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol- based hand sanitizer can be used to clean the hands, rubbing the product over all surfaces of the hands and fingers until hands are dry.