Contain family germs, help slow the spread

If one member of your family gets a contagious disease such as the flu, is everyone else doomed? Not necessarily, public health leaders say. There are several protective steps.

"They won't necessarily completely prevent the spread, but they will help," says Dr. William Berg, director of the Hampton Health District in Virginia.

Isolate the sick person: In the best-case scenario, the person stays in one room and has just one caregiver; someone with a respiratory illness ideally should wear a mask if around other family members. You also can designate a spot on a sofa or chair for the sick person, preferably at a distance from others.

Buy disposable gloves: When cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, gloves are your best protection. Wash your hands before and after wearing gloves to kill as many germs as possible.

Use hand sanitizers correctly: Sanitizers don't work as well as soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty. Also, make sure a product contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Put bags in all trash containers: Don't throw used tissues into an unlined can — but do discard them immediately so they aren't lying around.

Clean surfaces well: Use a bleach solution or disinfectant wipes, especially on door knobs, sink faucets, flush handles, television remote controls and other frequently-touched items.

Wash hands often: Sick or well, family members need to clean their hands frequently.

Don't share: Make sure the sick person has his own bedding, clothing, dishes and cups at all times.

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AP-WF-01-21-11 1306GMT

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