Illnesses spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. Typically, an infected person coughs or sneezes and these droplets move through the air and land on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Germs can also be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches his or her own eyes, mouth, or nose. Some viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes up to two hours or more on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, and desks.
What can you do to stop the spread of germs? Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw it away. If you do not have a tissue, use your elbow or hands—but then immediately wash your hands. When you wash your hands, use soap and warm water and rub your hands vigorously together for 15 to 20 seconds. You can also use an alcohol-based hand wipe or gel sanitizer if you do not have soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you do get sick, stay home, get plenty of rest, and check with your physician as needed!