7 Ways to Stop the Spread of Flu Germs

Unfortunately, you've caught the flu. Help keep from spreading it to your friends and family by following these tips.

By Jenilee Matz, MPH, Contributing Writer

A typical flu season can last from October through May, usually peaking in January and February. The single best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu vaccine. But if you or someone in your home is already sick, try to keep the virus from spreading to other family members.

Flu germs spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing and by touching contaminated surfaces and objects. Here are some tips that may help you keep the illness at bay.

  1. Stay home. To get over the flu and to prevent spreading it to others, stay home from work or school while you have flu symptoms. These may include body aches, fever, stuffy or runny nose, cough, headache, tiredness and sore throat. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea occur, but this is seen more often in children. You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without use of fever-reducing medicine.
  2. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. This is one of the most important steps you can take to help stop the spread of germs. Dry your hands with a disposable paper towel. Carry an alcohol-based hand gel, spray or wipes when you are out, in case soap and water aren't available. Wash your hands as soon as possible:
    • After:
    • Sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
    • Caring for a sick person
    • Using the bathroom
    • Before:
    • Preparing food
    • Eating
    • Caring for a sick person
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a clean tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away as soon as you use it. If you don't have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with your upper sleeve or the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
  4. Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. These are the places where germs can enter your body.
  5. Don't share eating utensils, drinking glasses or bottles with anyone else.
  6. Disinfect surfaces and objects that are commonly used, such as kitchen countertops, doors, sink handles and light switches. Harmful germs can live on surfaces for days, so it's important you clean them often with a disinfectant. Don't forget computer keyboards, phones and TV remotes.
  7. Avoid close contact with friends and family members. Keeping your distance from other people may reduce their risk of catching the flu from you.