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Prevention of Infection

By

Larry M. Bush

, MD, FACP, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University

Last full review/revision Aug 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

Several measures help protect people against infection.

Handwashing is an effective way of preventing the spread of infectious microorganisms from one person to another. Handwashing is particularly important for people who handle food or who have frequent physical contact with other people, particularly people who are ill.

Hand sanitizers are liquids or foams that contain at least 60% alcohol, which kills most infectious microorganisms. Because many infectious organisms can be carried on people's hands, using hand sanitizer significantly reduces the chance of spreading infection.

Mask wearing can help reduce the spread of respiratory infections. Many respiratory infections are spread by droplets (droplets vary in size depending on the type of bacteria or virus) in the air that are produced when infected people cough, sneeze, breathe, or talk. Masks should be worn by people with infection to keep them from spreading the infection to others. Masks also may be worn by people to lessen the chance of becoming infected. Different types of masks provide different levels of protection, including (in increasing order of protection): multi-layer cloth masks; multi-layer surgical masks and K95 masks; and N95 masks (see the Centers for Disease Control and Protection's [CDC] Types of Masks and Respirators).

People visiting hospital patients who are seriously ill should wash their hands and use hand sanitizer and will likely be asked to put on a gown, mask, and gloves before entering the patient’s room.

Sometimes antibiotics Overview of Antibiotics Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections. They are not effective against viral infections and most other infections. Antibiotics either kill bacteria or stop them from reproducing... read more are given to people who do not yet have an infection to prevent them from getting an infection. This preventive measure is called prophylaxis. Many healthy people who undergo certain types of surgery—particularly abdominal surgery and organ transplantation—require prophylactic antibiotics.

Vaccination Overview of Immunization Immunization enables the body to better defend itself against diseases caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Immunity (the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases caused by certain... read more is one of the most effective ways to prevent infections. People who are at increased risk of developing infections (especially infants, children, older people, and people with AIDS) should receive all the vaccinations necessary to reduce this risk.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUALS is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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