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Preventing Viruses

​Viruses are spread a multitude of different ways, mainly through droplets in the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Some viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours or longer. By touching desks, doorknobs, cups and other everyday items​ we can inadvertently contribute to the spread of viruses.

How to Prevent Viruses from Spreading

Some steps you can take to stop or slow the spread of viruses and illness include:

  • Wash hands frequently, for at least 20 second, especially after sneezing, coughing, wiping the nose, touching doorknobs, going to the bathroom or leaving places such as your pediatrician's office and daycare center. Use hand sanitizers when soap and water are not​ available.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Children and adults who are sick should stay away from public places. Usually once a child's fever is gone and energy level is up, he or she can return to daycare or school.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth - especially with unwashed hands.
  • Encourage children to cover their mouths and noses when co​ughing or sneezing to decrease the number of germs in the air.
  • Keep the air in your home clean by using a HEPA filter, a device that can remove 99 percent of pollen, dust, dander and bacteria from the air.
  • Sanitize kitchen sponges and dishcloths, where the greatest concentration of germs can be found. Washing these items in the washing machine or dishwasher does not do enough to kill all the bacteria. Instead, wet the item and heat it in the microwave for two minutes.

Dr. Micah Ryan Teaches Kids about Preventing Viruses

  • Preventing Viruses

    "We're going to talk about washing our hands."

    "Who washes th​eir hands?"

    "Good, everyone?  Good!"

    "Do you know why we wash our hands?"

    "To get the germs off!"

    "That's right!"

    Cold and flu season, it's almost year round, but it's really right after school starts and everyone goes back to school and starts spreading germs to one another.

    Viruses are spread a multitude of different ways. When you cough you go and put a lot of germs in the air. It's on door handles, it's on any surface, it's everywhere in our environment.

    "What happens when you cover your cough?"

    "You put it all on your hands, right?"

    "Now you have germs on your hands."


    "So when you cough, everyone go like this, cough into your elbow."

    A difference between a virus and a bacterial infection is really how we get to treat it. If it's a bacteria, we get to treat it with an antibiotic. Viruses, on the other hand, we can't do a whole lot about because antibiotics don't work for most.

    "Now what we're going to do is rub this all over your hands."

    "We're going to pretend this is all germs and yuckies."

    "Look at all those germs!"

    "Do you see them? They're all orange."

    The best way to prevent a virus is to always remember that you're around viruses, so you wash your hands. You wash your hands frequently, esp​​ecially before you eat your food.

    If you're blowing your nose, you should always be thinking about using hand sanitizer or washing your hands with water and soap.

    We do the smell test a lot. Did you wash your hands?  Yes? Can I smell them?

    They'll come to you and you can smell the soap. If we can't smell the soap then they'll walk back there, sometimes with their head hung, but they'll go back and get it done for us.

    The biggest thing you can do to protect your family is good hand washing, good cough hygiene, and I would highly recommend a flu shot.

    Once again, influenza does put kids in the hospital every year, it's not uncommon. So everyone in the family should be getting a flu shot and the time is now.

Cold and Flu;Illness and Injury Pediatrics