When you are sick, it is important to stay home from work, school, and social events so that you can avoid spreading the illness to others and throughout the community. This is especially important if you are coughing or sneezing. Tiny droplets of fluid fly out of your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, which can then get into healthy people’s eyes, nose, and mouth and make them sick. Here are some guidelines for protecting members of your household and the community from catching your illness.
Stay home, except to get medical care.
You can recover from mild illnesses at home. Do not go to work, school, church, or public areas. Do not allow visitors into your home. Members of your household will need to provide support for things like getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs. Drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter medication for your symptoms. Always follow product label instructions.
Call ahead before going to the doctor.
If you have a doctor’s appointment, call your doctor’s office ahead of time and tell them about your symptoms. Clinic staff may also ask about your recent travel history. Calling ahead will allow the clinic staff to give you guidance as to whether you should take appropriate steps to prevent other people from becoming exposed to the illness that is making you feel sick.
Separate yourself from other people in your home.
As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. You should also use a separate bathroom, if available. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
Practice good hygiene.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can and then immediately wash your hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing, before and after touching your face, before eating, and whenever your hands are visibly dirty. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Handwashing is always preferable to using hand sanitizer.
Clean all ‘high touch’ surfaces every day. High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. It is also important to clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation.
Monitor your symptoms.
Seek medical attention right away if your illness is worsening or you are developing new symptoms such as difficulty breathing. Before seeking care, call your doctor and give them details about your illness. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have a cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, especially if you have traveled to Asia in the last 2 weeks or have been exposed to someone who has. If possible, put on a facemask or scarf before emergency medical services arrive.