There are some very simple things you can do to avoid catching a respiratory tract infection (RTI) or spreading the infection to others if you do have one. These things may sound simple, but research shows they are highly effective for reducing the spread of infections — even serious ones. This Australian guide is a good summary.
Stay at home if you are unwell
If you have a cold or flu (influenza) — or any respiratory tract infection (RTI) — see your doctor if necessary and stay at home until you feel better. This helps you to get over the infection faster, and will also mean that you won’t come into contact with others and spread your infection.
The flu vaccine
Having a flu vaccination every year just before winter can help to protect you from getting flu. Each year the flu vaccine will be different, and will contain the most common strains of flu virus that are causing infection.
Being vaccinated protects not only you from infection (i.e. makes you immune to the illness), but also protects everyone in the community as a whole, by reducing the number of people who can catch the infections and pass them on to others. This is called ‘herd immunity’. This is especially important for anyone who is at risk of the complications of a flu infection, or if you are in contact with people who might become seriously ill if they get flu (e.g. very young children or older people).
Simple ways to stop infection
Help to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by:
- regularly washing your hands with soap and running water, particularly before preparing and eating food and after blowing your nose
- coughing and sneezing into a tissue then throwing it away
- covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing
- keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
- avoiding sharing cups, glasses and cutlery when eating or drinking
- keeping your household surfaces clean.