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Since Phil recently saw his shadow looks like we will have six more weeks of winter from Groundhogs Day on! Beyond surviving the snow and cold we need to protect ourselves from the health challenges that come with this time of year. The Cleveland Clinic has published some important tips to protect us from disease:

 

1. Wash your hands

It sounds simple because it is. Frequent handwashing is perhaps the best way to prevent norovirus—especially if you spend time in one of those crowded settings. Work up a good lather with soap, and wash for at least 20 seconds.

Avoid contact with anyone who’s recently had vomiting and diarrhea if you can. But “that’s not 100 percent effective because occasionally you’ll be around people who don’t have symptoms yet,” Dr. Sabella says. If you are exposed to a sick person, wash your hands immediately. If you are caring for someone with norovirus, wash your hands every time you come into contact with them. Hand sanitizer also may help as an addition to hand-washing, but not a substitution.

2. Keep your hands away from your face

To get this virus, you basically have to ingest it. That means you should consciously avoid touching your face.

Why? If you have come into contact with the virus, touching your mouth, nose or eyes before you get a chance to wash your hands makes it easier for the virus to enter your body.

“The main sources of transmission are contaminated foods and person-to-person contact. That means wiping a doorknob isn’t going to be as effective as your absolute best prevention tip: Wash your hands.”

3. Pay attention to your surroundings

“Be careful about what you see out there,” Dr. Sabella advises.

For example, you don’t have to be a food inspector to spot bad safety practices. If you’re at a buffet where the food is not being handled appropriately—for instance, people are directly touching the food without gloves—then find another place to eat.

4. Practice food safety at home

Remember tip No. 1 about hand washing? It is especially important in the kitchen because norovirus spreads by ingestion. As you prepare food, wash your hands frequently—especially right before serving anything to others. Also, if you have symptoms or know you are sick, stay out of the kitchen and avoid spreading the virus to others.

5. Use appropriate cleaning methods

Someone who is infected with norovirus might be asymptomatic for several days, Dr. Sabella notes. That means you can’t always keep it out of your house—and norovirus is difficult to contain once it has entered your house.

Still, you can take steps to clean up and prevent its spread. For example, focus on scrubbing any commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counter tops. Just remember—the main sources of transmission are contaminated foods and person-to-person contact. That means wiping a doorknob isn’t going to be as effective as your absolute best prevention tip: Wash your hands.

Source: Cleveland Clinic