Stop Germs at Work

How Germs Spread

Illnesses like the flu (influenza) and colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu and colds usually spread from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

What can you do to stay healthy?

Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

Clean your hands often and follow the CDC's guidelines.
Hand Hygiene is the #1 way to prevent infection. Please refer to the CDC's guidelines on hand hygiene.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can live for a long time (some can live for 2 hours or more) on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables.

Stay home when you are sick and consult a health care provider when needed.
When you are sick or have flu symptoms, stay home, get plenty of rest, and consult a health care provider as needed. Your employer may need a doctor's note for an excused absence. Keeping your distance from others may protect them from getting sick.

Common symptoms of the flu include:
  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches, and
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (more common among children than adults)

For more information, visit, or call the CDC Flu Information Line at (800) CDC-INFO.