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Taking Our Temperature

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How can you protect yourself from disease?

Learning how disease spreads could make you worry about all the ways you could get sick. Please don't. These simple steps will do a lot to keep illness away.


Display urging Americans to be vaccinated against measles. Source: CDC
This 1972 display urged Americans to be vaccinated against measles.
Source: CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

General Tips

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before eating. It's one of the most effective ways to prevent illness. Wash up after you use the bathroom too.
  • Don't eat extremely rare meat.
  • Never drink water straight from a lake or stream.
  • Be sure that your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Get enough sleep. Fatigue weakens your body's ability to fight disease.

Travel Tips

  • Talk to your doctor before visiting a foreign country. Your doctor may suggest vaccinations or medications to fight diseases you might encounter. You could also check the Travelers' Health page at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Puerto Rican sign warning people not to bath in nearby water. Source: CDC
Puerto Rico, 1954. The signs warn people not to bathe in nearby water because of an outbreak of schistosomiasis (“bilharzia”).
Source: CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Avoid local water in Glossary Link developing countries, especially if there is a current Glossary Link outbreak of infectious diseases. Drink commercially canned or bottled beverages.
  • Don't swallow water while swimming or bathing.
  • Don't put ice in your drinks. Some disease-causing organisms don't mind being frozen. As soon as they warm up, they go right back to making you sick!
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • Eat only fruits that can be peeled. Nasty microbes sometimes live on the skin of fruit.

 

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