Germs are tiny organisms (living things) that can cause illness and disease. They’re so tiny that you need to use a microscope to see them, and so sneaky that they can creep into our bodies without being noticed. When they get in, we don’t know what hit us until we have symptoms that say we’ve been attacked!
Once germs invade our bodies, they generally stay there, sometimes causing illness. Germs can eat up nutrients and energy. They can also produce toxins that cause symptoms of common infections.
Doctors figure out what germs are doing by looking at samples of blood and other fluids under a microscope, or by sending these samples to a laboratory for more tests. That way they can tell which germs are living in your body and how they are making you sick.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites five common household scenarios in which disease-causing germs can be transmitted by hands:
- Hands to food
- Food to hands to food
- Food to hands to others
- Infected infant to hands to other children
- Nose, mouth, or eyes to hands to others
It’s impossible to really know where germs are hiding. So you should wash or sanitize your hands often, especially:
- After coughing or sneezing into your hands
-After blowing your nose
- Before, during and after food preparation
- Before you eat
- After you use the bathroom
- After handling animals or animal waste
- When your hands are dirty
- When someone in your home is sick