This week we are celebrating International Infection Prevention Week. Infections have many causes including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and helminths (worm like parasites). Infections trigger an immune response that communicates with your body to seek out and destroy the source of the infection. This response can take place internally or externally and affect different areas including the skin. Fever, coughing, and swelling of the infection site are all common symptoms of a triggered immune response.
Infections are able to spread in various ways including from person to person, from animal to person, from objects contaminated with germs, insect bites, and can even be spread through contaminated foods. Infections cause an array of symptoms ranging from fever to muscle aches to diarrhea.
Proper treatment of an infection is very important for a person’s long-term health. People who have suppressed immune systems either from medications or from conditions such as HIV/AIDS are at higher risk for infections. This makes proper treatment for these vulnerable individuals even more critical.
Not all infections need to be treated with medication. The body can sometimes cure minor infections, such as the common cold, on its own. Infections that do require medication, however, must be treated with the appropriate antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medications as prescribed by a patient’s doctor.
Ways to Prevent the Spread of Infection
Good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ward off common infections. Hygienic habits such as hand washing, and regularly cleaning surfaces touched by many people can help prevent the spread of infections.
Vaccines are often used to prevent the spread of more serious and highly contagious infections. Vaccines are both safe and extremely effective. They work by introducing imitation infections into the body to trigger an immune system and build immunity against the real infection. It is important for all people to make sure they are up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations to ensure that they do not become ill from a vaccine preventable infection.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works