Personal Hygiene

Protect yourself and others against illness.


The most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands!

Handwashing is the single most important measure to reduce the risks of transmitting infection from one person to another.

Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub or antiseptic hand wash to help remove bacteria and viruses. Dry hands thoroughly. Use the disposable towel to open the door then dispose of it in the waste.

Always wash and dry hands after going to the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or handling used tissues, or after touching objects, materials or hard surfaces that may have been contaminated by someone else with infectious illness.

Hand-to-face contact, such as during eating, grooming, or smoking, presents significant risks because of the potential for transmission of influenza from surfaces contaminated with wet respiratory droplets. Always wash hands before and after eating, grooming, smoking, or any other activity that involves hand-to-face contact.

Shared surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards and other hard surfaces can also become contaminated with all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces can help.

Cough and sneeze etiquette

Flu Prevention

Play an active role in staying healthy and preventing the spread of influenza - follow the tips above and

Distinguishing influenza from the common cold

Symptom Seasonal Influenza Common Cold
Fever Usual high fever (102°F/39°C - 104°F/40°C) sudden onset, lasts 3-4 days Rare
Headache Usual, can be severe Rare
Aches and pains Usual, can be severe Sometimes, mild
Debilitating fatigue Usual, can be severe Rare
Fatigue and weakness Usual, severe, may last 2-3 weeks Sometimes, but mild
Runny, stuffy nose Common Common
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Common
Chest discomfort Usual, can be severe Usual, can become severe
Complications Can lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure; can worsen a current chronic condition; can be life threatening Can lead to sinus congestion or ear-ache
Fatalities Well recognized Not reported
Prevention Annual influenza vaccine; frequent hand-washing; cover your cough Frequent hand washing; cover your cough

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Medical Association