How to stop pathogens

Some pathogens are called "germs." Germs are tiny living things that can make people sick.

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Pathogens, also called "germs," live naturally all around us. That is why you should wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. Photo from USDAYou can do things every day to protect yourself from pathogens. First, you can wash your hands after using the bathroom and before touching food. The pathogens that live in the bathroom could make you sick if they get in your food. By washing your hands with soap and warm water, you can kill most pathogens and keep food safe.

You can also stop germs in the kitchen. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. Do not let raw meat touch other foods. Use soap and warm water to clean the kitchen and your hands after touching raw meat. Make sure that anyone who touches food has clean hands. If you are sick, do not touch food that other people might eat. You do not want to spread the pathogens on your hands.

It is also important to wash your hands after handling animals. Some pathogens do not affect animals, but they can make humans sick. For example, reptiles like snakes and turtles can carry a bacteria called Salmonella. This bacteria does not make the reptiles sick, but it can make you sick if it gets in your body. Humans can also spread pathogens to animals. For example, most pig farms require workers to wear special boots and clothing to keep pathogens away from the pigs. Workers also have to wash their boots and clothing if they visit a different pig farm. This special protection is called biosecurity.

If you are already sick, it is important to protect the people around you. Wash your hands and do not share cups or straws with others. If you have to sneeze or cough, cover your face with a tissue or your elbow. You do not want the pathogens in your sneeze or cough to go into the air. Do not sneeze or cough into your hands. The pathogens on your hands can spread to other people.

Vaccines can also stop the spread of pathogens. A vaccine is an injection, or "shot," that teaches the body how to fight a pathogen. Babies often get vaccines to protect them from diseases later in life. Getting a vaccine might hurt, but it keeps the body healthy.

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