Viruses are smaller than bacteria. In fact, some viruses known as 'Bacteriophage' can even infect and replicate inside a bacterium. Although antibiotics cannot kill viruses, some simple hygiene-based practices can be of immense benefit in protecting us from viral infections.
Viral infections are usually passed on indirectly by touching contaminated surfaces, such as taps, toilet handles, or directly by close contact with the source of the virus which can be an animal (as with Lassa fever and the Ebola Virus Disease) or an infected person.
Human to human transmission of viruses usually occurs by breathing in the air that comes out when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Sicknesses caused by viruses range from trivial infections to plagues that alter the course of history. Viral infections are difficult to treat because viruses live inside the cells of the human body and they are 'protected' from medicines which usually move through our bloodstream. In fact, because of the enormous variations in viruses and in their epidemiology and pathogenesis, there is no single magic-bullet approach to control them.
Other common ways of getting infected with a virus also includes touching or shaking hands, touching food with dirty hands, ingestion of contaminated food or water, contact with body fluids, such as blood, saliva and semen, which contain the infecting organisms, by sharing hypodermic needles, through cuts from sharp objects and via transmission of infected fluids during sexual contact.
Most viral infections can be avoided by a variety of approaches. For example, frequent hand washing or sanitizing is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission of many types of infection.
You should wash or sanitize your hands after shaking hands, handling money, touching door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, handrails in public places, and handling pets.
The hand washing procedure begins with wetting your hands with water, allow enough antiseptic soap to cover all hand surfaces, rub hands palm to palm, wash the back of your hands, and in between each finger. Also, you need to note that hand washing procedures should not be done in a hurry because there is need to allow some time for the active ingredient in the soap to inactivate the micro organism.
On a lighter note, I will suggest that you sing the whole of the first stanza of the Nigerian national anthem for a thorough hand wash. If you are in a hurry, you can just count 1 to 20.
After washing, ensure that you rinse properly with running water (not in a bowl of water) and also clean thoroughly. Do not clean your hands on your body, clothing or any other material that may be contaminated, so as not to defeat the purpose of washing your hands. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses can live on your hands, and regular hand washing can help protect you from getting infected.
Encourage family members to cover their mouths and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and to dispose of the tissue themselves. No time to grab a tissue? Cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or the sleeves of your shirt instead of your hands.
Reduce the time spent in crowded settings, if possible and avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
Never touch your mouth, nose or eyes without washing your hands. Try to avoid rubbing your eyes and nose after shaking hands with someone who has a cold.
Improve airflow in your living space by opening the windows and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as toys and doorknobs.
Clean counter tops and tables regularly with disinfectant containing antiviral agents. A good and readily homemade anti-viral solution is 'bleach' because it contains sodium hypochlorite (an anti-viral agent).
Avoid sharing personal items like toiletries, towels and pillows, and teach your kids not to share food, spoons, plates and other things that go in the mouth, as in guzzling water from a plastic bottle or double dipping chips.
Be cautious at buffets. If someone coughs on food or in some other way transmits a virus to food, it could be transmitted to you. Serving utensils, tongs, etc, should be readily available for this type of dining. Ensure personal cutlery sets are not dipped into the general dishes.
Wash fruits before you cut them because cutting before washing can transfer germs from the outside of the fruit to the inside during cutting.
In conclusion, I urge you to imbibe a healthy lifestyle, which includes having adequate sleep time, exercise, and eating a variety of nutritious foods and nourishing fruits. If most of your meals are not a balanced diet, multivitamin supplements can help to fill in the gaps and provide the essential nutrients needed to boost your ability to fight viruses.