The Surprising Truth About Viruses & Bacteria

    An amber bar of sudsy glycerin soap lying on a stone-colored soap dish.(BlackDoctor.org) — The number one rule in warfare is to know your opponent. When it comes to arming yourself for the cold and flu season, the best weapons of protection include knowledge about bacteria and viruses, and being able to separate truths from myths.

    Myth: Superbugs are resistant to hand washing and hand sanitizers.

    The Truth: Washing your hands with any soap, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, will protect you from superbugs just as much as it protects you from other bacteria and viruses. Superbugs are resistant to some antibiotics, which makes infections difficult to treat, but they are still susceptible to cleaning and good hygiene, including hand washing.

    Myth: Pets such as cats and dogs are immune to infectious diseases.

    The Truth: Dogs, cats and other household pets can in fact get sick from bacteria, viruses, and parasites. They can also carry and pass on bacteria.  To avoid spreading bacteria through your pets, always wash your hands after playing with or touching pets or anything they commonly touch, including toys, food and sleeping areas.

    Myth: I have a healthy immune system, so I don’t need immunization. Why risk getting a dangerous vaccine when I don’t need it?

    The Truth: Vaccines work with your immune system to help you fight infection. No studies have proven that vaccines cause any diseases or conditions. Vaccines are safe and effective, and are still our best protection against many infections.

    Myth: Once I feel better, I should stop taking these antibiotics.

    The Truth: Even though you physically feel better, your antibiotics are still taking the time to completely fight off bacterial infections. You need to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed to be sure the infection is gone.

    Myth: Unpasteurized milk is healthier for me.

    The Truth: Unpasteurized milk is milk that has not been through a heating process to remove bacteria. Consuming milk in its raw form may put you and your family at risk of infections.

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