Both colds and flu can be passed through coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces such as doorknobs and telephones. So it’s wise to make a habit of washing your hands and teach children to do the same. This helps you prevent spreading respiratory infections and picking them up from someone else.
According to the American Society for Microbiology, a national survey found that Americans were most likely to say they wash their hands after changing a diaper and before handling food. Most, however, said they don’t wash their hands after coughing and sneezing.
The CDC recommends regular scrubbing of your hands with warm, soapy water for about 15 seconds. Touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with contaminated hands makes it easy for cold and flu viruses to enter the body. Others can become ill by just coming in contact with someone who has become infected with a cold or flu virus or who has come in contact with a contaminated area.
(Source: MEDline plus Health Information, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.)