The following recommendations are based on the infection prevention and control guidelines for CF.
1. Work With Your CF Care Team
You are an important member of your CF care team. While you depend on your team members at clinic for essential guidance on your medical care, you can suggest ways to help reduce the risk of spreading germs during your clinic visits.
Talk to your care team about any questions or concerns you have about germs and the risks and benefits associated with any part of your treatment. Although germs are everywhere, there is a lot that you and your care team can do together to reduce the risk from germs while maintaining your health through regular clinic visits.
2. Keep a Safe 6-Foot Distance
Germs can spread as far as 6 feet (2 meters) through droplets released in the air when someone coughs or sneezes.
Try to stay at least 6 feet away from others with CF and anyone with a cold, flu or infections while at clinic or in the hospital, where you're more likely to be around others who are sick.
3. Wash Your Hands
You can catch and spread germs when you touch something with germs already on it, like a doorknob, handrail, or keyboard, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel. Encourage your family and friends to keep their hands clean as well.
Everyone should wash or clean their hands:
- Entering and leaving a clinic or hospital room
- Coughing or sneezing
- Touching shared objects, like pens or doorknobs
- Doing pulmonary function tests or chest physiotherapy
- Getting a sputum culture
4. Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask can help you reduce your risk of breathing in or spreading germs to others. The mask can block out germ-carrying droplets or remains of droplets that can be suspended in the air.
When you enter any health care setting, wear a surgical mask. Use the smallest mask possible to fit your face and replace the mask if it gets wet.
You can remove your mask:
- When you are inside a clinic exam room.
- When you are inside your hospital room.
- During a pulmonary function test.
If wearing a mask makes it difficult to breathe, talk to your CF care team about other options to protect you from germs.
The Vogmask and the O2 SafeAir Mask are not approved to protect against the spread of germs in a medical setting.
5. Cover Your Cough
You can spread germs to others when you cough or sneeze. Germs can remain in the air on tiny droplets — ready to be breathed in. They can also remain on surfaces long after you've coughed or sneezed on or near them.
Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away immediately, then wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel.
If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Then, immediately wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel.
6. Clean and Disinfect Your Nebulizer During Hospital Stays
Just as when you do your treatments at home, it is important to clean and disinfect your nebulizer when you are in the hospital. Work with the hospital staff to keep your nebulizer clean and disinfected since you can breathe in germs through your nebulizer and risk developing a lung infection.
People with CF should have their own nebulizer and perform respiratory treatments in separate rooms to avoid spreading germs.
- When using a disposable nebulizer:
- Throw away the nebulizer after 24 hours.
- Use a single-dose vial of medication whenever possible.
- When using a reusable nebulizer:
- After each use, clean and disinfect the nebulizer by following the CF Foundation's recommended steps for nebulizer care. Watch the webcast, "Nebulizer Care in the Home."
- When using an Altera, eRapid™ or other eFlow® technology nebulizer:
- After each use, clean and disinfect the nebulizer by following the CF Foundation's recommended steps for nebulizer care. Watch the video, "Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Altera or eFlow Nebulizer."
7. Get Vaccinated
Vaccinations help your body protect itself from germs, like the flu virus, which are especially dangerous for people with CF.
Help your body guard itself against germs by staying up to date on your vaccinations. Encourage your family and friends to also get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading germs.
For a list of what vaccinations to get and when to get them, talk to your care team at your next care center visit.
You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
Watch the webcast below to hear three CF care experts discuss lowering the risk of spreading germs in CF clinics and hospitals, including:
- Current recommendations and best practices
- Preventing cross-infection in health care settings
- Steps that both health care providers and patients can take to protect against germs
Lower the Risk of Spreading Germs in CF Clinics and Hospitals | Webcast