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Healthy Living

Preventing Disease

​Here are some tips to reduce your risk of disease.

Preventing chronic disease
Reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer by taking the following steps:


Preventing infections from viruses & bacteria
Many infectious diseases can be prevented through simple and inexpensive methods. Use these tips to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Wash your hands often
Always wash your hands before, during and after preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and after handling animals or animal waste.

Cover your cough
Stop the spread of germs that make you and others sick by covering your cough. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve. After coughing or sneezing, always clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items.

Stay home if you are sick
When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick. Stay home from work, school, and social gatherings.

Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces
Cleaning with soap and water removes dirt and most germs. Using a disinfectant kills additional germs. It is important to thoroughly clean areas where germs are likely to be transmitted, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

Get immunized
Children, adolescents and adults need immunizations. Make sure the members of your family get the right vaccines at the right time. Keep immunization records for the whole family.

Use antibiotics properly
Unnecessary antibiotics can be harmful and, if misused, can cause bacteria to become resistant to treatment. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses like colds and flu. Use antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your provider.

Preventing infections from insects & animals
Prevent mosquito bites
Mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile virus and LaCrosse encephalitis. Wear mosquito repellent containing up to 30 percent DEET (10 percent for children). Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Avoid outdoor activity at peak mosquito feeding times (dawn and dusk). Eliminate water-holding containers (buckets, tires, etc.) from your property.

Prevent tick bites
Walk in the center of the trail to avoid picking up ticks from grass and brush. Use a good tick repellent. Wear clothes that will help shield you from ticks. Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly.

Practice pet safety
Keep pets healthy by following your veterinarian’s recommendations. Clean litter boxes daily and don’t let children play where animals urinate or defecate. Cover sandboxes.

Dealing with head lice  
Treatment for head lice includes using either a prescription or over-the-counter product — check with your doctor or pharmacist for more information, or visit the Minnesota Department of Health.

Controlling bed bugs
Visit the University of Minnesota website to find information on identifying bed bugs, ways to reduce the number of bed bugs in your home, and advice on selecting a pest control company.

Wash your hands
Always wash hands after contact with pets, farm animals, animal feces or animal bedding.

Preventing infections from food & water
Handle and prepare food safely
Refrigerate perishable foods quickly. Don’t allow juices from meat, seafood, and poultry or eggs to drip on other foods. Wash hands and kitchen surfaces and utensils while preparing food. Wash raw fruits and vegetables. Don’t eat raw eggs. Cook poultry and meat until the juices run clear. Use different dishes for raw foods and cooked foods. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Don’t leave leftovers out longer than two hours. Read more information from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Report suspected foodborne illness
Follow basic steps to avoid illness from food and water. Contact the Minnesota Department of Health by email or call 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) if you suspect a foodborne illness.

If you use a well, test it
City water supplies are tested regularly for many contaminants, but private well testing is the responsibility of the well owner. There are about 8,000 households that rely on private wells in Dakota County, approximately half in cities and half in rural townships. Private well owners should test their water for bacteria each year and for nitrate every two to three years. Private well owners should take steps to protect their well from contamination and should consider installing and maintaining a point-of-use water treatment system. Find out how to get your well tested.

Last updated: 2/18/2014 9:07 AM