Infection cannot be completely prevented. However, there are things you can do to decrease the risk of infection. You are most susceptible to a bacterial infection about seven to 12 days after your chemotherapy infusion if your white blood cells are low. Bacterial infection does not commonly result from being in a crowded place. However, types of viral infections such as colds and flu are common and are transmitted easily from other people.
To help to decrease your risk of infection: (In general, it is fine to go to public places. (Avoid, if possible, tightly crowded places during the height of the cold/flu season.)
Wash your hands often:
- After frequent handshaking Before preparing food to eat
- After touching raw meat like chicken or steak Before eating
- After using the restroom After changing a baby's diaper
- After coming into direct contact with someone who is very young or very old
- After touching animals such as dogs or cats
- Keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth twice daily.
- Use soft toothbrush and mouth rinses without alcohol. Do not use floss. Check with your healthcare professional before having any dental work done.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush and rinse three times a day with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- Wash hands utensils, and surfaces with hot soapy water before and after food preparation.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood away from ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook food well.
- Do not eat raw meat until you complete chemotherapy and your blood counts have returned to adequate levels.
- Keep cold foods cold.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
- Never thaw food at room temperature; thaw food in the refrigerator.
- Don't pack the refrigerator too full - cool air needs to be able to circulate to keep food cold and safe.
- Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables.
- Do not change cat litter or clean up waste (urine or feces) from animals.
- Avoid contact with reptiles.
- Avoid cleaning fish tanks.
- Birds should receive a clean bill of health from a veterinarian.
- Routine gardening is permissible using infection precautions.
- Strictly avoid an environment where mulch, hay, topsoil, etc. is being spread.
- Inhalation of environmental spores should be completely avoided.
- Gloves should be worn for contact with dirt.
- If walking through areas where soil, dust and fungal spores may be found in the air cannot be avoided, wearing a mask is preferred.
- You should not drink water directly from lakes or rivers.
- Swimming can cause accidental ingestion of water.
- Hot tubs, sauna, and other communal baths are not recommended.
- Spelunking or cave exploration should not be done.
- Regular dusting, sweeping and washing are okay to clean if you feel well.
- Avoid cleaning or dusting areas where a lot of sediment can be aerosolized.
- Use common sense and avoid cleaning areas that have been untouched for years.
- Wear gloves for washing heavily soiled areas and commodes.