MONDAY, Nov. 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- It's easy to spread germs that cause colds, flu and other serious illnesses, including whooping cough and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

That's why you need to protect yourself and take steps to avoid infecting others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here's what the agency recommends you can do:

  • Don't have close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect often-used surfaces at home, work or school -- especially when someone is sick.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Take steps to ease stress.
  • Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids to stay well-hydrated.
  • Follow a healthy, well-balanced diet.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides more information on the common cold.