When the workplace is full of sneezing colleagues, remember: The best line of defense is washing hands.
Cold viruses, influenza and similar germs are generally spread by inhaling microscopic droplets that others have expelled through coughing and sneezing and by picking up germs from contaminated surfaces, then touching one's mouth, nose or eyes.
Frequent hand washing using warm, soapy water will help curtail the spread of germs, advises the Soap and Detergent Association.
All public areas, from child-care centers to shopping malls, offices and schools, are full of surfaces that harbor germs. Transmitted germs come home and can be transferred to doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator handles and food.
Experts say there is no way to tell how long germs live. Some are harmless almost immediately, and some live for weeks.
To protect yourself and your family, a good homecoming routine is to open the door, hang up your coat and wash your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds.