Photo by Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier

If one member of your family gets a contagious disease such as flu, is everyone else doomed? Not necessarily, public health leaders say: families can take several protective steps. "They won't necessarily completely prevent the spread, but they will help," says Dr. William Berg, director of the Hampton Health District in Virginia.

--Isolate the sick person. Best-case scenario: the person stays in one room and has just one caregiver; someone with a respiratory illness ideally should wear a mask if around other family members. You also can designate a spot on a sofa or chair for the sick person, preferably at a distance from others.

--Buy disposable gloves. When cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, gloves are your best protection. Wash your hands before and after wearing gloves to kill as many germs as possible.

--Use hand sanitizers correctly. Sanitizers don't work as well as soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty. Also, make sure a product contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

--Put bags in all trash containers. Don't throw used tissues into an unlined can, but do discard them immediately so they aren't lying around.

--Wash soiled items quickly. Clean dirty clothes, towels, sheets and soft toys with soap and hot water.

--Clean surfaces well. Use a bleach solution or disinfectant wipes, especially on door knobs, phones, sink faucets, flush handles, television remote controls and other frequently touched items. If you can see dirt, clean that with a paper towel and soap while wearing gloves, then wipe the area down.

--Wash hands often. Sick or well, family members need to clean their hands frequently.

--Don't share. Make sure the sick person has his own bedding, clothing, dishes and cups at all times.