Infectious diseases

Protect yourself and others from infectious diseases

Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by agents such as viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. The most common forms of infectious disease are various airborne infections, such as the flu, coronavirus disease and the common cold, along with different gastrointestinal infections.

An epidemic is a disease that affects a large part of the population of a region.

A pandemic means an epidemic that affects several continents.

Around the world, pandemics have been caused by diseases such as the coronavirus, swine flu and the influenza known as Spanish flu. Pandemics place increased strain on the healthcare system, not only through patients who have fallen acutely ill but also through secondary infections and long-term effects. Pandemics have also caused significant mortality.

There are many possible routes of transmission. For example, norovirus is most commonly spread through infected foodstuffs or water but can also spread through contact with infected surfaces or droplet contact (e.g., as a result of vomiting). Coronavirus disease, on the other hand, can spread via droplets in the air (e.g., when speaking).

Medicine cabinet.

We can all do our part to prevent infectious diseases:

• always take care of hygiene – ensure that your drinking water is clean and your foodstuffs are fit for consumption

• take the necessary vaccine shots on time

• keep hand sanitizer and face masks in stock at home

• remember to take your prescription drugs and medication taken for symptoms

• before travelling, check the infectious disease situation at your destination and get any vaccinations you may need. Pets also require passports and vaccinations to travel or be imported into the country.

Toilet paper, soap, handbags, wet wipes.

Always wash your hands

• when coming in from the outside

• before cooking and eating

• after visiting the toilet or changing diapers

• after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

• when you have touched the same surfaces as a sick person

Remember to use soap. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have just washed your hands. Hand hygiene is also the most important way to prevent stomach diseases and traveller’s diarrhea.

Watch the video on hand hygiene


Protect yourself from respiratory infections

• Respiratory tract infections can spread through airborne transmission.

• The risk of spreading respiratory infections is high in confined, poorly ventilated spaces and near a source of infection. Watch this video on aerosol transmission.

• Good ventilation, regular airing and, where necessary, use of an air purifier reduce the risk of transmission in shared spaces. Read more about the importance of ventilation on THL’s website.

• The risk of transmission can be reduced by using a face mask. There are a variety of different kinds of face masks. For example, when used correctly, FFP2 and FFP3 protect both the wearer and people around the wearer from respiratory infections.


If you are not wearing a face mask, make sure you cough and sneeze safely:

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and dispose of the tissue immediately after use.

• If you do not have a tissue, cough and sneeze into the upper part of your sleeve, not into your hands.


Stop the spread of disease

• If you feel ill, remember to take enough rest and time to recover.

• People who are sick are often at their most contagious just before the appearance of clear symptoms and on days when the symptoms are at their most severe. People can remain contagious for several days after their symptoms have subsided.

• If you have symptoms of an infectious disease, avoid contact with other people and consider working remotely if possible, even if you feel well enough to go to work normally.

• If you must go out while you have symptoms, use a face mask and wash your hands often.