As young children have not been exposed to many of the common germs, they are highly defenceless when contracting contagious diseases. This is because they haven't as yet, formed a resistance or immunity to them.
Below are 3 ways childhood diseases spread:
1. Oral Transmission:
Diseases causing diarrhoea and/or vomiting, usually spread through germs in our faeces. Some examples of these types of diseases are: Enterovirus; Salmonella; Giardia; Hand-Foot-Mouth; E. Coli; Rotavirus; Diarrhoea; and Campylobacter. Children are prime targets, as they may end up with a microscopic amount of faeces on their hand after toileting. These germs are then transferred to a toy they are playing with. Later in the day the toy is then picked up by another child who places it in their mouth. Parents changing nappies need to be aware, that the germs remain in the stools of their child for up to 2 weeks after the infection. Washing hands correctly with soap and water will certainly eliminate a lot of the risk.
2. Respiratory Transmission:
Sneezes, runny noses and coughs carry germs which may infect another person if they touch or breathe in infected fluids. Research shows that when a person sneezes or coughs, 100,000 germs shoot out at a rate of 160 kilometres an hour in a radius of 25 centimetres. Some examples of air-borne diseases are: Mumps; Common cold; Impetigo; Hand-Foot-Mouth disease; Fifth disease; Measles; and Chickenpox. Teaching your children to sneeze or cough in their hands is only good if they go and wash their hands immediately afterwards, as touching any surface will contaminate it with germs. Other children touching the surface later on may then spread the infection by placing their hand in their mouth. The best way place to sneeze or cough is into your elbow.
3. Direct Contact:
Parasites like Head Lice; Ringworm; and Scabies are transmitted by direct contact. Skin infections with blister like sores, may spread the infection by touching the fluid from another person’s infected sores. Examples of these types of diseases are: Conjunctivitis; Impetigo; Cold Sores; and Chickenpox and are highly contagious.
Good hygiene can assist in minimising how often your child may become sick, but it is impossible to completely stop your child from becoming ill or from ever catching an infection. Once your child has built up their immunity and are out of the sensory stage of exploring everything with their mouth, they will be less likely to catch every disease that is going around.
- Teach you child to wash their hands correctly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Find a song that they like and sing it when they wash their hands. Make sure they wash their hands after: going to the toilet; playing outside; before eating; blowing their nose and playing with a pet. This is the best way to avoid any germs entering their mouth after touching their food.
- Teach your child how to blow their nose properly into a tissue. Tissues can be easily disposed of in the bin with the germs! Then remind them to wash their hands.
- Teach your child to sneeze or cough into their elbow. This is to prevent blasting their germs around the room and onto other unsuspecting children.