Tag Archives: children and germs

Kids and Hand-washing

Posted by Marianne Frederick

Every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. Shigellosis is frequently begun and spread by the infamous bacteria E. Coli, with which we have become all too familiar in recent years with respect to food and food handling safety.

The symptoms of shigellosis are diarrhea, cramping and fever. The illness can last a week or months–and if it lasts too long, it can become dangerous to infants, children, the elderly and those who are already ill or have weakened immune systems. The disease often occurs in child care settings, such as daycare, or in families with small children.

Shigellosis is particularly common and repeatedly causes problems in settings where there is often poor basic hygiene. It can affect entire communities and is more prolific in the summer than in winter. The biggest target for shigellosis is children from age 2 to 4–not to mention the caregivers and family members who care for them. Shigellosis can occur where water or food have been contaminated by the bacteria, it can be spread by consuming contaminated produce–fruits or vegetables. Making municipal water supplies safe and treating sewage are effective measures communities can put in place to combat shigellosis. Washing hands, especially when children have been toileted, is one way parents and caregivers can make sure the disease doesn’t get started or spread. Currently, there is no vaccine against shigellosis, although there is active research toward its development.

CDC suggests the following things parents and caregivers can do to help prevent the spread of Shigellosis:

  • Wash hands frequently and carefully with soap, especially after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and before and after preparing foods and beverages;
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly;
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them;
  • Keep children with diarrhea out of child care settings;
  • Supervise hand-washing of toddlers and small children after toileting;
  • Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea;
  • Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated pools.

Shigellosis can be a very big problem– and hand-washing is an important part of the solution.

How Parents Can Minimize the Spread of Germs

Posted by Marianne Frederick

As flu season approaches there are small but very important things we can each do–and teach our kids to do–that will help slow the spread of germs.

Teach children to cover their coughs and sneezes when possible–as germs are frequently water- and air-borne–and covering a cough or a sneeze with a tissue, wiping hands and ditching the tissue in a trash bag, is a simple way to prevent spread of germs from coughs and sneezes. Frequently emptying the bathroom trash, washing pillow cases, sheets and towels in hot, soapy water; frequently changing bed linens (more often than normal if your child or other family members are ill); laundering towels and wash cloths frequently, also help to minimizing the spread of germs.

If your children already have colds, make sure the glassware, flatware and dishes they use are washed in hot soapy water, rinsed with very hot water and thoroughly dried before re-use. We use the dishwasher a lot during flu season, because its rinse and heated drying cycles act almost as an autoclave and get the dishes cleaner closer to sterile than hand-washing.

Keeping hands clean is a very important small thing we each can do and teach children to do to help our families to keep from getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean water. If clean water is not handy, use soap and whatever water is available–and if water is not available use hand-sanitizer with 60% alcohol content to clean hands. Please note that hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty… so if hands are still dirty even if you cleaned them with hand sanitizer, be sure to wash those hands with soap and water as soon as you can.

When should hands get washed? The CDC says:

  • Before, during and after food preparation;
  • Before eating;
  • Before and after caring for someone who is ill;
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound (whether on yourself or others);
  • After using the bathroom toilet;
  • After changing diapers or cleaning a child who has used the toilet;
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • After touching any animal or animal waste or after an animal licks your hands;
  • After handling pet food or pet treats;
  • After touching waste or garbage of any sort.