Ever wondered how infections spread?
Before you can reduce your risk of contracting infections it is vital to know how they can spread.
An infection is caused by bacteria and viruses, that wouldn’t normally be present in the body, invading the body. These bacteria and viruses are found in the environment (air, soil, water) as well as on and in humans, from body secretions and in the little tiny droplets that are formed from sneezing, coughing and breathing. Infections can be spread through these 5 different ways:
Infections, especially skin contagions, are spread by direct physical contact. Direct contact means that infections are passed on from one person to another when their bodies touch.
Infections like ringworm are spread when children play together and the infected area of a child is touched by another. Other infections like chickenpox, cold sores and HIV can be passed on by kissing, touching and sexual intercourse.
Colds, strep throat etc. are caused by germs found in saliva and excretions of the nose. Sneezing, runny noses, coughing or other droplets of secretions can be ways of spreading germs. These germs can land in a person’s mouth, eye or nose and can also be inhaled.
Young children experience colds and other non-major viruses, such as those in eyes, nose and throat, more frequently than adults. Following thorough infection control practices with children is very important because the respiratory viruses in the throat and nose of children can be in them for days before they start to show any symptoms of illness.
People can also be infected by contaminated items like bed sheets, toys, even water and food. Because of this it is very crucial that all these objects are correctly disinfected and cleaned, and all food/water are coming from approved places.
The germs that cause diarrhoea are found in faeces. Water, hands, food, surfaces and objects can be contaminated by bad personal hygiene. Why intestinal contaigons are so easily spread is because some germs can live on objects and surfaces for prolonged periods of time. The most effective way of preventing the spread of these germs is by correct hand washing.
Exposure to blood
Skin acts as a barrier to prevent contact with blood. However, when skin is broken infections can spread by blood to blood direct contact or direct contact with the eyes or mouth. The smallest amount of blood can cause infections, so it is important that whenever any blood or blood like bodily fluids are seen, gloves should be worn during the cleaning process.
Ways to reduce the spread of infections
There are several ways to reduce the risk of spreading infections:
- Getting vaccinations
- Disposing of tissues start after use
- Washing hands after sneezing, using tissues and coughing
- Avoid sharing cutlery, dishes, glasses and cups
- Washing hands frequently
- Staying at home when sick
- Avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose
- Children should play with surfaces that can be cleaned easily
Most infections can be treated fairly easily but it’s better to be safe than sorry!