How to lower the risk of infectious illnesses

By: Rebecca Muthoni

Infectious illnesses are disorders that result from microbes like viruses, bacteria, or parasites. There are so many ways by which these microbes get into the body and cause diseases.

For example, disease-causing microbes can find their way into the body through eating contaminated food or drinking dirty water, inhaling germs in the air, skin contact, sexual contact, and insect bites like mosquito bites.

By: halting the methods by which these microbes are transmitted, we can reduce the number of common infections that we or our loved ones contract each year.

Prevention strategies mainly include use of common sense that most people tend to ignore in their daily routine. Reduce the risk of infecting yourself or others by incorporating these healthy habits in your everyday life;

•Practice hand hygiene: microbes can survive on surfaces like walls or gadgets for a few minutes and even for many months.

Our hands therefore carry germs from these surfaces which can enter the body when we touch our skin or food. Whether at work or home, make sure to wash hands regularly.

Wash hands especially before handling food, before holding a baby, after using toilet, and after changing diapers.

Use clean, running water and soap to wash hands and wrists; scrub both the inner and outer part of your hands and inside the nails for about 20 seconds. Rinse hands well and air dry them or use a clean hand towel.

In the absence of soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Teach children the importance of hand washing when they are young and encourage them to wash hands particularly before touching food and after using toilets.

• Observe food safety when preparing meals. Prepare food on clean surfaces, use clean utensils, cook food thoroughly, and promptly refrigerate leftovers.

• Ensure to change kitchen towels everyday or as often as needed. Have separate towels for drying dishes and for hands.

• Keep surfaces dry as most microbes thrive better on wet surfaces. Keep surfaces like sinks, countertops, and bathroom floors dry after use.

• Make sure anything that goes into your child’s mouth is washed on a regular basis. These include toys, pacifiers and feeding bottles. Wash soft toys in the laundry and plastics in a dishwasher or in a dishpan of hot, soapy water and then rinse in hot water.

• Use a handkerchief or a disposable tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Dispose the tissue in the waste bin immediately after use.

• Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth unnecessarily as this is a common way through which germs get into the body.

• Avoid sharing personal items like handkerchiefs, razors, and towels as these can all be a source of microbes.

• If at all possible, keep away from school, work, and other outdoor errands when you are sick to avoid spreading the illness to other people.

• If you have a sick person in the family, use hot water to clean and disinfect utensils, bedding, surfaces, and other equipment used by the sick to get rid of germs.

• Use treated bed nets and insect repellants to prevent bites from parasite carrying insects

• If you are sexually active, ensure to practice safe sex especially where multiple partners are involved. Get yourself and your partner tested for sexually transmitted illnesses regularly.

• Go for vaccinations. Immunisations may significantly help lower the risk of contracting various illnesses like flu. Ensure that you and your children keep to date on all the recommended vaccinations.

Daily preventive measures can help in slow down the spread of germs as well give some defense against some infections like common colds and flu.