We are constantly exposed to microorganisms, both good and bad. Most microorganisms we come into contact with during our daily lives are harmless. Some even help keep us healthy. But certain microorganisms-when in the wrong place- can pose real health hazards. We call these harmful microorganisms "germs".
Some exposure to germs can help build up our immune systems, helping us to fight infections and stay healthy. Exposure to others, however, can cause food poisoning, sickness and diarrhea so it makes sense to practice the good hygiene and cleanliness that will prevent these problems.
Examples of micro-organisms
Salmonella bacteria can cause food poisoning.
Rhinoviruses can cause colds. Herpes simplex causes cold sores. Influenza can cause the Flu.
Trichophyton can cause Athlete's foot.
Giardia can cause diarrhoea.
Germs live all around us-in soil, air, water, Food, animals, plants and people. Germs and dirt can be found throughout the home. Whether it is the pet or the kids running through the house; or cooking up dinner for your family who can't sit down for 5 minutes - there's mud and grime, food stains and grease as well as illness-causing germs like bacteria such as Salmonella.
Practice healthy habits to stop getting germs or spreading germs at home. Simple actions, like covering your mouth and nose and washing your hands often, can stop germs and prevent illnesses and reduce sick days. Keep common surfaces such as Floors, Countertops, Cink, Washbasins, Doorknobs, and Telephones Sanitized with disinfectants such as Lizol.
Bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes. One single bacteria cell can become more than 8 million cells in less than 24 hours.
How Do We Get Infections?
By understanding when and where there is potential for germs to spread, we can take steps to help avoid infection. To cause disease, germs need to get inside the body. Since germs do not jump or walk, they have to be transported into the body by other means:
Inhalation of small particles, dust and water droplets into the respiratory tract via the nose and mouth. Influenza, Measles, and TB are transmitted this way.
Ingestion of contaminated food and water. Salmonella is transmitted this way.
Inoculation via injury, injection, bites and wounds to the skin and mucous membranes.Hepatitis B, STAPH, and Tetanus are transmitted this way.
Sexual contact between partners. Gonorrhea, Herpes simplex type 2 and HIV are transmitted this way.
Many infections spread by indirect contact when germs are transferred from a contaminated item (cutting board, cleaning cloth, door handle, telephones, TV remote, etc.) by our hands to our body.
Who Is Most at Risk?
In most Healthy people, infections are short-lived when they are treated properly. However, in individuals whose immune systems are vulnerable, infections can have severe consequences. These susceptible people include:
The very young—Babies and children under the age of five are more susceptible because their immune systems are still developing.
The elderly—Our immune system deteriorates with age.
The ill—Disease weakens our immune system further.
How to Reduce Your Risks
We can't make any environment germ-free—nor is it necessary. To keep our families Healthy, we just need to reduce the risks of infection where and when germs are likely to spread. There are several ways to remove or destroy germs in your home:
Washing—Often you can remove sufficient germs from an item using detergent and hot water-but you must wipe or scrub the item to loosen the dirt and germs, then rinse thoroughly under running water. This method is suitable for decontaminating items such as pots and pans, cutlery and your hands.
Heating—Cooking food thoroughly will reduce the number of germs in food to a level that is safe to eat. Generally, the higher the temperature reached, the more germs are killed.
Disinfecting—Disinfectant cleaners are ideal for killing germs on surfaces throughout the home such as kitchen counters, sinks, toilets and bathroom tile.
Drying—Germs cannot live long on a clean, dry surface but they love moisture. Remember that re-using damp dirty items such as cleaning cloths, towels and mops can easily spread germs around your home.
Always remember to:
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using cleaning products.
Store cleaning products and other chemicals safely out of reach of children.
Get all members of your family involved in establishing a regular cleaning routine for your home.