December saw an outbreak of Norovirus, or winter vomiting bug almost approaching epidemic proportions, and unfortunately it continues on its rounds.
Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug, it spreads easily because exposure to as few as 10 virus particles can inubate infection, and also because the virus can survive on open surfaces for a long time.
As with any contagious virus, the key to avoiding it is to practice good hygiene:-
Hospitals and surgeries are keen to prevent contagion amongst the most vulnerable so try to avoid visiting them, telephone for advice if required.
Sadly there's no treatment for Norovirus and you have to let the bug run its course. Symptoms vary but can include severe vomiting and diarrhoea. The biggest danger comes from dehydration so try to keep hydrated even in the event of vomiting. Young children (and the elderly) are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and may require hospital treatment, but check with your hospital first as many have shut their doors to Norovirus admissions on health grounds.
Hopefully we all practice the hygiene measures outlined here routinely, this won't prevent catching Norovirus but it will help to contain its spread.
Teaching your toddler some basic rituals when it comes to everyday livinhg is a great and easy way to introduce some good (and advisable!) habits into their lives. The more they get used to following these simple rules, the easier it will be to keep them safe and actually introduce them to some good practice.
We must all take personal hygiene seriously in order to prevent spreading illness and to maintain good health; here are some fascinating facts for you to consider...
It's good to get children (and adults!) in the habit of washing hands frequently, because good hand hygiene is a way of stopping or at least reducing the chance of spreading diseases, from the simple cold and cough to more dangerous diseases such as meningitis and worms!
Does this mean children shouldn't get dirty?
Not at all! Children learn so much from getting mucky in the garden and playing outside. All you have to do is to ensure that they clean up properly afterwards. Then they get to enjoy and explore their world and lead a healthy life too!
We must instil in them that it is okay to get grubby to play outside to climb ladders and trees and stroke tame animals if they wish. However, we must make sure they understand why they must clean up afterwards to keep healthy.
When should we tell children to clean their hands?
Hands should be washed AFTER:
Hands should be washed BEFORE:
Eyes, nose and mouth
It is also important to teach children to respect their eyes, nose and mouth as a place where germs can get into their bodies. Don't frighten them, but try to make them aware that germs can get in and make them unwell if they are not careful about where they touch.
You are more likely to contract food poisoning in your own home than from a restaurant, that's slightly surprising, but it's true because there are so many ways that bacteria can contaminate food that we are about to eat. It's vital to store food properly. Here are some pointers and some reasons why!
What's the difference between 'sell by', 'use by' and 'best before' dates?
Sell by - this is the date by which the shop need to sell the goods. There may well be a few days after this date that the food will be fine to eat.
Use by - this is the date by which the food must have been consumed - or throw it away! If you were a restaurant and you served food after the "use by" date it would be against the law.
Best before - this is all about quality. The food would be fine to eat after the sell by date, but it will be past its best.
Other things to remember:
Food hygiene is especially important if you have children in your home, both to practice and to teach them about so that they grow up understanding how to prepare food safely.
Research has found that people are more likely to wash their hands after going to the toilet, if they think that someone else is watching them - if no one is looking, they'll not bother! The research was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They set up sensors in toilets and were able to study the behaviour of 250,000 people. They found that less than one third of men washed with hands with soap but nearly two thirds of women did.
Why bother washing your hands? As you go through the day touching surfaces and objects, germs accumulate on your hands. You can infect yourself by touching your own eyes, nose or mouth. Washing your hands with soap can minimise the spread of bacteria.
When to wash your hands:
Here are the steps required to give them a thorough wash and reduce risk of infection from bacteria:-
Encourage little ones to wash frequently too. Show them what to do and lead by example by always washing your hands too! It will become second nature and you could be doing them a huge favour when it comes to avoiding contagious illnesses!
Hand washing is an important hygiene step both for your children, but also for you as a responsible parent. From the moment you have your baby, you must take extra care to ensure that you don't pass on infections unnecessarily, or indeed let anyone else pass on germs. There are lots of germs that can be passed from touch including common cold, infectious diarrhea and flu, including the strains of swine flu circulating the world at the moment.
Don't be embarrassed if you want friends and family to wash their hands before handling your baby - it may seem trivial but there's nothing silly about such a request, and no one could consider it rude if they really think through the consequences. If you are embarrassed about asking, just say that your health visitor or paediatrician insists on this level of hygiene.
Always wash your hands after changing your baby, and as children grow older and go to the toilet themselves, make sure that they always wash their hands. Lead by example and make sure that you always wash your own hands after going to the toilet, and your children will follow suit. Make sure that your children can reach the sink - buy them a plastic step so that they can reach the bowl and the taps, and buy them kids' soap in a squeezy dispenser - this will make hand washing more fun and encourage them in the pursuit of cleanliness!
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