What are germs?
Germs are tiny microorganisms that exist all around us and are invisible to the human eye. There are many different types of germs. Most are not harmful, but some cause infectious diseases. You probably already know about many infectious diseases. There are vaccines to prevent some and medicines to treat others, but we don't have vaccines and medicines for every kind of infectious diseases . It is important to know about germs and infectious diseases , and simple ways to avoid getting and spreading them.
Where do germs live?
Germs have favorite places to live, preferred ways to travel, and if they are harmful, their own unique ways of causing disease. Germs can live in or on dirt, water, countertops, our skin, our intestines, and in many other places around us. Some germs can survive on their own while others prefer living in people or animals. Some germs live only in hot areas of the world while others live only in cold areas. When germs find a place that is good for them, they multiply and set up a home for themselves.
How do germs spread?
Germs spread in different ways. To catch an infectious disease, you first need to be exposed to a harmful germ. Then it needs to get on or into your body and act in its unique ways to cause disease. Our bodies are good at fighting infections; not everybody who is exposed to germs will get sick, but some will. Here are the most common ways to be exposed:
- Touching. Some germs live in body fluids like mucus, pus, and stool. Even the invisible drops released when people talk, cough, or sneeze can can carry germs. Touching a contaminated surface or object, then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, a cut, or other opening in the body, can lead to an infectious disease.
- Eating or drinking. Some germs exist in food and untreated water. Unwashed fruits and vegetables, and foods not properly cooked or kept at the right temperature, may carry harmful germs.
- Breathing. Some germs spread through the air. When someone coughs, sneezes, or talks they can release germs. When harmful germs are inhaled, they can cause illness.
- Getting bitten. Animals can carry and spread infectious diseases to people. Bites from wild animals, pets, or even a small animal like a bat or insect can cause illness. Even if the animal doesn't look sick, it may carry harmful germs.
Infectious diseases are also spread through sexual contact, during pregnancy from a mother to an unborn child, from sharing needles, blood transfusions, and through other ways.
How can I prevent the spread of germs?
Healthy habits are the best and easiest way to prevent the spread of germs every day. Learn, practice, and teach them today.