Helping to stop the spread of bacteria and viruses

3 Mins read

If there is one positive thing to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, it could be that when it comes to good hygiene practices, it has raised awareness amongst almost everyone.

Although the severity of the current situation may not have been experienced in many parts of the world for generations, in the past, widespread infectious disease threats were common, and sadly even today, it is the reality for millions in various parts of the world.

The way that germs spread should be of interest to everyone, no matter how at risk they think they might be. It took centuries of scientific study to realize that tiny organisms caused many types of illness, and it took the dreadful influenza pandemic of 1918 for medical professionals to work out that there was an agent even smaller than bacteria that could prove fatal.

That culprit was a virus, and they are so small that they cannot even be seen under an ordinary microscope. It was only when ‘electron microscopes’ were invented well into the 20th century that the hypothesis was proven, and a virus was seen for the first time.

Today we know that bacterial and viral pathogens cause many different diseases and illnesses, and we also know that they are transmitted in many different ways.

So to know how to do your part in helping to stop the spread of germs, you need to understand how they move from one host to another.

General hygiene

Although vaccines have played a massive role in removing threats such as smallpox and polio, general hygiene and sanitation, in particular, have also had an immense impact.

As many disease pathogens are spread by sewage and contaminated water, the improvements in the late 19th century in terms of city design and the availability of clean running water brought genuine health benefits with them.

It shames the rest of the world to know that large populations still live under unsanitary conditions, as simple improvements in infrastructure could cut infectious disease deaths at a stoke.

The current coronavirus pandemic has brought these subjects home to many who may not have given them a thought before.That can only be a good thing as keeping up standards of general hygiene in day to day life means you are not only protecting yourself from dangers like COVID-19 right through to common food poisoning, but you will also be protecting others.

Hand washing

Whenever you see a TV show that features a hospital setting, you can’t help but notice how many times surgeons wash their hands, and how thoroughly they do it. That is essentially a trickle-down effect from society and science learning how vital hygiene and cleanliness are when it comes to the battle against disease pathogens that are too small to see.

Governments all over the world have been telling their citizens about the importance of washing hands properly, with various celebrities doing online clips showing themselves singing one of their songs while lathering their hands under running water.

The problem is that for many, access to a faucet and basin isn’t practical at all times, for instance, if you have gone to the grocery store. That’s where various chemical options come into the picture, to cleanse hands in an on-the-go setting without needing to use soap and water. However, some people will want a natural option rather than use a chemical formulation provided by a third party at a shop or business premise, and the best natural hand sanitizer will still be as effective and kill 99.9% of contagions but by using natural essential oils and similarly derived ingredients.

Wear a mask

Although advice from various authorities seems to have been conflicting when it comes to the use of wearing a mask, there is no doubt that it can have varying levels of positive effects when it comes to doing your bit to stop the spread of germs.

It all comes down to the type of mask available. N95 respirators are the ‘gold standard,’ but they are still in short supply. They should only be used by medical professionals and others putting themselves in harm’s way on the coronavirus front-line.

These masks are extremely effective at filtering out even small particles such as a coronavirus, but even so, they only work to their full capacity when fitted and used correctly.

Other face coverings, ranging from the familiar blue surgical masks right through to bandannas and other simple solutions, mainly help by stopping an infected person spreading germs when he or she coughs or sneezes. In Europe, a mask-wearing campaign used the slogan “my mask protects you, your mask protects me” and proved to be very useful in causing an uptake in the wearing of masks in public.It helped everyone to see that they could help stop the spread of germs with a simple action.