Germ Illustration

Understanding Germs

  • Germs which are spread through stool can cause enteric symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and nausea. These germs contaminate hands, food, water, objects and surfaces. The germs then enter the body through the mouth when children put contaminated objects into their mouth or eat the contaminated food.
  • Some germs have the ability to survive on surfaces and objects for periods of time. Rotavirus, which is a common cause of diarrhea in children, may survive on surfaces for a long time. Contaminated hands, sink taps, toys and furniture all play a role in the spread of infections in child care centres.
  • Germs which are spread through saliva and nasal secretions (e.g. common cold, influenza, croup, strep throat) can cause respiratory illnesses. These germs are primarily spread when people sneeze or cough.
  • Germs which cause respiratory illnesses can survive on surfaces for long periods of time. The influenza virus can survive:
    • 24-48 hours on objects
    • 8-12 hours on cloth, paper and tissues
    • on hands for up to 5 minutes after touching a contaminated surface or object.
  • Practicing good hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

Last modified: February 19, 2020