F.I.G.H.T. the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Germs and bacteria are picked up by children when they move around and touch all kinds of surfaces. When they rub their eyes or pick up food to eat with unclean hands, these microorganisms can enter the body, thus increasing the risk of infections such as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD), influenza (commonly known as the Flu) or pneumococcal disease.

As parents, you can help your children become little health warriors by practising the 5 F.I.G.H.T. preventive steps to keep germs and infections at bay.

1. Frequent hand washing with soap and water keeps germs away. Hand sanitiser helps too!

Remind your children of the importance of washing their hands properly. This is the first line of defence against the spread of many diseases. Start by being a good example and wash your hands with soap and water, especially before and after meals, after using the toilet or blowing your nose, and encourage your children to do the same. Teach them to understand why they should always keep their hands clean, and learn the proper method of washing them with soap and water.

You can also inculcate the habit of using hand sanitisers, which are useful when hand-washing facilities are not available. Remind them to disinfect their hands with those miniature travel-sized bottles of hand sanitisers – available in cute cartoon characters – that can be hung on your children’s schoolbags.

2. Immunisation against infectious diseases prevent complications in young children and expectant mothers.

Babies and young children are more prone to infections, as their immune systems are not fully developed yet. Similarly, pregnant women may also be more prone to certain infections; sometimes an otherwise mild infection may become a serious issue.

That is why vaccinations such as flu can help to protect a person’s body. Letting your child get a vaccine may not make him/her like Wolverine, who is immune to all diseases, but it can certainly help to reduce the infection and prevent complications, thereby giving you more peace of mind.

3. Go to the doctor early when your child feels unwell.

Be alert and do not delay a visit to your family doctor when it is necessary. Once your child starts feeling unwell or displays symptoms of flu or other diseases, make an effort to seek proper medical attention in order to help nip the problem in the bud. This can prevent further complications in the child’s condition and help him/her recover earlier.

4. Home rest when you’ve got the bug is better than going to crowded places.

Diseases like Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFMD) can spread easily and rapidly among children, especially when they come into contact with infected persons at their pre-school or school. The common cold or influenza are also contagious and can infect others. Besides taking the prescribed medication regularly, one of the best ways to fight the bug is to get plenty of rest at home. Rather than continuing to attending lessons and potentially spreading the virus to classmates, let your child stay at home till he/she gets better. In the case of HFMD, schools with serious outbreaks will remain shut for a certain period anyway to break the chain of infection.

5. Tissues and masks stop the spread of germs to your loved ones.

One sneeze can send as many as 40,000 droplets rocketing through the air. As those droplets can contain viruses if you are down with a cough or cold, you should use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose whenever you feel the urge to cough or sneeze. Then dispose the used tissues into a covered dustbin and wash your hands after doing so. Wearing a mask also helps to prevent infectious respiratory droplets from getting to your loved ones, especially children with compromised immune systems.

Remember that children are always observing what adults do and tend to pick up the habits of their parents – yes, unfortunately, even the bad ones. So make an effort to practise these simple yet important F.I.G.H.T. steps to good hygiene and pass them on to your children too!

Learn more about the F.I.G.H.T. steps, such as how to wash your hands, or put on a mask properly at www.fightthespread.sg.

Keep your family healthy. F.I.G.H.T. the spread today!

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