Fact Sheets : Infection Prevention In Children

Childhood infections such as the flu and the common cold are caused by germs called viruses which spread very easily, especially in preschool and school-age children. Germs can spread from person to person by:

  • Direct "hand-to-hand" contact or touch.
  • Indirect contact; for example if children touch an infected surface like a toy or a door handle and then put their hand to their own eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Virus droplets being passed through the air for example, from coughing or sneezing.

PREVENTING SPREAD OF INFECTION IS CRUCIAL:

As there usually is no specific treatment for these infections, the best bet is preventing them in the first place by practicing and teaching good "infection control/prevention" habits in order to prevent the spread of infection.

The following will help prevent germs from spreading to others:

  • Children should be taught at an early age to wash their hands after any contact with their mouth or nose, especially before and after meals or snacks.
  • Children should be taught to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Facial tissues should be used for runny noses and to catch sneezes. These should be immediately put into the garbage after each use.
  • Avoid kissing your child on or around the mouth or face.
  • Anyone who comes in close contact with someone with the flu should wash their hands before and after contact.
  • Dishes and utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.
  • Children should not share pacifiers, cups, utensils, washcloths, towels or toothbrushes.
  • Disposable paper cups should be used in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Disinfecting is important as certain germs can live for more than 30 minutes on doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, even on toys. Use a disinfectant or soap and hot water to keep these areas clean.
  • Children should learn at an early age to get used to the good habit of always washing their hands after going to the bathroom.
  • Parents and other caregivers should always wash their hands after changing a baby's diaper.