Bid goodbye to disease-causing bacteria | Sunday Observer

Bid goodbye to disease-causing bacteria

21 November, 2021

From time immemorial, man has been trying to fend off his enemies such as terrorists, thieves, robbers and some animals. Such enemies can be seen and destroyed with some effort.

However, he has not succeeded in getting rid of harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and moulds that relentlessly try to invade him. Coronavirus is the latest he is grappling with. We are still trying to protect ourselves from the virus by taking vaccines. It is baffling why even the top scientists of the world have not been able to contain the deadly Coronavirus.

The trouble with germs is that they are everywhere. You find them in the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. They can live anywhere, big or small. Even your personal items such as pens, pencils, spectacles, wristwatches or even wallets are not safe from germs. It looks like nothing is free from germs.

Microorganisms flourish in wet spots such as kitchen tables, sponges, toothbrushes and water taps. The good news is that only about one percent of such microbes are capable of making you ill. On the other hand, the immune system in your body is strong enough to fend off certain microbes.

However, when a strong virus invades your body, your immune system may not be able to protect you.

Being intelligent and rational human beings, you can limit your exposure to the deadly Coronavirus by wearing facemasks and washing your hands frequently. By doing so, we have reaped immense benefits. Such healthy practices will protect you even from other viruses.

Crowded places

Health authorities constantly advise people to avoid crowded places and follow their guidelines to minimise your chance of catching diseases. However, such advice does not go down well with certain political parties and trade unions which have different agendas. Nobody knows why they cannot understand the gravity of the situation.

Children are perhaps the biggest germ carriers. Being young and inexperienced, they mix with others, share their food, touch others playfully and keep on touching anything they see such as walls, lamp posts or vehicles. When they travel on buses, they touch shutters and press their lips to the glass. They also constantly rub their eyes, noses, mouths and ears and allow harmful bugs to invade their bodies. In a survey in the United States, researchers found 46 percent of surfaces in daycare centres were contaminated with disease-carrying microbes.

There is also a positive side to children’s behaviour. When children are exposed to a lot of other children, they develop a robust immune system. For instance, most street children in big cities are exposed to a lot of microbes, but they remain healthy. Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine said exposure to other children affect their risk of asthma and allergies.

Similarly, preschoolers who mix with their playmates have a lower risk of developing asthma. It confirms the fact that overprotection of children is not a healthy practice. There is no need to keep your children away from playgroups or daycare centres. However, those who run daycare centres should disinfect desks and chairs regularly as a precautionary measure. A recent study in the United States has confirmed that cleaning the classrooms slashed the number of respiratory infections of children.

Cups and mugs

In certain offices, tea or coffee is served at regular intervals to their employees. Although it is a good practice, cups and mugs are good places for diarrhoea-causing microbes. Employees should be encouraged to use their own cups and mugs as far as possible.

Once in a way, you are compelled to use public rest rooms and toilets which are fertile grounds for germs. Sometimes, the rest rooms and toilets may appear to be clean, but they may be full of bacteria. Washbasins have more bacteria than toilets. Therefore, whenever possible, use the toilets close to the entrance as they are least used. After using the toilet, wash hands thoroughly and dry them. Avoid touching water taps and door handles with your bare hands. Use a paper towel or tissue to touch them.

When you stay at a hotel, you are tempted to use the swimming pool. Swimming pools and bath tubs, unless disinfected, carry a host of bacteria. They may cause intestinal, skin, ear and upper-respiratory infections.

Bathing places

Rivers and other bathing places should be chosen wisely. Avoid fast-flowing rivers and foul-smelling waterways. Even the quality of water at beaches is difficult to ascertain. During heavy rains, beaches get contaminated with pollutants. Also avoid bathing or swimming near drains or lagoons. Never step into a pond or reservoir if the water is muddy or discoloured. Do not think that viruses cannot thrive in sea water.

They can survive for weeks in ocean waters.

Most people take the trouble to clean the environment and disinfect their toilets. However, they forget that they should keep their mouths in good condition. Your mouth is a haven for disease-causing bacteria. You have to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Studies have shown that many diseases are related to unhealthy gums which are mainly caused by plaque. If you do not remove the sticky substance, it will lead to tooth decay. Plaques are formed by bacteria. Therefore, they cannot be ignored. Gum diseases can give you bad breath, loose teeth, and swollen gums. If your gums bleed, you need treatment.

Good dental care is necessary to keep the gums free of germs. The best method is to brush your teeth spending two to four minutes. Take care to brush all the tooth surfaces. Brushing will not remove food particles stuck between teeth. You have to floss your teeth. Dental surgeons advise you to scrape your tongue which can harbour bacteria. What is more, change your brush every three months.

Currency notes

You may have heard that currency notes and coins are teeming with malevolent microbes. In fact, during the pandemic some people started washing or disinfecting currency notes and coins. According to medical sources, currency notes and coins are too dry to harbour microbes. Therefore, there is no need to wash or disinfect them.

When we meet relatives, loved ones, and friends, we embrace them. Embracing and kissing someone you love may help transmit disease-causing bacteria, but there is no need to limit such social interactions during normal times.

Most of us have pets such as dogs and cats. However, pets harbour disease-causing bacteria. To be on the safe side, test and treat your pets for worms and wash your hands after petting dogs and cats.

If you take care, you can bid goodbye to many disease-causing microbes. Always remember the old adage: Health is wealth.

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