Just because we’re in the season where our immune systems are most vulnerable, it doesn’t mean you should brace yourself to be attacked by a virus. Often, vaccines and vitamins are viewed as the only measures to protect you and your family, although few appreciate that the saying “prevention is better than cure” applies to how we live within our homes.
Research has shown that 80% of infections are spread through direct and indirect exposure, which can be prevented through non-pharmaceutical methods.
What many do not know is that a trip to the loo places you at greater risk at infection than you realise causing illnesses within the home! A study done at the University of Colorado, saw researchers test surfaces in 12 bathrooms on the university campus to look for microbes. It was found that gut bacteria — the type of bugs that live in the human gastrointestinal tracts — were even on the handles of bathroom exits. The researchers found a wide variety of bacteria, even though the facilities were well maintained. Dylan Ross-Kent, Founder and CEO of Hygizone, believes that good health starts at home and our everyday activities can leave us and our families vulnerable.
“The spread of gut bacteria in bathrooms is not exclusive to public loos. It is well known that Biofilm, which is the bacteria found just below water level in all toilets, is very difficult to remove even with ordinary cleaners. Worse still, during flushing dirty air is forced out of the bowl – up to 5 metres from the toilet bowl. Often the bacteria lands on everything from drinking cups to toothbrushes. Once present, pathogens can live for a week on surfaces.”
Further, the well-known misconception that closing of the toilet lid would be the answer actually has little effect in reducing the number of bacteria released into the air due to gaps between the top of the porcelain rim and the seat.
The challenges faced are global and according to the United Nations Children’s Fund 88% of all under-five deaths from diarrhoeal diseases are due to a lack of clean water, safe sanitation and good hygiene. Diarrhoea remains the second largest cause of under-five mortality and is responsible for 9% of all under-five deaths. “These stats reflect the broader risks that the world faces when it comes to infectious diseases and yet, it all starts with the basics! Proper sanitation and hygiene is the first step to curbing these challenges and with so many it is completely ignored,” says Ross-Kent.
We read about it but preventing moist, humid home environments by keeping the home aerated, such as keeping the bathroom window open or keeping bathroom surfaces as dry as possible will help combat the growth of microorganisms. Hand towels, bath towels and bathmats need to be frequently laundered, while well used items such as toothbrushes and drinking cups should be kept in bathroom cabinets. It sounds simple but this season is where families are most at risk to infection, so ensuring that basic habits are in place will help families prevent regular trips to the doctor.