|Schools and Day Cares|
The sanitation needs of nursery schools and day-care centers are obvious. Small children are just beginning to develop immunity. Their hygiene habits are as immature as their immune systems. They cough, dribble and wipe with abandon, showing little of the control that will come with age.
Children's habits present an imposing challenge to preventing the spread of illness and disease such as: rotavirus (diarrhea), influenza (flu), rhinovirus (common cold) and pink eye spread by the frequent rubbing of dirty little fingers on the eyes.
Children infected in a child-care group can readily transmit the infections they’ve acquired. Numerous studies have demonstrated a significant increase in disease transmission to families of children in day-care.
Some of the more common diseases shown to be transmitted to day care contacts include gastroenteritis (caused chiefly by Shigella, Giardia, and rotavirus), acute respiratory illness (due to agents such as rhinovirus), cytomegalovirus (possibly cause birth defects when contracted during pregnancy), and hepatitis A.
Certain diseases, such as that caused by hepatitis A, are rarely symptomatic in children in day-care centers and therefore not detected until other family contacts become ill and demonstrate symptoms of the disease.
In recent years the shift from home-based child care to group day-care centers further extends the likelihood of transmission back to the family and further interfamilial spread. Surveys of the day-care center environment have found contamination on the surfaces of toys, food areas, diaper changing areas and on the hands of children and adults.
What is a teacher or center to do? Clean and disinfect! The routes of transfer of these potentially disease-causing microorganisms include surfaces such as toys, sinks, faucet handles, bathrooms, counters and desk tops, all of which often harbor bacteria and viruses.
Regular hand washing, and the use of disinfectants on surfaces and objects are important practices, particularly because significant shedding of some organisms occurs in children and adults who may show no symptoms of the diseases.
Results of a recent two-year study, in which an infection control program specifically centered on cleaning and the disinfection of surfaces indicate that the program brought about a significant decrease in infection rates among school attendees.