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Is there any way to stop illnesses from spreading among family members?

By October 20, 2008 - 1:44pm
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It's that time of year for most of us folks.

Probably a redundant question but I'd love to know of any way to stop the spread of colds or flu or other bugs among family members. One of my kids was sick, got better and a day later another kid is sick.

I clean a lot, I don't allow kisses when someone is sick and I wash door knobs, toilet handles and other things but it's impossible to disinfect everything in a busy, active home! The thought of a winter filled with flus or bugs gets me down, I'd love more tips!

We eat heatlhy foods but we do not believe in getting our children flu shots, (for many reasons but we are not believers in it, aside from the fact that the flu shot only protects against a few of the hundreds of flu strains out there and most shots where we live STILL contain mercury (thimerosol) but that's another story!


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Looks like handwashing is still the number one way to reduce the transmission of illness between family members. In fact, an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) conducted a search on "reports of any intervention to prevent transmission of respiratory tract viruses", and found that "simple public health measures seem to be highly effective at reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses."

Throughout the 50+ studies, they found a common three main categories of successful prevention: "hygiene (handwashing, covering cough), barrier measures (gloves, gowns and masks) and isolation of people with suspected respiratory tract infections."

To put the research into practice:
1. Hygiene: Handwashing (10 times daily) and teaching kids as young as 2 years to cover their cough.

2. Barrier measures: Not sure on this one: any ideas? Probably what Diane suggested as far as preventing other kids and family members from using same blankets, toys, etc. Can't imagine actually having my child wear a gown and mask: covering coughs and sneezes could help instead of a mask.

3. Isolation: It makes me laugh to think of going so far as "isolating" young sick kids (like that could actually happen!). Assuming you are not going to build a negative-pressure room in your house to stop the spread of diseases (ha ha), as a concerned and attentive parent, we can implement some of these ideas in a healthy and realistic manner: "isolating" the other kids from the sick kid as much as possible. Perhaps designating a special "sick chair" or "sick couch" for the child with an illness, where the "well" children are forbidden until the sick child is better. (It can be called the "Get Well Chair", for a positive spin).

November 28 2007 issue of the BMJ.

October 21, 2008 - 1:48pm

Bargain lover, when you figure out the true secret to this, you need to patent it and sell it, because it will make you millions!!!

Here are a few more things that might help:

-- Fresh air. When someone in the family is sick, those germs can circulate around the entire house. This won't be practical in the dead of winter, but if there's a way to regularly open the windows and get fresh air circulating in the house after someone has been sick, perhaps the air in the house becomes healthier.

-- Fresh linens. You probably already do this, but change your sick child's pillowcase every day.

-- Fresh toothbrushes. When someone has had a cold or the flu, be sure to throw out their toothbrush and get them a new one. And be sure the family's toothbrushes don't touch.

-- Everyone gets their own box of Kleenex. Think about it: while we think this isn't necessary because the tissues are disposable, a sick person touching the tissue box can leave germs behind for the next person's hands to pick up.

-- Everyone puts their own dishes and cups and silverware in the sink.

-- Purell, for when people can't wash their hands with soap and water.

-- Watch out for communal toys. Think about such things as a big bin of crayons that all the kids dig their hands through. It might be smart to have a "special" box of crayons that only comes out when someone has a cold.

You're so smart to wash doorknobs, toilet handles and other things that our hands touch constantly. Don't forget the tv remote control, light switchplates, and the refrigerator door handle!!

Good luck this winter!

October 21, 2008 - 8:54am
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