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close this bookWhere Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)
close this folderChapter 10: Staying Healthy
close this folderCleanliness
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCleanliness in the community (sanitation)
View the documentCleanliness in the home
View the documentPersonal cleanliness
View the documentClean water
View the documentFood safety


¨ Different germs are spread in different ways. For example, tuberculosis (TB) germs are spread through the air. Lice and scabies are spread through clothes and bed covers.

Many illnesses are spread by germs that pass from one person to another. Here are some of the most common ways that germs are spread:

· by touching an infected person.


· through clothes, cloths, or bed covers.


· through the air. For example, when someone coughs, germs in small drops of spit (saliva) can spread to other people or objects.


· by eating contaminated food.


· through insect bites or animal bites.


Cleanliness in the community (sanitation), cleanliness in the home, and personal cleanliness are all important to prevent these sicknesses by stopping the spread of germs. For example:

1. A man infected with parasites has diarrhea outside.

2. A pig eats the man’s stool.

3. One of the man’s children plays with the pig and gets stool on himself.

4. Later, the child starts to cry and his mother comforts him and cleans his fingers with her skin. She also gets stool on her hands.

5. The mother prepares food for the family, forgetting to wash her hands first. She uses her soiled skirt to keep from burning her hands.

6. The family eats the food. Soon everyone has diarrhea.

What could have prevented the family’s illness?

If the family had used any of these precautions, the spread of illness could have been prevented:

· if the man had used a latrine or toilet.
· if the pig had not been allowed to run free.
· if the mother had not used her skirt to wipe the child’s hands and then touched the food.
· if the mother had washed her hands after touching her child and before preparing food.