Kids being taught respiratory hygiene

Will stop infections in schools and homes
  • Deborah Condon

Children in creches and schools are being taught about the importance of respiratory hygiene, in an attempt to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

According to the HSE, the 10 best things to spread bugs among children are the 10 fingers on their hands.

It noted that young children in particular are at an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases because they tend to cough and sneeze into their hands and have personal habits that spread germs, such as rubbing their eyes, sucking their thumbs and putting things in their mouth.

Young children also tend to be grouped together, exposing them to new germs, and their immune systems are not fully developed yet.

The HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has developed new posters, which have been distributed to all schools as part of a resource pack. They are aimed at assisting teachers and crèche workers to teach some of the key respiratory hygiene messages.

An online resource for teachers and parents, called e-bug, is also available here. It is a free educational resource for classroom and home use, which enables fun and accessible learning for all students abut the spread, prevention and treatment of infections.

Children should be taught to sneeze and cough into their arm or elbow and they should also have access to tissues so that they can "catch it, bin it, kill it".

"It is so important that we do everything to protect children's health and teaching respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene will help stop infections in schools and home.

"Good respiratory and hand hygiene can help parents reduce the risk of having to stay home from work due to their child's or their own illness. However if you are sick, it is important to stay home from work or school," commented Dr John Cuddihy, interim director, of the HPSC.

Meanwhile, according to Martin Cormican, HSE national lead for infection control, as well as teaching children to cough and sneeze into their elbow or a tissue, it is essential that they also wash their hands properly.

For young children, they should wash for 20 seconds and sing the following song to the tune of ‘Row, Row, Row your Boat":

-Wash, wash, wash your hands, play our handy game. Rub and scrub and scrub and rub, germs go down the drain (repeat).

Meanwhile, for more advice on how to manage simple illnesses at home, click on



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