Everyone needs to learn and use universal health precautions. Infants and young children who spend time in group childcare settings generally have a higher number of illnesses than children kept at home. Frequently, those caring for young children experience increased illnesses as well. As some diseases are contagious even before symptoms appear, care providers need to be aware of how diseases are communicated among children and between children and providers. By always observing caution, providers can do much to prevent the spread of disease.

Common Types of Communicable Diseases

A communicable disease is any bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection in the body that can be spread from one individual to another. This varies from the common cold and flu to more uncommon diseases like meningitis. Some of the more common diseases in young children are:

Infectious diseases of a more serious nature include:

  • meningitis
  • hepatitis

Infectious diseases of a more serious nature include:

  • meningitis
  • hepatitis

Clearly, the transmission of cold germs from one person to another does not carry with it the life-threatening implications of a disease like hepatitis or AIDS. On the other hand, some common diseases can be life-threatening if they are not treated appropriately. For example, bacteria and parasites that cause gastrointestinal illnesses, with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, can be quite serious in young children. Diarrheal diseases can even be fatal if a child becomes severely dehydrated.

How Diseases are Transmitted

Before looking at ways to prevent the spread of disease, it is helpful to know the ways diseases are transmitted. Diseases are caused by germs, which are transmitted from one person to another through

  • the air
  • urine and feces
  • blood
  • saliva
  • skin
  • drainage, such as nasal mucus or pus from open sores

Germs multiply rapidly in warm moist places. When objects or hands touch places where there are a lot of germs, they pick up the germs, which then enter the body through the nose, eyes, mouth, and/or broken skin.

Impetigo and ring worm are transmitted via direct physical contact with the infected areas of skin.

Diseases like colds, chicken pox, and some forms of meningitis are transmitted largely via the air through sneezes and coughs, although they can also be spread through saliva and nasal drainage.

Diarrhea, which generally is a symptom of some gastrointestinal virus, bacteria, or parasite, is transmitted through feces. Some forms of hepatitis can also be transmitted via feces or through urine and blood. Blood and blood products are the major carriers of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Precautions Against Diseases

The precautions necessary to prevent the spread of one disease are the same for another, regardless of whether the disease is life-threatening. Because diseases can spread from child to child, from child to care provider, and from provider to child, the same precautions—known as universal precautions—should be used. This is also true whether care is being provided for one child or a group of children, and whether the care is in the child’s home, the provider’s home, or in a child care setting. Consistently following appropriate procedures also avoids the unpleasant task of singling out a particular child.

The single most important way to prevent infection is frequent hand washing by both adults and children. To minimize the spread of disease to everything that is touched, wash the hands with a liquid disinfectant soap for several minutes. Hands should be washed after toileting/diapering, before preparing or eating food, after handling an animal, after covering a sneeze or cough, after blowing the nose, before and after treating a sore or wound. At BestCare Family Medical Center, we’ve made prevention committed to being your family doctors and family physicians in Garland, TX. We’ve always been in the business of providing quality health care that allows people to lead healthy and productive lives.

It is also important to follow these two general rules of hygiene: 1) Personal grooming articles, such as combs and toothbrushes, and clothing, particularly hats, should never be shared and should be labeled and stored separately. 2) Toys and equipment should be cleaned and sanitized frequently, particularly in programs that care for infants and toddlers, who tend to put everything in their mouths.

Diseases that are spread via the air, such as colds, are probably the most difficult to prevent. However, it is possible to control the spread of these germs by:

  • providing care in well-ventilated areas
  • using disposable tissues and depositing soiled tissues in covered containers
  • washing toys and eating utensils thoroughly and frequently
  • laundering bed linens between use by different children

Because many diseases can be spread via urine and feces, it is important to:

  • Always wash hands prior to and after changing diapers or assisting a child with toileting.
  • Wear disposable gloves whenever possible when changing diapers or assisting with toileting.
  • Store soiled diapers in a covered container.
  • Use a diaper service or disposable diapers whenever possible.
  • Disinfect the changing table after each diapering.
  • Locate the diapering area and sink away from the food preparation area.

To prevent the spread of skin infections or blood-borne pathogens like HIV:

  • Cover any open sore on either a child or a provider with a bandage.
  • Dispose of soiled bandages or other dressings in a covered container inaccessible to others.
  • Require permission from a physician before a child with skin eruptions can participate in a group setting.
  • Sanitize bed linens before they are used by another child.
  • Wear disposable gloves whenever possible when cleaning wounds and applying or changing bandages and dressings.

Staying Healthy

Maintain your health by following these guidelines:

  • Wash hands properly and frequently.
  • Maintain current immunizations, especially tetanus.
  • Take scheduled breaks and vacations.
  • Observe good nutrition.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Rest sufficiently each day.

Take care of yourself when you are ill so as not to spread germs to others. Give yourself a chance to recuperate properly. Healthy adults are the key to healthy, happy children and families.

Quality Health Care

Regular health exams, checkups, and tests with your family physician or health care provider can help find problems before they start. By getting the right health care, diagnostic tests, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that ensure all the members of your family will live healthier and happier lives. At BestCare Family Medical Center, we’ve always provided your family with the best family care and urgent care available in Dallas County. Our practice in Garland, Texas also serves Dallas, Mesquite, Richardson, Rowlett, Rockwall, Wylie, Sachse and surrounding communities. Call BestCare at 972-240-1789 to schedule an appointment today.


Some bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections are contagious even before symptoms appear. Therefore, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of these communicable diseases. Precautions necessary to prevent the spread of germs are the same for all diseases and should be followed regularly and consistently in every setting. The single most important precaution is hand washing. Other universal precautions include properly caring for and cleaning toys, utensils, personal care items, clothing, and bed linens, wearing disposable gloves when necessary, and properly disposing of articles soiled by bodily fluids.

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