Infectious diseases in a childcare setting
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Research suggests that children in preschool or long day care suffer more frequent infections and more days of illness than those cared for at home or in family day care.
The spread of infections is caused by contamination of the childcare environment by unhygienic behaviours, poor cleaning procedures, and the greater susceptibility of young children to diseases.
A recent study in the UK reported a child can touch anywhere between 100 and 180 objects in a day, so you can see how easily a disease can be spread through a childcare service.
What is an infectious disease?
Infectious disease may be caused by micro-organisms or "germs" including viruses, bacteria and fungi. These germs are too small to see with the naked eye, but they can survive in the air, on the surface of the skin, in body fluids and on objects such as toys and door handles.
They can remain infectious for several hours.
The most common infectious diseases in a childcare setting are viruses such as the common cold, gastroenteritis, chickenpox and measles.
The chain of infection:
The chain of infection refers to the way is which germs spread - by breaking the chain you can prevent and control infections.
Here’s how to break the chain of infection:
Effective hand hygiene
Effective environmental cleaning
Exclusion of ill children and educators
Cough and sneeze etiquette
Appropriate use if PPE
Following service policies and procedures
Best practice is to follow the 5th Edition Staying Healthy preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services - https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/attachments/ch55-staying-healthy.pdf
References - Australian Government Department of Health, WHO