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Parents can become infected with dangerous germs in their children
Drilling your finger in the nose can increase the risk of developing life-threatening pneumonia. This is due to the transmission of germs between the hands and the nose. Here it becomes clear how important adequate hand hygiene can be for our health. But not only your own hands have to be clean, especially children with dirty hands can also transmit the germs to other people.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine scientists found in their current study that transmission of germs between the hand and nose increases the risk of pneumonia. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "European Respiratory Journal".
Older people are particularly vulnerable
Parents should make sure that their children's toys and hands are clean and washed, because children in particular often drill into their noses, which increases the risk of infectious respiratory diseases. Contamination of children's hands can also spread the bacteria to other people. Older people are particularly at risk because they are susceptible to infections, the researchers explain.
Pneumococcal infection leads to millions of deaths annually
Pneumococcal infections are a major cause of death worldwide, and it is estimated that they are responsible for 1.3 million deaths in children under the age of five annually, study author Dr. Victoria Connor from the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Older people and people with other causes of compromised immunity, such as chronic illnesses, are also at increased risk of pneumococcal infections. The current understanding of pneumococcal transmission is relatively poor, so the scientists wanted to study closely how pneumococci spread throughout the community. Having a clearer understanding of how the bacteria are spread could help avoid transmission, which could also prevent pneumococcal infections.
Bacteria can partially strengthen children's immune systems
The researchers found that the bacteria can be transferred from the hands to the nose, whether people are boring their noses or just scratching their noses. However, it is not realistically achievable that all children stop drilling in the nose or scratching the nose, says Dr. Connor. The presence of bacteria can sometimes even boost children's immune systems, the expert adds. It is therefore unclear whether a complete reduction in the spread of pneumococci in children is the best option. However, children's clean hands are likely to reduce the spread of pneumococci in older relatives or loved ones with a vulnerable immune system.
Improved hand hygiene would particularly help older people
Ensuring good hand hygiene and cleaning toys or surfaces could likely reduce the transmission of germs and reduce the risk of pneumococcal infection, the researchers conclude. This would reduce the number of people suffering from pneumonia. The current study confirms for the first time that pneumococci can be transmitted through direct contact and not just through the inhalation of bacteria in the air, the scientists explain. (as)