Infection Control and Prevention

Infections are common in children and often lead to illness. Children first enter early childhood education and care services when their immune systems are still developing. They may not have been exposed to many common germs that cause infections and they may be too young to be vaccinated against some diseases.

What causes infection?

Microscopic living things (known as germs) are all around us. Some of these germs can cause disease in people. There are four major types of germs:

  • Bacteria are found almost everywhere, including in and on the human body. Most bacteria live in close contact with us and our environment causing no harm.
  • Viruses can only grow and reproduce inside other living cells, called their host. Most viruses cannot survive long outside their host cell.
  • Fungi are a group of organisms that include yeasts and mushrooms. They prefer to live in damp, warm places.
  • Protozoa are microscopic living things that thrive on moisture and often spread diseases through water.

These four types of germs handle many human infections, but parasites such as roundworm and hookworm can also cause infections.

How do infections spread?

The chain of infection refers to how germs spread. All the steps in the chain need to occur for germs to spread from one person to another. By breaking the chain, you can prevent and control infections. You can break the chain at any stage.