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Module 7 - Why is hygiene still so important?

At the turn of the C19th, people still lived in constant fear of  killer infectious diseases. Hygiene was recognised as vital to reducing risks

Around the 1950s, access to antibiotics and vaccines, clean  food and water, toilets and sanitation lulled people into believing that infectious diseases were no longer a real threat. Attitudes to hygiene  became more relaxed.

The idea, prevalent at the time, that infectious disease would soon become a thing of the past no longer holds

With rising concern about antibiotic resistance,  emerging pathogens etc, we now realise that hygiene is still a cornerstone in the fight against infection in a crowded and mobile world.

Infectious diseases circulating in the community continue to take a heavy toll on health and healthcare systems

Hygiene is an important contributor to global sustainable health

Hygiene-related disease in the home and community

Food-related, waterborne, and non-food-related intestinal diseases remain at unacceptable levels, despite the fact that food borne infections are largely controllable through good food and kitchen hygiene. WHO estimate that about 31% of reported food-borne outbreaks occur in private homes.

Salmonella is estimated to cause around 38,000 cases in the UK/year. For Campylobacter this number is 600,000.

Norovirus affects an estimated 3 million in the UK and 20 million in the US: the majority of cases are spread from person to person  via aerosols, hands and surfaces

Respiratory infections remain common: A  German study of 1,314 children recorded an average of 21.9 respiratory infections by the age of 12 years, with up to 11 episodes a year

Good respiratory hygiene can limit spread of respiratory infections, most particularly colds, but also influenza.