An unwell child can contaminate half the class at playtime: study

8th of November 2013
An unwell child can contaminate half the class at playtime: study

A child with an infectious illness can contaminate more than half their playmates in less than an hour of outdoor activities, according to a study.

And any child coming home from school has a 50-50 chance of having been contaminated by disease-causing germs.

The study, commissioned by soap brand Safeguard, aimed to determine the rate of germ transfer among schoolchildren. It was conducted at a Chinese elementary school by the Beijing Health Technical Research Centre.

The hands of one child were marked with a safe fluorescent agent representing germs. The child then interacted normally with friends both inside and outside the classroom over the course of the day.

The study found that 62.5 per cent of the class had been contaminated with the fluorescent agent following 30 minutes of team sport activity. A total of 55 per cent had the gel on their hands within 40 minutes on a school bus ride, and 100 per cent were contaminated after one hour spent in the playground.

The survey concluded that one child can contaminate more than 50 per cent of their class in less than one hour of outdoor activities. "This means that a child coming home from school has a 50-50 chance of being contaminated by disease-causing germs," claims the study.

"The spread of germs in our highly populated societies is a real danger," said Dr Jeffrey Jin from the research centre. "A high level of people-to-people interaction leads to faster transfer of germs, especially from child to child because as shown by this experiment, children tend to be very susceptible."

This is why doctors recommend frequent handwashing, he added. By doing so, "we can break the germ transfer chain and protect children's health," said Jin.

 

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