It's World Diabetes Day! 1...
In the 13th century, The Black Death ravaged Europe and Asia and wiped out 75 to 100 million lives from 1347 to 1351. Due to poor understanding of microorganisms and infections, many people back then thought The Black Death was a supernatural reckoning for humanity.
Image credit: See page for author, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Today, scientists understand that the Black Death, now known as the plague, is spread by a bacillus called Yersinia pestis, which was discovered by scientist Alexandre Yersin in the 19th century.
Image credit: NIAID
As we deepen our understanding of disease outbreaks, fewer people died from infections compared to centuries ago. For the first time ever in history, more people around the globe died from long-term non-infectious diseases (e.g. heart attack, stroke, cancers, diabetes) than from infections. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that infection has yet to be done with humanity, and preventing future infection is more important than ever.
In conjunction with 2021 International Infection Prevention Week, let’s refresh our knowledge about infection prevention on a personal level.
Image credit: The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
While we all know that hand washing is the most simple thing you can do to prevent infection, many of us don’t do it correctly enough. We recommend the World Health Organization (WHO) hand washing technique:
Using soap and water to wash your hands for 40 to 60 seconds is the preferred way. Nonetheless, if you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer instead:
As frequent hand washing can dry out your skin, take care of your hands by regularly using hand cream or lotion, at least daily.
Another public health threat that has been ongoing for many years but received little spotlight is the antimicrobial resistance from certain bacteria, which leads to more severe infections that are harder to treat.
Antibiotics are not a magic bullet to every infection, and the decision to use one should be carefully made by doctors and healthcare professionals only. To curb antimicrobial resistance, here’s what you can do:
Only take antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them to you. Never demand antibiotics if your doctor or pharmacist says you don’t need them.
Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
If you’re supposed to finish the entire course of antibiotics, please follow the advice accordingly.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of vaccination: study found that unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have vaccinated. While different vaccines have different efficacies and benefits, we know that they can protect us from severe illness that may end up costing our lives.
Under the National Immunisation Program led by the Ministry of Health, Malaysian children are required to receive vaccinations against 13 major childhood diseases. (Also, they’re all FREE if given at a public health facility!)
Image credit: Immunise4Life
It’s important that you allow your child to follow the schedule as closely as possible. It is not advisable to skip or delay vaccines, as this will leave the child vulnerable to disease.
Image credit: pxfuel
While there’s no mandatory vaccinations for adults, depending on your health conditions, your doctor may strongly recommend that you receive certain vaccines. For example, if any of your family members have the opportunity to perform Hajj or Umrah soon, you can help them to stay healthy throughout the pilgrimage by making sure that they have been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease and influenza. On the other hand, for those who have long-term lung diseases such as asthma, you are encouraged to receive a flu shot every year.
Prevention is better than cure, and there are so many things we can do to prevent the infection from damaging our health!
Beware of products that claim to prevent infection but are not backed up by science. The three strategies we mentioned above are the scientifically proven way of preventing infection at a personal level.
If you have any questions related to infection prevention, you can consult our professional doctors and healthcare professionals on DOC2US. DOC2US is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere. For better communication, you can even send our online doctor images or voice messages related to your medical inquiry.
Download DOC2US app on Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Huawei App Gallery; or use our web chat at https://web.doc2us.com/
Note: DOC2US is not for medical emergencies. In the event of urgent medical conditions, please call 999.
Disclaimer: As a service to our users and general public, DOC2US provides health education contents. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Specific references have been linked in its relevant part of the article.
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