Germs and Hygiene

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Film Summary

Explore where germs are found, how they can affect us, and how basic hygiene can help us avoid becoming unwell.

Key Facts

  • Pathogens are microbes that cause disease.
  • Good hygiene is the best way to limit the spread of pathogens.
  • Hygiene around food is important as it can carry dangerous bacteria.
  • Dirty water carries bacteria and can spread disease quickly.


All around you, on you, and inside you, are tiny, living organisms - too small to see.

Microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses.

Some of these are pathogens, which can cause disease.

Pathogens = microbes that cause disease

You probably have around 10,000 to 10 billion bacteria on your hand right now.

Most are harmless if they stay only on the skin's surface.

But if they are transferred into the body, they may make you ill.

This is why it's so important to wash your hands. Soap and water is an easy way to remove all those pathogens from your skin.

Coughing and sneezing can release a cloud carrying millions of pathogens, and project them a long way.

Viruses, such as the flu virus, can live on surfaces for days. So, if you touch an infected surface and don't wash your hands, you can pick up the pathogen.

Tissues can be used to help catch germs, which can then be thrown away.

Food Hygiene

Hygiene is particularly important around food, which can carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and E coli.

Salmonella can be found in: Chicken and other poultry. Eggs and unprocessed milk

Keeping kitchen surfaces clean, washing hands before and after preparing food, and making sure food is cooked properly are all important ways of preventing infection.

But sometimes containing the spread of a pathogen can be more difficult.

If water supplies become contaminated, disease can spread quickly.

Dirty water allows bacteria, such as those that cause cholera and typhoid fever, to multiply.

This can be a major cause of death in developing countries with poor water supplies.

Increased travel, the emergence of new pathogens, and resistant strains that can't be killed by antibiotics all make us more prone than ever to outbreaks of infectious disease.

So the best thing we can do is limit the spread of pathogens in the first place, with some simple, good hygiene.

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