You should not forget to wash your hands since it’s that part of the body that you often use in many activities. Did you know that there are often germs on the hands that are invisible to the naked eye, such as viruses or bacteria that can cause diseases? Some people do not understand how these invisible germs can be transmitted from one person to another and can even cause diseases. Ni Nyampinga visited Mukeshimana Vestine who works at WaterAid Rwanda and is an environmental and health expert, and she explained this to us.
Ni Nyampinga: Which germs, invisible to the naked eye, live on our hands? How do they differ?
Vestine: Invisible germs that live on our hands include bacterias and viruses. Bacterias are very small organisms that can survive on their own. However, viruses cannot survive or reproduce without depending on another organism. In addition, viruses cannot survive for long periods of time outside without living in something or someone but bacteria can survive.
Ni Nyampinga: Are there any viruses or bacteria we know as children?
Vestine: Laughing! I don't know if they know any because they are invisible and they have never seen them moving around. But among the well-known viruses, there is the virus that causes AIDS, the Coronavirus, and others. For bacteria, we can talk about the ones that cause tuberculosis, cough, sore throat, and more.
Ni Nyampinga: If they are invisible, where do they live?
Vestine: We live with bacterias and viruses and in very close proximity. If you used a microscope you would see bacterias on your hands, skin, on the ground, on the table, on the trees, on the walls, basically, on many things because they are living organisms too. However, viruses live in animals or humans.
Ni Nyampinga: How do they get to someone and how do they spread it?
Vestine: For a virus, when a person meets an animal or a person who has it, they might spread it to them. For example, coronavirus is spread through excretion, when you come in contact with an infected person’s saliva or hand sweat, you can also get it. For bacteria, when you touch a spot where it exists, you carry it. Another thing is that it’s not only people who can spread these germs because wind and water can also spread them.
Ni Nyampinga: In conclusion, explain why washing our hands is important in fighting the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Vestine: We use our hands to eat food, blow our noses, apply body oil, rub our eyes, and much more. When you touch different spots you can pick up bacteria or viruses. Obviously, you too will spread the bacteria and virus because if you touch something or somewhere you're going to leave it there. It is important to wash your hands every time after doing anything.