Infection Control Nurse

Germs – what are they and how do they spread?

This section will answer the following questions:

  • What are germs?
  • How do they spread?
  • How do I know where these germs are?

What are germs?

Germs are tiny organisms, which you can’t see, but can cause infection and disease.

There are different types of germs

  • viruses (e.g. colds, flu, COVID-19)
  • bacteria (e.g. bacterial gastroenteritis such as salmonella, which is a type of food poisoning)
  • parasites (e.g. giardia – can occur after drinking contaminated water)
  • fungi (e.g. ringworm or tinea, or thrush)

But… ALL germs can be removed to safe levels with effective cleaning and disinfection.

How do germs spread?

Germs can be spread through two types of contact

  • Direct contact – touch (shaking hands, a hug, a kiss)
  • Indirect contact – touching surfaces (germs from hands touch surfaces like tables and pens)

Following that contact germs then need to enter the body to cause infection e.g. via a break in your skin or by touching mucous membranes such as your eyes or mouth.


Infection Control Nurse Hack

If you touch a surface that has germs on it (these are called ‘fomites’) and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you may become infected – this is why cleaning and hand hygiene is so important!

How do germs spread?

Germs can be spread through the air 

  • By droplets – large particle droplets that are generated by a person coughing, sneezing or talking. These particles can then be breathed in, or they land on surfaces and contaminate the hands via the contact route when the surface is touched
  • By air – small particle droplets that remain suspended in the air for extended periods and are breathed in
Germs that spread by droplets
  • COVID-19 (virus)
  • Influenza (virus)
  • Meningococcal (bacteria)
Germs that spread by air
  • Measles (virus)
  • Tuberculosis (bacteria)

Infection Control Nurse Hack

Blowing out birthday candles on a cake is no longer appropriate given COVID-19 spreads via droplets! Keep the candles off the cake to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Enrol Now For The Full Infection Control Cleaning Course

Click the link below to setup create your account and access the full course material. Once you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate of completion and a certificate badge you can include on your website or share on social media profiles.

Course Duration: 90 minutes

Course Price: $95 (inc GST)

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