How can I prevent diarrhoea?
Children and adults can swallow germs that cause diarrhoea if faeces come in contact with drinking water, food, hands, utensils or food preparation surfaces.
These are the steps to take to limit the spread of cholera or diarrhoea:
- Always wash hands with soap and water or a substitute, such as ash and water, after defecation, after contact with faeces, before touching or preparing food, before eating and before feeding children.
- Young children frequently put their hands in their mouths. So it is important to keep the household area clean and to teach children to wash their hands properly and frequently, especially after defecating and before eating.
- Dispose of all faeces, including those of infants and young children, in a latrine or toilet, or bury them. Disinfect the places touched by the faeces.
- Use safe drinking water.
- Wash, peel or cook all foods: Peel fruit and vegetables or wash them thoroughly with clean water, especially if young children eat them raw. Prepare and thoroughly cook food just before eating. Food left standing can collect germs that can cause diarrhoea. After two hours, cooked foods are not safe unless they are kept very hot or very cold. Bury, burn or safely dispose of all food refuse to stop flies from spreading disease.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding after six months can reduce the risks associated with diarrhoea.
- Immunization against rotavirus (where recommended and available) reduces deaths from diarrhoea caused by this virus.
- Vitamin A and zinc supplementation can reduce the risk of diarrhoea. Foods that contain vitamin A include breastmilk, liver, fish, dairy products, orange or yellow fruits and vegetables, and green leafy vegetables. Including zinc (tablets or syrup) as part of the treatment for diarrhoea for 10–14 days helps to reduce its severity and duration, and also protects the child from future diarrhoea episodes for up to two months.