Though many communicable diseases are treatable, preventing the infection before it happens is still the best approach.
Communicable diseases might be acute (recent onset), chronic (persistent) or both, but one thing is for sure: They exist everywhere. An awareness of the most widely accepted medical approaches to these problems can help Scout leaders plan and conduct safer events.
At some point, we’ve all caught some kind of infection — or sickness — from someone else. These illnesses are known as communicable or contagious diseases, because they can spread from one person to another.
They might occur when a healthy person comes into contact with a sick person. Or they can occur by touching something that a sick person has touched.
Communicable diseases are caused by germs — both viruses and bacteria. Examples include colds, the common flu and strep throat. You can catch infections in several different ways, but all involve germs coming in contact with mucous membranes (like your eyes, nose or mouth) or through breaks in the skin (like a cut or hangnail).
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1. Good and frequent handwashing is the most important step you can take to prevent spreading germs.
- a) True
- b) False
2. Wear gloves in the following circumstances:
- a) When performing first aid
- b) When cleaning the toilet
- c) When cleaning up bodily fluids
- d) Anytime there is potential contact with an infected person or object
- e) All of the above
3. Which of the following is not a common difference between the cold and the flu?
- a) Colds usually come on slowly; the flu hits you abruptly
- b) Body aches are usual with colds and rare with the flu
- c) Headaches are rare with colds and common with the flu
- d) A fever is rare with colds and common with the flu
4. To reduce airborne germs, everyone should be encouraged to cough:
- a) Into their hands
- b) Into an elbow or shoulder
- c) Into the air away from others
- d) At least 6 feet away from others
5. Which of the following are ways that influenza and the common cold can spread? (There might be more than one correct answer!):
- a) Direct contact
- b) Airborne droplets
- c) Fecal/oral transmission
- d) Blood or mucous membrane contact
- e) Vector spread (like a mosquito or tick)
6. Which of the following is not part of the CDC’s recommended handwashing technique?
- a) Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
- b) Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- c) Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, or about as long as it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- d) Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- e) Let your hands air dry.
7. Which of the following is not listed by the CDC as a key time to wash your hands?
- a) After eating food
- b) After preparing food
- c) After handling pet food
- d) After treating a cut or wound
8. Which of the following is not an effective way to reduce the spread of disease?
- a) Staying away from others who are ill.
- b) Not sharing personal items such as combs, cups, towels, soap or eating utensils.
- c) Drinking plenty of fluids.
- d) Wearing gloves, discarding them before touching anything else and washing your hands immediately after.
- e) Not touching obviously infected areas, such as a fever blister or wound.
9. Someone who has experienced one of the following symptoms in the 24 hours leading up to an event should stay home: unexplained extreme fatigue or muscle aches, rash, cough, sore throat or open sore
- a) True
- b) False
10. Which of the following should not be part of a pre-event medical screening that asks participants about any symptoms they’ve experienced in the previous 24 hours?
- a) Fever of 100.4 F or greater
- b) Vomiting
- c) Diarrhea
- d) Sneezing/runny nose
- e) All of the above should be part of the medical screening.
For additional advice about keeping young people safe during Scouting adventures, visit scouting.org/health-and-safety
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Scroll down for the answers …
1. A. True.
2. E. All of the above.
3. B. Aches are slight with colds and typical with the flu.
4. B. Cough into an elbow or shoulder no matter how close you are to others. Droplets of infected material might contain viruses or bacteria that remain alive for many minutes or even hours.
5. A and B.
6. E. It’s OK to dry your hands with a clean cloth or paper towel.
7. A. After eating. Always remember to wash them before eating!
8. C. While drinking fluids can help you stay healthier overall, it does not reduce the risk of spreading an infection.
9. B. False. If someone has any two (or more) of these symptoms, he or she should stay home.
10. D. Sneezing and/or a runny nose alone do not always indicate a communicable illness (e.g. seasonal allergies). However, if the participant has experienced fever, vomiting or diarrhea in the previous 24 hours, he or she should stay home.