Bitter facts about spitting, sneezing and coughing

There is an irresponsible habit of spitting in the public among fellow citizens. Some even cough without holding their mouths while others do not carry any handkerchief hence sneezing using their hands.

There is an irresponsible habit of spitting in the public among fellow citizens. Some even cough without holding their mouths while others do not carry any handkerchief hence sneezing using their hands.

People spit and sneeze on our good and daily cleaned roads, in the toilets without the use of tissues or hankies.  Some even spit through the windows of their houses or vehicles.

Can you imagine such an act? I would call this a habit or perhaps a leisure pursuit as fun, done even when one does not have cough or flu. Even if they were sick, is this right way of doing it?

And what hygienic aspect does this have to their and other peoples’ health?

Many foreigners who have visited Rwanda have characterized spitting as a trait for almost all Rwandans which is not true but just because many are fond of unnecessarily doing it over and over.

The mucus or saliva leaves many people’s health at stake therefore raising a health concern. They are several diseases that these people expose us to even though some spit in dark corners.

Viruses and bacteria within their spit of mucus or saliva go into the air we inhale. These are the airborne diseases which many of us contract without prior knowledge of how we were infected, even if one is sensitive about good hygiene.

The airborne diseases exposed to our health are transmitted through coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, kissing and even simply exhaling.

The irritating coughing and sneezing earlier talked about are also done when infected with the bacteria. This justifies the English man’s request of “excuse me” when one wants to sneeze or cough.

The airborne viruses that can be spread by these dubious acts of spitting, coughing and sneezing are flu, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. The most commonly spread bacterial airborne disease is tuberculosis (TB).

The incubation periods for viral and bacterial infections range from several days to several weeks according to research but at times also depending on one’s immune system and the weather conditions.

During the cold seasons, people are more vulnerable to cough and flu. It is explained that this weather condition works better for the viruses and bacteria in their replication after incubation.

But with search lack of responsibilities to our health and environment, we will continue infecting and getting re-infected referred to as infection cycle.

The most vulnerable to this risk are those with impaired immune systems including the very old, the ill especially HIV victims, the passengers, and the fatigued. Also at risk are the very young (babies) because they have tiny lungs.

The primary significance is the dose of contagious organisms exposed to our health. This explains how people are more vulnerable while visiting public toilets or sitting in the good gardens along the streets. And also how sitting close to a contagious individual is more dangerous than merely breathing of air.

Although the risk of infection increases with the duration of sitting or depending on ones’ immune systems, evidence shows that infections spread only by the spitting and sneezing of mucus is more contagious.

Many have called for a by-law to culminate or put measures to nab those found doing so, but still how would this be enforced.

The government has even emphasized the use of tissues and hankies for spitting and sneezing, but little effect has been done.

The methodology of enforcing this policy attracts a lot of questioning, everyone as a responsible citizen should be a watch dog for him/herself and others.

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