Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Is there an etiquette for germs, or at least for people with germs? I am due to leave in half-an-hour to lead a Breastfeeding drop in clinic at my local hospital. When I woke my daughter a little while ago she was full of cold, crying with the soreness of her throat. They were due to spend the morning at the house of a dear and lovely friend from church and I knew that my little girl would be warm and happy there. However, would my friend wish to host the germs? So I called, putting my friend in that very awkward postion of having to decide. She consulted with her husband and has offered to come over here so I can do the clinic, which I would have to cancel otherwise. In talking around the issue, I quipped that she was as likely to have caught cold from me on Sunday, when I felt truly dreadful, as she is from my daughter. Ah, she said, perhaps that's why I have a sore throat! I'm not sure if she was joking, and I felt terrible that I might have infected her, or anyone else. However, I know that I was not the only snotty and sneezy member of the congregation. Was I wrong to go? Am I wrong to be asking my friend to come this morning?

Three years ago, I woke on Christmas morning, my then two-and-a-half year old girl snuggled in bed with me, and I noticed an angry red spot on her neck. Drowsily I thought it must be a bite, not really thinking about the likelihood of that in December. Then I lifted up her pyjama top to find her covered in chicken pox! Immediately I thought back to the afternoon before, the children's Nativity at Church, and how she had been running around with the other children, playing tag and then kissing them goodbye as we left! Oh dear, a walking germ factory, she would have infected most of the non-immune children!

Currently the norovirus is prowling the UK and doctor's advice is to stay off work for 48 hours after the symptoms have passed. I wonder how many people heed this. It must be hard to justify taking time off sick when you aren't sick any more and you know how hard pressed everyone is at the moment with so many people ill with colds.

Wouldn't it be great if we had some kind of indicator of how germy we are?

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