To think the UK is germ ridden?(85 Posts)
Genuine question. I have not lived in the UK for more than 10 years and I am surprised at how often I read on here about people/kids in the UK getting sick.
For comparison I have a 5 year old DD in kindergarten, she has never had lice, worms, D&V bug, noro virus, chicken pox etc (touch wood). I also know lots of children this age and none of them have had any of these illnesses either. Usually kids here get colds, ear infections, coughs that type of thing.
There has never been an outbreak (in last 4 years) of any of these illnesses in her school or before that pre-school.
So are there children in the UK have also avoided these germs/bugs/viruses or would that be highly unusual?
I am not a germaphobe by the way and I know kids can't help catching these things, but I was just wondering if the UK has become a bit of a breeding ground for bugs over the last few years?
I think you and your famy have been really lucky
Dd's never had any of them either, nor any children that I know personally....
I suppose people aren't going to post that their children are healthy are they? I think you may be assuming that these posts equal a larger number of the population than they do.
My DD is 8, i cannot actually remember the last tiime she was sick, she had 100% attendance cert last year at school, so clearly wasn't sick then. I have only taken her to the doctors once when she was 10m and that was norovirus. She has been a few times for injuries though - im surprised we haven't had a call from SS
WRT chicken pox, are you in a country that vaccinates for it?
where are you?
We lived in the US for years...my children were very rarely ill. One of them not once.
Since returning here, although still healthy -they have picked up much more.
The schools in the UK are not cleaned to the same high standard as the US. I know that very well. Americans are cleaner generally.
Ime, illnesses other than coughs, colds, etc are not common or widespread. DD (8) is healthy and has only missed a few days' school with a tummy bug earlier this year (I was ill with it, too). Same goes, on the whole, for most of her pals. Bad news travels fastest.
I am foreign...do they vaccinate against CP where you live, OP?
I always think the British are neurotic about cleanliness!
I never had headlice as a kid but cousins growing up 120 miles away had them frequently.
American parents online seem to talk endlessly about ear infections.
No D&V bugs at all, though? Wow. Though I can't remember when DC last had one (tempting fate...)
I've always wondered about this and thought maybe its to do with the UK climate.
From September to March Dd 2 has a constant cold, cough and runny nose etc. Having grown up in a hot climate I can count on one hand the amount of times I was sick as a child and my mother agrees. Since living here I get several colds each winter mainly passed on from Dd and have had multiple chest infections.
As soon as my children hit school age they started catching everything. Ds1 has quite a strong immune system so was rarely ill but did get chicken pox and passed it on to his newborn brother. Chicken pox is viewed as a very normal childhood experience here.
Ds2 caught every virus going and has allergies and asthma which probably weaken him quite a bit.
I think its down to individual children but I've always thought it weird how common nits are in school age kids. We've been through 4 short lived outbreaks.
My dad used to get terrible sinus trouble every winter, often wiped out by it, weeks off work. Until he started getting annual flu jabs. His terrible winter illnesses stopped after that.
He has lived in Southern California all his life. So I don't really subscribe to the climate link theory.
Norovirus thrives in cold weather.
Americans are cleaner generally.
Yeah that is right because all 60 million British people are absolutely fucking identical.
Chicken pox isn't to with being clean.. i suspect you have been lucky so far or people vaccinate. If you are in the US they vaccinate
Definitely safer to stay where you are.
The Americans I know always seem to bang on about mono and strep throat.
My DS caught norovirus at a holiday camp a few years back. It was nasty. Germ-ridden Butlins, indeed.
my sons all had chicken pox when they were young, and the two younger ones were frequently plagued with head lice when they were in primary school, though now they are in secondary school they don't get them any more. they get colds from time to time. I don't know what kids in other countries get, or whether it is normal or not. What germ free realm do you inhabit?
harticus, saying that X is generally cleaner than Y is clearly NOT saying that all Ys are identical, is it?
Yes we have been lucky for sure, very thankful for that.
Good point that people aren't going to post that their kid was having a perfectly healthy day!
And great to hear that quite a few of you have kids who have avoided some of these bugs. We are heading back to the UK at Christmas and I had visions of us all coming down with some horrendous D&V bug (but I know there is no guarantees and all that).
I am not in America by the way, nor in a remote or rural area and they do vaccinate against CP.
Massive generalisation/personal anecdote.
Children in Britain do seem to get and have way more bugs/allergies than I did/my cousins' children do now in Italy.
I (and my mum and other random Italian people I've had this conversation with) think it's due to a combination of the constant damp drizzlyness of the weather and all the wall to wall carpets everywhere.
I lived in the tropics for three years. There were lots more bugs there and you couldn't get rid of them. Coughs meant nebulisers for the kids, lots of ear infections and antibiotics. Most if the bugs now we are back in the UK have cleared up quickly and on their own.
- public transport
- single taps that make it difficult to wash hands with warm running water
- people not being dressed appropriately
I never said where we live is germ free, it is just that I don't seem to hear about D&V, nits etc in real life even though I have a school aged DD.
I am interested in the why and possible differences, not trying to say the UK is dirty! Maybe germ ridden was a bit harsh but this is AIBU afterall.
I grew up in the UK and don't remember having that many bugs or illnesses, I did have chicken pox at 3 and nits a couple of times though.
It is more the spread of noro and D&V type bugs that I was thinking of (that weren't around as much 30 odd years ago).
I'm not sure. Some people do seen to get sick more than others I agree.
In general I think people tend to spend a lot of time inside in the uk compared to other countries. Ie in the winter in soft play/ shopping centres/ schools etc.. Where as many other countries would spend more time outside where germs spread less easily.
I know if we are 'ill' ie have runny nose/ sore throat then we stay away from people and go for long walks to allow us to breathe easier and get some excercise. Usually ok a day or two later. In comparison friends spend their days at friends sniffing or at home watching tv coughing over people and generally passing it on.
We also always wash hands and faces when we get in from outside which when living in London and using public transport I think is a big factor in reducing germs .
I am a hater of carpets and curtains too - they are dust gatherers. DS has had less than a handful of days off here in Switzerland in 4 years, but i had put that down to giving him a pro-biotic drink every day.
All children have to wear indoor shoes. And take their outdoor ones off on entering the building - I think this helps, as I remember DS still playing on the floor in UK primary with everyone trampling in outdoor shoes. The wood floors are mopped each night too.
There are also only 8 kids in a class in his school, and the max number is 18 generally so I think infections can be curtailed a little more easily, and the classrooms are a similar size.
Kids are also dressed more appropriately for the weather I think - proper winter boots, jackets and under layers and they are outside for a lot of time - minimum of 2 hours a day exercise. Most kids walk unaccompanied to school on all weather too from the age of 3/4, so they are well kitted out in sturdy clothing. There are very few occasions when children can't play outside in breaks or for sports - we have now changed to ice skating as the main winter sport in the school for example.
We did get a letter about head lice the other day, but DS never had it in the UK either - much to the annoyance of some of the other mums. He does have a verruca on his big toe at the moment if that doesn't skew the statistics?
NoroV is a newish bug & it hasn't spread everywhere... YET. Just think, E.Coli o157 was originally confined to just one patient in 1975; now it's most everywhere.
I think it is possibly because kids spend so much time inside due to tge pressure to start formal education young and the British people's fear of innocuous weather.
I live in a Scandinavian country, the 1-7 year olds are outside for most of the day, the babies/toddlers usually nap outside. The children are outside in tge rain, snow and -15 degree temperatures.
I was talking about my time at school ( in the UK) and mentioned "wet play" staying in the classroom when it rained. My dp thought the concept of kids staying inside because of rain was hilarious
especially considering the crap British weather
Stress I think could be another contributing factor. A person's immune system is compromised by stress. Studies have shown that the children in the country I live are happier than the children in the UK, it would make sense that their immune systems would work better.
Oooh skating for PE - how lovely! I used to be SO jealous of my cousins who did skiing for their PE in Northern Italy. I got to do field hockey instead. It was grim.
Based on my personal experience I do think kids are more often ill in the UK whilst at school. More parents are both working, and possibly feel under pressure to send ill kids to school. Also, many more kids in before and after school care, so kids are more time atnschool and for longer exposed to illnesses.
The carpets in many UK schools combined with poor standard of cleaning don't help either.
harticus I said generally back at ya!
In my experience I have found Americans to be cleaner.
I'm basing that on 2 American boyfriends, 1 American husband (19 years worth) 3 American children! Oh and having lived there...7 years.
Americans work more with prevention. From dentistry ...to schools.
For years they have used hand sanitizers in schools. This year is the first they have bothered at my children's primary.
they sanitize the chairs, door knobs ...tables as routine.
Here, they just hoover.
Wondering if my having lived in USA for first 24 years of my life somehow trumps Feminine's credentials.
Don't forget also, germs are different in different places - when we came back to the UK from overseas, DH came down with three different colds/chest infections in the first 6 months because a) when he's sick that's where he gets sick and b) he had no immunity to UK germs, having been living elsewhere for a few years.
When you come back to the UK be aware that your immune systems won't be familiar with all the nasties around, so if you do fall sick it likely won't be because we're all grubby blighters who can't wash our hands properly without mixer taps , but because your immune system has been taken by surprise.
In the UK we take our kids to indoor soft play, which is a breeding ground for germs and viruses. I truly believe the very first cases of norovirus coincided with the invention of indoor soft play. Filth holes.
lljkk. I'd say it does.
I wanted to illustrate to harticus that I wasn't basing my opinion on hot air!
gnit I take your point.
But, funny how it didn't work the other way round. (when we arrived in the US)
My DH worked in a high school, he was in charge of maintenance. Its mind blowing how much in depth cleaning takes place there.
I think you have been incredibly lucky. My 7 and 9yo average 2 colds a year, have had one d&v bug in their lives. Ds had had chicken pox, his sister didn't catch it. Dd1 has had lice once at nursery. Ds hasn't seen the dr since he was 5yo, dd went for the first time since she was 2yo earlier this year when she had a really vile sore throat which needed antibiotics. I don't think their environments are particularly germ free, just that I'm very lucky to have 2 children with good immune response that have never been in contact with anything particularly nasty.
I also think you have to consider the environment in the uk, our weather being what it is, our kids probably spend more time indoors than kids in other countries, in close proximity to others, and therefore pass germs on to their friends.
The weather isn't the problem, it is the lack of weather suitable clothing and people's fear of perfectly manageable weather.
Misspontypine - I'm not familiar with Scandinavian weather, does it rain a lot there? Because it does here. All the bloody time. Kids do play out in the rain when its feasible, but quite often the rain is the sort that even with a good coat on you are wet from the waist down, and sitting around in damp clothes shivering all day for the sake of playing out doesn't sound like my idea of fun. I don't mind freezing temperatures, I have appropriate clothing and gloves and I love snow more than I like hot sunny weather, but I really really hate the rain
My 8YO DS has had chicken pox but none of the other things. We spend a lot of time outdoors except when he is at school and after school care where they keep them in a lot in winter time. Why is it that prisoners are allowed out every day but not school children?
twatty scandinavia is bloody famous for being cold and wet.
but they are also famous for stylish weather (=rain) proof clothes.
DS is nearly 4 and the only thing from your list he has had is chicken pox.
He does have severe asthma and all his other illnesses have been linked to that.
He spends lots of time outside in weather suitable clothes.
It does rain here although in the winter the precipitation falls as snow. It rains an awful lot less than in tge UK but the snow is very wet and slushy as it is melting.
Kids here have rain trousers that go up to their chest and hook under wellies and good rain jackets. I worked with young children, they could actually sit in puddles and still come out dry.
The kids also have snow suits ( often 2 one for home one for school)
All schools and nurseries have drying cupboards so all the wet cloths get put in tge drying cupboard so the kids have warm dry cloths to walk home in.
My children are rarely ill but both have had CP, dd has had a few colds in her life but I don't remember ds (12) ever having one.
I do think the weather here and therefore the lack of an outdoor life means UK children miss out on the health benefits it can bring. Mine are both pretty sporty so maybe that helps.
I went to a US university and was in Miami for 6 years, I would say that in public areas the US are cleaner but def not in private houses.
some of my family live in California and they are constantly getting vitamin b jabs if they feel a cold coming on
my nieces seemed to have gone through the same things as ds has here
i think crowded areas cities like london you are in constant close proximity to others, those coming from abroad (or visiting here) so it is not surprising so many germs are about (not suggesting those coming here are dirty)
Ds's school is certainly filthy, although the new head has improved things somewhat. I've visited the secondary school he will go to, it is minging.
Having said that, so is our house, and [touch wood] ds and I are pretty healthy.
I am going to touch lots of wood here.
DS is now 12 never had nits, chicken pox, noro or any other normal(for the uk) type of childhood illness and I know I am bloody lucky but I will admit I don't have the cleanest house (cant belive I am admitting this but I don't have bloody time) and he lives most of the year outside in totally unsuitable clothing due to the horses and rugby. So shorts, short sleeved rugby tops, jodphurs and t-shirts (to hot) if he wears anything else.
But due to genetic excema we have never over bathed or been that concerned about him playing in the manure heap or on the floor with the dogs.
I don't think going outside in the rain we had this morning would have been conducive to anyone remaining healthy. It was sheeting down. The condensation from 170 coats getting several soakings and being left to hung, tightly packed, in the corridors of a victorian school building would be guaranteed to encourage mould. Very healthy.
(by the time I'd done the 1.5 mile round trip to school and back, my top to toe waterproofs were all wet through. Then the rain became even heavier just after I got home)
It must be the climate.
It doesn't get cold enough to properly kill off any bugs over the winter.
It doesn't get hot enough that people are outside all day rather than cooped up indoors in close proximity to each other
It rains a lot and is sort of warmish and damp most of the year round which is what bugs like.
No Tiggy, it is not true that the cold kills off bugs. As I said upthread, norovirus is an illness associated with very cold climates (Sweden and North America particularly).
DS is 6, DD is 4. Of your list they have only had headlice up until now.
They have had scarlet fever, slapped cheek and a few colds, plus DS had a 5 night stay in hospital with pneumonia which triggered an asthma attack.
Ahh see - I was basing the cold weather theory entirely on the fact that CP season in the UK starts as soon as it starts to get warmer (spring is the traditional time) and old lady assertions that snowy weather will kill off all the nasty cold bugs
It is probably that the snowy weather in fact stops people going to school or visiting each other or catching packed commuter trains since the UK isn't great with snowy transport solutions. I guess it might be a less direct cause and effect!
I think it's good they get bugs, builds up immunity. You child could run into problems later
In some places Nits for example are seen as so shameful that parents wouldn't tell the school or the school might not inform parents. If enough people are dosing with Nit killer often enough it might keep the problem low (but the chemicals might induce long term damage...I'm not sure).
Chicken pox comes in waves, I haven't known anyone have it for 4 years or so.
Do you get colds at all? Or Flu? Often all kinds of Stomach bugs can be called flu (but not in the UK).
Maybe people just don't talk about illness as much?
I'm sure when I was a kid a lot of the bugs my kids have had, just were ignored and covered up eg. Slapped Cheek and Hand Foot and Mouth.
My Swedish mate is always perturbed that Brits don't wear proper coats. I know you need to pick up the bugs in the first instance but doesn't being cold lower the immune system?
No secondary school dc wear coats where we live. I was walking home two days ago and it was pissing it down. None of the dc walking home along main rd from DS secondary school had a coat. They were totally soaked and this was just over a mile from the school.
MIL is convinced people don't have enough air circulating in their houses.
I'd keep away from the 'hyperclean' antibacterial US approach. May prevent colds but cause more serious issues:
Well I live in the US and I've never been so sick in my life as I have here! I don't know if it's lack of immunity to local germs but I have been so ill since I moved here.
DS has had a couple if monster viruses too (D&V, colds, flu) but he is only a toddler and never lived anywhere else so hard to know if it's abnormal for him.
Americans do vaccinate a lot more but their kids do tend to be in group care from a much younger age compared to the UK unless there is a SAHP in the household.
Also food hygiene standards here seem to be very patchy. I've had some really bad experiences here when eating out even in relatively nice places. I'm careful where I earnie and usually only go to the same few places.
I have 2dc (5 & 8), and they've both had cp. older DC has had head lice once when he was 7. That's it. I'm not going to come on here & post that they're both well though!
Coming from overseas, I agree that the weather is a real part of it - I grew up elsewhere in Europe where it was cold but not so rainy, so it was much easier for us to get outdoors and do things, so long as we were dressed warmly.
Still. I think that D&V and sniffles are pretty universal, but nits are a WAY bigger deal here than for my family overseas. That said, some cities in the US are now struggling with bed bugs, so it could be much worse
When ds was 4 he'd never had worms, chickenpox. D&v, lice, anything other than chest and ear infections.
He's 6 now (and dd is 3) And since 4 he's had chickenpox, worms, d&v, slapped cheek, hand foot and mouth, swine flu and pneumonia.
So I suppose I could've assumed where we live isn't germ ridden initially but then been proven wrong!
I was reading up on d&v or the winter vomiting bug and its not so much (this is colds as well) the weather being damp in winter, it's more to do with windows not being opened and stale air carrying around airborne germs. In summer we are out more and windows are opened at home and school so germs don't have the chance to get in our systems.
I wouldn't say it was more germ ridden than anywhere else.
To be honest, public places do tend to feel a bit cleaner/tidier in the U.S. vs the U.K. I think it has more to do with the age of structures and level of upkeep than anything. I remember how grossed out I was when my son started school nursery a few months after we moved over from the U.S. It was in a very old Victorian school building that stunk of damp, old drafty windows and seemed very, very dirty. I had come from teaching in schools where anything built before 1970 was considered "old", so this was a major eye-opener for me.
The lack of space and extremely close quarters of structures in the U.K. also helps with germ distribution. Crammed in like sardines...cough-cough...
FYI - a child can have worms and not really exhibit any noticeable symptoms. I've lived in 3 different countries including the UK and have not noticed more sickness here than anywhere else. My child is almost never ill. His peers don't seem to be sicker here than elsewhere. In contrast I've never had so many stomach bugs as during my first 5 years in the USA...
people dont tend to post 'just thought iwould mention that my dd is totes healthy today'
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
When i lived in the US we had outbreaks of nits and pinkeye. Conjunctivitus in particular seemed to lead to mass hysteria and isolation rooms.
I don't live in the UK and I frequently go to toddler groups where every child seems to have a runny nose. My DS had had two vomiting bugs, once in the UK on holiday and once where we live. It seems no different to me.
I think the way out children in the uk makes a huge difference. I know very few parents that have proper rain/snow suits for children so they are getting wet and often getting changed at home. I imagine this helps with catching colds!
My DCs were born in Japan and went to nursery/kindergarten/school there until they were aged 8 and 4. They both got chicken pox, even though some people in Japan vaccinate against it. Norovirus-style D&V bugs regularly did the rounds. We never got lice there, though I did hear of one outbreak at DS's school; they did get lice when they were at primary school in the UK, also threadworms, which they had never had in Japan. However, they must have been around, as DS's state-run Japanese nursery got parents to test for threadworms every year before the children were allowed to use the swimming/paddling pools.
I think you may just have been lucky, OP, though it may also make a difference if you are living somewhere with a low population density - we were in Tokyo, where things like norovirus and flu spread very rapidly due to crowded public transport etc, and we are now in a large-ish city in the UK with a lot of movement of people, which must mean that new viruses are constantly in circulation.
Head lice, yep! CP, yes.
D&V, worms, endless colds, nope.
I think you must know some very unlucky people.
OP I think you are just lucky.
My DD is almsot 5, she has had coughs and colds, chicken pox aged 2, headlice once caught from older school kids at the childminders, and one virus in the spring that made her vomit loads. Sounds alot, BUT she has never had an ear or chest infection, slapped cheek, hand foot and mouth, worms etc. Swings and roundabouts
Colds and allergies have been linked to poor ventilation in homes and corresponding poor air quality - its mold spores and their density particularly bad in homes where washing is dried inside. You can see why that might be an issue in UK homes with all the wet weather.
If by lice you mean head lice then yes my 3 DC have had all that you've listed but that over 8 years and I did take they out a lot as DC to toddler groups plus we've moved areas and traveled round UK fair bit on public transport.
The main source of illness though is from their school. It's not just the working parents that ignore the 48 hours guild lines all seem to.
Last winter the nearly had more DC off at one point down to D & V than in the school. Having hand sanitizers in school would help reduce that - many DC that winter took their own in.
Mine did have chest infection when babies and toddlers but once we finally could move out the damp rental house that did seem to stop happening.
You have just been lucky. I don't live in the UK either and all of my children have had virtually everything possible - nits, chicken pox, they have been hosptalised for rota virus and croup. And they are generally considered healthy children.
We've lived in a few different countries and my kids have been just as sick in all of them. Nit/worms notes came home from school just as frequently as well. The only difference that we found were CP obviously didn't do the rounds in the countries that vaccinate.
DS is three and has never required antibiotics, at most has fallen victim to a snuffly nose once or twice.
It's pure luck.
Both my ds's have had chicken pox. But other than that, are very rarely ill. Other than CP, I have had to take about 5 days off, to look after them, when they have a bad cough or cold, in the last say 3 years or so.
Ds1 has over 90% attendance for every year he has been at school.
Just one of those things.
Some kids are really sickly. Some in ds1's class seem to be off all the time.
Op sounds a bit sanctimonious and naieve. It has nothing to do with it being the UK, as a country. Her views just seem odd.
Germs aren't generally country specific other than those caused by specific parasites and neither is immunity. My son hasn't had any of the infections you mention. What an odd post.
It may have been an odd post but all the replies made for interesting reading, good to hear a wide range of experiences.
I conclude that the UK is not as germ ridden as I thought and my opinion was definitely skewed by reading about various bugs and illnesses on here.
I am neither sanctimonious or naive - just curious.
Havnt read through everything! Apologies.
I wonder if its the climate.
Bugs always seem to increase at the hange of season time, I think!
when I moved to the us (to work as au pair) I had every bug going in the winter. I think I had a cold from sept to march non stop.
and we had one memorable norovirus incident that had the whole family (including me) down at the same time.
I think if you move to a different country there are different strains about and your body has to get used to them.
'I conclude that the UK is not as germ ridden as I thought and my opinion was definitely skewed by reading about various bugs and illnesses on here.'
The thing is though, people are hardly likely to start threads entitled 'my childn isn't ill', so of course you get a skewed perspective from reading mumsnet.
My children were rarely ill in primary school, or nursery. I think not being too neurotic about ultra-hygiene helped.
My US friend, whose children are primary school aged, always has one or the other of them off with viruses. And it's doctors' appointments all the time. Over here we just keep them at home and give them Calpol if they really need it.
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