Diseases associated with sharing tooth brush
1. Meningitis
Meningitis is a highly contagious disease which spreads from person to person. It is a disease of the cover of the brain and spinal cord. It is found all over the world but more common in crowded communities with poor ventilation. In Nigeria, it is more common in the northern part which lies within the “Meningitis Belt”.  People in all ages can have the disease but those under 30 years are more at risk.
Meningitis is caused by several agents on individual basis. It could be due to bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites or even injuries or cancer.
The way meningitis spreads from person to person depends on the agent that caused the disease. If caused` by bacteria, it will spread through coughing, sneezing if close to the sick person or discharges can be blown as droplets later to other persons. It can also spread through kissing, sharing lip sticks/lip savers, tooth brushes etc. If caused by a virus, it spreads by faecal (Stool) contamination of hands resulting from failure to wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing baby diapers. There are other means of spread but these two are the most important.
2. Oral herpes (Cold sores)
Oral Herpes is caused by herpes simplex 1 in most cases and occasionally by herpes simplex 2, it affects all ages.
It presents itself in the form of blisters affecting the mouth (side of the mouth, lower or upperlip), chin and the cheeks; the blisters break down to form painful sores which last for about a week or two. The sores are highly infectious as they contain the virus and you can infect yourself by touching the sores and then touching other parts of your body without washing your hands thoroughly first.
You can contract it if you share tooth brush with someone who has it.
3. Genital Herpes
Herpes genitalis is caused by herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, it is common in the 15 to 49 years age bracket.
It presents itself in the form of blisters affecting the penis, vagina, anus, rectum and mouth; the blisters break down to form painful sores which last for about a week or two. The sores are highly infectious as they contain the virus and you can infect yourself by touching the sores and then touching other parts of your body without washing your hands thoroughly first.
You can contract it if you share tooth brush with someone who has it.
4. Human Papilloma Virus infection
Human Papillomavirus infection is about the commonest sexually transmitted diseases known, especially among adolescents. There are many types of the virus.
The infection is caused by the Human Papillomavirus, this virus is different from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).
The infection spreads through vaginal, anal and oral sexual intercourse but more through vaginal and anal with someone who has the virus.
Human papillomavirus infection may show no symptoms but may reveal itself several years later in the form of cancer. The cancer may affect the cervix, vagina, vulva,anus, penis or the back of the throat.
In some cases, genital warts may be the symptom, these could be large or small growth on the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, cervix; the growth could be a swelling, flattish growth or cauliflower in shape. The Human Papillomavirus that leads to genital warts is different from that which leads to cancer.
Risk factors for the disease include Promiscuity, polygamous relationships, frequent change of sexual partners and Homosexuallity among men.
The complications of Human Papillomavirus infection include genital warts and cancer of the cervix, vagina, penis, vulva, anus and throat.
You can contract it if you share tooth brush with someone who has it.
5. Syphilis
Syphilis is a very old disease caused by bacteria. Transmission is mainly during vaginal, anal or oral sexual contact. The disease spreads from person to person from the infected sore on the penis, inside the vagina and the mouth. The bacteria are also present in the saliva, semen, vaginal discharge and blood.
Thus, spread can be through sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal or rectal), kissing and other forms of foreplay. The bacteria easily penetrate the skin and the inside lining of the mouth, vagina and anus. It can also spread though sharing tooth brush with someone who has it.
An infected pregnant woman can pass the disease to the unborn child- the bacteria pass through the placenta to the child in the womb.
Also the disease can spread through the transfusion of infected blood.
Finally the disease can be contracted by accidental contact by care-giver or other close contacts of an infected person touching infected materials or sore.
Pregnant women are usually tested for syphilis during antenatal and at delivery and given appropriate treatment if test is positive. Ante-natal case is therefore advised for every pregnant woman.
6. Common Cold
Common cold also called catarrh is very contagious but self-limiting and not life threatening. It is caused by viruses and spreads through sneezing and direct or indirect contact with affected persons. Indirect contact means contact with items contaminated by nasal discharges of affected persons. The virus is contained in the saliva of the affected person, thus the infection can spread through sharing tooth brush.
7. Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is caused by a germ called mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is found all over the world and has survived so because it has the ability to develop resistance to drugs if treatment is not strictly followed by those who have the disease. The disease is curable.
TB spreads from person to person through spit of an infected person that has dried up. When dried up, it with the germs it contains can be blown by wind and any one can breathe it in. Very rarely it can spread by direct contact with the saliva or cough of a person with the disease. Thus it can spread through sharing tooth brush.
8. Hepatitis B.
This disease is caused by Hepatitis B virus and can spread from adult to adult, children to children, children to adult (vice versa) and from mother to offspring. The spread is usually through blood, blood products, semen, vaginal fluids, saliva and breast milk.
Therefore, Sharing tooth brush with an infected person can aid its spread.
A mother can also pass the infection to the child in the womb but this is rarely. Infection of the child occurs more during delivery if the mother’s blood passes into the child blood, or the child swallows some of the mother’s blood or by innoculation. The virus also passes from mother to child through breast milk.
We would like to emphasise that these mothers are mostly the virus carriers – that is – they have the virus in their body but are not sick of the disease.
The infection of the baby by the mother can be prevented if the doctor is aware of the condition of the woman and appropriate management applied – like method of delivery and full vaccination of the child against Hepatitis B.
9. Hepatitis C
The disease is caused by Hepatitis C virus and spreads mainly through transfusion of blood and blood products, sexual intercourse and during child birth. The spread from mother to child occurs during delivery through passing of the mother’s blood into the child’s blood or through slight open wound to the child during delivery.
Prevention is possible if the mother was screened for Hepatitis C during ante-natal and appropriate measures taken to deliver the baby.
Sharing tooth brush with an infected person can aid its spread.
It could spread through kissing.

 

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