“I don’t know why our children are always sick!” “These infections are costing us so much money we are always poor.”
“Thomas can’t miss going to school classes, even if he is sick!”
“A bishop can’t stay home just because of a small fever!”
These comments give us some important clues about how infectious illnesses spread. The Church is filled with hard-working, dedicated people who want to help others and complete their assignments, and who want their children to be at school and church. So these people often go out themselves and send their children out when they are sick.
Sometimes the problem is much greater than just not feeling very well. Why? Because sick people will almost certainly expose others to their germs and cause them to become ill.
It is not neglecting one’s duty to stay away from others when one has an infectious illness. Rather, it is a kindness. Counselors in presidencies and bishoprics and other willing people can help complete assignments when someone is sick.
When should people stay home? When they have an infection. Many infections are bacterial or viral. Infections are things like boils, chicken pox, measles, eye infections and influenza. Some symptoms, or signs of infection, are fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea or vomiting. If you have any of these problems, you could make someone else sick. Your family doctor or a health worker in your area can help give advice on which illnesses are infectious or contagious.
Children should especially be kept away from nurseries and other children when they are ill. Disease spreads quickly from one child to the next when children play together. Out of consideration for leaders (who do not always have the supplies to take care of a sick child) and other children, parents should make other arrangements for the child’s care when he is ill.
As much as possible, parents would also be wise to keep family members with illnesses away from others in the family. The sick person should have his own bedding and towels, and his dishes should be washed with boiling water to kill any germs. Though some germs will still spread through the air, being careful can lessen the chance of other family members becoming ill.
How long should sick people stay away from others? This depends on the illness, but it should be long enough for symptoms, or signs of the illness, to disappear. A doctor can advise you on specific cases.
If everyone is more aware of how quickly diseases can spread and makes an effort to change his or her behavior when he or she is sick, the amount of illness in the Church can be reduced. Fewer schooldays and workdays would be missed. Medical expenses would be lower. People would suffer less. The way to do this is for those with infectious illnesses to stay home from church!