Dirt and Disease
Doctors now know that many diseases are caused by tiny little creatures, called germs. They are so small that we cannot see them. These germs are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and in our bodies too. Some germs are quite harmless, and some are really good for us, but some are poisonous, and give us illnesses which often kill us. There are many, many kinds of these bad germs, and each kind causes a different kind of sickness. One kind gives people cholera, another enteric fever, another lung disease, another plague. We may breathe them in from the air, or drink them in the water, or get them from sick people by touching them.
Now, these bad germs love dirt and darkness. They breed in rotten stuff: and they breed very quickly. If dirt is left about especially in dark corners, millions of these germs will be born and in a few days, there will be millions and millions and millions. If this rotten stuff gets into the water people drink then they will drink these poisonous germs, and get the diseases.
Take, for example, cholera. There are places in India where every now and then cholera becomes very bad, and hundreds and thousands of people die of it. We will always find that the people who live in these places are people of dirty habits. Their Surroundings are full of garbage, which is never cleaned away and lies rotting in heaps at the very doors of their houses. They rarely wash their clothes. They hardly ever clean their houses. In such places, these cholera germs have a happy time, and millions of them are bred. The people take them in the water and milk they drink, catch cholera, and die by the hundreds. And the worst of it is that when cholera gets into a locality, not only do the dirty people get it but also the clean people, who catch it from others.
So, dirt is the mother of disease. Cleanliness is the enemy of disease. And the only way to get rid of such diseases is to be clean-clean in person and clothes, clean in houses and streets, villages and towns.