Category Archives: Infection prevention

Contributing Factors to the Flu Season

Except for it being “Flu Season”, I love the winter months.

If you live near 40°′N like I do, undoubtedly you’ve experienced some snow this season, to which not a single person has a neutral opinion. Personally, I’ve crossed zero several times in my life. Starting with love for fluffy white playful snow as a child, moving swiftly into a deep hatred for a biting, slushy, wintery death while walking to school in canvas shoes, and finally back to love for a nostalgically snowy day as an adult.

Currently I’m a huge fan of snow, though not for any of the reasons I could have predicted, much less reasons good enough to write a blog article, but here we go anyway. I like driving in the snow (though I hate when other people drive in the snow), I like watching the accumulation of a winter wonderland as snow falls across the streetlamps at night, and I enjoy the human surrender to nature as we dig all of our heavy clothing out of storage and attire ourselves ritualistically for the smallest tasks. I won’t go anywhere without my boots. If you see me in snow without them, destroy the imposter, or check for signs of meningitis.

New Posters

Heating Your Home

The heat in my house is off until the first sunny day in March. Some people find that strange. Nearly all others think it’s criminal. This habit serves me twice: I save quite a bit of money on utilities, and it dissuades nearly all pesky pop-ins. I own plenty of warm clothing that stays in storage most of the year, and I like to use it occasionally. I won’t go as far as to say I’m reclusive, but I do spend the majority of my time alone, in the dark, trying to stay warm. On the plus side, I rarely get sick. With so few people coming in and out of my house, the opportunity for germ transfer in these sickly winter months is highly reduced.

So why am I completely miserable, smelling like an herbal tea factory, sweating and shivering at the same time? Well it turns out that it could be my fault. Whoever said I can’t take accountability for my actions?

All About Germs

I didn’t grow up knowing a lot about germs, then again I didn’t grow up knowing a lot about most things. It turns out there are several factors that contribute to what we affectionately call “flu season”. Among these are the usual suspects: 

I don’t doubt the contributions of these well studied factors, but my lifestyle leads me to believe there’s another player in the game. I don’t spend time with anyone else, and it’s not like I see a lot of sun during the hot months anyway.

Winter Gear

It turns out that my beloved winter gear that keeps me alive for three months of the year, forgotten for nine, is a suitable suspect. It’s generally agreed, or at least intuitively good practice, that coats, hats, and gloves should be washed more often than most most people likely do. Not because you’re gross (though you probably are), but because those are often overlooked items that live in the back of a closet, emerging only in desperate times, and forgotten again just as quickly. I would venture a guess that most people don’t think to properly wash and store their winter clothing. Partly because the winter season often still makes brief and occasionally devastating appearances all the way through a stormy Spring, and partly because it’s not the kind of thing that comes to mind during the first blissfully warm day of the year.

While performing average activities during an unremarkable day, people have been shown to touch their faces up to 16 times per hour. That seems high initially, but I’ve been very conscious of my face since I started writing this article and at this point I think the number could easily be much higher. Most people could stand a reeducation on hand-washing. And though folks aren’t washing their hands well enough, or often enough, they’re certainly washing their hands more often than they’re washing their gloves.

Remember as you go about your day, touching things, that the same germs that you would normally collect on your hands are now on your gloves. The germ accumulation on gloves over the period of a few weeks is surely much higher than even improperly washed hands. So what can you do? Wash your gloves, hats, and coats! And while you’re at it, brush up on your hand washing habits in general.

I’ll be under the blankets until this whole thing blows over.

Can the holidays make you sick?

What makes us get sick more often during the holiday season?

Many theories have been postulated and studied over the years and many factors are blamed for being virus enablers. Closer proximity of hosts (us) within closed spaces makes transmission easier due to the shared air we breathe while indoors and the common surfaces we touch as people share confined areas. Further, foods are presented and ingested in areas with higher germ populations due to the foregoing.

Other theories suggest that inactivity and depression generally increases with the cold and gloomy weather and this coupled with decreased exposure to the sun may tend to inhibit our immune systems.

We suspect that all of these factors and more contribute to the seasonal spike in illnesses. But, there are some commons sense actions that can help reduce your chances of being the next holiday (infection) host. The most effective way to reduce your risks of seasonal sickness is to wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands, touching surfaces in common areas such as handrails and countertops and especially before eating.

In the spirit of holiday cheer (and microbial fear) check out these funny new flu and handwashing posters meant to remind with mirth and good cheer.

Healthy holidays to all.


New Flu & Handwashing Posters

 

Image of flu close up by cdc.gov.

International Infection Prevention Week 2018, IIPW

Well Friends,

It’s October again and that means it’s International Infection Prevention Week again. With the fall colors also come dropping temperatures and increasing incidents of Colds, Flu and other illnesses. As temperatures drop we collectively spend more time indoors where germs can transfer from host to host more readily. Increased readiness can help with infection control and  prevention which is always easier than recovery. Sanitize commonly touched objects and places often and remember to wash your hands frequently. Stay ahead of the germs and encourage prevention with robust emphasis. Brevis products help you lead the way with posters, mugs and of course GlitterBug® Hand-Washing and Hand-Sanitizing training aids.

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Also to aid your budget and just in time for International Infection Prevention Week – for this week only receive 20% off all Brevis products . Just type IIPW in the promo code field in the shopping cart to receive your discount. Jump-start your IIPW program with fun colorful handwashing swag and don’t forget to re-stock your GlitterBug® supplies.

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GlitterBug handwashing products

IIPW Games and Activities (apic.org)

Help Prevent Infections

Sometimes a patient develops an infection while being treated in the hospital or other medical facility. It could be an infection from germs that enter the body at a surgery site. It could be an infection that develops from germs carried on a piece of medical equipment. There are many possible causes.

Infections like these are called healthcare associated infections, or HAIs, and we take them very seriously.

The good news is that we can prevent…  Download the full PDF from Apic.org

Prevention always starts with good hand hygiene

Searching for the cause of an E Coli outbreak can send investigators in many different directions. This is a reminder that good hand hygiene practices and proper food preparation are of utmost importance. E Coli can be found in contaminated soil or water but it can also be spread through infected people. Germs that make us sick are everywhere and while we cannot always control where or how our food is grown we can control how we prepare it and make sure our hands are clean when doing so. Check out these links to the latest news on the Romain lettuce E Coli outbreak and the CDC which both reference person-to-person contact and the importance of hand washing.

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Germs Don’t Take Summer Vacations

Phew! We made it through the worst of the cold and flu season! With summer around the corner though, there is more waiting for us than just sunshine and snow cones. Playgrounds, water parks and amusement parks are full of fun, but also full of germs. Make sure to use good hand hygiene to make the most of your summertime adventures without taking home the wrong kind of souvenir. Check out Brevis.com for fun and creative reminders you can share with family and friends about the importance of keeping their hands clean this summer. Read more about summertime germ precautions.

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A virus spreads in just 2 hours. Why the war on germs is in your hands.

Germs are everywhere. In optimal conditions a virus can divide every 20 minutes, spreading rapidly where they dwell. In fact, contamination of a single doorknob can lead to the spread of viruses throughout an office building or hotel in as little as two hours.

Researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop. At multiple time intervals (from two-to-eight hours) the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, bed rails, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. And guess what? Nearly 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two-to-four hours.

“If we placed a tracer virus on the push plate to an office building, it ended up on almost 50 percent of the high-touch surfaces of officer workers’ hands within four hours,” says study author and microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD. “In the case of the hotel, we placed the virus on the nightstand in one room, and it was spread to the next four rooms by the maid during cleaning.” Also, the first item to become contaminated in the workplace was the coffee pot handle. Other contamination hot spots are phones, computers, and desktops.

Of course, our own bodies play host to around 100 trillion microbes that together weigh more than two pounds. They are present on our skin, in our guts, in the crooks of our elbows, and just about everywhere else. Your immune system protects against most microorganisms, but there are hundreds of thousands of different kinds of germs, and some of them are good at mutating into things your body doesn’t recognize. And they make you sick.

To get an idea of just how many microbes we carry—and which ones spread fastest—researchers are even testing our most intimate possessions: our cell phones. In a small study, University of Oregon scientists tested the index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects, along with the touchscreens of their smartphones. As you might expect, they found an 82 percent overlap between the most common types of bacteria found on participants’ fingers and on their phones.

So your cell phone is covered with a personal bacterium cocktail? Clean it with a soft cloth dampened with water and wipe it down, or use a disposable wipe made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone. The same goes for all of your other gadgets, too, including remote controls, headphones and ear buds, your computer keyboard, mouse, and tablet screen.

Yes, the war on germs is in your hands. Handwashing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Just make sure you’re doing it right. Friction (especially between the fingers) and duration—20 seconds with running water—are both important. And anything your hands touch are carriers. Learn all about handwashing here.

Here’s something else to think about: On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s not surprising; the toilet is cleaned regularly. And remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and iPods get touched way more than the toilet. Multiple coworkers and guest also share them—yet they are cleaned less often. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics—just make sure to read the label before using them.

This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home or office and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches? You really should give them a once-over using disinfecting wipes—and don’t use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

It’s easy to keep things clean. Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won. But the first step is you. Now go wash your hands!

Flu Posters

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Hand-Washing Dance Viral Video

 

Hand washing dance Indonesia 🙂

Hand washing dance, from Indonesia

Posted by DrKnowledge on Saturday, August 19, 2017


Just in time for the back-to-school season, a group called Dr. Knowledge has released a video on Facebook about handwashing. Aimed at a younger audience, the video features five doctors dressed in scrubs in a choreographed routine demonstrating proper handwashing techniques.

The message from these doctors in Indonesia is a fresh take on educating kids on the importance of handwashing, and the video has quickly gone viral.

For more resources in helping kids learn the importance of handwashing, check out the Brevis Child Education Collection, including the Germbusters Starter Set, coloring pages, and a variety of reward stickers!   

 

Sources:

https://www.ecr.co.za/shows/east-coast-breakfast/watch-doctors-hand-washing-dance-goes-viral/

https://www.facebook.com/DrknowledgeMedicine/videos/vb.538418383006329/787546511426847/?type=2&theater=&sw_fnr_id=1380710349&fnr_t=0

https://www.brevis.com/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/133159/ggset001-germbusters-starter-set-the-basic-set-to?ref=/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/544209/gbsclr01-germbusterscoloringpages-for-k1-contains?ref=/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/340314/gbs2la50-germbuster-ii-stickers?ref=/child-education

Handwashing and Food Safety at the Ballpark

Late summer and early fall are great times to go to a ball game. If you’re planning a trip to the ballpark, you may want to do some research before you decide to grab a bite to eat during the game.

Taste preferences aside, the main issue seems to be food handling within sports venues. UCLA Professor and board member of the Academy of Food Law & Policy Michael Roberts says, “The real risk, it seems to me at the ballpark, is the handling of food. That’s where you’ve got handlers cooking the food, handing it out, managing refrigeration and heating.” Roberts indicates local level authorities– county inspectors, for instance– are key to ensuring quality and safety measures are followed by those handling the food.

 

Measures are in place, of course, such as the requirement in every state for foodservice workers to wash their hands after using a restroom. However, a fire-safety law requiring doors to open inward rather than outward often results in recontamination when those who have just washed their hands have to pull a door handle to exit the restroom. With more businesses moving away from disposable paper towels (which could be used to open the door), extra precautions should be taken before the workers handle food after using the restroom. One common sense move is to ensure hands are washed in the food-handling area, even if hands were recently washed in the restroom, before handling food.

 

If baseball is your thing, Sports Illustrated has created a list of 2017 MLB Ballpark Food Safety Rankings.

 

Whatever your favorite sports event happens to be, if you get food to eat at the ballpark, be sure to wash YOUR hands before you eat!

 

To help your local foodhandlers brush up on proper, effective hand washing techniques, we recommend Brevis Glitterbug products, including GlitterBug Potion Disclosing Lotion, GlitterBug Hand and Nail Scrub Brush, and the GlitterBug Handwash Instruction Manual.

 

 

Sources:

http://reason.com/archives/2017/08/19/why-handwashing-is-key-to-ballpark-food

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28221948

https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/retailfoodprotection/foodcode/

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/UCM374510.pdf

https://www.si.com/eats/2017/08/08/mlb-food-safety-ballpark-rankings

https://www.brevis.com/search?q=glitterbug

https://www.brevis.com/products/467162/gbpotion-glitterbug-disclosing-lotion-8ounce-pumpbottle?ref=/search

https://www.brevis.com/products/771490/gbbrush-glitterbug-hand-and-nail-scrub-brush?ref=/search

https://www.brevis.com/products/220150/gbmanual-glitterbug-handwash-instruction-manual?ref=/search

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