Category Archives: Infection prevention

Olympians and Spectators: Wash Your Hands!

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The world’s eyes have been focused on Rio since the Olympic Games opened on August 5. With Brazil having been in the news this year because of a massive Zika outbreak, it’s no surprise many have been concerned for the health of Olympic athletes and spectators alike. Health officials, however, aren’t concerned with a big risk for spread of the virus.

Why?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Zika is classified as ‘low risk’ among health concerns surrounding the Olympics. It’s winter in Brazil, so mosquitoes (whose bites are believed to be the primary method Zika spreads) aren’t as much of a concern as they would be in warmer months. Additionally, with authorities working to kill off and control mosquito populations, the number of new cases recorded has steadily declined for months.

Meanwhile, influenza is listed as being ‘high risk,’ as it’s flu season in Brazil. John McConnell, editor of Lancet Infectious Diseases, said, “People are much more likely to go home carrying flu than Zika virus, and flu is a much more dangerous disease.” With all the press coverage about Zika it’s important to remember that in the United States, Zika has killed one person, whereas the flu kills more than 30,000 people each year.

The best way to avoid the flu, aside from getting a flu vaccine, is to practice good health habits such as thorough and frequent hand washing. Proper hand hygiene remains one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.

Here’s to all the Olympic athletes and spectators who will soon be traveling to their homes from Rio! We hope you had a memorable time, and we hope you remember to wash your hands!

Sources:

http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12209168/2016-rio-olympics-zika-virus-health-risks
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm

Image source:

https://pixabay.com/en/circles-olympics-olympic-games-blue-1573621/

4 Tips for a Safe Summer Picnic

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With summer in full swing you’ve probably attended a picnic or two. Don’t let the great outdoors leave you vulnerable to germs and infection. Here are 4 tips to have a healthy summer picnic:

 

Keep cold food cold. Use gel packs or ice in your cooler to keep cold food at or below 40 ℉ and prevent the growth of bacteria.

 

Keep hot food hot. When grilling, cook your food thoroughly and keep it hot until serving. You may want to bring your food thermometer: the safe temperature for ground beef is 160 ℉, and for chicken it’s 165 ℉.

 

Make sure all food prep and eating surfaces are clean. Use disinfecting wipes to clean tables and chairs. Keep plates and utensils clean, and avoid cross-contamination while preparing food.

 

Have everyone wash their hands! Before preparing and eating food (and after touching most anything outdoors) simple soap and clean water from a jug will do for an outdoor handwashing. Moist towelettes are also a good option.

 

Hand-washing remains the most effective prevention against the spread of germs in home and community settings. For extra confidence in your family’s hand-washing abilities, use GlitterBug Gel or Potion, and help everyone enjoy the rest of a safe, healthy summer.

 

Source: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109899.htm

Germs can be found in the strangest places (so wash your hands)!

Germs  hide in the strangest places.

So make sure you always wash your hands well, and use Brevis products to ensure your hands are clean!

“The bulk of germs are hiding where you least suspect—playground equipment, the phone receiver, ATMS and elevator buttons.” – Charles Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona

 

(Post and credit for facts: http://www.health.state.mn.us/handhygiene/why/hide.html)

Jimmy Kimmel and Guillermo: Learning the Correct Way to Wash Hands

Learning to wash your hands the right way is no laughing matter. Jimmy Kimmel wanted to make sure he was doing it right, so he reached out to Dr. Poland from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, who is a specialist in infectious disease.

Check the video out below, and then CLICK HERE to look at all the GLITTERBUG kits that can help ensure you are washing your hands correctly too!

The filthy dirty truth about handwashing and hygiene in public restrooms

hygiene habits in public restrooms

We’ve all been there: You have to “go” and you’re nowhere near home so you have a choice: shame yourself or (gasp!) use a public restroom. So you consult a phone app to find the closest clean restroom (yes, there are several apps) and enroute to your designated clean loo you strategize how to get your business done and come out unscathed. How do you get IN or OUT of the restroom without touching the door handle, for instance? Do you use your elbow? Do you grab a tissue or moist wipe from the pack you always keep handy? Same goes for the stall door. And what if the seat is in the wrong position? You can always employ the squat-and-hover method and flush the toilet with your foot.

Discussing the variations is like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live. Let’s say you flushed the toilet with your foot. Well, that means the next person might use their hands and whatever was on your shoe is now on their hands. And vice versa. You used a paper towel to open the door, but there’s no garbage to dispose of the now dirty towel…so where do you put it? And let’s say you placed your handbag or backpack on the hook on the stall door, but what was on the hook before you got there? Because you may be taking it with you. It’s a vicious cycle. Is there a solution?

After one of the largest handwashing surveys in the UK revealed some “deplorable habits” recently, a company there launched a product to promote hand hygiene and shame bad hygiene by displaying rates on screens in bathrooms. The product was piloted across different types of businesses such as education, office and retail facilities as well as other sectors where good hand hygiene is essential—and the company claims the “informal nudge” and increased peer pressure helped drive good behavior rates up dramatically. “Hand washing rates rose to 90 per cent within two days of the data being displayed, before stabilising between 80 per cent and 85 per cent.”

Of course, we never tire of handwashing discussions around here. Now, another new survey from restroom fixture manufacturer Bradley Corporation has gone and given us more fodder by covering the actions many of us take to avoid touching anything in a restroom. Sounds oddly familiar and we’re not alone: 57% of people using public restrooms operate the flusher with their foot; 55% use paper towels with the door handle; 45% open and close the door with behind (we assume that’s a hip or bum); and 69% of people use their elbows to avoid all contact in a public restroom.

We look forward to a world where 100% of respondents are washing their hands, but in the meantime we’ll take an increase in people using paper towels, elbows, feet and bums, too.  Of course, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to the state of public restrooms. In fact, an unpleasant restroom experience can create a damaging and lasting impression for a business—and that’s bad for business. According to the Bradley survey, the majority of consumers believe an unclean restroom indicates poor management (69%), lowers their opinion of the company (67% ) and signifies that the business doesn’t care about customers (63%).

Which brings us to another improvement we’re thrilled to see in the business of taking care of our business: clean public restroom apps. There are several out there and we’re not making a recommendation, but it can’t be worse than going to a public restroom without some kind of head’s up.

  • Sit or Squat is brought to you by none other than Charmin, the makers of toilet paper and it has one purpose: to identify bathrooms around you and let you know if they’re nice and clean . . . or not so nice. This app is crowd-sourced, but it receives mixed feedback from users.
  • Toilet Finder uses the slogan “May the flush be with you” and claims its database to includes more than 70,000 public-accessible restrooms.
  • Whizzer claims to be the ultimate bathroom locator and lets you search by current location to find clean restrooms, those that are open late at night, and those with showers. You can also search to include baby changing stations, feminine hygiene products, and can even specify just how clean you want the restroom to be. You can even follow them on Twitter!
  • Diaroogle.com calls themselves “the premier toilet search engine” and when the time comes for us to go, we really hope they’re right.
  • Bathroom Scout offers turn-by-turn navigation can lead you directly to blessed relief. If imagery is available on street view, “Bathroom Scout” can also show you the location around the bathroom, providing added peace of mind.
  • Where to Wee is an app that helps you find and rate restrooms worldwide. “Whether it’s a road-trip that never seems to end, or an endless line in front of the women’s restroom: when you gotta go, you gotta know.

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Salmonella and other food-borne illnesses if Senator Tillis has anything to say about it.

Handwashing is required by restaurant workers

Is requiring food workers to wash their hands after using the bathroom an onerous government intrusion? Senator Thom Tillis of North Carollina thinks so.

During a recent appearance at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Senator Tillis stated that businesses are bogged down by government regulations, so he thinks restaurants should be able to opt-out of the requirement that employees wash their hands after using the restroom—as long as they let customers know.

Tillis told the story of a time a woman asked him if hand washing wasn’t the sort of regulation that needed to be on the books. With his right hand raised for emphasis, Tillis concluded that in his example most businesses who posted signs telling customers their food workers didn’t have to wash their hands would likely go out of business. Tillis’s example takes pressure off businesses to provide safe food, and forces consumers to judge every meal’s likelihood of making them violently ill. Ah, the free market!

In case you didn’t know, the FDA requires handwashing and here’s why: “Proper handwashing reduces the spread of fecal-oral pathogens from the hands of a food employee to foods.” Gross! Recently, a restaurant in Mercer County, New Jersey was cited for handwashing violations—just a month before a worker tested positive for hepatitis A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hepatitis A is spread when an infected person doesn’t wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom and touches other objects or food.

In 2013, an All American Grill in Tillis’s home state gave a hundred people salmonella. The health department identified several health violations that could have contributed to food cross-contamination, including the fact that the hand washing sink was out of paper towels and soap, and didn’t have sufficiently hot water, all factors that “could serve as a deterrent to hand washing or render it ineffective,” according to the department. In that situation that market didn’t take care of the safety risks—100 ill guests and employees did.

Tillis was the butt of a lot of jokes after his comments went public. Jon Stewart even did this segment “Mr. Unclean,” on The Daily Show. Says Stewart, “You do realize that that’s a regulation too, right? … That’s not getting rid of a regulation, that just makes you an inconsistent ideologue with a light fecal dusting in your latte.”

Telling people to wash their hands never gets old around here. If workers are serving food and not washing their hands, they’re also serving up germs and sickness. So if free-market ideology means we can’t go out to eat without worrying about getting sick we’ll just stay home for dinner.

How an Amish missionary & an amusement park visitor started measles hysteria

Measles: An unwanted guest at Disneyland

We considered opening with “an Amish missionary and an amusement park patron walk into a bar…” but the measles outbreak is most definitely not a joke.

Last year, there were 23 outbreaks of measles in the United States and 644 confirmed cases—the most since the disease was declared all but eliminated back in 2000. The 2014 outbreak was reportedly caused by an Amish missionary who’d traveled to the Philippines where he caught the measles, then returned to his community where many friends and family had refused the measles vaccine—and continued to pass along the disease.

Yesterday, new data released by the CDC shows that 288 cases of measles have been reported in the US since the beginning of the year and over 2,000 people are being monitored in Arizona after someone was exposed to an infected guest at Disneyland in December. And it may be far from over.

Measles is the one of the most infectious diseases known to man

A person with measles can cough in a room and then leave—and hours later (if you are unvaccinated) you could catch the virus from the droplets in the air that they left behind. No other virus can do that.

Measles is an entirely preventable illness

Nearly everyone who gets the proper vaccine will never get sick with measles, even if they’re exposed.

“The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated, says one assistant surgeon general, Dr. Anne Schuchat.

The measles and anti-vaxxers

It’s not just about “anti-vaxxers” (the people refuse vaccinations for a variety of reasons). It’s also about people who CAN’T be vaccinated.

Only about two percent of the U.S. population outright refuses vaccines. But every person counts. Vaccinations don’t just protect you or your children it protects everyone around you. People who are already ill and weakened immune systems, not to mention people who are unable to be vaccinated. The measles vaccine, for instance, is not licensed for use on babies younger than 12 months. That means that, for the first year of life, babies depend on the fact that everybody else around them gets vaccinated.

In most cases, measles isn’t deadly, but it’s almost always debilitating, bringing on a weeks-long fever, rash, and painful, watery eyes. According to an article from Vox, Up to forty percent of people experience serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis (or swelling of the brain). One or two children in 1,000 die. Worldwide, measles kills 400 people a day, says Disease Daily. Yet it costs less than a buck to avoid.

The extremely high cost of a measles outbreak

The economic toll of measles is also astounding. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated that outbreaks in 2011—a total of just 107 cases—cost state and local taxpayers up to $5.3 million. And USA Today reports that a 2008 outbreak in San Diego cost taxpayers $10,376 per case to trace contacts and administer vaccinations. Why? Due to its high infectiousness and the potential severity of complications, a measles outbreak often constitutes a serious public health event entailing a vigorous response from local public health departments and can involve multiple states and counties. The World Health Organization (WHO) says during 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, there were four million cases (with 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths every year). By 2000, the virus was declared eliminated in the U.S. because enough people were immunized so that outbreaks were uncommon—and deaths from measles were scarcely heard of. Take that, anti-vaxxers.

Do you have questions about measles and vaccines? Read this article by Julia Belluz: 9 things everybody should know about measles.

How fear-mongering over “Ebolanoia” helped improve infection control

Ebola virus

“Ebolanoia”—the unfounded hysteria over Ebola—has swept over North America. Now the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there’s a flu epidemic raging in America. Scary? The World Health Organization estimates that about 250k to 500k people worldwide die every year from influenza. Fortunately, doctors were ready to fight what is a common winter illness, despite the rise in cases. Beyond Ebola and influenza, there are still other emerging diseases of concern—Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), pandemic flu, Marburg virus, dengue fever and Enterovirus D68. Health officials are monitoring these, but there is still good news.

In 2014, we saw some unprecedented changes and an increased focus on infection control in hospitals in the United States and around the globe. The CDC released a report this week that shows hospitals in the U.S. have made progress in lowering the rates of infections for patients. Specifically, from 2008 to 2013, there was a 46% decrease in infections caused by germs getting into the blood (when tubes aren’t inserted into veins correctly). During that same period, hospitals cut surgical site infections by 19% as well as catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 6%.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement to Time Magazine, “Hospitals have made real progress to reduce some types of healthcare-associated infections—it can be done. The key is for every hospital to have rigorous infection control programs to protect patients and healthcare workers, and for health care facilities and others to work together to reduce the many types of infections that haven’t decreased enough.”

Preventing infections saves lives—and money!

A new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control says preventing two of the most common healthcare-associated infections reduces the cost of patient care by more than $150,000. The cost of running an infection prevention program in the ICU is about $145,000.

The Ebola outbreak rages on in Africa. Time magazine even awarded the Ebola caregivers—those who fight Ebola across the world, for their incredible selflessness—as the Time Person of the Year. They write, “Ebola is a war, and a warning. The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease, and ‘us’ means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day.”

Positive action around the globe

Last year, thanks to positive action in Ireland—including campaigns exhorting handwashing and a more cautious use of antibiotics—infection levels fell significantly. A proactive infection prevention plan implemented widely in a Hong Kong healthcare system also proved to be a significant factor preventing the spread of influenza strain A H7N9 (Avian flu) last year. You can find a detailed breakdown of five major infection control occurrences that affected U.S. hospitals this past year at Becker’s Hospital Review, too. And the list goes on.

Patricia Stone, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University School of Nursing says, “The Ebola outbreak is a reminder that we cannot afford to let our guard down or grow complacent. Any death from preventable infections is one too many. We’ve known for decades what works to prevent infections and save lives and now our study shows just how much money can be saved by investing in prevention.”

Has your hospital, healthcare facility, school, or community implemented more training or action to prevent infections? Share your insights with us!