Tag 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.

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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.

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.

Save 20% with code “IIPW”

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.

Sale ends at midnight Saturday Oct 6.

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

What We Can Learn from Rio’s Contaminated Water Situation

The 2016 Olympics have come to a close and many are continuing a discussion which has been going on since before the games began: What’s the deal with Rio’s contaminated water?

olympia-1539043_1280

The world watched as athletes competed in water visibly tainted and unclear. However, It was clear that their methods of water sanitation and their push to clean the water permanently were unsuccessful.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Local Organizing Committee (LOC) on health issues related to the games. Recommendations for this year’s games included water quality testing in recreational waters, particularly those used by athletes competing in sailing, rowing, canoeing, and swimming events. Most common of illnesses associated with polluted recreational water exposure is mild gastroenteritis. Others include respiratory infections, and skin and ear infections.  

 

And yet most athletes were able to stay healthy despite unsatisfactory water conditions. How did they do it? Andy Hunt, CEO of the governing body World Sailing, reported on precautions taken by sailors in Rio. “Everyone has been very careful in using hand hygiene, washing down clothing, boats, and so on.”

 

Avoiding exposure to contaminated water isn’t always possible, especially while traveling. The general well-being of the athletes throughout the games only validates what we already know: proper hand hygiene is key in preventing illness.

 

Sources:

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/water-quality/recreational/rio-water-quality-qa-julyupdate.pdf?ua=1

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/bathing/statement-rio-water-quality/en/

http://www.wkbw.com/sports/olympics/rio-2016/water-to-remain-filthy-in-rio-after-olympics

https://pixabay.com/en/olympia-summer-olympics-1539043

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!