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Infection Control and Prevention – What you can do!?

Posted on: June 18th, 2013 by Peter Sierck No Comments

Hospital acquired infections, (HAIs) or nosocomial infections are in the news daily, but where outside of hospitals can you contract these same bugs?  Away from a hospital setting the these bacteria and viruses are a known reality in airports, hotels, malls, retirement homes, gyms, restaurants, public transportation, gas stations and other areas used by many people. These infections are called community acquired infections (CAI). For more information about HAI’s and CAI’s go to

Multi drug resistant organisms (MDRO) are the ones that really make you sick and measures for prevention are a smart and natural choice.  Healthy individuals in gyms and other common environments seldom carry MDROs even if they are working in heath care settings.  The scientific community agrees that the overuse of antibiotic medications in humans and animals has resulted in this increase of drug resistant bacteria. Please visit for more information.

Not only during the flu season, which starts much earlier than fall, we may all contract something in common areas where we mingle. You never know where the previous users have been when you need to visit the restroom.  You do not know what cleaning methods or protocols have been used.  Inefficient “spray and wipe” cleaning procedures are common and will not eliminate potentially harmful germs. Dwell time is crucial for disinfectants to live up to their label. The labeled kill rate was determined from testing on hard surfaces with sufficient dwell time. The kill rate may be much lower with reduced dwell time and a dirtier surface . Bio films – – can harbor a myriad of organisms and should be cleaned off on all accessible and frequently touched surfaces. Norovirus – – is the leading cause of so called “food poisoning” or “stomach flue” in the US.

Clostridium difficile –  – or C. diff produces spores and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococus aureus –  can survive on environmental surfaces for days, weeks or even months ……but not when removed by an efficient cleaning method and protocol.

The routes of entry into our bodies are; Inhalation of droplet nuclei (> 10 microns) in the air or contact with mucous membranes, such as mouth, nose or eyes. The prime suspect for facilitating the contact with our mucous membranes is people! We do it to ourselves.  If our hands do not touch our face, we have avoided this crucial part of transmission.  Not to touch your face can be as difficult as brushing your teeth with your left hand if you are right handed.

The CDC recommends hand washing as a critical element in preventing infections. – – When we observe others washing their hands, we quickly realize that few people actually know how to wash their hands efficiently! – it really takes a solid 20 seconds of washing and lathering with soap all over your hands and wrists  – stop the time, you will be surprised how long that is – it is as long as singing the entire song “Happy Birthday to you…” – twice!

We suggest using the list below as an inspiration on how to improve your daily infection control and prevention approach to your environment:

  • Make it a habit to wash your hands when you get home, to work, to a restaurant or your hotel room before doing anything.
  • Teach kids to wash their hands and lead by good example.
  • If you want to wash your hands and can’t, use hand disinfection lotion, small bottles are available for easy carrying in bags or pockets.
  • Open doors if possible with your body (shoulder, elbow, hips) and not with your hands.
  • If you have really good balance from sports such as martial arts, skating or yoga, you may be able to use your feet to open doors.
  • Use the paper towel to touch the door handle when leaving the restroom, this can conveniently be done if a trash container is located close by.
  • Use disinfecting cloths to clean the remote control and other surfaces in your hotel room.
  • Disinfect your steering wheel and car door handle with dealer recommended cleaning fluid regularly.
  • If you are sick, be nice to yourself and others and avoid public places.
  • If a healthcare professional is not washing/cleaning hands before touching you – speak up!
  • Use antibiotic medication only if your doctor or healthcare professional recommends it.

My grandmother and mother used to wear gloves when going into the public. Maybe, we have to adopt a generalized prudence when entering environments where we touch frequently used surfaces.

We do not need to become germaphobic, just prudent and aware. Most importantly, stick to your personal plan of infection prevention.

If you have question regarding infection prevention or infection control please call ET&T’s infection prevention consultant today at 760-804-9400.

Written by Felix Neumann, CMC

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