This year's International Infection Prevention Week theme is antibiotic resistance. With the rise of superbugs and hard-to-treat pathogens, it's no wonder the Association of Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) has selected this theme.
Over the past week, firefighters have been working to control massive fires throughout northern California. These are lethal fires, claiming the lives of 33 individuals to date, consuming entire neighborhoods as they grow and spread. All of us have seen the images of destruction, and the headlines capture the urgency of the response teams as they fight to control this powerful force of nature. Those of us in infection control may see in these fires similar traits with an opportunistic pathogen, spreading quickly through a patient's body and leaving destruction in its wake. It turns out this comparison is as old as the science of infection control itself, tracing back to a word coined in the 1800s: Fomites.
Each year, the major associations in the field of infectious diseases and epidemiology come together for IDWeek. This year’s event, going on now, happens to be in San Diego, CA, which itself is going through the biggest outbreak of Hepatitis A in decades. We’ll take this congruence of events to highlight the role the professionals taking part in this conference play in working together to handle outbreaks all over the world.
The infection control landscape is difficult to navigate without an understanding of the key terms used by experts in the field. Some of these terms have found their way into every-day language, but often without the technical nuances that can make a big difference in a health care setting. This post will hopefully help demystify the terminology of infection control, starting with four "anti" terms.
Over the past decade, the general public has come to hear more terminology about vaccines than ever before. Thanks in part to the growth of anti-vaccination groups and resulting media coverage, your average person has been exposed to terms such as "live attenuated ," "quadrivalent" and "recombinant." While the medical field is unanimous in its support for vaccines for those individuals healthy enough to have them, the confusion surrounding these terms can still remain an obstacle for some. Today's post aims at demystifying these terms in the hopes that knowledge will lead to an informed decision (and more flu shots).
These past two weeks have seen two record-breaking hurricanes barrel into the United States and its territories. Hurricane Harvey, which brought torrential rainfall and flooding (27 trillion gallons of water!), brought the city of Houston to a stand-still. Right on Harvey's tail, Irma battered islands in the Caribbean and kept southern Floridians guessing as to where it would make landfall, ultimately striking the Keys and the Gulf Coast. As with all hurricanes of this magnitude, the dangers to life and limb are not limited to the duration of the actual storm- the weeks that follow bring a whole new set of dangerous conditions. Today's post will explore the dangers that involve infectious disease and the overall access to medical care.
As of this month, consumer products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can no longer contain triclosan and 18 other ingredients touted as "antibacterial." After decades of research and a consensus paper signed by 200 scientists from 29 countries, the FDA published its Final Rule, banning these products as of September 6, 2017. Today's post will present an overview of the research that underpins this decision, as well as a warning about those products not covered by the ban.
In the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, an omnipresent computer named HAL monitors all activity aboard a spacecraft on a critical mission. The single-mindedness of this artificial intelligence makes HAL helpful and life-saving, but misses the mark on some decisions that require a more human touch. While our year 2017 has not yet brought us interstellar craft equipped with AI, we are living in a time when technology is supporting almost every field, including healthcare. This post will explore how technology is helping us with hand-hygiene compliance, and how, like HAL, there are some clear advantages as well as some disadvantages. (Thankfully, no hand hygiene technology is able to eject non-compliers out the airlock. Yet.)
A month ago, a team of international researchers successfully used gene editing to correct a heart defect in human embryos. This is the first successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit the human genome, and hints at a future where we can delete disease-causing genes from future generations. What most people hearing this astounding news might now know, however, is that the CRISPR technology is not man-made, per se - it's bacteria-made. Today's post will explore how the future of gene editing was brought to us by the humble prokaryote, the bacteria.
Our previous post presented some of the problems with the current fee-for-service payment model used in healthcare. In response to these costly problems, there are a number of alternative payment models being tested, with promising results. Today we will look at the alternatives that seem to be picking up speed as we move toward reducing our nation's healthcare costs.