Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

Attack of the Killer Slime: It's not a B-Movie, It's a Biofilm

by Erica Mitchell | October 21 2020

In last week's post, we examined the three things required for bacteria to form a biofilm: Moisture, nutrients, and a surface. Once these biofilms become established, they begin to act in very creepy ways. Today we'll look at some of the characteristics of biofilms that are the stuff of nightmares. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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HAIs In The Time of COVID-19

by Erica Mitchell | October 16 2020

When the cases of COVID-19 started to explode in the spring of 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) suspended reporting of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) until June of that same year. In an effort to alleviate the unprecedented strain on staff and time, this suspension enabled infection prevention teams to concentrate all their efforts on responding to COVID-19. Surveillance is now beginning to catch up, with reports emerging of how COVID-19 affected HAI cases and rates. In today's post, we'll look at what some of that preliminary data says about how we are faring as a nation in preventing HAIs while simultaneously fighting a global pandemic. 

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Bacteria's 3 Real Estate Requirements (and only one of them is LOCATION)

by Erica Mitchell | October 14 2020

Imagine a wandering nomadic tribe, toiling by day to find enough food to survive, sleeping only in short bursts in attempts to avoid predators. One day, exhausted by the energy required simply to continue to live, they happen upon a river. The small tribe finds this river well-populated with fish, and only a few steps away is a large cave. The group decides to stay long enough to fill their bellies and rest in the dark, cool safety of the cave. The next day the group is able to easily find enough food for everyone. They stay another night. One night becomes two. After a few days of safety, access to plentiful food, and a source of fresh water, the tribe begins to put down roots. Each family unit has set up in their own part of the cave. Duties are delegated, health and vitality begin to return to all the members. As the group grows, they are easily able to fight off any predators, and are even able to bring home larger beasts as they hunt together. Time goes by and the group is fully established next to their river. They expand to neighboring caves as the population grows, and even send a few adventurous groups up and down the river to set up their own homes.

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How Do You Test Products for Virucidal Efficacy?

by Erica Mitchell | October 10 2020

In today's intense search for products that can help control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, the need for testing virucidal efficacy has increased hundredfold. Products with current virucidal claims are scrambling to secure a SARS-COV-2 claim, while new products are vying for the chance to be the "next new thing" that can help eradicate the virus from the air, our hands, and surfaces. But how are these tests conducted? In today's post, we'll explore how a lab can measure whether a product is capable of killing viruses, including SARS-COV-2.

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What is the Microbiome?

by Erica Mitchell | October 7 2020

One of the fastest-growing research sectors is the investigation of the human microbiome. We read articles about using the microbiome to keep us healthy and even to cure us from disease. What is the microbiome? In today’s post, we’ll explore this invisible but essential part of our existence.

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When Your Bacteria Colonies Get Hostile: That's An Infection

by Erica Mitchell | September 30 2020

There is a good chance that you have Staph - Staphylococcus aureus - on your body right now. In fact, it is estimated that 25-30% of us carry Staph on our skin or in our nose all the time. But a quarter of us are not sick, suffering from the symptoms of a Staph infection. What's the deal? It comes down to colonization vs. infection.

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3 Ways to Get Ready for the "Twindemic": Flu & COVID-19

by Erica Mitchell | September 28 2020

As weather in the Northern Hemisphere gets cooler, our flu season begins. While social distancing and mask-wearing has kept the flu season at reduced rates in the Southern Hemisphere this year, there is no promise that those trends will continue for us in the north. In today's post, we'll look at 5 ways we can be better prepared for the flu season, and help make sure we don't make an already-difficult situation even worse.

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Gram Positive vs Gram Negative Bacteria and the Fight Against HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | September 23 2020

In formal descriptions of the germ-fighting powers of antibacterial and biocidal products, the terms "Gram positive" and "Gram negative" are used as a way to categorize bacteria. While there are estimated to be over 10,000 species of bacteria, they can be categorized into a few helpful categories.

One of those categories has to do with the structure of the cell membrane. All the known bacteria fit into one of two categories of cell membrane structure: Gram-positive or Gram-negative. But what does that mean?

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Pathogen, Persistence, and Prevalence

by Erica Mitchell | September 16 2020

There are may different pathogens that cause HAIs. Researchers have studied which of these infectious agents tend to cause infections, how those pathogens are transmitted, and which protocols lead to less contamination. Today we'll explore which pathogens cause hospital-acquired infections, which are the most common, and how long can these pathogens survive on surfaces where they can lead to cross-contamination. Think of it as the three P's: Pathogen, Prevalence, and Persistence.

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Wildfires and Infection

by Erica Mitchell | September 9 2020

Over the past week, firefighters have been working to control record setting fires throughout California. These are lethal fires, consuming entire neighborhoods as they grow and spread. All of us have seen the images, 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.

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