Data about the ongoing pandemic is introducing the general public to a very familiar topic in epidemiology: Epi curves. These displays of data help epidemiologists visualize trends in positive cases, transmission, and so much more. It's important for the general public to see and understand the data being presented now more than ever, since health experts are using these charts to convince communities to abide by social distancing, mask-wearing, and now, school closings. In today's post, we'll look at some of these graphs and what they can tell us about all outbreaks, including COVID-19, as well as hospital-associated infections.
It is estimated that there are 5×1030 bacteria on Earth. That's 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 5 nonillion. We have not even begun to identify them all, and new strains are evolving all the time. We not only coexist with bacteria on Earth, they outnumber us by such a mind-boggling degree that we cannot even conceive it. Consider this: There are currently just over 7 billion humans on earth, and one spoonful of rich soil contains approximately 10 trillion bacteria. And our bodies? Bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10 to 1. (But don't worry, you're not a zombie. They make up only 3% of our body mass. But still.)
Without a doubt, those in charge of re-opening businesses, places of worship, schools, and other public areas are being inundated with sales presentations about products that promise to keep surfaces clean during the pandemic. While federal agencies (the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency) are trying to curb the spate of misleading claims, misinformation, and outright lies, some still make it out into the marketplace. It's particularly important that consumers understand the role of antimicrobial additives, a segment of the market that can lead to a lot of misunderstanding. In today's post, we hope to prepare you to ask the right questions and probe the statements you might hear as you investigate products for your facility.
Terminal cleaning is a thorough, deep-cleaning of a patient room between occupants. Its purpose is to rid the room of infectious agents and provide the new occupant a sanitary space for recovery and healing. Terminal cleaning protocols vary by hospital, but the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has recommendations for environmental cleaning, including terminal cleaning. This advice includes the staff involved in monitoring and evaluating cleaning, the training of environmental staff, and the analysis of data collected through regular assessments.
As concerns over hospital-acquired infections have grown over the past decades, innovative technologies have been invented to aid in the reduction of germs in the patient room, what specialists call the "bioburden". Since numerous studies have proven that patients are infected as a result of a contaminated environment (and not just contaminated individuals) these technologies have emphasized testing the surfaces in the room for proof of effective cleaning. Only recently has bacteria-killing technology emerged that supplements the cleaning done by environmental staff. This post will outline the 4 innovative technologies that assist a hospital in ensuring a clean, sanitary room for each patient.
The health of professional athletes has always been important, even though much of it has taken place out of the headlines and stayed in the locker rooms. Even infection control was important pre-pandemic, especially with the isolated cases of drug-resistant MRSA or other small outbreaks. But nothing has brought more attention to the health and safety of professional athletes than COVID-19. With millions of fans waiting desperately to watch their favorite teams - or, honestly, ANY teams - compete again, there has been intense work to prepare for a safe return to football, baseball, basketball, and many other professional sports. In today's post, we'll look at how these associations are putting into place the four most important aspects of outbreak prevention: Testing, social distancing, contact tracing, and surface safety.
When we enter a hospital room as a patient, we are seeing the room at its cleanest. The room has just been scrubbed down during what is called "terminal cleaning," the rigorous cleaning that takes place after one patient is moved in preparation for the next patient to move in. However rigorous this cleaning procedure (and studies indicate that up to 60% of hospital rooms are not cleaned properly), there will be residual contamination by infectious pathogens. In a dynamic process of contamination and recontamination, after cleaning and through cross-transmission, germs stick around and continue to make patients sicker.
Exciting news brought encouragement this week as a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 announced it would enter Phase III testing by the end of the month. In the push for creating a viable vaccine, several cutting-edge technologies are being used for the first time, and make up the top 5 vaccine candidates to date. Today we'll look at these new mechanisms and their progress towards a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
In earlier posts, we've examined the degree of cleanliness required for specific items as well as what the EPA requires to make claims about cleanliness. Today we will look at how the various items in a patient room are categorized to determine the required level and frequency of cleaning.
Resurgence of COVID-19 cases has led to areas of the country having to reinstate social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements. In hotspots throughout the nation, counties with significant spikes of cases are responding by closing public spaces, cancelling large gatherings, and enforcing mask rules. Meanwhile, other parts of the country are seeing slowing cases as they gradually open up. The hotspots, in many ways, are experiencing a bit of what it is like to be in an isolation room in a hospital. In today's post, we'll look at what our national scenario can tell us about hospital isolation.