Endoscopes and Infection: Design Matters

by Erica Mitchell | July 22 2024

There are four fundamental aspects of endoscopes that lead to infection: Intricate design, biofilm formation, human error during reprocessing, and failure to dry properly. Much emphasis is being placed on the first: The intricate design of this technology that provides so many reservoirs for bacteria to escape cleaning and be transmitted to a vulnerable host. In today's post, we'll look at how design improvements have led to safer endoscopes, and what we can look forward to in the future of endoscope design.

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The Fastest Epidemiologist in the World?

by Erica Mitchell | July 18 2024

The Paris Olympics are just around the corner, the first Summer Olympics since Covid forced the Tokyo games to delay a year. Epidemiologists are a part of the team working around the clock to make sure that athletes and their teams are safe and healthy. But one epidemiologist will have other things on her mind: The 200-meter race. Her name is Gabby Thomas, and this Harvard and University of Texas- educated epidemiologist will again be representing Team USA as the record-holder for second-fastest time in this event. When we last checked in on Thomas, she was getting ready to head to her first Olympics. In today's post, we'll learn more about this scientist/athlete and her plans for global health in her second career as an epidemiologist.

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Endoscopy and Infection Risk

by Erica Mitchell | July 17 2024

Up until recently, the medical community has assumed that the infection rates in endoscopy centers was around 1:1,000,000 - a tiny risk for a beneficial procedure. However, research published in the journal Gut reveals that the risk of infection is actually 1-3:1,000, that is, 100x more likely than previously thought. This number goes up to 45-59:1,000 for patients with a recent hospitalization. In today's post, we'll explore what is known about the risk of infection associated with endoscopic procedures, recent outbreaks, and what needs to be done to prevent infections in the future.

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"The Plague": Why News of this Disease is Nothing New

by Erica Mitchell | July 15 2024

The Plague, that is, an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, ravaged Europe during the 1400s, where it was known as "the Black Death" and claimed the lives of tens of millions of people (a third of the population!). Recently, alarmist news headlines reported instances of the plague being diagnosed in the United States, causing many readers to believe that another possible pandemic could result. It should come to everyone's relief that this news is not news at all: The United States sees on average 7 cases of the plague each year, every year. The difference from medieval Europe? Antibiotics and infection control. 

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Medical Tourism and HAIs

by Erica Mitchell | July 8 2024

As we enjoy summer, many of us are planning to travel to see loved ones or take a well-deserved vacation. A growing number of Americans are planning a different type of trip: Going abroad for medical care. From elective procedures to fertility services, more and more Americans are traveling to developing countries to receive medical care at a fraction of the cost similar procedures would cost in the US. While these numbers have not grown at the pace some predicted, there is still a significant portion of our population who will be participating in what is now called "medical tourism." Today's post will explore what potential medical tourists should consider in order to avoid a healthcare-associated infection.

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Global Health Funding Channels

by Erica Mitchell | July 1 2024

A young woman sits in a clinic halfway around the world, waiting for her COVID-19 vaccine. The entities involved in getting that vaccine to her, all the way from its development, manufacture, and distribution, relies on a massive global health network. In today's post, we'll highlight just some of those steps, learning about how global health is funded and implemented along the way.

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Not All "Antimicrobial Activity" Tests are the Same: Why the EPA Standard Exceeds JIS/ISO, ASTM and Others

by Erica Mitchell | June 24 2024

In this blog, we have covered the rigorous protocol set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a product to make public health claims, that is, for a product to be described as protecting public health. These are products like disinfectants, HVAC filters, water treatments, and copper-infused biocidal surfaces such as EOScu and copper alloys. For everyone else, there is the "treated article" category which only allows products to be described as protecting the product itself from mold, mildew and odor-causing bacteria. However, consumers will often see in marketing materials that a product passed "JIS Z 2801" or "ISO 22196" or "ASTM E2149" tests with a percentage reduction in bacteria. In today's post, we'll look at what those tests measure and how they do not meet the rigor demanded by the EPA (and why marketing materials may try to imply that these tests are the same!)

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Enhanced Barrier Precautions in Long-Term Care: A CMS Update

by Erica Mitchell | June 17 2024

What do you do if you discover that 50% of your healthcare residents are colonized with a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO)? You'd probably adjust your personal protective equipment protocols at your facility, right? Now consider this at a national scale: A 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report revealed that "more than 50% of nursing home residents may be colonized with an MDRO," prompting the CDC to update its recommendations in July 2022, focusing on Enhanced Barrier Precautions (EBP) for residents with wounds and indwelling medical devices, who are at higher risk for MDRO colonization and transmission. In today's post, we'll look at what this means for long-term care facilities.

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Copper: An Ancient Remedy That Actually Works

by Erica Mitchell | June 12 2024

This post is intended to provide historical background for some of today's medical treatments. It is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Artificial Intelligence and Infection Control: Current Research

by Erica Mitchell | June 8 2024

Artificial intelligence seems to be everywhere these days: Generating images that fill our social feeds and ads, answering our questions via chatbots, and creating content for almost every field. In today's post, we will look at some recent research that demonstrates how AI might help lessen the load on infection preventionists (IPs) by helping sift through data and make surveillance and reporting more efficient.

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