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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Herd Immunity: Is It Possible Without A Stampede?

by Erica Mitchell | September 3 2020

Lately, conversations about herd immunity and COVID-19 have been taking place around TV news desks and family dining room tables: Could herd immunity give us the protection we need from COVID-19? Some news articles seem to say that this is a viable option, while others warn vehemently against it. In today's post, we'll explore the role herd immunity can play in stopping the spread of disease, and specifically, whether it can help us during the current pandemic.

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The Final Round-Up of Pathogens Causing Hospital-Acquired Infections

by Erica Mitchell | September 2 2020

Today's post wraps up the usual suspects when it comes to pathogens contributing to hospital acquired infection. These pathogens, while less prevalent than those mentioned in earlier posts, still pose a danger to immunocompromised patients in healthcare settings. 

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Emergency Regulations During A Pandemic

by Erica Mitchell | August 29 2020

Regulations help make sure that people and companies behave properly, especially when it comes to health and safety. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have regulations to help keep consumers safe while using chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and more. But during a pandemic, often the time required to implement regulations causes risks of its own - during these times, we often need a quick solution, even if it is not the best solution. Therefore, during times of great need, such as during a pandemic, there exist special authorizations to allow temporary permissions to safe, but not necessarily effective, products. Today we will talk about three of those emergency authorizations.

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Watching, Waiting: Opportunistic Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, and Candida

by Erica Mitchell | August 26 2020



Watching and waiting, always lurking around the next corner, these three pathogens are both found everywhere and highly resistant, a 1-2 punch for vulnerable patients. They reside in the environment as well as on our bodies, some of them in mucuous membranes. These membranes are perfect homes for bacteria: Moist, warm, and often dark. So while they survive for long periods of time without resources, with access to an environment with little competition they will quickly reproduce and become dangerous, especially if they find a way into our bodies. Keep an eye over your shoulder for these ninja pathogens.

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Where Are We on National Contact Tracing?

by Erica Mitchell | August 24 2020

A major part of controlling an outbreak is contact tracing - tracing back all the contacts an infected person had while contagious and having those contacts self-isolate for two weeks. When an outbreak is enormous, however, contact tracing is almost impossible. In today's post, we'll look at what contact tracing looks like in the US, where it's working, where it's not working, and what role it may play in the ongoing pandemic. 

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Stealthy Passengers: E. coli, Klebsiella, and Enterococcus

by Erica Mitchell | August 19 2020

Today's trio of pathogens are stealthy, living on our bodies without causing us harm but wreaking havoc when they find a way inside a bacteria-free, or sterile part of our body (lungs, bloodstream, internal organs, and others). Typically they are surrounded by other species of bacteria in our intestines or on our skin, using all their energy to battle it out for resources with the other species of bacteria that surround them. This keeps them in check. However, if they are able to enter the sterile parts of our body through an incision or medical device, they find themselves in a new territory with absolutely no competition. With uncontested resources, they quickly reproduce and create an infection which can cause great harm, and even death.

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