How do Germs Spread?

by Erica Mitchell | August 24 2023

Germ theory, the idea that infection is caused by microscopic organisms unseen to the naked eye, is only a few hundred years old. This theory focuses on three main components.

  1. The reservoir: The person, animal, or surface that carries the infection.
  2. The mode of transmission: Via direct contact, a droplet of liquid, airborne, a vector (such as an insect), or a vehicle (food or surface)
  3. The susceptible host: A person and his/her ports of entry (nose, mouth, incision, medical device, wound)

But the paths from the reservoir to the susceptible host seem infinite. To narrow down the steps needed to prove this relationship between contaminated rooms and infected patients, researchers have proposed routes of transmission that could account for a relationship. Here are two proposals, both of which demonstrate the critical role played by surfaces in the transmission of pathogens.

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The CDC's International Infection Control Program: Partners in Prevention

by Erica Mitchell | August 21 2023

Alongside its work in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an ongoing international presence, providing support and expertise across a variety of healthcare activities. By working with partners in typically low- and middle-income countries, the International Infection Control Program (IICP) focuses efforts on reducing healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, and infectious disease outbreaks. In today's post, we will learn about this global program that helps keep all global citizens safe.

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Plasmids Take A Hike

by Erica Mitchell | August 16 2023

Imagine a group of hikers setting out on a 100-mile trek through a remote forest, each taking their own path and traveling alone. Each carries a backpack with supplies necessary for survival such as water, food, tent, and first aid kit. However, a few of them also carry a survival handbook with instructions on how to survive in the wild during life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, this book is extremely heavy, adding 50 lbs the backpack. Who will arrive at the destination?

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The Environmental Programs Service of the Veterans Health Administration: Keeping Patients Safe

by Erica Mitchell | August 13 2023

The Veterans Health Administration has long been at the forefront of progress in reducing hospital-associated infections. Through adherence to best practices, investment in effective interventions, and thorough educational opportunities for staff, the VHA has been able to reduce the most common HAIs. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the VHA was able to protect residents of long-term care facilities at levels unmatched outside of the federal agency. A huge part of this success is due to the multi-faceted Environmental Programs Service, which ensures that every aspect of the patient's environment is safe. In today's post, we will look at these facets, and how they come together to protect our honored veterans.

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Product Evaluation: How Do I Know Who is Pay-to-Play?

by Erica Mitchell | August 7 2023

Infection preventionists and their colleagues are inundated with sales messages promoting the latest products, innovations, new formulations, and next big thing to buy for their facility. It's fairly easy to read between the lines of advertisements, weigh the scientific claims written in bold letters on a flyer, and disregard the emoji-filled email subject lines. But what about the review written up in a trade magazine? What about the speaker at a professional organization breakfast? What about the listing in a online product database? How does the busy infection preventionist or healthcare leader know when they are reading an unbiased review and when they are reading a sponsored pieced approved and paid for by the manufacturer?

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Superbugs: Horizontal Gene Transfer

by Erica Mitchell | August 2 2023

In our earlier post, we explored the way mutations in bacteria can result in antibiotic resistance. If a mutation helps a bacteria survive its environment, it passes that strength on to future generations, who also survive. Pretty simple. But did you know that bacteria can also transfer their resistant genes to neighboring bacteria? Just like mailing them a letter.

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Social Media for Infection Preventionists: Twitter (or X?)

by Erica Mitchell | July 31 2023

Twitter brought brevity and global outreach to social media. Founded in 2007, Twitter stood out from its competitors as a quick way to reach and follow anyone on the platform without having to be officially linked. The use of hashtags revolutionized social media, allowing users to categorize their tweets and search for others talking about the same topics (across all platforms). These same features elevated Twitter to rank as one of the top social networks, while recent changes and rebranding efforts make it the slowest-growing platform. We don't know what the future holds for Twitter/X, but while it is still being used by almost a quarter of Americans, here is a brief guide to ways it can enhance your career as an infection preventionist!

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Superbugs: Vertical Gene Transfer

by Erica Mitchell | July 26 2023

"Superbugs," or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, have been in the news a lot lately. These types of bacteria can cause infections that are very difficult to treat since they are not killed by conventional antibiotics. While most of them can be eradicated, it requires very powerful (and costly) antibiotics. And most terrifying, we play a role in creating these superbugs. To see how, we first need to understand how bacteria reproduce and how they adapt (and share that adaptation to their surrounding buddies).

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Social Media for Infection Preventionists: Facebook

by Erica Mitchell | July 21 2023

Since Facebook's entry onto the social media marketplace in 2004, it has grown to a stunning 2 BILLION monthly active user base, more than the combined population of India and China. While dominant in ages 25-34, Facebook is used by over 74% of adults, with an almost even split between men and women. This enormous global reach, along with its unparalleled integration into our daily online lives gives the individual user access to information and people like nothing before. With this enormous market share comes issues of privacy and algorithm manipulation, so using Facebook as a healthcare professional does take some finesse. Read on to learn what we think infection preventionists can get from Facebook!

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Sickly Stowaways: Pathogens on a Plane

by Erica Mitchell | July 20 2023

We are in the midst of the busy vacation air travel season. Therefore, our attention turns to the packed plains that will carry you to your relaxing destination, and the stowaways traveling right under your noses (and fingertips): Microorganisms.

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