Things are getting increasingly festive this time of year, but something scary is looming… the flu. Last season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported up to 42.9 million cases of flu and up to 61,200 flu deaths — And that’s just from October 1, 2018, through May 4, 2019. This year, the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for week 40 ending October 5, 2019 already attributes 5.0% of deaths to pneumonia and influenza — just 0.6% points below the epidemic threshold of 5.6%.
In the world of infection control, new research is always appearing that surprises us with discoveries about diseases spreading through caregiver environments in ways no one would have considered. A spate of recent studies has done just that, demonstrating that despite the best efforts of the healthcare industry, everyone has been overlooking one simple source of infection risk right in front of us: the sink. Sinks, it seems, can sometimes undermine the most strict adherence to hand hygiene protocol; these necessary hand-hygiene helpers have doubled as secret infection vectors due to hidden design flaws.
Even the most seasoned hospital staff can feel overwhelmed when attempting to wrap their minds around the vast complexity of an effective infection control strategy. Effective infection control is doable. It just requires meticulous planning. That’s why in 2017 the CDC provided guidance with a set of core practices to act as a foundation for any infection control program. Here is a brief overview of those points and what they mean.
Breaking down institutional silos is a big topic of conversation in healthcare today, as caregivers, administrators and others recognize that when everyone works together outcomes improve. It is maybe a little ironic, then, that an area of healthcare often thought of as it is own "thing," infection prevention, is one where cooperation is most critical. Anyone can carry infection, so each individual in a hospital has a place in preventing infection’s spread.
The kids are going back to school! It’s an exhilarating time of year for parents – and a complicated one. You may be shedding a tear as you send your kids off to start another exciting year of living and learning. At the same time, though, you might be breathing a sigh of relief. After all, especially for those with younger kids, spending an entire summer operating at the energy level of an elementary schooler can make you look forward to those (still rare) afternoons of relative quiet. The last thing you want to wrangle with in September is a cold. What teachers and parents who have done a few rounds of the back to school season know though, and what the science backs up, is that students returning to the classroom encounter and spread bacteria and viruses.
A condition that sounds -- and looks – like something from a horror movie has been hitting the news again. Outbreaks of necrotizing fasciitis, referred to colloquially as "flesh-eating bacteria," have begun appearing at a higher rate according to a study discussed on Live Science, especially in New Jersey and Delaware. Even a slight uptick of such a dramatic and deadly condition in that area (five cases over the course of two summers as opposed to one case in the previous eight years) has made researchers take note. While rare, necrotizing fasciitis is alarming, so it’s not surprising that even publications like People have begun highlighting the impacts.