Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

Our expertise is utilized by Infection Preventionists, Public Health Experts, First Responders, Dentists, Physicians, Nurses, Veterinarians, Aestheticians, Environmental Services professionals and janitorial product distributors to develop more sustainable cleaning and disinfection practices in North America.

Our commitment to providing chemical disinfectant education is more than business, it is a passion.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Bacterial Laden Wristbands


As mentioned in last week’s blog, after coming back from a conference I had something up my sleeve.  Summer is a time for fairs, water parks and many other outdoor events. As a way to easily identify those who have paid for admittance to special areas of parks or have unlimited ride access, wrist bands are commonly used. They can be any colour under the sun. They are generally made of a plastic-papery type material, have an adhesive or other self-closing mechanism to keep the band in place. I’ve never really thought much of them. They’re on for a day and then they’re off. Even during any hospital stays, I’ve never really thought much of the bands that are placed on me or a loved one. They provide our identification, they have crucial information that for some may even be lifesaving.

Last week however, at one of the largest international beauty shows in Vegas where the temperature outside was well into the 90’s we were given a wrist band made of a very nice silky ribbon and told that it had to stay on at all times and if we lost it we would have to pay $75 to replace. After having lunch with the thing on and seeing firsthand the darn thing slipping into the salsa we were eating it occurred to me that this was gross! I don’t wear any piece of clothing constantly for 4 days. I was curious how gross the bands could get!

Thanks to our R&D team who is as curious about these type of things as I am, I grabbed the wristbands of my colleagues and some of the other vendors. I was also able to sweet talk my way into getting a “new” wristband without having to pay. I will admit, the lady was looking at me oddly when I explained what I wanted to do, but she played along to my geekiness!

We looked at the bacterial contamination of the wristbands by testing them both qualitatively and quantitatively to determine their level of contamination.  From the pictures below, I hope you’ll agree that the results are pretty cool! The first picture is what they looked like from placing a piece of the band on a growth media to see what would grow.  The second image is what we found after sonicating the bands in a buffer solution, incubating and then doing a colony count.



For full disclosure, the ‘control’ band was shipped in a Ziploc that previously held candies (Skittles to be exact), so it was “as gross as the used bands”.  To my defense, that was the only bag I had on me when I got the band and was scared I would lose it….  I definitely need to improve my sample collection “skills”.

Thankfully we do not know who Band #2 belongs to, but definitely, their level of hygiene, or what they get up to with their hands and wrists is different from the owners of Band #1 and #3!  We can’t really draw any conclusions, but what it does highlight is that we can easily pick up “bugs” as we go about our day to day business.  It would also appear that some are better at picking up “bugs” than others.  Is this enough to put me in a non-wristband wearing bubble?  NO!  That said, it does remind me of the importance of cleaning my hands frequently throughout the day and especially before I eat!


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, August 3, 2018

Ride the Red Tide


This week I was at one of the largest international Beauty shows.  I have something up my sleeve as a follow up, but I need to wait patiently for our microbiologist to conduct some “testing”.  I will say, it was 4 days for equally seeing the good, the bad and the really, really ugly! If you think I’m being petty, no, I’m not talking about people...

One of my favorite parts of travelling, is having uninterrupted time on a plane to catch up on reading.  While I’m not a “tree-hugger”, I do care about the environment and try to do my best in minimizing my environmental footprint.  We recycle, we compost, we minimize our plastic use and we minimize purchasing packaged or processed foods opting for fresh grown veggies etc.  The company I work for also ties nicely into my hope for a future where we do not continue to kill the environment.  Our corporate focus is to innovate and develop sustainable disinfectants to improve the health of people and animals all the while reducing their environmental impact.  This means we work to find greener alternatives to many of the more commonly used chemicals used for manufacturing cleaning and disinfecting products.  Our products have never contained Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) which are known endocrine disruptors that have negative impacts on both people and animals and are toxic to aquatic life. In the last 10 years we have also been reducing and/or removing phosphates from our products due to the impact that they have on the environment.

You may be thinking “Who cares!” or “How does a Beauty conference and how cleaners and disinfectants are developed impact me?”  Well, the products we use in both our professional and personal lives have a direct impact on our environment.  We need only to look at the Red Tide and the thousands of dead fish, manatees, whale sharks, sea turtles and sea birds that have been killed over the last 9 months in what has been the longest lasting Red Tide in our history.  About 100 miles of shoreline in southwest Florida have been affected by the Red Tide so far, and the scariest part is that officials don't know when it's going to end meaning thousands of more animals and people will be impacted.

Red Tide is caused by algal blooms. The growth of this algae depends on wind, temperature, nutrients, and salinity. While there is no one factor that contributes to the development of these blooms, pollution of water or coastal areas has been linked to the phenomenon. Access to nutrients to such as nitrates and phosphates, which can be abundant in agricultural run-off, human sewage and waste water. Think about it, every cleaner and disinfectant, body wash, shampoo, laundry and dish detergent we use enter our sewer systems which eventually get released back into the environment. As usual, we are our own worst enemy.

Knowing this, it was refreshing to see the number of products showcased at the Beauty convention that were phosphate free, that were environmentally friendly and would reduce our negative footprint on the environment. I hope you’ll take a look at some of the pictures or videos that have been shared highlighting the impact of Florida’s Red Tide on the marine life. I hope you’ll share with your friend and I hope you’ll join me in choosing products that will reduce the impact on animals, people and the planet!


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, July 27, 2018

What’s under your nails?


I grew up riding horses and playing piano.  Having long nails, or even just pretty painted nails was not part of my daily regime.  Frankly, it was a waste of time and effort.  Scrubbing them clean after a day spent at the barn just scraped off the nail polish and my piano teacher would seriously stop mid-lesson to make me trim my nails if there was any hint of clicking on the ivories.  To this day, I prefer a naked nail, but it’s really not about the look. I’m simply too lazy to deal with the upkeep!

While nails may not be my thing, it seems that nails have become an obsession (or concern) for some in the infection control community.  We know many of our infection prevention guidelines recommend keeping our hands covered with the thought that it keeps our hands cleaner longer. The ugly truth is that it’s not the fingertips that are full of bacteria, but our fingernails.  Who would have thought that the thin keratin shields we call our finger nails harbor a smorgasbord of bacteria!  Going as far back as 1988, researchers have found that the space under the fingernails is “an important site” for harboring bacteria.

Flash forward to present day and we’re still interested and investigating what impact our hands, our nails and our nail products have on the microbial bio-burden of our hands.  In a new study, that has just hit the press, 74 participants were enrolled and had swab cultures obtained from their nails in order to determine what difference (if any) is seen between nails with gel polish, standard polish or an unpolished natural nail.

The study showed that regardless of the three nail types, over time all became increasingly more contaminated with bacteria.  When the results of pre and post hand hygiene was compared, it was found that a natural nail or one with standard nail polish was easier and more likely to be effectively cleaned with alcohol than hands with gel polish.  Of interest, nails with gel polish did show lower bacterial levels prior to performing hand hygiene which leads to speculation as to whether the UV light used to cure the gel polish aids in reducing the bacterial load when the gel is applied.  The long and the short is that based on this study, the jury is out as to whether wearing gel polish can negatively impact infection prevention.

As for me? Well, tomorrow I jet off to Las Vegas for a Professional Beauty convention so this afternoon I treated myself to a manicure with gel polish and a pedicure with standard polish.  I have no intention of testing how clean or dirty my fingers get, I just hope I can keep them looking good for the next 4 days!

Bugging Off

Nicole

Saturday, July 21, 2018

#FF Summer School!


Summer is a time to relax, recharge and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re like me you may have scored a really amazing swim cap! For me, summer is also about getting caught up on reading – both for pleasure and for education. In the first 2 weeks of summer I have already blown through 4 novels.  I can tell you the names, but don’t ask for details.  For me pleasure reading is like watching a movie.  It takes me away from reality and lets me stretch my imagination, but I generally don’t waste any of my grey matter trying to remember the plot.  Summer is also a time when I try to tackle a couple of personal development books, listen to podcasts or participate in other on-line or digital educational seminars. 

The Webber Training Teleclass lectures are a great example of that!  As noted in past blogs, the Teleclass Education by Webber Training is an international lecture series on topics related to infection prevention and control. The objective is to bring the best possible education to the widest possible audience with the fewest possible barriers when trying to access it.  Here's the list of teleclasses for the third quarter of 2018.

Date
Title of Teleclass
Speaker
July 12th
The future of infection control – Bright or bleak?
Martin Kiernan, UK
July 17th
Hospital infection control for a developing country’s perspective Dr. Aamer Ikram, Pakistan
July 19th
Flood remediation in healthcare facilities – Infection control implications
Michael Buck, USA
August 16th
Interpreting research evidence – A key skill for infection control professionals Prof. Donna Moralejo, Canada
September 6th
Molecular diagnostics and its role in infection prevention
Sanchita Das, USA
September 13th
Neonatal sepsis prevention in low-resource settings Prof. Angela Dramowski, Africa
September 20th
The silent tsunami of Azole-resistance in the opportunistic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus
Prof. Paul E. Verweij, The Netherlands
September 27th
Chlorhexidine use and bacterial resistance Prof. Jean Yves Maillard, Wales
September 30th
Surveillance by objectives – Using measurement in the prevention of healthcare associated infections
Prof. Jennie Wilson, UK

For more information on Webber Training, including a full list of the upcoming Infection Prevention and Control Teleclasses, please visit www.webbertraining.com.  If you’re a Twitter follower you can also be part of the conversation during the sessions by following #WebberTraining.

I hope many of you will take the opportunity to listen to these teleclasses and share them with your colleagues! 


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, July 13, 2018

Will pigs be the next reservoir for Ebola?


As some may recall, in 2014 I wrote a blog about Ebola and the outbreak in Guinea. It was a story, if you will, of how my passion and interest in infection prevention came to be. If you happen to read the blog, you’ll see that a reader took my interest in infection prevention and what was happening as not showing respect and having “something wrong with me.”

Ebola is an interest of mine. I do find it fascinating. It’s history. Our attempts to contain the multitude of outbreaks that have occurred and our inability to stop these outbreaks from happening. I read any article that comes across my desk that talks about Ebola and yes, I keep tabs on any outbreaks that are currently happening. You can imagine my interest in coming across an article that indicated there was some evidence that pigs might be able to host the Ebola virus. We know that viruses can't survive in the environment, and in most cases once the dust has settled and an outbreak investigation has wrapped up, we know that some type of animal must be serving as a "reservoir".  When it comes to Ebola, the evidence so far points to fruit bats as the guilty party, but gorillas, chimpanzees, and even antelope may also play a role.
If pigs were to be found to be involved in spreading Ebola, this could be particularly worrisome. It would mean that a common animal, one used as livestock, one that some may even live with, could be spreading Ebola. The research team from the article collected blood samples from 400 pigs in regions of Sierra Leone that had reported human cases of the Ebola virus. Of the 400 pigs tested, three had antibodies in their blood that reacted to Ebola virus proteins meaning that these animals had been infected by the virus at some point and mounted an immune response.  The researchers found that these antibodies were not protective when challenged to the Ebola virus. 
Does this mean that pigs can or will spread Ebola?  This study shows that pigs can be infected with a type of Ebola virus, perhaps not the one causing the large West African epidemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a future possibility.

Bugging Off!
Nicole  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Public Pooping Paranoia


I have a very strong dislike for public bathrooms.  I think it stems from my childhood and my mother’s constant reminders of not to sit or touch the toilet seat and to wash my hands when finished.  This was often followed by “don’t touch the door handle with your clean hands!”  You never quite know when, where and how a child can be traumatized or what long term effects it may have.  As someone who travels and must with some frequency use public rest rooms, every time I enter one I can hear my mom’s voice telling me what to do.  I’m pretty sure I’ve done the same thing to my son.

I think perhaps this is why I was so interested in an article that popped up discussing if germs can in fact be caught from public toilet seats.  First, you may wonder why toilets are of such interest in the first place.  While perhaps a bit personal and a bit TMI - microbes from our gut actually make up 25-54% of our poop.  The other gross truth is that our poop can carry a wide range of infectious pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus, as well as viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus and hepatitis A.  The good news, is that catching something from sitting on the seat of a public toilet is not very likely.  The reason being is that most gastrointestinal diseases are transmitted via the fecal-oral route meaning that “you gotta eat it to get it”.  Hence the reason why my mom was always so adamant about hand washing.

While the seat may not be the crux of the problem, flushing the toilet may be.  I recall reading a study back in 2011 about what happens when we flush the toilet, and wondering how the heck I was ever to get out of the stall unscathed.  According to the researchers when a toilet is flushed, germs found in plume up and settle over quite a wide area – basically everything you can see or find in a toilet stall including the door handle.  My motto is flush and run!

This leads me to wonder how many people use their cell phones while sitting on the toilet.  Cell phones when tested have been found to harbor far more germs than the seat of a public toilet.  Almost as gross of course are the statistics of how many people DO NOT wash their hands after using the “facilities”.  I wonder what the number of non-hand washing, cell phone users there are? Perhaps the next time you “borrow” your friend’s or your spouse’s phone and put it up to your ear and mouth you may want to consider where it has been!

I guess mom had at least two things right.  Wash your hands after using the toilet and for the love of Pete DO NOT touch the door handle on the way out!


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, June 29, 2018

Gone Swimming!


Yesterday, my company celebrated our 20th anniversary.  I’ve been with Virox® for 15 of their 20 years and a have enjoyed watching how the markets we serve have grown in their needs and sophistication with respect to cleaning and disinfection.   As part of the celebration, we were given today off!


While I'm playing hooky from writing an educational blog, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish all of my Canadian friends a happy Canada Day and all of my American friends a happy Independence Day!


Bugging Off!

Nicole


PS - For those that know me, I have a penchant for playing with my hair color.  It’s fun, but in the summer it means I have to be really careful around pools.  This summer, I have found the perfect solution, my new retro-70’s swimming cap!  You can be sure it will be put to good use this weekend!