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, April 3, 2020

How to Tell if your Disinfectant Kills COVID-19

One of the questions on people’s minds is how to know if the disinfectant they are using is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  The good news it that coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are enveloped viruses, therefore are generally quite susceptible to disinfectants.  The downside is that confirming that the product has been approved can be a bit of a challenge.
In the US, when emerging viruses show up and are deemed a threat to public health, the Emerging Pathogen Rule is enacted.  Depending on the type virus that has emerged, there are different requirements a disinfectant must meet in order to be considered effective.  For SARS-CoV-2, the Emerging Pathogen Guidance went into effect as of January 29, 2020.  The following conditions were required:
  • The product must be a hospital or broad-spectrum disinfectant product registered with EPA.
  • For an emerging enveloped virus, the product must have acceptable efficacy data previously submitted to and reviewed by the Agency against one non-enveloped virus (e.g. Poliovirus).

Due to the severity and spread of the virus, at the beginning of March, the EPA indicated that EPA-registered hospital or broad-spectrum disinfectants that carry a claim against Human Coronavirus would also be effective, allowing additional products to be included on EPA List N – products expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.

One would think finding the product you use would then be relatively easy.  Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case.  Many disinfectant manufacturers register products using a Project Name, meaning that the name of the product you are using is likely different from that on List N so when you search you will not find the product name.  Instead, search by the EPA number listed on your product – that should work at least 50-60% of the time.  If your product has 3 sets of numbers, then the product is a sub-registration.  This means, a company has been given access to sell a product under a different name.  In this case, you again only search for the first 2 set of numbers.  The following is an example of what EPA List N looks like:

And that, folks, is how you find out if your disinfectant is registered and approved for use in the US against COVID-19.

Bugging Off!


Friday, March 27, 2020

Impact of Asymptomatic Coronavirus

I feel a bit like a broken wheel as the last several weeks have only focused about COVID-19.  But we are watching history unfold.  By that, I do not mean the number of infections, recoveries or deaths.  I mean that each week, each day and even every hour we learn something new.  Studies and data are being published all the time.

This week, I came across two studies looking at the impact of asymptomatic transmission. The rate of transmission seems to be what makes COVID-19 a more serious threat then outbreaks of coronavirus we have seen previously.   As discussed in last week’s blog, the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to live on the surface was found to be the same as SARS-CoV-1 that caused the 2003 outbreak.  This means that other factors are impacting its spread.  Some additional factors could be higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract which could account for spread, but also the potential for SARS-CoV-2 infected people to shed the virus even before they show symptoms.

With the COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing that most secondary transmission is occurring in the community as opposed to healthcare settings.  In the first study, Japanese investigators looked at the 634 passengers from the Diamond Princess who tested positive for COVID-19.  They found that 17.9% of the passengers were asymptomatic meaning they could presumably spread the virus.  The second study published by Dutch researchers estimated a 48% occurrence for asymptomatic transmission for Singapore and a 62% for Tianjin, China.

This data raises concerns about the protocols being used for screening and the potential impact for further community transmission.  It also highlights the potential for transmission to healthcare workers who would not be in PPE but could be exposed to infected patients who are not showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 

The long and the short is while we are learning and sharing as much information as we can, and as quickly as we can, we must rely on some of the key tenets of infection prevention to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  Hand hygiene is something that needs to be on the top of our minds.  Wash your hands as frequently as possible and particularly before eating or touching your face.  Keeping you and your hands to yourself via social distancing.  Respiratory droplets can be projected quite some distance, hence the need to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  This is the reason for the recommended six (6) feet space between people.  Disinfection of high-touch surfaces and increasing the frequency of disinfection will help to limit the chance of secondary transmission from touching contaminated surfaces.

I’m sure next week more will be found, until then….

Bugging Off!


Friday, March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Surface Survival

Infection prevention experts are calling COVID-19 an infodemic, meaning misinformation spreading quicker than the virus itself.  Everyday we are reading updates on the increasing number of cases and deaths.  We are unfortunately not talking about the positive: the increased number of cases who have recovered.

As more time passes, researchers are sharing and publishing more information about the virus itself.  One of the exciting studies that is being published in the New England Journal of Medicine investigates the length of time that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, can survive on surfaces.  It is generally believed that COVID-19 is transmitted in droplet form after sneezing or coughing.  The importance of this is that droplets are heavier and can only stay suspended in air for a short period of time before dropping to land on a surface.  If you are close enough for the virus particles to reach you after someone coughs or sneezes, you can become infected.

The ability for the virus to survive in the air and on surfaces has a direct impact on its ability to transmit from person to person.  The study investigated and compared SARS-CoV-2 and the original SARS virus to determine their aerosol stability and surface survival capability.  When it came to stability of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces, researchers looked at the ability to survive on the surface for up to 7 days.  The testing conducted indicated that viable virus could be found on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours.   The virus was found to survive better (higher concentrations for longer) on plastic.  On copper, SARS-CoV-2 did not survive past 4 hours and on cardboard, it did not survive past 24 hours.  When it came to the viability of SARS-CoV-2 surviving as an aerosol, researchers used 3 hours as the point of time to test and found that viable virus was found in aerosols throughout the duration of the study.

Gaining clarity into SARS-CoV-2’s ability to survive on surfaces and after being “shed” via coughing and sneezing is an important piece of the puzzle.  The shorter timeframe it can survive, the better our chance of stopping its spread.  It’s important to understand that these tests were conducted under carefully controlled conditions in a lab.  In the real world, where conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity and sunlight) can impact the ability to survive as well.  For example, we know that sunlight can help in reducing the infectivity of viruses on surfaces. 

The long and the short is we still have so much more to learn about this virus.  There is speculation that infected people may be shedding the virus and infecting others before they even exhibit symptoms.  If true, this certainly impacts the speed with which we can curb the pandemic. However, many countries are taking precautions such as cancelling large gatherings, closing schools and restaurants as well as asking for people to work from home and follow social distancing, all of which will help curb transmission.  If the virus is only capable of surviving for 3 days as opposed to initial indications of much longer, then we can continue wage war against SARS-CoV-2 and be victorious by all working together.

Bugging Off!


Friday, March 13, 2020

Leprechaun Luck for St Paddy’s Day

Next week is St Patrick’s Day and for many each year it signifies a day of celebrating, wearing green and perhaps a few sips of green beer.   Saint Patrick, who was the foremost patron saint of Ireland, is the name sake for Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick which celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish.

In the wake of the school closures, travel bans, restrictions on mass gatherings and cancellation of conferences, sporting events, concerts and award ceremonies due to COVID—19, many of the traditional celebrations for St. Paddy’s will likely also be cancelled.   For those that have the luck of the Irish and intend to celebrate regardless of recommendations of social distancing the following are a few tips to help you enjoy your night and help to reduce you chances of getting sick:
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand rub, like hand sanitizer, when soap and water isn’t available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible. 
  • Use your knuckles to press buttons and your sleeves to open doors to help minimize contaminating your hands.
  • Maintain at least a 3-foot distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze (don’t spread your germs, and if you are sick – stay home).

If you’re thinking of celebrating at home with a group of friends, you may also want to consider adding the following additional precautions:
  • Limit movement around the house (e.g. keep to the main floor).
  • Consider removing your reusable hand towel and use disposable paper towels.
  • Clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces before your guests arrive and again after they’ve gone (less area to clean if you limit their movement!)

While COVID-19 is firmly on our minds, the recommendations given to keep yourself disease-free is the same for Influenza and many other communicable diseases.  The long and short if you want to stay healthy is to wash your hands, avoid touching your face and disinfect high touched surfaces to reduce the chance of picking something!

Bugging Off!


Friday, March 6, 2020

Canine Case of COVID-19

As if the increased number of COVID-19 cases around the world is not enough, Hong Kong announced a case of COVID-19 associated with a pet dog of a positive COVID-19 patient.  We know the likely source of COVID-19 is zoonotic, and while during SARS there was some evidence cats could pick up the virus from the environment there was no infection.

According to infectious disease experts, some animals do have the same receptor for COVID-19 so it’s plausible they can have the disease but do not tend to be symptomatic and pets are unlikely to spread the virus further.

Initial information from Hong Kong indicated that the result could be caused by environmental contamination meaning that the dog picked up traces of the virus from their environment or person.  However, on Wednesday a new statement was issued stating that the dog had been tested two more times (nasal and oral) which returned positive tests. After consulting medical and veterinary experts and the World Organization for Animal Health, Hong Kong officials concluded it is a case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus.

This does not mean we should panic.  At this point, the testing conducted has been completed using PCR which is a very sensitive test which can detect minute amount of the COVID-19 viral RNA, however, PCR does not differentiate between viable virus that is capable of causing infection and inactivated virus.  Infectious Disease Experts are stating that pet parents need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.  We should, however, practice good hygiene practices such as washing your hands before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them or them kissing you.  Like other respiratory diseases we should also work to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment through cleaning and disinfection.  The other advice is for people who are sick to restrict contacting animals and if their pets have any changes in their health seek advice from a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, in Wuhan, China, authorities are reportedly euthanizing animals that are found in homes of people infected with the virus.  Hong Kong is being more level-headed and only recommending that animals of positive patients be quarantined, as the likelihood of pets getting sick or spreading the disease is very low.

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 28, 2020

Coronavirus Clean Up

According to the WHO, 82,539 cases and 2,812 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded.  While around the world, these cases have been linked back to the original source of Wuhan, China, this week, the CDC confirmed the first U.S. COVID-19 case of unknown origin.  The patient appears to have contracted the virus without visiting a foreign country recently or coming into contact with an infected patient meaning this is an instance of community spread of COVID-19 in the United States.  That said, it is possible that the patient was exposed to a returned traveler who was infected without realizing it.
The outbreak is not going to stop any time soon and with the ever-increasing number of cases around the world, we need to be taking every measure possible to limit the spread.  Certainly, hand hygiene and quarantining of suspected and confirmed cases is a way to help slow the spread especially within the community, but focusing cleaning and disinfection are key aspects that cannot be forgotten – just ask those responsible for the Diamond Princess.             
Princess Cruises has put out a global search for a service provider with advanced, scientifically proven cleaning and disinfection capabilities to perform work onboard the Diamond Princess. They are looking to hire a vendor that has experience in significant cleaning and disinfection projects and experience in the use of the disinfectant agent manufactured by Virox®, which is well-known to be an effective disinfectant.  According to the RFP, companies who wish to submit a proposal should be prepared to comply with detailed standards set forth by experts in health protocols and administration such as the Japanese Ministry of Health, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, in addition to the operational standards established by Princess Cruises.
This is not the first time that Virox’s patented Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) has been used against Coronavirus.  In 2003, during the SARS outbreak, AHP® became the recommended disinfectant of choice, resulting in the distribution of a Training Bulletin disseminated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care mandating the use of AHP® by all EMAs and Paramedics.  While the original Training Bulletin referenced the use of AHP® for emergency vehicles, AHP® became the only disinfectant used by healthcare providers across Canada.
Coronaviruses are known to be able to persist on environmental surfaces for up to nine days.  In a recently published study, AHP® was included among the disinfectants that have been shown to have proven efficacy against various strains of Coronavirus.  When it comes to managing the transmission of Coronavirus, thoroughly cleaning environmental surfaces with a safe and effective disinfectant that carries a short contact time, like AHP®, will support in ensuring healthcare facilities, offices, schools, cruise ships and transportation vehicles (planes, trains and automobiles) have a cleaning and disinfection program that will support their infection prevention needs.
Infection prevention requires a daily focus.  In this time of heightened concerned and continued expansion of COVID-19, I hope you’ll add cleaning and disinfection to your daily routine!
Bugging Off!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sharing towels is not caring

Have you ever looked at a towel and thought “OMG! I’m going to get sick from using it!”?  If you’re old enough to remember the cotton roller towels in public washrooms you’ve likely had that reaction.  Have you ever looked at a towel of a family member and wondered if it would make you sick?

I would hazard a guess that most people would think about the potential to pick up germs from high touch surfaces such as refrigerator door handles and the TV remote and most would not consider sharing toothbrushes, but towels?  According to a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, sharing personal hygiene items including towels could increase the risk for colonization of antibiotic resistant organisms like MRSA. 

Over a course of a year, researchers made several visits to the homes of 150 children treated for MRSA infections. A total of 692 family members, as well as 154 cats and dogs, took part in the study.  The researchers swabbed sinks, refrigerator door handles, bathroom countertops, bath towels, bedsheets, light switches, telephones, TVs, video game controllers and computer keyboards and mice. The humans had their nostrils, armpits and groins swabbed, while the animals their noses and backs as this is where they are most often petted.  By the end of the study, 3,819 samples were collected and analyzed.

For the children, the bedsheets of the child with the initial infection were found to be most often contaminated with MRSA. The refrigerator door handle was the most contaminated kitchen site; the sink was the most contaminated place in the bathroom and as most would expect, the TV remote was the dirtiest electronic device.  From a transmission perspective, the dirtier the house was, if the home was rented and the larger the family size also contributed to the likelihood of additional members of the family becoming infected with MRSA.  Surprisingly to the researchers, pets were more likely to catch MRSA from people than visa versa.

Researchers and healthcare providers agree that hand hygiene is the greatest method to stop the spread of disease, however, if a loved one comes home with an infection like MRSA, sharing of personal hygiene items should be avoided as once MRSA is in the home as this study shows it can be easily spread around, picked up by other family members and difficult to get rid of.

The next time you’re at a family members or friends house and use the washroom, will you look at the hand towel in the bathroom in a different light?  If it’s wet, will you be wondering how many people have used it before you and what may be on it?  I know I will!

Bugging Off!