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, September 29, 2017

What’s in your fridge?

I admit, I troll for articles on cleaning, disinfection, outbreaks and whatever else tickles my fancy as a way to find potential blog topics. Picking a topic for the blog is not just about finding an article or using a question that has been posed.  The hardest part, at least for me, is finding a connection to the story.  Some weeks I know exactly how I’ll start the blog or how I may personalize the story, while other weeks I have a topic that just doesn’t “speak to me”. This week’s topic speaks to me and will likely speak to you too!

How many of you share the office fridge to store your lunch or leftovers after going out to lunch?  Do any of you have that one (or two) colleagues who believe there is a magical fairy or elf that comes in and cleans up the mess in the fridge – you know the stuff that horror stories are made of?  How many times have you opened the door of the fridge only to have your nose recoil in disgust because it smells like something curled up and died in there?   Tell the truth – how many of you have had that happen at home?  It happened to me about a week ago after being away on a business trip for a few days.  It took me a couple of days, but I found the culprit.  It was a piece of steak that even when enclosed in Tupperware managed to smell like….well I don’t want to think about it anymore.  Let’s just say a skunk would have smelled far more pleasant.

According to a recent survey, “Office fridges are an interesting social experiment on people’s warring definitions of cleanliness, hygiene, and manners.”  The survey asked 1000 adults when the last time their office fridge was cleaned.  The average was 93 days! Of the 1000 people surveyed almost half of them lacked even basic food hygiene knowledge!  If you’re unsure what your food hygiene knowledge is, check out the FDA Refrigeration and Food Safety website.  Cold temperatures will help slow the growth of many potential pathogens, but it does not stop them all!  The website also includes the length of time you should leave cooked or uncooked food in the fridge.  Did you know an open package of hot dogs should be tossed after a week?  Who is able to eat an entire package of hot dogs in a week unless you have a small army to feed!

If you’re unsure how to clean the office fridge, here’s a few tips:

  • First, draw straws.  The short straw gets to clean the fridge or you could just have the person who made the biggest mistake that week clean the fridge.
  • Grab some reusable latex cleaning gloves or disposable vinyl gloves.  Don’t be afraid to double glove!
  • Find a N95 respirator to put a mental & physical “barrier” between you and the gross stuff
  • Make sure you have HEAVY DUTY Garbage Bags.  Don’t chintz on the cheap bags, if they rip or tear you’ll have to touch everything twice!
  • Be sure to have a disinfectant that will kill even the nastiest of bugs
  • Stock up on Paper Towels
  • Have Coffee (beans or grounds) out and ready to sniff after cleaning up to get the remnants of any nasty odors out of your nose!
The long and the short is, be an adult.  Unless you work in an office with a magical fairy or elf, clean up after yourself and for the love of Pete, do NOT leave your food in the fridge!  If you don’t eat it, take it home or throw it out!


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Alcohol – good for drinking, not soaking

I’ve been known to imbibe now and again.  I like to have fun.  Those that know me well may have been involved in one or two of my escapades and a few of you may have heard some stories.  I am happy to say I have never been arrested and never been hospitalized.  Being grounded while a teenager…..well that’s another story!

Why the discussion of alcohol?  Alcohol is one of those “magical” chemicals – you can drink it, you can cook with it, you can wash your hands with it, you can clean with it, you can kill with it and you can use it for fuel (it’s also lights nicely with a match!).  In the chemical world, there are a number of different types of alcohols that can be used as a solvent (helps to dissolve things) mixed in with other chemistries (e.g. Quats) that can be used as a disinfectant.  On its own (aka 70% IPA), we use it as a disinfectant for skin prep and in microbiology, use it as a fixative agent.  Here in lies the catch.

Alcohol is a fixative.  It’s well known to be one, but generally speaking most do not realize what that means or how its ability to adhere organic matter to a surface can impede cleaning and disinfection.  In fact, a study published in AJIC recently looked at just that.  The researchers found that treating contaminated surgical instruments with alcohol and allowing them to dry, increased difficulty in cleaning and could lead to sterilization inefficiency.  The rationale of using alcohol in this way is of course for its killing properties to reduce pathogen load prior to cleaning and disinfection or sterilization.  The researchers found that yes, the bacterial load was reduced when instruments were wiped or sprayed, but this practice significantly increased the attachment of soil to the instruments which made cleaning these same instruments significantly harder. The long and the short was that the benefit associated with the decreased microbial load was overshadowed by the increased difficulty in cleaning and should be discouraged.

While the study looked at surgical instruments, we need to contemplate that alcohol used for surface disinfection will do the same thing.  In surface products, alcohol (IPA, ethanol etc) is often added to boost the efficacy of quats and other disinfectant actives to either enhance efficacy (such as achieve a TB claim) or help to reduce the contact time.  Similar to the effect of sticking soils to instruments, the same will happen when using alcohols on surfaces, highlighting the importance of removing soils prior to wiping with an alcohol containing surface disinfectant.

In the end, it’s about finding the balance of what you are looking for in your facility and knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the disinfectant you are looking at.  If you know what you’re dealing with, you can implement practices to try and minimize the negative side effects of the product.  When it comes to surgical equipment, as cleaning is so vital to ensuring that disinfection or sterilization can occur, I hope you’ll stop the practice of using alcohol to wipe down the instruments prior to cleaning.  When it comes to surface products,  I hope you also do your research, particularly if you work in a high soil environment!


Bugging Off!

Nicole



Friday, September 15, 2017

Poopy Love from Puppies

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a farm.  We raised beef cows, capons (neutered male chickens) and grew cash crops (wheat, corn, soya beans, etc).  As any good animal loving country girl can probably attest, you can make a pet out of virtually any animal.  Some of my favorites were Joy our Jersey who, while a cow, we rode like a horse; there was also Cookie the Capon, Miss Piggy, Herman and Hersey (also cows), Rainbow my thoroughbred horse, Pursey my albino rabbit, Mr. Boots my Dutch belted rabbit, Sparky a very vocal guinea pig and of course we always had a dog or two and lots and lots of cats.  I played in our barns, I’ve mucked my fair share of stalls and yes, I’ve been known to get into manure fights while mucking stalls. I’m pretty sure at some point in my life I’ve eaten poop – unknowingly of course, but I’m sure it’s had to have happened.

While acknowledging in a public forum that I’ve eaten poop, what I can say is that when coming in from the barn I always washed my hands. I washed my hands after playing with our pets, before eating, and I NEVER let any of our animals lick my face or kiss them in any close vicinity to their tongues.  How many of you can say the same?  Not to shame you if you have, but GROSS!!!!  Do you know where those mouths and those tongues have been?

We often talk about Swine or Avian Influenza and Salmonella as common zoonotic diseases.  Certainly, we need only go back a few weeks to my “Fall Fair Fun” blog to read about transmission of pathogens from animals to humans.  Only a few weeks ago there was yet another Salmonella outbreak associated with pet turtles (I talked about that in my “Pet Turtles Pose Health Problems” blog back in 2015).   I think we’ve come to understand that farm animals (and pet turtles) can spread disease but what about adorable, cute, cuddly and wet tongued puppies? 

Well….those darn adorable puppies can also be the cause of outbreaks. In fact, the CDC is currently investigating a multi-state Campylobacter outbreak in people that have been linked to puppies purchased from a chain of pet stores.  At least 39 people across 7 states have been identified and the cause has been linked to puppies sold by a chain of pet stores based in Ohio.  Of the 39 people, 12 are employees while the remaining 27 have been directly linked to either purchasing a puppy from the store or visited the store.  The CDC does not yet know the exact cause of the outbreak and it may be difficult to ever pinpoint the exact cause.

Campylobacter itself is a bacterium that can infect dogs, cats and humans.  There are a number of different strains of Campylobacter that can be found in many of our food production animals so it is most frequently linked to eating raw or undercooked meat. Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pains and fever that can last for about a week.  Person to person transmission is rare, but transmission from exposure to dog feces is possible.  Washing your hands after handling poop and after touching your dog is recommended – I would hazard a guess that’s not realistic for many dog lovers!  While the CDC does not call it out, letting your dog lick you or kissing on the mouth should also be avoided….dogs do clean themselves down there you know!


Bugging Off!

Nicole


P.S.  Next week it will be a toss-up between a study about how alcohol fixes soil to medical devices or a study on bleach causing COPD.  If you have a preference tweet and let me know!

Friday, September 8, 2017

I’m leaving on a jet plane…

Tell the truth…you all started humming John Denver’s famous song “Leaving on a Jet Plane”.  In case didn’t know, the reason he wrote the song was that he loved to travel, but he hated leaving people (friends, family, loved ones) behind while out on the road.  I too hate leaving my loved ones behind when out on the road.  For most, September signifies back to school and back to routine after an enjoyable summer.  For some of us, it also means back to the travel grind of attending tradeshows and events.  While my fall does not look as bad as my winter and spring travel, I can say that I’m still on track to keep my travel status and in fact will come in at fewer flights than last year.  As I write this blog I have already looked at the weather in Vegas where I am off to on Monday for the ISSA Interclean Tradeshow and started to “virtually” pack my bag.

As many of you are probably well aware, while travelling can be fun and in this case educational, it can also come with myriad of problems such as delayed flights, lost luggage and the very real threat of picking up something infectious.  If you’re lucky, it may be just the common cold; and while it’s irritating, you’ll generally recover without much to show for it (unless it’s a man cold of course).  If your luck is not so good you may pick up norovirus and take a bit longer to feel back to normal, but happy that you’ve lost any weight you gained over the summer.  If you’re really unlucky, well you might pick up the next superbug or emerging viral pathogen. It’s the give and take we have to partake in when it comes to travel.  We have the luxury of globetrotting to far away destinations, but so do bugs!


I think we can all agree there have been several studies and articles about how “germy” planes are and what the “germiest” surface is…. The obvious solution is to ensure the plane arrives with enough time to properly turn it around which includes cleaning and disinfecting all of the surfaces the people on the last flight touched.  The reality of course is that to avoid delaying the next flight, corners get cut to get the next set of passengers on board.  I was extremely interested to see a study out of Arizona State University that looked at ways of decreasing the chance of contamination or spread of germs.  They found that if you split up how the plane was boarded you could decrease the risk!


The researchers realized that if you could reduce the clustering and crowding of people in the isles during the boarding process you could significantly reduce the risk of infecting travelers.  Using a model looking at transmission of Ebola, they found that under the current boarding process there was a 67% chance of reaching 20 or more cases of air travel-related cases of Ebola per month.  However, if they modified how people boarded to reduce crowding, they found the risk of infecting 20 people per month dropped to 40%.  They also found that smaller planes (e.g. 150 seats or less) also reduced the risk of transmission.  I wouldn’t call that rocket science.  With fewer people on a plane there would be less crowding and therefore, the risk of spreading disease would (should) be lower.


Basically, next week I’m doomed.  A hot spot like Vegas means a large plane and lots of people.  The upside is that my status allows me to be one of the first to board the plane and one of the first to get off the plane.  As long as everyone keeps their hands to themselves I should be good!  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I always have a supply of disinfectant wipes!



Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, September 1, 2017

Texas Keep Strong!

Like me, I am sure many of you are following the situation in Texas.  It’s heartbreaking. I cannot fathom the devastation and the toll on the lives of those who live in the area – human or animal. Hurricane Harvey can only be described as catastrophic not just due to the vehemence with how it hit land, but because of the continued rainfall after the fact.  The flooding that has occurred is truly an example of how we are no match for Mother Nature.

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, it’s refreshing to see the country pulling together to help those in need.  From news clips of “The Cajun Navy” pulling boats heading to Houston to help with rescue efforts, to a boat filled with 21 dogs that a group of good Samaritans helped rescue, to donations made by celebrities and us “regular” folk, I think it’s fair to say that those affected by Hurricane Harvey know people everywhere are doing what they can to help out.

While people rush to help, it’s important to realize that flood water is not just dangerous in terms of drowning its victims.  Flood water can also be dangerous because of what it contains.  It can be full of a myriad of contaminants from pesticides and other chemicals to animal or human waste.  The bacterial count in flood water is extremely high and can cause health issues from ingestion such as vomiting and diarrhea to skin infections and even chemical poisoning.  Even after the flood waters subside, the worry is not over.  The silt and mud left behind from the water will likely be contaminated, so care in handling during clean-up efforts will be needed. Then of course we move from moving water to potential standing water and the probable infestation of mosquitoes carrying arboviruses such as Zika and West Nile Virus.

If that’s not enough, biosecurity measures need to be put in place to manage potential transmission of diseases between animals that may not normally come in contact with each other.  For example, there is a cattle fever tick eradication program in South Texas with the quarantine area extending more than 500 miles from Del Rio to the Gulf of Mexico.  While anticipated rain and flooding have not yet occurred in the quarantine area, government officials are working to issue permits to allow for the relocation of livestock to safer grounds should it be necessary in the days ahead. 

Needless to say, Texas needs our help.  If you’re interested in lending a hand or donating items or money, the following are some organizations that are looking for help:



In the words of John Bunyan You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” 


Bugging Off!


Nicole