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!


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!


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


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.

Title of Teleclass
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!


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!

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!


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!


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!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Don’t smooch with your pooch!

Are you a dog lover? Do you cuddle, sleep, kiss or let your pooch lick you?  I like dogs, but growing up on farm my definition of having a dog is opening the door to let him or her run out to do their business, roam around the farm for a bit and then open the door to let them back in when they barked. Living in a city with a busy schedule and a fair bit of travel means I’ve chosen cats over dogs. I can love them. I can feed them and I can leave them. Growing up on farm with dogs and a mom who was a nurse also meant that our dogs (and my brother and I) were taught not to lick. Dog kisses were not something that occurred in our house. Truth be told, Kahlua, the black lab we had for 16 years like to find carcasses of dead animals to roll in and chomp on and of course liked to play in the barn with the cows. You never knew what had been in her mouth before coming to say “Hi” and if you got close enough to her mouth you often found yourself gagging from what she had just gotten into…

But why the dog talk? Because I came across a study published in the journal of mBio that found that some dogs in China are carrying a potpourri of influenza viruses including swine, avian and canine flu viruses. Since we like to have “close” relationships with our canine babies, there is a potential that someday these viruses may jump to humans.

The researchers swabbed 800 ill dogs between 2013 and 2015 and found that 15% of the dogs had the flu. Shockingly, after the viruses were sequenced they found that 16 different strains of the flu were being carried by these dogs and some of them were in fact Swine influenza strains that had been detected in people in Europe and Asia. While there is no indication (at least at this point) that the flu can jump from your pooch to you, it doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. In fact, our close contact may have allowed for us to build immunity against dog flu, but that is yet to be seen.

What does this mean to us? Well, as I’ve mentioned in several past Talk Clean To Me blogs, don’t get your knickers in a knot over the particular strain of influenza. I’m not insinuating we need to down play influenza and the risk of transmission by any means. What I am saying is let’s be smart about influenza.  This study shows dogs can carry pig flu, swine flu or bird flu. There are additional studies to show that some of the earlier canine flu outbreaks may have originated from Equine or horse flu. Influenza has been identified in all sorts of animals and of course people. 

The good news is that regardless of the number of influenza A strains we come up against, based on available scientific information, and the fact there are over 500 EPA registered disinfectants with claims against various strains of Influenza A on the market if a new strain pops up we will be covered! The EPA’s emerging pathogens protocol proves that!

Bugging Off!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Does the “Ick” factor reduce infection transmission?

I’m pretty sure at some point we’ve all cringed, wrinkled our noses or had the involuntary “EWE!” slip out at some point in our lives when we’ve seen something gross.  Of course depending on what it is depends on your next reaction which may range from complete revulsion to fascination.  When it comes to blood, guts and gore (or pus) I tend to weigh in on the fascination side.  I’ve always been the person to look closer at what is grossing others out, even if we’re dealing with a dead animal on the side of the road.  Bugs, insects and most rodents are another story. 

A recently published study in Philosophical Transactions (The Royal Society) by Val Curtis and Mícheál de Barra sought to determine if in fact disgust evolved to protect us from disease and if we can still rely on our instinctual reaction of disgust to help us from getting sick. Curtis and de Bara recruited 2,500 participants of which two-thirds were women with an average age of 28. The study participants read brief descriptions of 75 potentially revolting scenarios they might encounter in a day rating them from “No Disgust” to “Extreme Disgust”.  Curtis and de Barra were then able to develop and sort the responses into six common categories of disgust "cues" such as poor hygiene; animals/insects that bring disease; promiscuous sex; body deformities or behavioral irregularity (e.g. coughing or homelessness); lesions, blisters, boils or pus; and spoiled food.

While the results of the study may not have correlated to disease per say, they did seem to reflect the types of things and people that should be avoiding in order to not catch something infectious.  The participants knew to avoid objects, skin lesions, spoilt food, individuals with poor hygiene and promiscuous sexual practices.  While a feeling of disgust does not allow us to “see” pathogens, the study does provide further evidence that when we feel disgust it in does indeed correlate with staying away from something potentially infectious.

Which leads me to my fascination with lesions, blisters, boils, pus, blood, guts and gore…..  Inwardly I may say “ewe”, but man do I like a good close up and investigation of what everyone else may think as being gross!  

What way do you lean?

Bugging Off!


Friday, June 8, 2018

Infection Control for Basic Beauty

The joy of my job is that with the exception of booked travel, I never know what market I may be supporting in terms of cleaning and disinfection. This week I attended the Premier Orlando International Beauty event. It was 2 days of jaw dropping beauty, personal style and in some cases questionable infection control. If you were looking for a new hair style or colour, nail art, skin care tips there was no way you could not come home with ideas! The key is whether you’re brave enough to follow through on some of the ideas you came home with!

In the Professional Beauty market what amazes me the most is the difference between states in terms of the level of cleaning and disinfection required for tools and implements.  In the healthcare world (hospitals, dental, etc.), the guidelines are standard across the nation and everyone is generally doing the same thing. The same cannot be said in spas, salons or nail shops. If you’re an infection control nut like me you may want to take some time to investigate what the State Cosmetology Boards require for cleaning and disinfection requirements are before your next mani-pedi.  As I’ve come to learn, for most states the use of an EPA registered disinfectant is sufficient for tools. My question is what type of EPA registered disinfectant?  A low level disinfectant that can kill bacteria, may or may not be able to kill hardier non-enveloped viruses and may or may not kill relevant bacterial pathogens?  Should an intermediate level disinfectant be used that can kill TB? Are the facilities allowed to use the solution as a soak for 1 day, multiple days or do they have to change after each disinfection cycle?  How do they test to ensure that the product is at the appropriate concentration?

My personal preference is the use of a High Level Disinfectant. These are FDA registered disinfectants that undergo stringent testing and validation to be able to disinfect medical devices via soaking applications. The testing requires a soil challenge, proven ability to kill a higher number of organisms and the products are generally designed and tested in such a way to allow for a re-use claim (meaning once put into a soaking try you can use for multiple days in a row) and must have a method to test and verify that they remain within the appropriate concentrations to ensure disinfection has occurred.

But that’s not really the reason for this week’s blog. My reason was what I saw in terms of lack of infection prevention measures. This show provided a means to see all of the new products for sale and often provided the ability to watch demonstrations or try the products. I saw emery boards that are supposed to be single use being used on multiple people. I saw dremel type sanding bits being used on multiple people with perhaps a wipe of a tissue sprayed with alcohol.  I saw microblading and permanent make-up tattooing being demonstrated – sure they had gowns on, but I’m not certain how the multiple use devices were being disinfected. I saw people trialing teeth whitening systems. It was all fascinating, but by golly I kept my hands to myself and tried NOTHING!

Similar to my Pools Poised for Plagues blog that highlighted the number of outbreaks associated with public swimming pools and the highest rates being in the summer, I suppose it’s time to remind ourselves that summer too is a time when many of us want our feet, toes and nails to look pretty.  After this week it’s a reminder to myself to ask how mani-pedi tools and implements are disinfected if trying a new place.  ruth be told, I think if I can’t get into my preferred facility and aesthetician then I may just settle for doing it myself and hope that I can paint within the lines!

Bugging Off!


Friday, June 1, 2018

Beautiful Banff Brings Education, Enlightenment and Elation!

It’s been a long week, but long in a good way!  The IPAC Canada National Conference was this week in Banff, Alberta. The theme of the conference was “Climbing Mountains: Pathways to Discovery”. I must say the speakers did an amazing job pulling in our theme and weaving stories that were inspirational, educational and left everyone with pearls of wisdom to both take back to work and leverage in our personal lives.

I hosted a full day pre-conference symposium on Cleaning and Disinfection.  I must say, I think this was my favorite of the 5 such symposiums I have hosted.  The day was interspersed with both lectures and interactive activities that made people think beyond the obvious. We were stretched to think of the unobvious issues that can result in our facilities whenever cleaning and disinfecting products are used. The topics for the day weaved and intertwined with speakers building on and validating each other’s presentations. The day taught us to how to read and truly gather information from a product label, learn how to investigate and determine compatibility of a disinfectant with surfaces and devices found in our facilities and how to uncover where errors or issues in cleaning and disinfection have occurred. We also covered Room Decontamination Devices and their use in infection control programs, where and what types of biofilms may be lurking and closed off with a discussion on chemical resistance and what concerns there may be with our ever increasing use and reliance on cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.

Sharron Wood, the first North American female to summit Everest by the west ridge and north face gave the opening key note talk. While one would not think of mountain climbing and infection prevention as having anything in common, I can say we are wrong. One cannot just decide to climb Mount Everest and head out the next day. Planning is actually the largest part of ensuring success.  Execution, the actual climbing can be successful if the planning has been done correctly.  During the climb you need mental strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to make the right decisions. To have a successful infection prevention program, we too require a focus on planning and when we’re in the throes of an outbreak where things are ever changing so to do we need the mental fortitude to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the ability to make the right decisions.

The conference closed with Patch Adams – yes, the REAL Patch Adams! I’m sure many of us have seen the movie starring Robin Williams. What an experience to be in a room with him. Patch Adams held us in complete rapture expounding his beliefs that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process. He showed that laughter really can be the best medicine with examples and videos of the work he does around the world clowning.  Some of my “ah-ha” moments were the fact that WE can choose to have a happy day and that our choosing to be happy has an incredible effect on those around us. As leaders, colleagues, friends and family, WE can make an environment where a person can see the best in themselves and that can be very powerful in helping to deal with whatever struggles they may be having or empowering them to think differently when faced with a challenge. Lastly, Patch Adams pointed out that in every job, there is something that is boring. Rather than lament in the dullness of the task, ask yourself what you can do to make it fun?

Those that know me know, that I like to have fun. In my current role there are times I feel that perhaps I’m too gregarious. Certainly, there are times where laughter, joking and clowning around are not appropriate, but I’m going to take to heart that I can choose to be happy and always look for the positive. I can choose to make others laugh and help them to be happy and in doing so I may be able to make the world a better place.

Bugging Off!


Friday, May 25, 2018

Pools Poised for Plagues

If you’re a parent, you know that when on vacation or attending sporting tournaments a hotel or resort with a pool is a must in order to keep your kids entertained.  Travelling with a hockey team of 17 eight to nine year olds, the hotel pool was the best way to keep the boys contained and entertained. As a hockey mom, we quickly decided that the fathers should be left to deal with the splashing, yelling and squealing and we retreated to enjoy a glass of wine and conversation that did not include the words puck, stick, skates, goal or jock….

Summer of course signifies pool openings. If you have a backyard pool similar to hotel pools, you know it’s a great way to entertain kids and if you’re like me, the idea of “chlorinating them” before bed to remove the dirt, grime, germs and stink of the day!  While pools and hot tubs are great entertainment devices, if not maintained properly they can be a source, a cesspool if you will of infectious pathogens that can quickly ruin your summer fun.  If you don’t want to believe me, check out the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report where the CDC reports that nearly one-third of disease outbreaks caused by chlorinated or treated water can be linked to hotel pools and hot tubs.  I’ve never been one to use a public hot tub, but you can be assured I will not likely set foot in one again and will definitely reconsider my use of pools (at the very least, my head will be kept above water!

According to the CDC between 2000 and 2014 there were 493 outbreaks in the USA associated to recreational water that caused a total of >27,000 illnesses and 8 deaths. Of the 493 outbreaks, 158 of the outbreaks were directly linked to hotels, motels, lodges and inns. The most common illness contracted was folliculitis caused by Pseudomonas (aka hot tub rash) and the reason I avoid public hot tubs.  Legionella (causes severe pneumonia) was the second most common pathogen identified in the water followed by Cryptosporidium (a parasite that causes GI illness and diarrhea). Of interest, 22 outbreaks were associated with chemical exposure due to excess chlorine, disinfection by-products or altered pool chemistry showing even with pools the use of chemicals properly needs to be considered or you can easily amass >1000 cases of illness associated with chemicals.

With June around the corner you may also want to know that the highest number of outbreaks occurred during June to August. It shouldn’t be surprising – it ties in to the warmer months in many parts of the US and school break and summer vacations!

Stay safe this summer and perhaps consider keep you head above the water!

Bugging off!


Friday, May 18, 2018

#FF May Mentoring Madness

In the infection prevention world, spring (usually) signifies the end of flu season and the beginning of education season. May starts of off with “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day” on May 5th which kicks off the North American infection prevention conference season with IPAC Canada’s National conference at the end of May and the APIC conference in early June.  The opportunities for education are endless.

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.  As summer creeps up on us, be sure to check some of these teleclasses out!

Title of Teleclass
April 10th
Hopes, hypes and multivallate defences against antimicrobial resistance
Prof. Neil Woodford, England
April 12th
Understanding risk perceptions and responses of the public, healthcare professionals and the media: The case for Clostridium difficile Dr. Emma Burnett, Scotland
April 18th
Genetic similarities between organisms isolated from the ICU
Prof. Slade Jenson, Australia
April 19th
Topical antibiotics to prevent post-operative surgical infection…is the paradigm changing? Dr. Hilary Humphreys, Ireland
May 3rd
WHO Global hand hygiene campaign 2018: It’s in your hands – prevent sepsis in health care
Prof. Didier Pittet, Switzerland

May 10th
How the certification board of infection control (CBIC) works for you
Ivan W. Gowe and Lita Jo Henman, USA
May 28th
Trekking safety through the storm – managing complex IPAC issues Dr. Mark Joffe, Canada
May 29th
Simulation as an education tool
Dr. Ghazwan Altabbaa and Dione Kolodka, Canada
June 13th
Involving patients in understanding hospital infection prevention and control using video-reflexive methods Dr. Mary Wyer, Australia
June 21st
The future of infection control – bright or bleak?
Martin Kiernan, England

For more information on Webber Training, including a full list of the upcoming Infection Prevention and Control Teleclasses, please visit www.webbertraining.com

I hope many of you will take the opportunity to listen to these teleclasses and share them with your colleagues!  And don’t worry if the date you see above has passed!  All teleclasses are recorded and available to listen to at your leisure!

Bugging Off!