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, November 20, 2020

Disinfectant Fake News


















Spreading of misinformation and disinformation has become a bigger issue in recent years, especially with the widespread use of social media platforms and the ability to develop communities of like-minded people around the world.  One topic that has been contentious for years is around animal testing.

When it comes to disinfectants, the regulatory body responsible for approving and allowing the sale of such products determine the requirements for testing to support registration. All disinfectants being registered undergo a detailed review of the chemistry, efficacy, and toxicology aspects of the formulation before approval for market. To comply, all companies registering a disinfectant must perform safety testing, meet labeling guidelines of regulatory agencies, and adhere to applicable regulations for all ingredients and ingredient formulations. The EPA clearly outlines the Data Requirements for Pesticide Registration on their website with further information in the EPA Pesticide Registration Manual.  

The fake news aspect of disinfectant marketing is the loophole that some companies use to speak to the fact that they have not conducted or commissioned animal testing on their disinfectant products. To do so, they obtain a license to use a product developed and registered by a separate company.  This is a common practice within the disinfectant space.  In fact, whenever you see an EPA number that has 3 sets of numbers (e.g, XXXX-XX-XXXX) that tells you that the product has been sub-registered.  The first 2 numbers indicate who owns and registered the formulation.  The 3rd number provides you the information for what company has sub-registered or licensed it.

Many companies expand their product portfolio with products developed and registered by companies who focus on developing and commercializing new disinfectant technologies that are designed to improve the lives of humans and animals while not impacting the environment.  By licensing or sub-registering a product that has already undergone the testing needed to register the product with the EPA, it allows companies to maintain a stance of not conducting testing and not commissioning testing as they did not work with the company who developed and completed the initial registration that included the animal testing needed to support the toxicity data.

As an industry, we are working toward a future where animal testing has no role in product development. We should be able to use existing data and alternatives, so animals are not involved in product safety testing and we are actively engaging regulators to join with us to identify and implement innovative solutions that eliminate the existing requirements to conduct animal testing, without compromising product safety.

Please do not fall prey to fake news that a disinfectant has not been tested. It has.

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, November 13, 2020

Spike Sports Salmonella


It’s said that cuddling with a beloved pet literally kills depression, relieves anxiety and strengthens the immune system. With COVID-19 numbers hitting all time highs in many countries and the impact on mental health from isolation, stress and anxiety being able to snuggle with your best friend has never been needed more. 

That is unless your beloved pet is a bearded dragon.  According to the CDC, at least 13 people across eight states (Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington) have been sickened by an outbreak of Salmonella muenster.  At least seven people have been hospitalized, and five of those infected are younger than 5 years old.

Salmonella is a bacterium that we generally associated with foodborne illness after eating or drinking contaminated water or food. However, reptiles like turtles and bearded dragons can carry Salmonella in their poop regardless of how clean and healthy they look. They can then easily spread the bacteria to their bodies, habitats, and anything we place in their terrariums to make them feel at home.  If you’re not careful when cleaning their habitat or playing with them, you can get sick from touching your mouth or face and ingesting the bacteria.

While I have never had a reptile as a pet, I have had fish, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats, cows, pigs, and horses as pets.  I generally go for animals that are a bit softer or fluffier to touch.  The key regardless of what pet you have is diligent hand hygiene after petting, feeding or cleaning up after them.

If we have learned one thing this year, we know how to clean our hands and clean and disinfect our homes. While there are so many benefits to having pets and we have seen the number of households with at least one pet rise to 67%, don’t drop your guard when you or your family are cuddling Cujo.

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, November 6, 2020

Mutated Mink Coronavirus Threat to Humans


While the US election may be giving many of us a break from COVID-19 updates, the pandemic has not stopped marching along.  In fact, the US reported its single largest day of confirmed cases November 5th, with 120,000 people infected while the death toll continues to grow at 235,000.  To put some perspective as to the number of deaths, 3000 people died on 9/11.  A memorial has been built and we continue to observe the day by holding memorial services (including this year). The pandemic, in essence, is the equivalent of 78 9/11 attacks happening since March.

As many of us are hitting the point of exhaustion and sick of hearing about the pandemic, Denmark has announced they are culling 15 million mink after a mutated coronavirus has spread to humans. According to Denmark’s Health Minister, “The mutated virus was found in a dozen people who got infected by minks with half of the 783 human Covid-19 cases in northern Denmark related to mink."

Coronavirus infections in mink is not a new phenomenon.  Mink, like their relative the ferret, are known to be susceptible to coronaviruses, showing a wide range of symptoms, from no signs of illness to severe illness such as pneumonia.  In Europe, cases of coronavirus in farmed mink have been detected in the Netherlands and Spain since the pandemic began.  Often, mink become infected through catching the virus from humans, but in the case of the Netherlands and Denmark, the virus has been shown to pass from mink to humans.

Why are scientists concerned with this finding amid the pandemic? Well, any mutation to the coronavirus such as the ability to move between mink and humans could potentially be enough to stop human vaccines from working, which would significantly impact our ability to stop the impact of the coronavirus and our ability to get back to whatever our new normal will be.

While it may seem heartless, the ability to cull animals to stop the spread of disease is in many cases the only way to stave off larger issues.  The truth is mink are not the only animals that have been culled during the pandemic.  Hundreds of thousands of pigs were killed and disposed without processing them into food because of outbreaks in packaging plants when COVID-19 hit North America. 

Thank you to the leaders of Denmark for caring about the health of the rest of the world.

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Spreading Truth May Be the Cure to the Pandemic

When it comes to sharing information, speed can kill.  The COVID-19 pandemic is the first real global public health crisis where the speed of sharing information via social media channels has detrimentally impacted the health and lives of many.  A 2016 study by Gabielkov et al published in ACM, found that sixty percent of the links found on social media are shared without even opening the link to read, review or question the validity of the content.

Dr. Cailen O’Connor, associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at UC Irvine and co-author of The Misinformation Age indicates that, “because scientists and journalists are working so fast and information is travelling so fast, if a new study is shared before being peer reviewed it has a greater chance of being retracted.” According to John Finnegan, Dean and Professor at University of Minnesota School of Public Health, host for the Health In All Matters “A Misinformation Pandemic” podcast, a Hong Kong newspaper article talking to new evidence on the airborne transmission of COVID-19 was shared over 50,000 times the day the article was published.  The study was retracted the next day leaving the inaccurate information available for further circulation.

This is in part the difficulty of ensuring the public believes and trusts the information being shared and public health policies being developed and effectively implemented. The pandemic has been a crash course for expanding our knowledge of infection control. The inability to differentiate between misinformation, disinformation or the truth can be difficult, even for experts.  Gary Schwitzer, publisher and founder of HealthNewsReview.org uses five strategies to determine if the information we are reading is credible:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true it almost always is,
  2. Never believe one story, one study, or one expert,
  3. Consider the expert source and who stands to benefit then look for independent sources,
  4. With any intervention there are trade-offs-if harms are not being discussed, you are getting an incomplete story,
  5. If you ever hear about a “simple test”, run for the hills. There is no such thing.

When it comes to misinformation, the further content spreads from the source, the less it looks like a lie. It is in our nature to want to find a cure, a solution, or an explanation to make the fact the pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint more palatable and manageable. It is in our nature to share information that we feel provides a solution. However, this does not mean we are stuck with a future of misinformation. We can all work together to share an abundance of correct information and when we are reading news articles and content on our own social channels use Schwitzer’s 5 Tips and think twice before sharing.

Don’t be a Misinformation-Disinformation pusher, be an Information Pandemic Pusher like me!

Bugging off!

Nicole

PS – Psst….Do you need any wipes? Masks? Hand sanitizer?  I can hook you up!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Expand Your Infection Control Horizon

 



In Canada, the theme for this year’s Infection Control Week is “Infection Prevention and Control Beyond the Horizon.”  If we consider the concept of expanding our mental perception, experience, or interest in infection prevention and surviving a pandemic, I hope we would all agree our horizons have been expanded!

While Infection Control Week is generally focused within Healthcare, at Virox we use this week to increase our employees' knowledge around preventing infections, hand hygiene and cleaning and disinfection.  As with many, trying to educate while keeping a 6-foot distance proved to be a bit tricky this year particularly as we also include our production staff; not to mention the conundrum that not everyone has access to a computer.  So, what did we get up to?

Monday, we challenged everyone to an Infection Prevention Cross Word.

Tuesday was a matching game to test our knowledge on what surfaces were the Dirtiest.  Are you willing to test your matching skills?  We also created a video to show how our hands love spreading germs and why hand hygiene is so important!






Wednesday we challenged people’s luck with Infection Control Pathogen Bingo!

Thursday, members of the Leadership Team agreed to a Cleaning Challenge to see who cleaned the best, but also to show that there are differences in the ability to clean different types of surfaces.  We used a smooth desktop, a leather chair and a water-resistant synthetic fabric that was quite textured.  We gave that one to Lee Nesbitt who knows a fair bit about cleaning and disinfection…he failed (well lost….).






Friday, we held a Kahoot quiz which is always a favorite among our overly competitive staff and wrapped up the week with a fun Pet Peeves of Infection Control video!

We hope you had as much fun and learned as much as we did during Infection Control Week!  Thank you from everyone at Virox to our Infection Preventionists and Public Health experts around the globe who are working tirelessly to try and stop the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As importantly, October 21st was Thank Your Cleaner day.  Thanks to Victor, who has stepped up his disinfection practices throughout COVID-19 so that we can all stay healthy!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, October 16, 2020

Celebrate Infection Prevention Week

The concept of Infection Prevention and Control (IIPW) week was first established in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, with APIC spearheading the effort to highlight the importance of infection prevention among healthcare professionals, administrators, legislators, and consumers. In Canada, Infection Control Week originated in 1988 to highlight infection control efforts in Canadian hospitals, long-term care facilities and in the community.  Over the years, this week of recognition has vastly expanded to every corner of the globe.  In the midst of a pandemic, what better time to celebrate those who specialize in infection prevention and control and as importantly, to celebrate the vast amount of knowledge the general public has gained as we all work to keep our families safe.


To kick of IIPW, we thought we’d share a video highlighting important practices to prevent the spread of infection.   Next week we’ll share the events we held during the week to engage our colleagues! 

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, October 9, 2020

COVID-19 and Candy Eating

It may seem a little premature to talk about Halloween 23 days before the event, but if you have kids it may be one of the questions you are being pestered with. Unfortunately for me, my son, while he likes dressing up and running around the neighborhood, has decided that he does not want to collect candy. Apparently, treats like chips and gummies are only for one day a week and he prefers salty treats to sugary treats.  This has always worked to my favour – I got to eat the candy!

With COVID-19, there has been much debate on whether it should proceed or not.  People have different reasons for concern, such as if we can keep masks on under the costume masks or not, concerns over the candy and what might be picked up from touching and eating it. Of course, as the number of people who can congregate outdoors has decreased, travelling in groups will also be more problematic.  As will the fact that I had visions of enjoying drinks with the moms this year while our 11-year-old boys went out on their own for the first time.

So, what is the risk, and should we be concerned with or look at planning?  Well, the CDC has provided recommendations including differentiating lower risk from higher risk activities. On the low risk side, the good news is that pumpkin carving and house decorating are just fine – makes sense as this is usually done with household members only.  If you want to carve with friends, then outside and appropriately distanced is also fine.  If you are really organized and energetic you could consider a Halloween scavenger hunt and spend time in the neighborhood walking and admiring decorations or set up a scavenger hunt in your house.  Alternatively, you could have a Halloween movie night.  If you want to have Halloween-themed popcorn, mix some Frank’s Red Hot into your melted butter for a bloody effect.  Trust me – you will never be able to eat popcorn without it again!

Moderate risk activities include giving out individually wrapped goodie bags and just line them up for kids to grab (wash you hands before packing them up!).  Outdoor costume parties or parades could be considered as long as everyone keeps their distance and of course we need to adhere to the number of people that can be gathered.  The CDC is not recommending that we put a costume mask over our protective face masks due to the increased difficulty of breathing.  Going to a haunted house maze or an outdoor movie night with another family could be considered, but where screaming is likely you’ll need to stay more than 6-feet part.

The high-risk activities like traditional trick-or-treat and getting to hand the candy out, crowded indoor costume parties and travelling to rural fall fairs not in your community are things we need to consider staying away from this year.

For those that are concerned about contracting COVID-19 from the candy packaging, all science and data we have collected indicates that this is very unlikely. Person-to-person is the biggest threat for transmission.  Continuing our vigilance is our best bet when it comes to eating candy and keeping COVID-19 free!  Trust me on this, I have eaten a bag of candy or chips almost every weekend since April.  It is my car ride treat on our way to the family cottage.  Fill up the tank with gas, grab our treats and off we go!

Bugging off!

Nicole

Friday, September 25, 2020

Expired Disinfectant Leads to Bacterial Outbreak

I am not going to lie.  I am thrilled to be talking about something other than COVID-19.  What I am not thrilled about is how an outbreak occurred as a result of using an expired disinfectant.

Several thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease that has been traced to a leak at a biopharmaceutical company.  The facility produces Brucella vaccines. Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease found in livestock and spread to humans via close contact with infectious secretions, drinking unpasteurized milk or eating undercooked meat.  Thankfully, person to person transmission is rare.  In humans, the disease is known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever and causes headaches, muscle pain, fever, and fatigue.  Unfortunately, some of the symptoms like arthritis or swelling of organs can become chronic.

According to reports, the facility used expired disinfectants and the bacteria was not completely eradicated.  Contaminated waste gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria, which subsequently leaked into the air.  Over 3,200 people have contracted the disease with another 1,400 testing preliminarily positive. The facility has since lost its licenses and veterinary drug product approvals.

Over the years, we have talked about the importance of contact time to ensure disinfection occurs and certainly that has been a focus of late due to the pandemic.  We have talked about the importance of proper dilution and maintaining automated dilution systems as we know if disinfectants are not diluted properly that can lead to compatibility issues, occupational health and safety issues and of course efficacy issues.  Shelf life is another important topic and consideration when using disinfectants.  If the product you are using has expired the outcome can be exactly what happened in China and unfortunately, has been the reason for more outbreaks than anyone wishes to admit.

As we continue our fight against COVID-19, remember that there are more infectious diseases floating around and we need to continue to be vigilant and ensure our cleaning and disinfection practices are on point, including reading labels to confirm the product has not expired and properly labelling secondary bottles with expiry dates after products have been diluted.

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, September 11, 2020

I'll Take 166 for 2020

Do you have COVID-19 fatigue? I admit, I may be a titch fatigued.  You can only repeat the same thing so many times and hope for different results – basically Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Wear masks, wash your hands, keep 6-feet apart. Did I say wash your hands?

This week was back to school for many kids in North America.   I may have been a bit of a Drill Sergeant with my son, making him repeat until I was confident he understood how he was to take off his mask, what he was to do with his dirty mask and what he was to do before he touched his new clean mask (sanitize his hands, if you didn’t guess).  He came home with 3 wet masks, used the hand sanitizer, but did not use the facial wipes and complained that his face felt gross.  Some of his classmates only had 1 mask.  Wearing 1 mask per day to me is like leaving your baby in a wet diaper.  I would highly recommend frequently changing masks throughout the day, especially if you have teens with hormonal skin that is prone to acne.

This week also signifies a momentous event in infection prevention. On September 8, 1854, John Snow removed the handle from the Broad Street pump in conducting some of the earliest epidemiologic work and stopping a Cholera outbreak.  This serves to remind us of the impact that infections, outbreaks, and pandemics have had on our life – 166 years is a long time, yet today we still have issues with water quality and its impact on human health.

November signifies another important step in infection control and public health.  Florence Nightingale showed up in November 1854 with a group of nurses to support wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Appalled by what she saw, she brought food from England, cleaned up the kitchens, and she and her nurses started cleaning up the hospital wards and kitchen, believing the main problems were diet, dirt, and drains.  So began the understanding the need to distance beds (aka physical distancing to stop transmission of infections) and sanitation through the understanding that a clean environment and clean linens would also help stave off infections.

As we enter yet another month of the pandemic, do not let your guard down.  Follow the recommendations our Public Health experts are providing. Wash your hands often.  Wear a mask.  Keep your distance and - if you’re like my son who questions the cleanliness of his school’s bathroom because boys can be messy - increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection at home, at work and at school.  My son has a stash of disinfectant wipes he packed so he could clean if things look gross.

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, September 4, 2020

Are You Singing the Back to School Blues or Wahoos?!


I hope you’ll play along this week with my change up from writing to vlogging.  I’m an amateur when it comes to movie making, but here it goes!


I ha
ve 4 back to school tips:

Masks protocols and hand hygiene.



Pencil cases: Washable versus Wipeable.



Odds and sods to minimize transmission.



Hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection.



School is going to look different this year, but remember germs have always been present.  For those that have decided to send their children back, we need to keep calm and wipe on!

Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, August 28, 2020

Cleaning and Disinfection for Healthy Schools














August is always a bittersweet time of the year. It’s sweet as it’s the month of both my and my brother’s wedding anniversaries, and it’s bitter because the nights get cooler.  For many parts of the world, August means back to school shopping and for many parents, the end of August can’t come soon enough to get kids back to school.  This year, back-to-school is also bittersweet.  There is concern with what potential there is for COVID-19 spreading within the classrooms, but on the other hand, there is the recognition that our children need to get back to some sense of normalcy.

For some, after five months, the initial anxiety surrounding COVID-19 is wearing off and we’re becoming accustomed to life in masks.  However, with the emails many parents are receiving regarding back-to-school  plans, followed by changes in recommendations and widely different strategies being used across North America in order to reopen schools, many are concerned we are using our children as subjects of an experiment with more confounding variables than we can control for.

Data from the CDC indicate that <1% of the hospitalizations among 508 cases reviewed were <19 years old and none of the cases <19 years old were admitted to the ICU.  One of the concerns with children, however, is the fact that 2 – 4 weeks after initial infection, a very small percentage children develop a more severe disease known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. It is certainly understandable why as a parent, our anxiety may be increasing as the start of school draws nearer. 

However, all is not lost.  We do have experts working together to create the right plans and helping to ensure the safety of our children.  We have our Medical Officers of Health and Infection Control Experts supporting and recommending needs; however, we also have organizations that are experts in cleaning and disinfection putting together recommendations to support the ability to keep schools clean and free of germs.  One well-put-together document is from Health Green Schools & Colleges.  Their guideline outlines practices for cleaning and disinfection practices that can be taken to care for the health of school staff and their charges.

A key way to reduce spread is to increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, especially high-touch surfaces like student desks, stair railings, doorknobs, and light switches. We also need to look at removing hard to disinfect soft surfaces and items like rugs, fabric covered chairs and pillows and perhaps even some hard surfaces like touchscreens and remote controls.  As we look at increasing frequency of cleaning, this also means that there could be an increase chance of exposure to disinfecting chemicals.  This highlights the importance of choosing a responsible product that provides a balance between efficacy and safety as well as considering how products will be applied. 

What would be my recommendation for implementing a cleaning and disinfection program for my son’s school?

  1. Choose a product that does not carry any health and safety concerns, meaning it is non-toxic and non-irritating to eyes and skin.
  2. Choose a product with a contact time of 3 minutes or less for the high-touch surfaces to ensure when applied the contact time can be achieved.  
  3. Move away from a spray-wipe application.  This reduces the generation of aerosols which can impact indoor air quality, but more importantly, using a pre-moistened wipe allows for a one and done process that can reduce time while providing the most effective results.  
  4. Training. Cleaning for health is different than cleaning for appearance. The need for proper application, adherence to contact time and focusing on the most important surfaces is key.

As a parent, we also need to help support efforts by teaching our kids infection control practices that will further help reduce the chance of transmission – I’ll touch more on that next week!

Bugging Off!

Nicole


Friday, August 14, 2020

Making Vacation Memories and Waves

This week I’m enjoying a much needed family vacation and making the most out of our COVID-19 summer!  As Dali Lama once said, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”  Enjoying nature, playing on the water and getting the opportunity to watch this Monarch Caterpillar become a butterfly is making me happy!