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.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Priority status for priority diseases

I travel a fair bit. Enough to have priority status to skip lines, get upgrades and free drinks in lounges. It sounds glamorous, but travel for work takes its toll.  The perks you earn from all the travel basically balance out the hours of being stuck at airports due to delayed flights and nights away from home. Priority is status. It means you’re special. It means you’re treated differently or regarded to as being more important. For example, when boarding planes, the passengers are organized into zones. Zone 1 are the really special people who get to board first, Zone 2 are pretty special and by the time you get to Zone 4 or 5…well, you’re not so special.

The same can be said about diseases. There are the really special ones, the pretty special ones and the run of the mill ones that we’re not too concerned with. At the beginning of February, Disease Experts reviewed the numerous known diseases and identified those that based on the potential to cause a public health emergency and the fact there are no drugs or vaccines to cure and/or mitigate transition, urgently need our focus.  The “Zone 1” diseases identified were: Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever (RVF), Zika and Disease X.

CCHF, Ebola, Marburg and Lassa are all haemorrhagic fevers that while limited to areas where animals that carry them live are of concern, not only because of transmission from person to person, but also because of the potential use in bioterrorism.  In relation to MERS-CoV and SARS, I will admit I have a bit of a soft spot for as it was during the 2003 SARS Outbreak that hit Toronto that I began my career in infection prevention. The most interesting disease of this group for me is Disease X.  Disease X does not exist.  It represents the knowledge that at any time a serious international epidemic could be caused by a currently unknown pathogen.  I suppose back in 2003, SARS would have been considered Disease X.  We did not know what we were dealing with. We simply knew that we were dealing with something that caused severe respiratory distress, was killing people and was showing up in cities around the globe.

There are of course additional diseases of interest.  These would be the Zone 2 and Zone 3 diseases. We need to mindful and not forget about them.  We need to ensure research is on-going to understand their attributes, develop better diagnostic tools and of course develop ways to treat these diseases and/or vaccines to prevent the transmission.

The long and the short is that while the current priority diseases listed in WHO’s Blueprint priority diseases are viruses, any type of pathogen can land on this list. The experts also discussed the importance and value of a One Health approach as many of our priority list diseases are zoonotic in nature. While we need to develop measures to protect human health, we cannot forget or underestimate the importance of considering animal health measures. These measures can help prevent and control animal diseases to minimize spill-over to humans and of course, protect our food supplies.

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Post Valentine’s Day Incubation

I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a sap. I love my husband to the moon and back. Just looking at my son makes my heart melt. I love all my family members dearly and absolutely adore my parents and my father-in-law. I may not always show it, but I do. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, however, I don’t think that you need expensive dinners, gifts or flowers to show that you love someone. I’m a card girl. This year, the card I got from my husband was simple “My wife, my love. Then, now, and always, you’re the one for me.”  Yep. I’m a sap. To quote one of my favorite movies, Jerry Maguire,You had me at hello.

Valentine’s Day, love and infection control go hand in hand. Kissing and cuddling are among the most common signs of love. Kissing your loved ones is as natural and common as taking a breath, but did you know that our mouths are home to more microorganisms then I care to think about? While it’s true that some microorganisms are beneficial to our health, there are many disease producing germs such as Streptococcus mutans (a pathogen that causes pneumonia and sinusitis), herpes simplex virus (cold sores or canker sores), cold and flu virus, and of course “kissing disease” (mononucleosis) that may also reside there.

If our mouths are not bad enough, there are also surfaces and even food for us to contend with. If you went out for dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day you may have come into contact with germs left behind from the people who ate at the table prior to you, your server and even the people who prepped and cooked your meal. We had takeout…sushi. We love it, but I admit, eating raw fish can sometimes be a bit like playing Russian roulette.

You may think that Valentine’s Day is over for another year and for some, you may be in the clear. For others, you may need to wait another 24hr or so hours.  Why? Well, the incubation period for some of the more common diseases you make catch over Valentine’s Day range from 12 hours to 5 days. Mono on the other hand takes 4 – 7 weeks!  I hope you don’t have plans for the weekend.  Some of you may be coming down with the flu, a cold or norovirus. My brother and his family are coming for the weekend. I hear my brother has a man cold…  But he’s family and I love him.

You can be assured I will be washing my hands and wiping the surfaces in my house down this weekend. I’m heading on vacation in a couple of weeks and I do not plan on being sick for it!

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 9, 2018

Colon Infection Control

Contrary to my nickname “Niki the Nibbler”, I’m not ashamed to say I like to eat. I just don’t like feeling full and I really don’t like to have to buy new clothes because I’ve over indulged. I can certainly say that I’ve tried my fair share of diets…most unsuccessful or at best very short term success.  The truth is eating healthy, not over indulging EVERY day and moderate exercise is the best way to live a happy and healthy life.

In recent years there has been a craze for colon cleansing (a more pleasant way of saying eliminating poop). If you’ve ever looked into it, there are a number of different “therapies” (colonics, enemas, oral supplements, etc.) that claim to remove toxins from the colon and intestinal tract by removing any accumulations of poop. It’s been touted as a safe way to rid your body of the bad stuff and you may lose some weight or at least feel less bloated. Based on how colon cleansing has been positioned, many truly believe that it’s a way to enhance your well-being. The truth is you may be doing more harm than good including increasing your risk of contracting blood borne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B or C.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of infection transmission, we likely all recall our high school health classes on sexually transmitted diseases. One such way is of course contact between mucous membranes (such as the anus, colon etc) and infected body fluids. Because of the idea that “Colon Cleansing” has health benefits, it’s not that hard to find a place to go. BUT, did you know that these places are not regulated?  By regulated, I mean that they do not have a college or regulating body to dictate what infection prevention and control measures need to be put in place to ensure infections are not transmitted?  This means they also generally fly under the radar of Public Health and are not subject to the same audits restaurants, spas, salons or tattoo parlors are!

You may be asking, why this topic? Well, a Public Health Unit in Ontario investigated two locations after receiving complaints from the public. It was found that the cleaning agents being used in at least one of the cases would have been completely inadequate to eliminate hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV should they be present on the instruments used to perform the colonics. The long and the short is that there would be quite a significant risk for transmission of infectious diseases. While there have not been any confirmed cases of disease transmission, the two locations have been closed and anyone who used their services are being advised to undergo testing.

If you think this is an isolated incidence, think again. As far back as 1978 there have been outbreaks associated with colonics including 36 cases of amebiasis in western Colorado. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacterial infections are possible with colon cleansing if the equipment is contaminated. Their advice is to make sure that the equipment is disposable, sterile and has never been used before.  I would happen to agree to that particularly if there is no regulation, no clear infection control guidelines to be followed and auditing of facilities is not necessarily completed by Public Health. My hopes however, is this recent situation will put these facilities under some scrutiny as the procedure is definitely a risk for infection transmission. 

You can be assured, I will be keeping to my healthy eating and moderate exercise regime!

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 2, 2018

Are you ready for some football?!

My son plays hockey, so I’ve had to become a hockey mom. The truth is even though I’m Canadian, hockey’s not my first choice when it comes to sports. Football on the other hand is a different story! This weekend signifies the end of the season with SUPERBOWL SUNDAY! I don’t get to host a party or partake in our annual tradition of an “all fried food day” since most of our weekend will be spent at the rink for a hockey tournament… You can be assured, I will somehow find a way to watch the game and as a Seahawks fan I am NOT cheering for New England!

What does football and the Super Bowl have to do with infection prevention? Well, you have crowds, you have food and it is influenza season. But influenza, Norovirus, food poisoning or the common cold is not the only infection prevention concern. In 2015, Public Health Officials in Arizona were battling a measles outbreak. The week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, 1000 people were being monitored after being exposed to infected people. Similarly, in 2012, Public Health Officials in Indiana began outbreak management after a couple who had been exposed but were not yet showing symptoms of infection attended the festivities at the Super Bowl Village and put 200,000 at risk of possible exposure.

So what’s in store for this year when we are experiencing one of the worst flu seasons? Well, the organizers are taking things seriously! Staff are wiping down all exhibits multiple times a day with sanitizers and disinfectants, and volunteers with the United Way are disinfecting the virtual reality equipment between each use at their Super Bowl Experience booth. Health Officials are urging Super Bowl visitors to get vaccinated before arriving in Minnesota. Once they arrive, they are being reminded to wash their hands with soap and water more frequently and have hand sanitizer on hand. It’s going to be crowded. There are going to be some sick people, which means there will be germs floating around especially in crowded areas. Aside from getting vaccinated, washing your hands frequently is the other way to avoid getting sick, and after the game is over avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth (unless you’ve washed your hands first).

But what about the food? Well, according to our family motto “if it’s fried, it must be tried”!  But to be safe when it comes to eating safely at a Super Bowl party, avoid eating food that has been left a room temperature for too long. If you’re scarfing down dips or other cold-favoring treats, eat the ones that are served on ice or have been kept cold in the fridge.  Allowing these foods to get warm can lead to unintended consequences….if you know what I mean! The same goes for food that needs to be served hot like chili or other meat products.  Avoid a penalty and keep them warm!

If you’re around Oakville on Sunday you may hear me singing the Eagles fight song:
Fly Eagles Fly! On the road to victory!
Fly Eagles Fly! Score a touchdown!
1, 2, 3! Hit'em low! Hit'em high!
And watch our Eagles Fly! On the road to victory!

Bugging Off!