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, April 27, 2018

Poland, Pierogi and Proficiency

This week I’m in Krakow, Poland attending the International Federation of Infection Control (IFIC) Congress. It’s been a number of years (14 to be exact) since I last attended this conference.  I’m attending this year because I am excited to announce that next year IPAC Canada will be hosting the conference in Quebec City, Canada.  I’m also lucky enough to be sitting on the IPAC-Canada Scientific Planning Committee where, with IFIC representatives, we are jointly planning next year’s topics!  Watch for updates on the IPAC Canada and IFIC websites. 

My first introduction to IFIC was in 2003 at the conference in Malta.  Having attended as many conferences as I have over the last 15 years, I can say that IFIC is one of my favorites (and not just because it’s an opportunity to travel to different countries).  IFIC is an organization of Infection Preventionists from countries and associations from around the world.  IFIC is a group where your country or your level of infection prevention sophistication does not matter.  It’s a group where like minds come to learn, to share stories, to network and build life-long relationships. It’s been amazing getting to rekindle friendships and build new ones.

But, I’m not just here to make friends.  I’m here to learn.  I’m here so I can share my learnings with others when I speak at conferences, when I’m looking at designing a study and of course through the Talk Clean To Me blog.   So what have I learned this week?  Too much for a blog so here are my top 3 sessions so far:

1.   Prof Jacqui Reilly and Prof Kay Currie provided an afternoon workshop titled “Education & Training as a vehicle for change in IPC”.  As both a trainer and speaker, the need to understand how to effectively design and deliver content is paramount.  In the words of Woody Allen “Those who can’t do, teach.  And those who can’t teach, teach gym.” How many times have we created what we think are amazing education presentations, handouts, flyers etc only to realize that the content or concepts were not absorbed or put into practice?  It has nothing to with “you can’t train an old dog new tricks”, it has everything to do with how the material is presented.  People learn differently; some are visual who want to work from lists, written instructions and be shown how to do things, some are auditory learners who say “tell me” and will be able to perform new tasks after listening to instruction and lastly some are kinaesthetic learners meaning the prefer to experience an try things out (you can identify them because they’re generally the ones who shove you out of the way to try it).  I found out (well confirmed what I already suspected) that I have equal tendencies to all 3 ways of learning meaning the topic and / or my mood will determine which way I want to learn at any given time….  I can guarantee that I will be more mindful in how I develop content and strive to include a little bit of everything knowing that I won’t always have the luxury of knowing how my audience learns best.

2.    Dr. Nizam Damani who was presented with the Ayliffe Award gave a lecture on ritualistic, wasteful and unsafe IPC practices.  I was really a world tour reminding us that no country can claim to have perfect practices.  People generally do not mean to be wasteful.  People do not mean to work in a way that is unsafe and can harm the patients or themselves.  People are habitual.  They practice what they were taught or what they see others doing. As a disinfectant guru, the most shocking example was a facility who used Meropenem (an antibiotic given intravenously to treat bacterial infections) as a surface disinfectant – and not just any surface.  It was used to disinfect a floor!  As IPs we all have to wear our detective hats and always look for the unobvious.

3.    Martin Egerth a Human Factors Expert from Lufthansa spoke about achieving a “safety first” culture in infection prevention and control introducing what the aviation industry does and has perfected for the last 25 years.  I have so many notes and ideas from this session.  Not just in terms of the parallels to healthcare and infection prevention, but for my company and how the concept could be put into manufacturing and logistics practices.  It all comes down to having the right people with the right skills following the right processes.  We also need to understand that continual training is needed. Perfection is not one and done.  Building competencies and changing culture will not be immediate, it will take time to see the effect and it’s worth the effort to get there.

The conference is not over.  Tomorrow I have a couple of topics that I’m looking forward to attend.
As always, thanks for reading!  I know this week was a longer blog, but I think you visual learners will do just fine!  If you’re an auditory learner give me a call and I’ll read the blog to you.  If you’re a kinaesthetic learner, drop by the office, we can go for a walk and see if we can come up with novel hands-on ways for you to learn!

Bugging Off!


Friday, April 20, 2018

City vs County: Which mice spread life-threatening human illnesses?

You never know where or when inspiration will strike. Today it happened to strike following a very large cup of regular coffee and finding the topic for this week’s blog. It’s possible that since I generally only drink decaf, that the inspiration was more of a caffeine buzz. Either way, I was excited!

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I grew up on a farm. In fact, I am proud to say that both sides of my families come from farming backgrounds. My grandfather was a world renowned livestock auctioneer. I grew up playing in barns, often getting up to no good. I made pets of any farm animal we had and certainly spent my fair share of time finding ways to catch or trap “pests” aka mice, raccoons etc. As a country girl, you learn to deal with all sorts of animals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. You don’t have to like them and may try to avoid them, but I can say with complete honesty that I did not grow up with a fear of any of them.

One would think this would be true of all country kids. Nope. My mother is deathly afraid of snakes.  There are a couple of pranks we have pulled on her that without a doubt would have gone viral. I also had an uncle who hated mice. I cannot confirm if he simply HATED them or if in fact he was afraid of them. Regardless, there is one incident of him hitting a mouse with a gavel (he too was a well-known auctioneer) when a mouse popped out from under his socks in his dresser.

You may wonder why I bring up mice. It goes back to my inspiration for this week’s blog. A study that was published in mBio that looked at house mice and their ability to carry human illnesses. We know that when spring cleaning we need to be cautious about cleaning mouse droppings because of Hantavirus, but now we need to be concerned about more than just Hantavirus. The researchers collected 416 mice over a year and analyzed the droppings of the captured mice.  They we able to identify 149 distinct species of bacteria including those most commonly linked to intestinal upset; C. difficle, E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella.  The researchers also looked at the viral load of the mouse poop and found 36 separate viruses. None of the viruses found were known to infect humans, but were known to infect dogs, chickens and pigs suggesting that there may be some cross over.

I guess it’s true when we say mice are dirty.  Based on this study, researchers are recommending that if you find mouse droppings around your food that you throw it out, unless perhaps you can properly disinfect the packaging (if it’s of a non-porous substrate, like tin cans).

Of interest, the study was conducted in the city, NYC to be exact. Being a country bumpkin, I wonder if country mice would show the same results. I’m going to believe they wouldn’t. While it may not be a proven fact, country kids have better immune systems because we play in the dirt (and manure) from a pretty young age!

Bugging Off!


Friday, April 13, 2018

Rub my feet?

I love having my feet rubbed. It’ more relaxing than my Friday night glass of wine, more satisfying than eating chocolate, candy or chips and dip. Perhaps most importantly, it’s lower in calories so I don’t hate myself in the morning and the person rubbing my feet is exerting energy and burning calories. Basically it’s an all-around win-win. I love having my feet rubbed so much that I have perfected the ability to work in “Rub my feet?” to virtually any conversation and I have found that the threat of having to rub my feet can keep a hockey team of 9 year olds under control (threatening to watch princess movies also works if you need an alternative option).

It was with a bit of personal disappointment that I came across a recently published article “Evaluation of a shoe sole UVC device to reduce pathogen colonization on floors, surfaces and patients” where researchers spiked the soles of 200 pairs of shoes, implanting 3 strains of bacteria and a non-toxigenic strain of Clostridium difficile. The shoes were then randomly assigned to be either exposed to UV-C radiation for 8 seconds or act as controls with no exposure.  According to the researchers, UV-C significantly reduced shoe sole contamination with all bacterial species they tested. Additionally, shoes that were exposed to the UV-C device also significantly reduced the contamination on all floor types and with all species of bacteria tested.

So what’s my take? The study is interesting, but the results are really not surprising. In the last several years there has been quite a bit of research on various UV-C technologies that has shown they are capable of decreasing the bacterial burden on surfaces. It’s entirely logical that these devices would be effective in disinfecting shoes. Are the soles of shoes the areas we should be concerned with disinfecting? Certainly, they could be a potential fomite that are carrying pathogens from place to place, but for now I’ll continued to be more concerned about properly disinfecting objects like stethoscopes, and other hospital equipment which we know for fact can lead to transmission of pathogens. Besides, if I think the soles of shoes (or feet) are a true concern for transmitting pathogens, how can I in good conscious ask someone to rub my feet? These socks need to be used you know!!

Bugging Off!


Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring showers leave bath toys in the dust

According to the calendar, spring has arrived.  According to the temperature outside, I would say that Mother Nature is a bit confused. Today started out at -4C (25F) with snow on my vehicle. In my neck of the woods, the average temperature ranges from a low of 4C (39F) to a high of 12C (53F). It’s April, I do not expect or want to see snow. It’s spring! The birds are singing, plants are starting to show signs of life and I have started spring cleaning and wardrobe changing. For me this also means moving from socks and boots to my favorite bare feet and shoes. My exposed ankles were not loving the cold wind this morning! 

Spring cleaning is quite literally a “thing”.  So much so that last year a survey was conducted online among 1,015 U.S. adults, ages 18+. The survey showed that 66% of respondents participate in spring cleaning. Most people reported that spring cleaning leads to a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of rejuvenation after clearing out all the clutter. Of the areas to be targeted for the most thorough cleaning, the bathroom tends to be the room that gets the most thorough clean (62%), followed by the kitchen at (60%) while bedrooms are close behind at 58%.

After reading a study that was just published in Biofilms and Microbiomes, I’m glad to hear that our bathrooms are the areas that get the most attention, but suspect some of the germiest items are overlooked!  I mean who thinks that our beloved rubber ducky would be the harbinger of doom. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your train of thought, scientific curiosity knows no bounds.  Those who have a passion to understand biofilms know that any plastic material that is dunked in bathwater provide ideal conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Yes, those cute little squeezie toys that we so love to suck water into and then squirt it out to peals of belly laughs from our sweet little loved ones can hold dense growths of bacteria and fungi not to mention murky water that may also come squirting out.

Over an 11 week period the researchers exposed some of the toys to clean water and others dirty water containing soap and body fluids.  The results were unappetizing to say the least. When they cut the toys open they found between 5 and 75 MILLION cells per cm2. Regardless of water, 80% of the toys were found to contain potentially pathogenic bacteria including Pseudomonas and Legionella.  All toys exposed to the dirty water were found to have fungal contamination, but don’t think that made the “clean-water” toys better….60% of them were found to have fungal contamination.

Should we ban the duck?  I’m not sure about that, but then my son has hit the age where he’s not playing with bath toys. If I were to do it again, I may consider twice what types of toys I buy to play with or at the very least try to find a way to plug any holes so that water cannot get inside!  Why do I say that?  Well, as the saying goes…a picture is worth a thousand words….and the picture for this blog are from my son’s bath toys that we still have that have not be played with in well over a year.   Who know a Hippo could be so gross looking inside!

Bugging Off!


PS – you can be assured, the bath toys are being swept out in this year’s spring cleaning!