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Friday, December 20, 2019

And That’s a Wrap!

Wow.  I find it hard to fathom that yet another year has flown by, and as I write this blog, Christmas is only 5 sleeps away.  While saying goodbye to one year may be hard, I love looking back over the blogs that have been shared.  They paint a story of what has transpired throughout the year, from emerging pathogens and new trends to areas we had not considered that are now becoming an infection prevention concern.  They also highlight the breadth of interest you, the readers, have in the topics I’m sharing.  Over 2019, Talk Clean to Me averaged over 3000 page views per month and for that I am grateful to you and your support and interest in reading and sharing the blogs each week.
As you can see from the top 10 Talk Clean to Me blogs for 2019, the topics are pretty varied!  In David Letterman style, let’s count down to the most widely-read blog:

  1. False Sense of Security – looked at a study published in ICHE, which concluded that improper removal of PPE contaminated Healthcare Workers (HCWs) leads to self-contamination.
  2. Colleagues Contribution to Contagionreviewed a report by the CDC that investigated infectious diseases in workplaces.
  3. Warm Weather Weight Loss – warned readers that at least a dozen US residents returning from Tijuana, Mexico, were diagnosed with infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.
  4. Smartphone or Toilet Seat, which would you Kiss? – talked to a study that found that 1 in every 6 phones have poop on them and asked you how many phones you have touched or used.
  5. Best Before, Not Bad After – talked about expiry dates and the use of disinfectants.
  6. It’s So Fluffy! - warned owners not to kiss and snuggle your pet hedgehog as a result of a Salmonella outbreak affecting eight states.
  7. Worms and Germs – warned residents on the west side of Lake Ontario that a tapewormEchinococcus multilocularis, wasn't thought to be present in Ontario until five sick dogs has been found in their area.
  8. Sick Spring Puppies – discussed a report of brucellosis associated with dogs adopted from a rescue in southwestern Ontario. 
  9. The Horror of Hand Dryers – read the blog, but just stay away from them!
  10. How Dirty is Your Money – is perfect for this time of year if you use cash to pay for Christmas gifts!

To quote from Dr. Seuss “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 

To put into the context of infection prevention, what if saving lives and reducing HAIs was not all about the quest for the silver bullet, focusing on what a product kills or who is or who is not doing their job? What if 2016 brings us wisdom, strength and courage?  What if 2020 brings us the wisdom to realize that we cannot continue on with the status quo?  What if 2020 gives us the strength to fight for what we know is right and courage to not back down in the face of adversity and put our patients and their lives first?

Wishing everyone a Happy Holidays! 

Bugging Off for 2019!


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Self-Serve and Germ Pick Up

Where has 2019 gone?  Today marks the last business trip of the year and my 2nd to last blog for 2019.  Travelling can be equal parts of enjoyment and irritation.  Enjoyment in terms of the people you meet, places you get to see and the occasional really good dinner.  Irritation due to waiting in lines, delays in travel, last minute cancelled meetings and poorly cleaned hotel rooms (as evidenced by the picture of my hotel room faucet).

With Christmas season upon us, travel will be increasing.  Kids are coming home from school, families travelling to see their loved ones and if your parents are like mine – many people will be travelling to escape the cold.   I’ve previously blogged on the level of contamination found on those horrid grey bins we place our belongings in when we go through security and of course the most frequently contaminated surfaces on a plane, but have you thought about the self-check-in kiosks at the airports?  How frequently are they cleaned and more importantly how many hands touch them throughout the course of a day?!

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest airport in North American and perhaps the world.  With 192 gates, the airport manages 2,500 flights and 275,000 people every day. Having been one on many occasions I can say, they do a pretty good job of moving people along and have a pretty decent selection of restaurants to eat or drink away your time between flights.

A study completed by Insurance Quotes found that the average self-check-in screen contained 253,857 Colony Forming Units (CFUs) of germs which is 13 times more than the average airport water fountain button.  To put it into comparison, when we think toilets are gross they on average only have 172 CFUs on the seats.

There are always pros and cons when it comes to improving efficiency.  In the world of self-check-in kiosks at airports or self-check-out kiosks at grocery stores, restaurants and as I came across last night while getting my bad of Doritos for dinner at the Houston Airport – even quick serve food self-check-outs, germs are everywhere!  It’s not that improving with the times is a bad thing.  It’s about not forgetting the tried and true methods for keeping ourselves healthy.  If you grab something on the go, wash your hands before you eat, particularly if you are eating on a plane.

If you’re an owner of the one of these self-serve kiosks consider looking at how frequently they are cleaned or better yet have some disinfectant wipes handy that can be used by customers to wipe down before they the check-out machine!

Bugging Off!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Kids, Coughs and Viruses on Healthcare Workers

This week we received an email from my son’s teacher confirming what I already knew – respiratory viruses are in abundance and wreaking havoc in schools, offices and anywhere people congregate. We have a nasty virus floating around my office that keeps taking people down one by one.  The only way to manage cold and flu season is to keep as healthy as you can in order to fight off the germs that plague us, keep our environment clean and wash our hands frequently.

Due to the number of kids sick and differing types of infections – phlegmy coughs to bronchitis and pneumonia, I sent a canister of wipes to school with my son, gave his teacher a few tips on what surfaces she may want to wipe down with more frequency and suggest she engage the kids in helping to “wipe out” the germs.  She did just that and my son said it was fun helping to wipe down his area.

With the number of respiratory viruses floating around it was interesting to come across a recently published study in ICHE that investigate the level of virus contamination on PPE, skin, and clothing of healthcare workers.  The researchers that 31% of glove samples, 21% of gown samples and 12% of face mask samples, 21% of bare hand samples, 11% of scrub samples and 7% of face samples were positive for viruses.  This level of contamination can contribute to transmission of pathogens via contact and increase not only the risk for infection in health care workers but increase the risk of contaminating the environment.

The study highlights the ease and frequency of viral contamination on PPE, clothes, and skin of HCWs which emphasizes the significance of appropriate PPE use, and hand hygiene in preventing transmission via both direct and indirect contact.  Of further interest, there was an association between the number of self-contacts by HCWs with their gloves, gowns, or masks and the concentration of virus their PPE meaning the more self-contacts, the more virus was found.  The strongest correlation identified was between self-contact with the gown (torso) and virus concentrations on a personal stethoscope, which as we know is often draped around the neck.

A study published in BMC Infectious Diseases earlier this year looked at contamination of masks by respiratory viruses and found similar results. In this study, 10% of the masks tested were found positive for respiratory pathogens and the risk is higher with longer duration of mask use (> 6 h).  The researchers concluded that finding respiratory pathogens on the outer surface of the used medical masks may result in self-contamination.

Unfortunately, respiratory viruses cannot be avoided.  Whether you’re a teacher, student, parent, coach or healthcare worker you’re likely to come into contact with someone who is infectious and spreading their virus with each cough, sneeze or touch of their dirty unwashed hands on surfaces you then touch.  What’s as important is that the PPE we wear to protect ourselves can also become contaminated and we can unwittingly contaminate ourselves.  In the end, the best prevention is cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces and wash our hands with increased frequency!

Bugging Off!