Infection Control

This wiki will discuss what infection is, how it can be controlled through preventitive approaches such as good hygiene and immunization, and the affects infection can have on the health care setting when it is not controlled.


An infection is the result of an invasion of a microorganism within a human, animal or plant (Boycott, 1971; Gould & Brooker, 2008). In this case we will be talking about the invasion of a human.


Infectious disease can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and or parasites. Infections have caused the death, disability and economic disruption of millions of people around the world (Global health, 2009). Even with the large amount of awareness and interventions in place people still fall ill too many common infections (Global health, 2009) that can be treated with everyday medications e.g. antibiotics. The reason behind this is because in some countries the health care available and the information given is greater than in others (Global health, 2009).

There are many different types of infections around the world today and every year new and more resistant strains develop. Infections can attack any part of the human body. Listed below are some different kinds of infections starting with well known childhood infections to infections that form in different areas of the body;

Childhood Infections: Chickenpox (Varicella zoster virus), Rubella virus, Mumps (Paramyxovirus), Rheumatic fever, Shingles (Varicella zoster virus), Measles (Morbillivirus) are to name a few (Nickerson, 2007). Most of these infections have immunizations for them which are given throughout childhood (see Catherine’s sections below, Immunisation) (Nickerson, 2007).
Upper Respiratory Infections: Glandular fever (Epstein - Barr virus), Influenza (caused by different strains of the virus), Whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) (Nickerson, 2007).
Gastroenteritis Infections: Vibrio Cholerae (Gram-negative comma-shaped rods), Escherichia coli (Gram-negative bacilli), Salmonelle enteritidis (Gram-negative bacilli), Yersinia enterocolitica (Gram-negative bacilli) (Nickerson, 2007).
Liver & Biliary Tract Infections: Hepatitis (A , B, C, D & E virus), Liver Abscesses – Pyogenic (Nickerson, 2007).
Sexually Transmitted Infections: Gonorrhoeae (Neisseria gonorrhoeae), Syphilis (Treponema pallidum), Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis), Candida (Candida albicans, yeast infection), Genital herpes (Herpes simplex virus 2), Genital warts (Human papillomavirus, types 6 and 11) (Nickerson, 2007).
Skin, Joint & Bone Infection: Cellulitis (Streptococcus pyogenes), Tinea Infection (Epidermophyton floccosum, trichophyton species), Septic Arthritis, Osteomyelitis, (Nickerson, 2007).

and Genital Herpes

Yeast Infection (Candidiasis Oral Thrush) and Cellulitis of the Foot

Hygiene-infection control:

Despite the proven health benefits of hand washing, many people don't practice this habit as often as they should — even after using the toilet. Throughout the day you accumulate germs on your hands from a variety of sources, such as direct contact with people, contaminated surfaces, foods, even animals and animal waste. If you don't wash your hands frequently enough, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And you can spread these germs to others by touching them or by touching surfaces that they also touch, such as doorknobs.
Infectious diseases that are commonly spread through hand-to-hand contact include the common cold, flu and several gastrointestinal disorders, such as infectious diarrhea. While most people will get over a cold, the flu can be much more serious. Some people with the flu, particularly older adults and people with chronic medical problems, can develop pneumonia.this is why it is so important to was your hand frequently. particularly when working in the health care industry.

hand hygiene in the workplace
As Previously mentioned healthcare workers can get 100s or 1000s
of bacteria on their hands by doing simple tasks, such as:
•pulling patients up in bed
•taking a blood pressure or pulse
•rolling patients over in bed
•touching the patient’s gown or bed sheets
•touching equipment like bedside rails, over-bed tables, IV pumps

Good hand-washing techniques include washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are just as effective as soap and water in cleaning your hands but aren't as good as alcohol-based sanitizers.

when to wash hands with soap and water

when to wash hand with alcohol sanitizer
•if your hands are visibly soiled or dirty
•if your hands are visibly contaminated with blood or body fluids
•before eating
•before and after using the restroom
•after removing gloves
•at the beginning and end of your shift
•touching contaminated equipment

•if your hands are not visibly soiled, dirty or contaminated with
blood or body fluids
•before having direct contact with patients
•after having direct contact with a patient’s skin
•after having contact with body fluids, wounds or broken skin
•after touching equipment or furniture near the patient
•after removing gloves

how to wash your hands effectively

The development of vaccines against many bacterial and viral diseases has significantly decreased the number of deaths related to preventable diseases across the globe. On average, 2 to 3 million lives are saved each year due to immunisation alone (Martin, Norgaard et al. 2009). Vaccination does not only protect individuals from infectious diseases but also increases the level of immunity of all people in a community by limiting the spread of infection, this leads to immunisation being the single most cost effective preventive approach to health care (NHMRC 2003).

Immunity to infectious diseases through vaccination is acquired through active acquired immunity. Immunisations contain altered micro-organisms of specific viral and bacterial diseases which bring about an immune response without actually causing the disease. When a person comes in contact with the same micro-organisms in the future their antibodies and memory cells will take action and the individual will be able to fight or prevent an infection (Kinnear and Martin 2006; Perry 2007).

The Australian recommended Immunisation schedule: (Department of Health and Aging 2007)
immunisation.jpgOver recent years a number of different vaccines have become available in Australia and incorporated into the Australian recommended immunisation schedule for children and adults. The schedule provides a guide of the vaccines that are available and recommended for good health and the prevention of some infectious diseases (NHMRC 2003).

With improvements of the Australian recommended immunisation schedule came a decline in many preventable diseases. For example, over the 7 year period between 1993 and 2000 the prevalence of Whooping cough decreased from 60.7 to 35.3 per 100,000 people (Smith, Marshall et al. 2003). Polio was the first infectious disease which was almost entirely removed from society due to vaccination. Prevalence of this disease dropped from 25,000 to zero in just 20 years. The measles and mumps virus also decreased by 99 percent once the vaccination was introduced in the late 1990’s. (Smith, Marshall et al. 2003).

Hospital acquired infections:
Micro-organisms can be easily spread through health care settings when preventative approaches such as hand hygiene, a-septic techniques and immunisation schedules are not met. Bacteria and viruses can be spread via many routes including airborne, direct contact, through bodily fluids or when the skins surface is not kept intact, so it vital that all infection control procedures are strictly followed in order to prevent hospital acquired infections (Gardner and Peel 1998; Perry 2007). A hospital acquired infection is any infection that develops as a result of an individual’s time in the health care setting. These infections are often acquired due to the suppressed immune system of the patient in hospital, the increased exposure to pathogens, the breach of the bodies defence mechanisms and poor infection control procedures (Wilson 2006).

The MRSA virus
An example of an infection that has caused great alarm in hospitals is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is also known as Multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus because it is a strain of Staphylococcus that is resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, which makes it very difficult to treat (Wilson 2006) The main route of transmission of MRSA is through contact from person to person or on medical equipment used between different patients in the health care setting without adequate hand washing and cleaning (Wilson 2006). The spread of MRSA can be limited by patient isolation, wearing protective gear when in contact with the patient, washing hands thoroughly after contact with their patient and their environment, and cleaning their environment to remove micro-organisms (Wilson 2006).


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