Breaking the chain of infection – hygiene is everyone’s responsibility


As International Infection Prevention Week (#IIPW) continues, Prof Sally Bloomfield writes a guest blog on the principles of breaking the chain of infection. Whilst the blog is focused on home and everyday life settings, the principles are relevant to healthcare facilities too!

This is international Infection Prevention Week. To address this year’s theme “Breaking the Chain of Infection” the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) has produced a simple online resource Breaking the Chain of Infection.

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Chased by an antibiotic-induced C difficile-shaped shadow


A fascinating new JAMA Internal Medicine study suggests that being admitted to a room when the prior occupant had taken antibiotics increases the risk of the subsequent occupant of the same room developing C. difficile infection (CDI). Quite a few convincing epi studies have showed that admission to a room when the prior occupant was known to have a number of key pathogens (including C. difficile) increased the chance of acquisition for the subsequent occupant. But this study extends the ‘prior room occupancy’ concept into a new dimension!

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(no More) fear of flying*

Last Friday Jarne van Hattem presented findings on ESBL carriage in Dutch travelers returning from ESBL-rich countries at our NCOH meeting and the next day the results appeared in Lancet ID. A great study; quantifying things we already thought, extending our knowledge on risk factors and providing new information on the public health aspects of these imported bacteria. They concluded that acquistion and spread are “substantial and worrisome”. Too bad: all the quantified knowledge lost in 2 meaningless words.

In short, they studied 2001 travelers (ESBL carriage before travel 6.1%) and 34.3% of the non-carriers acquired ESBL during travel; especially in southern Asia (75.1%). Risk fators for acquisition: persisting diarrhea, ciprofloxacin use and eating street food. The median duration of carriage after return was 30 days and 11.3% was still colonized ater 1 year. This implies that returning travelers (depending on region) must be considered at risk for ESBL-carriage (no matter whether they have additonal risk factors) during a certain period of time. Yet, median duration of carriage is short and after 1 year that risk is fairly close to the ESBL-prevalence in the Dutch population.

Is this carriage a health risk for travelers? With >500,000 Dutch travelers to ESBL high-endemicity regions per year, many will acquire (according to what we can detect) ESBL, but how many will develop infections caused by these ESBL-producing bugs? That now is a burning question.

Is this import of ESBL a risk for the Dutch public, that we intend to protect against infections caused by AMR? They also investigated the occurrence of within-household transmission of these bacteria in 215 non-travelling household members and quantified rates with a Markov model. The figure that got most attention was the “12% probability of transmitting ESBL-E to another household member”. Yet, much more informative is the actual transmission rate from which one can derive the effective R0. This rate was 0,0013/carriage day and the calculated effective R0 was around 0.2 (Martin Bootsma personal communication), which might include some overestimation due to false-positive transmission events (no molecular typing). An R0 of 0.2  seems not enough to cause continued transmission – leading to endemicity – coming from these sources, especially since transmission to the next ring (to non-household members) will be less effective. Simply said: returning travelers their household members seem to be – in the Netherlands – dead-end roads for ESBL-producing bacteria. That could be expressed as reassuring.

*Title stolen from Gary Brooker

CPE Thrill-seeking

Yesterday I attended a meeting at the Wellcome headquarters in the middle of London. I deliberately exposed myself to several risks: by car from home to Schiphol, by plane to London City and by public transport to the meeting. Each transition harbors a quantifiable risk of ending up in a hospital (accidents, assaults, cardiac events) where there is a quantifiable risk of developing HAI, and I am especially afraid of CPE.

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Reflections from Infection Prevention 2016


As is now becoming traditional, I thought I’d share a few reflections from the recent IPS conference in Harrogate. Fantastic to see the submitted abstract published, full and free, in a Journal of Infection Prevention supplement.

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Using the Toolkit to build a CPE policy


I led a workshop at IPS today with my colleague Tracey Galletly on using PHE’s Toolkit to build a CPE policy. We based the session around a series of multiple choice questions that the audience voted on. I thought I’d share the results and key points raised! Continue reading