COVID-19 and Q-fever: random observation or something to evaluate?

“The course of an epidemic is defined by a series of key factors, some of which are poorly understood at present for COVID-19” (Roy Anderson Lancet, March 9th)

While several of the factors are obvious and come to mind immediately, others, might at this point be speculation or indiscriminate observations that need further scientific evaluation.

One of the latter category, might be the observation I would like to share in this post. One of the regions of the Netherlands that presently has one of the highest COVID-19 rates, is a region in the South of the country. To our knowledge there is only one thing unusual about that region; About ten years ago, the region was in the midst of the Dutch Q-fever epidemic. Could one of those key factors that we don’t understand and that may lead to area’s with exceptional high rates of COVID-19 be previous infectious diseases such as Q-fever, or more general a higher prevalence of previous long damage, due to infectious diseases? 

Have a look at the graphs and please share your thoughts.

With thanks to my colleague Bert Mulder, Nijmegen

COVID-19 and a lack of PPEs

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By Andreas Voss, Jan Kluytmans and Alexander Friedrich

As the surge of COVID-19 cases is hitting some of the Dutch hospitals hard, healthcare, in the areas being overwhelmed with cases, experience a shortage of PPEs and especially masks. In other Dutch regions with no or only a few cases, colleagues still believe that life is normal and PPEs can be ordered with a click on the computer. They look with awe at what colleagues in the midst of battling COVID-19 and shortages are facing. In addition, all healthcare-settings that do not usually use a lot of PPE’s (e.g. nursing homes and GPs), will be heavily understocked.

Still, infection control advice seems to be based on standard, safety-maximized procedures, thereby wasting valuable resources. As a consequence, HCWs in the Netherlands are still following these recommendations, by using FFP masks routinely, in low risk situations, while they should be saved for the high-risk procedures.

We believe that it is time to rethink our protocols, based on the fact that we still assume that COVID-19, in general, is based on droplet and contact transmission.

  1. Restricted and risk-based use of FFP masks
  2. Use of surgical masks for normal care of COVID patients
  3. Efficient and extended use of FFP masks and other PPEs
  4. Re-use of FFP masks

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COVID-19 and my idea on masks

Next to the idea that we see many contraptions (you can’t even call them masks) we see many people with all kind of masks, in and outside our healthcare settings. Certainly after my last flight to a WHO meeting on COVID-19, I had the feeling that it is time to write about masks.

On my way to Geneva, the gentleman to my left (yes, thanks to a canceled flight, I was in the hated middle seat) was calm, sleepy and wearing a mask. The fellow on my right, clearly had the sniffles, came from somewhere far away and was spreading his respiratory secretions in all directions, including mine. I so wanted to pull of the mask from calm-sleepy-guy, to place it on the next-seat-germ-blower.

How easy could basic prevention be? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if people would adhere to simple principles of how to cough and sneeze in public: turn away from others, use a tissue or elbow, followed by hand hygiene? Why don’t the people on buses, trains and airplanes don’t know this? If in addition, anyone who is sick gets a surgical mask while in public, we might have a way of preventing (or at least delaying) the spread of respiratory viruses. Instead, masks are worn by the healthy, leaving the sick (and soon-to-be hospital patients) without the needed protection.

Talking about masks in healthcare; Nearly every country I know off, went for maximum safety, recommending FFP2 masks (similar to N95). I would have suggested to use FFP1 for the majority of cases, and FFP2 only during high-risk procedures. But how can I, if everyone else seems to go “full safety”. Another reason, why I believe that my idea wouldn’t have been too bad, is the high probability that soon we will have a shortage of FFP2 and will have to tell our HCWs that FFP1 and surgical masks are “equally save”. Yes, I can see how they believe me and willingly expose themselves to the increasing number of patients with less than previously needed PPE! I believe that we have valid reasons to consider evidence over maximum safety, and that while we didn’t even start to talk about discomfort and physical effects associated with prolonged use of FFP2. Continue reading

Persistence and transmission of Candida auris on and from gloves

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Interesting results from Jabeen et al. that many of us might have missed, as they are published in a mycology journal and not in an infection control journal.  Persistence of Candida spp. on latex and nitrile gloves was highest for C. auris and C. parapsilosis.  Interestingly, persistence on nitril gloves was generally less than on latex gloves. Transmission of Candida spp. from gloves (latex, nitril not tested)  to urinary catheter surface was most effective for C. auris and C. albicans.

To be frank, the chosen methods and set-up of the experiments leave quite some room for improvement, but the basic idea of the experiment and the message it conveys are – while not new – of importance: Glove use can be an important factor in the spread of all microorganisms, and in this case, especially C. auris.

Previously it has been shown that glove-use may negatively effect hand hygiene behavior. After years of focusing our attention on hand hygiene compliance and hand-rub technique, this publication is an important reminder, to not forget about adequate glove-use.

Jabeen K, Mal PB, Tharwani A,Hashmi M, Farooqi J. Persistence of Candida auris on latex and nitrile gloves with transmission to sterile urinary catheters.  Medical Mycology, 2019, 0, 1–5 doi: 10.1093/mmy/myz033 Advance Access Publication Date: 0 2019

Working while sick

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Compared with the general population, healthcare workers (HCWs) have an increased risk of being exposed to respiratory pathogens including flu, causing a potential threat for their own health and their patients’ safety.  At present, the problem of HCW vaccination seems to get the main attention when dealing with influenza prevention, whereas the problem of HCWswho work while feeling sick, seems to be far less addressed.  That is, until recently when Chow et al. studied hospital-acquired respiratory viral infections, sick leave policy, and a need for culture change.

The ISAC Infection Control Study group had already piloted a survey on the topic and wishes to poll your thoughts with the present survey.

While there is nothing to earn, except of the good feeling of having helped someone, we kindly ask you to take the questionnaire (takes 4-5 minutes) and send it to others, including friends or family not in healthcare, as we are especially interested in possible differences.

Link for the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ISAC_Influenza

Thanks for helping and of course results will be back on this blog.

Shortages

 

Schermafbeelding 2018-03-29 om 01.01.30Shortages?! Slowly, I get used to it.  Basic antibiotics such as penicillins, CHX-wipes, or now, mupirocin. From what I hear we have to expect severe shortages (= no product) for the next few months. As the use of mupirocin for nasal decolonization of S. aureus (in combination with CHX skin wash) has become part of the pre-operative care for certain indications, the obvious question is: WHAT SHOULD I USE INSTEAD?

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