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

AMR strategy in the UK: IPC is high on the agenda (hooray)

The Department of Health have published a new 5 year National Action Plan to combat AMR (2019-2024) to follow on from the 2013-2018 edition. IPC and antimicrobial stewardship are high on the agenda – but we have a long way to go if we are to fulfil the 20 year vision for AMR: ‘By 2040, our vision is of a world in which antimicrobial resistance is effectively contained, controlled and mitigated.’

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Using “health outcomes” as the basis for developing effective and sustainable hygiene interventions – is 2019 the time for a rethink?

This is a guest post by Prof Sally Bloomfield…

For many years, “5 log reduction” (LR) has been the gold standard for disinfectant efficacy despite absence of dose:response data linking it to clinical outcomes.  The family of EN tests now used to support claims for disinfectant products has its origins in the European Suspension Test (5LR, 5 mins, 5 test organisms) where 5 LR was probably chosen because it is the limit of sensitivity in an assay where, traditionally, the initial bioburden is 108 colony forming units.  For soap, detergent or dry wiping procedures, until recently their effectiveness has been assumed – possibly on the basis that they produce visible cleanliness? It is only recently that we have had access to efficacy data based on lab models.  A trial of EN 1699 handwashing test showed a mean 2.76 LR when hands contaminated with E .coli are washed with soap.

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Who’s going to go for GNBSI? A reflection from HIS 2018

I attended a thought-provoking session at the recent Healthcare Infection Society (HIS) conference in Liverpool on reducing GNBSI (you can download some of the speaker abstracts here). It seems that the hefty majority of E. coli BSIs are rooted in issues outwith the walls of acute hospitals. So the question is, who’s going to tackle these issues to prevent GNBSI? Who’s going to go for GNBSI (sorry, couldn’t resist another pop-culture reference to the ‘80s – who could forget ‘Going for Gold’ with Henry Kelly).

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Do single rooms prevent HCAI? This suggest suggests YES for norovirus, but no for C. difficile infection and E. coli BSI

There are pros and cons of increasing the proportion of single rooms. One of the commonly-cited pros is a reduction in HCAI. A recent UK study provides some evidence that C. difficlie infection, and MSSA /  E. coli BSIs are not reduced by a move to a hospital with more single rooms, but that norovirus control is more effective when you have more single rooms.

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What makes a tweet fly at conferences?

A study just published in ICHE investigates tweeting activity at several IPC / ID / AMR conferences (the 2016 editions of IPS, ID Week, FIS/HIS, and ACIPC). Perhaps the most interesting finding is that including a weblink or tweeting on certain topics (including C. difficile and the media) increase the chances of a tweet being retweeted, whereas, surprisingly, including a picture reduces the changes of a tweet being retweeted.

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