Understanding Infection Risk

 

Antibiotic Resistance

The Growing Threat of Superbugs

Antibiotic resistance is a race against time. It is a global challenge. In the U.S., 2 million people are affected annually, with at least 23,000 mortalities. Antibiotic-resistance compounds the problem of healthcare and community-acquired infections. The CDC reports that 5-10% of hospitalized patients acquire an infection; 25% of those die within the next twelve months. This is a $20 billion problem. Key organizations including the CDC are encouraging and investing in innovations to enhance and strengthen current infection control best practices and antibiotic stewardship programs, with a increased focus on prevention. Through the Global AMR Challenge, there is a call to all key organizations and the public to prevent infections and thus reduce the use of antibiotics.

 

Here are 5 Things to Know about Antibiotic Resistance, courtesy of the CDC:
  1. Antibiotic resistance occurs when germs defeat the drugs designed to kill them, called antibiotics. It does NOT mean your body is resistant to antibiotics.
  2. Antibiotic resistance can affect people at any stage of life. Infections caused by resistant germs are difficult—sometimes impossible—to treat. In many cases, these infections require extended hospital stays, additional follow-up doctor visits, and the use of treatments that may be costly and potentially toxic.
  3. Healthy habits can protect you from infections and help stop germs from spreading. Get recommended vaccines, keep hands and wounds clean, and take good care of chronic conditions, like diabetes.
  4. Antibiotics save human and animal lives. But, when antibiotics are used, they can lead to side effects and resistance. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and the flu. Talk to your healthcare provider or veterinarian about whether antibiotics are needed.
  5. Antibiotic resistance has been found in all regions of the world. Modern trade and travel mean it can move easily across borders, and can spread in places like hospitals, farms, the community, and the environment. Tell your healthcare provider if you recently traveled to or received care in another country.

Infection Control

Generally, “infection control” is a phrase used to refer to practices that prevent or stop the spread of infections in healthcare settings. At Applied Silver, we are inviting everyone from multibillion dollar industries to mindful consumers to join the infection control conversation.

The reality is that germs don’t move themselves. They depend on people, the environment, and equipment to move. Hospitals are constantly seeking new innovations in disinfection, many employing technologies like SilvaClean to take the fight to the sheets. In sports, germs are literally passed from athlete to athlete with the sharing of soiled towels or skin-to-skin contact. Increasingly, headlines from the cruise ship industry tell of viruses sweeping across decks of staterooms.

While the typical recommendations of handwashing, bleach, and covering your mouth to cough are fundamental, they aren’t enough to cut it in this new era of antimicrobial resistance.

The Role of Textiles

Staph, MRSA and emerging pathogens like Candida auris are shed in large amounts from the skin of infected people or carriers (people who silently carry the pathogens without any symptoms). They contaminate clothing, linens, and other textiles which then serve to contaminate the environment (e.g. other surfaces that they come in contact with like the floor, carpet, hard surfaces, locker rooms, bed railings). This occurs while the textiles are being used or stored. The average patient uses linens for 3 days before change. In athletic facilities, players share towels, shed contaminated gear on locker room surfaces, and transport clean and dirty gear in the same laundry carts.

Current laundry practices have an unaddressed gap. The waiting time between use (and contamination) of textiles to when they get decontaminated through standard laundry process may be too much time, allowing contamination to spread rapidly and outbreaks to occur. “Self-cleaning” or antimicrobial textiles provide a clever and innovative solution to address this problem.

Why does it matter in sports?

Keeping athletes healthy in the locker room is a key to winning on the field. Teams do everything they can to keep athletes healthy and in the game while making the environment clean, safe and fun.

The reality is that the athlete environment is conducive to infections. Statistically speaking, athletes are ten times more vulnerable to Staph and MRSA (CDC stats). Infections are easily transmitted between players and staff and can be career-ending, not to mention life-threatening.

The mindset around player safety has changed. New products now allow teams to greatly reduce the injury incidence to players. But when they do occur, infections can drastically prolong the player’s recovery process from those injuries. 

Why does it matter in healthcare?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 25 admitted patients get healthcare-associated infections (HAI); HAIs are a significant and growing concern among infectious disease experts, healthcare workers and facility executives; and hospitals spend billions of dollars annually to address this problem.

Textiles are a big part of the hospital environment. They represent a large surface area, one that gets colonized very quickly, and one that moves around along with patients and HCWs. For instance, aerosols of MRSA and other bacteria can be generated during bed making and dispersed by air movements, contaminating the environment and healthcare worker uniforms and hands – from which the organisms can be further transferred.

By ensuring clean and sanitized soft surfaces, not only do hospitals support the safety of the patient and healthcare worker, but also help reduce the overall contamination level in a facility. Ensuring clean and sanitized soft surfaces should become a standard component of all comprehensive infection prevention programs.