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Confessions of an Infection Prevention Junkie

Confessions of an Infection Prevention Junkie

Let’s get it out on the table; I am an infection prevention junkie.  I am the guy who watches the 24-hour news cycle for stories related to the happenings in the world of “germs, microbes, pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks” and such. 

Here are just a few of the recent stories I have followed out of a weird curiosity:

  • Norovirus Is the Leading Cause of Infection Outbreaks in US Hospitals-February 1, 2012.  Norovirus, a pathogen that often causes food poisoning and gastroenteritis, was responsible for 18.2 percent of all infection outbreaks and 65 percent of closures in U.S. hospitals during a two-year period, according to a new study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC)
  • March 16, 2012:  Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization. warned that bacteria were starting to become so resistant to common antibiotics that it could bring about “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”  As a result, every antibiotic ever developed is at risk of becoming useless, making once-routine operations impossible. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.
  • USA Today, Dangerous MRSA Bacteria Expand to Communities, December 2013, A USA TODAY investigation shows MRSA bacteria, once confined to hospitals, are emerging in communities to strike an increasing number of children, as well as schools, prisons, even NFL locker rooms.

 As you can readily see, there is much to be worried about if you are a self-confessed infection prevention junkie. 

While I have had an interest in infection prevention and control for decades, I wasn’t impacted until 2006 when my 37-year “young” daughter-in-law got a staph infection on her hand.  She had been spending a lot of time in a local gym working out with a personal trainer trying to get ready for an Iron Woman competition.

As it turns out, the “staph” turned out to be MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auerus).  Her doctor was treating it, but was losing the battle.  Within 30 days the bacteria had settled in the lining around her heart and she died at home before they could get her to the Emergency Room.  She left my son a widower with three children (16 months – 10 years old).  That is when I saw how families are impacted by pathogenic bacteria and viruses; many of which are preventable.

Now I am spreading the gospel that one conscientious housekeeper, given the right tools, chemicals and equipment, and given the proper amount of time to do her job, will prevent more infections than a room full of doctors can cure.

That conscientious housekeeper shows up everyday and cleans your school, hospital, fitness center, rest rooms or airport.  Who knows whose life she saved today; it could be yours!

Do you want to join me in the crusade to save lives through better cleaning?  I am recruiting people everyday.  You can become an infection prevention junkie, too!



About Darrel Hicks

J. Darrel Hicks, B.A., is the author of Wiley Publishing's "Infection Prevention For Dummies", and is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in infection control. Darrel Hicks is also the Past President of the IEHA and is an active member in AHE where he holds the designation of CHESP. View all posts by Darrel Hicks

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