According to the World Health Organization, infection prevention and control (IPC) is a scientific strategy and workable solution created to stop the harm that parasites can do to patients and healthcare professionals. It is an element of epidemiology that is important for understanding social sciences, global health and infectious illnesses. To improve patient safety and the health system overall, effective IPC is a public health concern. According to the WHO’s core components of IPC, access to healthcare services that are designed and managed to reduce the risks of preventable HAI for patients and healthcare workers is a fundamental human right. Dr. Sheetu Singh plays a pivotal role in infectious disease prevention and control through her multifaceted contributions. She is an expert in many facets of this crucial matter, beginning with the quick and effective diagnosis and treatment of infectious disorders.
The Spread of Infectious Disease
An infection is defined as the successful transmission of pathogenic microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi that are spread.
- From person to person
- Through respiratory droplets such as sneezing or coughing
- Through fluids from the body
- exposure to an infectious pathogen directly from the environment
- During childbirth from mother to fetus
- Biological- intermediate host or vector such as Zika virus
- Mechanical- vehicle or vector such as Plague transmission of Yersinia Pestis by Fleas
- Airborne such as Tuberculosis
Human infections occur when an infectious bacterium enters the body, multiplies and triggers an immune response that may lead to an infectious disease. The Epidemiological Triad is a set of three factors that are necessary for infectious disease transmission.
- The agent– The microorganisms that cause the infection and can be in the form of viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi
- The Host– The target of the disease
- The Environment– The conditions and surroundings (which are external to the disease)
Infection Spread in Healthcare
Due to the presence and proportion of susceptible people, healthcare facilities, including hospitals and primary care clinics, are a place where disease transmission is more likely to occur. During treatment, one in ten individuals contracts an infection though efficient infection control lowers healthcare-associated infections by at least 30%. The three elements necessary for infection propagation in a medical context are as follows: –
- Source – places where infectious agents survive like hospital equipment, sinks, countertops and medical devices.
- Environment- Sinks, hospital equipment, patient care areas, medical devices and countertops
- People- healthcare workers, patients or visitors
- Susceptible person – Someone who has a weakened immune system, is not immunized against a certain infectious disease, or is not immune to it.
- Additionally, underlying medical disorders, drugs and essential treatments and procedures like surgery that raise the risk of infection can make people more susceptible.
- Transmission – How bacteria are transferred to the affected person
- Touch including via medical equipment or a susceptible person such as VRE or MRSA
- Splashes or sprays for example, Pertussis
- Inhalation of Aerosolized particles like Measles or TB.
- Bleeding pathogens are spread through sharp injuries such as HBV, HIV and HCV.
Controlling Infectious Diseases Within Communities
Infection control and prevention is a global concern and numerous protocols and recommendations can be followed to reduce the spread of infection among individuals, within a group and globally. Identifying at-risk groups such as kids, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, can also help direct initiatives to safeguard these groups. The first step in infection control may be to alter community practices, such as: –
- Regular hand washing
- Appropriate use of body and face masks prevents the spread of and protects from respiratory infections
- Using insect repellents
- Participating in immunization programs and ensuring current routine vaccines
- Taking prescribed medications such as Antibiotics as directed by health professionals
- Avoiding contact with outsiders-social distancing
- Using protection when intimate, especially with new partners.
Other steps that can be taken to stop the spread inside communities include environmental controls like:-
- Surveillance of diseases
- Modifying environments
- Food safety
- Air quality
There are biochemical interventions that can be used in addition to straightforward measures to prevent and control infections to hasten the healing process and in certain situations, totally prevent viral infections. The development of Antivirals, Antibiotics and Vaccinations has been shown to speed up recovery, infectious illness spread is slowed down and in some cases eliminated from communities.
Antibiotics are administered for bacterial illnesses to boost the body’s natural defense mechanism in eradicating pathogenic microorganisms. They are intended to either eradicate germs or prevent their reproduction. However, improper use of antibiotics, excessive prescription and bacterial mutation have resulted in the creation of resistant bacteria.
The purpose of vaccinations is to increase immunity to a certain disease. Small amounts of the disease-causing virus or bacteria are introduced into the host during vaccinations to help the recipient develop natural immunity. The introduction of regular vaccines has slowed down and in some cases eradicated certain diseases such as Measles, Polio, Mumps, whooping cough and Rubeola. There are other vaccines available to prevent chickenpox, but they are only given to people who are at high risk of passing the illness to people who have compromised immune systems.
Antibiotics provide no defense against infectious diseases that are caused by viral agents such as HIV, Influenza, Hepatitis and Herpes. Antiviral medications are most effective in these circumstances for preventing the infection from spreading and boosting immunity.
Standard Precautions for All Patient Care: –
- Perform hand hygiene
- To prevent infection, put on personal protective equipment PPE
- Follow cough etiquette principles/respiratory hygiene
- Ensure appropriate isolation precautions and patient placement
- Properly clean, handle and disinfect patient care equipment and medical instruments.
- improving the flow of information among medical professionals, particularly when referring patients who may be contagious.