The world is changing, and it’s changing fast. We need to know different transmission precautions!
I remember when the news first broke out about a deadly virus back in 2019. How panic ensued en masse to the point that even supplies of toilet papers ran short (which is funny now looking back at it). It felt like a brief pause to our otherwise hasty lives. And honestly, the first couple of months under lockdown felt like ages ago. But eventually, the virus was given a name—SARS-CoV-2—and it can undoubtedly cause serious illness or even death to a growing number of people. Like in the U.S., countries from all over the globe have been ordered to keep us in isolation in order to protect everyone (pets included) from being infected by this virus while scientists formulate a vaccine.
But if we dive deeper into infections and their potential effects on our bodies, we’ll learn that there are actually two manifestations possible: 1) Symptomatic – which means that a patient is experiencing clinical symptoms suggestive of the disease (which in our case is the COVID-19 disease), and 2) Asymptomatic or Subclinical – which is simply the opposite of the former. In other words, this happens when a patient looks and feels relatively well despite their diagnosis.
In order to better understand how infections occur, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) introduces the ‘Chain of Infection’ which is made up of six components linked to one another. The idea goes simply like this: if we’re able to eradicate at least one of these components, then the infection will not happen. And this is where Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) comes in, as it aims to ultimately stop the spread of infections both within healthcare settings and the community.
IPC makes use of chemical agents called antiseptics (which are products that can be used on the body) and disinfectants (which can be used only on objects as it is too harmful to the skin, i.e. hydrogen peroxide). For highly transmissible infections like COVID-19, so-called Isolation Guidelines are practiced. How it works is the hospital encourages its patients to use private rooms with special ventilation, simply to protect other patients with different illnesses. And if for some reason this is not possible, patients with the same infections (such as the COVID-19 disease) may share rooms, granted that they wear face masks and keep their distance from one another.
Apart from these, IPC still offers us more ways of protecting ourselves and others. We have Standard Precautions which basically make use of common-sense practices like cough etiquette, hand washing, and the appropriate use of PPEs. And if we feel the need to put extra precautions, we then follow Transmission-Based Precautions that are categorized into three:
1) Airborne precautions for patients with infectious diseases like measles, varicella, and tuberculosis, in which the healthcare worker is encouraged to wear N95 masks.
2) Droplet precautions for patients with diphtheria, pneumonia, and pharyngitis. Source control is achieved by encouraging the patient to wear a face mask.
3) Contact precautions for patients with wound infections (possibly with multi-drug resistant bacteria) and herpes. In this case, patient transport is limited and disinfection of the room is prioritized.
- Remember, the International Infection Prevention Week is celebrated annually during the third week of October, in which we aim to further educate everybody on the importance of infection control.