Infection Control

Infectious diseases can be spread from patient to patient, patient to healthcare worker, and from healthcare worker to patient.
Microorganisms that may cause infections include bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Microorganisms may be present in blood, urine, feces, tissue, body fluids, and other secretions/excretions.
Safety precautions must be used to protect patients, our coworkers, and us.
NOTE: Infectious diseases acquired by patients while in the hospital are often referred to as “noscomial” infections.
Acinetobacter infection
Group of bacteria commonly found in soil and water. It can also be found on the skin of healthy people, especially healthcare personnel. Outbreaks typically occur in intensive care units and healthcare settings housing very ill patients.
Bloodborne pathogens
Pathogens found in blood and body fluids. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are of most concern in the U.S. For more information, refer to CE module 1220906 Bloodborne Pathogens.
Chickenpox (Varicella)
Primary infection results in varicella (chickenpox); recurrent infection results in herpes zoster (shingles). Live virus is shed in both primary and recurrent infection.
Clostridium difficile
Bacteria that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
Rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder believed to be caused by a prion.
One of a group of viruses that cause severe multisystem failure syndrome; often accompanied by hemorrhage.
Gastrointestinal (GI) infections
Acute diarrhea/GI distress caused by a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
Deadly viral respiratory disease.
Hepatitis A, B, C
Group of viruses that cause liver disease. Hepatitis A is spread via “fecal-oral” route; hepatitis B and C are bloodborne pathogens.
Human immunodeficiency virus; infection usually results in the development of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Numerous virus strains that cause respiratory disease. For more information, refer to CE Course 1220406 The Bird Flu and You.
Methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus
A type of bacteria that is resistant to methicillin. Infections occur most frequently among persons who have weakened immune systems. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are of great concern to the healthcare community.
Cause of erythema infectiosum (fifth disease), a common rash illness that is usually acquired in childhood.
Since 1979, all cases of endemic poliomyelitis reported in the United States (5 to 10 endemic cases/year) have been related to the administration of oral polio vaccine. Poliovirus is transmitted through contact with feces or urine of infected persons but can be spread by contact with respiratory secretions and, in rare instances, through items contaminated with feces.
In a healthcare setting, bacterial pneumonia may be associated with mechanical ventilation (Gram negative bacteria, S. aureus, Hemophilus influenzae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae). S. pneumoniae can also be transmitted person-to-person.
Rubella is usually a mild febrile rash illness in adults and children. Outbreaks of rubella continue to occur in the United States despite widespread use of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Throughout the mid- to late-1990s, rubella outbreaks were characterized by increased numbers of cases among adults born in countries that do not have or have only recently instituted a national rubella vaccination program.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus; SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained.
Caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). TB, a potentially fatal disease, usually affects the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body. For more information, refer to Tuberculosis: From Consumption to Molecular Diagnosis.
Vancomycin intermediate Staphylococcus aureus
and Vancomycin resistant Staphylococus aureus
Often referred to as “staph”; S. aureus is commonly found on the skin and in the noses of healthy people. In the past several years, treatment of these infections has become more difficult because staph bacteria have become resistant to various antimicrobial agents, including the commonly used penicillin-related antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are of great concern in the healthcare community.
Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE)
Enterococci, leading causes of nosocomial bacteremia, surgical wound infection, and urinary tract infection, that are resistant to many and sometimes all standard therapies. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are of great concern in the healthcare community.

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