Consumers play an important role in helping to prevent infections. After all, infection prevention is everyone’s business.
The following healthcare topics (formerly posted on APIC’s consumer website preventinfection.org) provide helpful tips and information for consumers on their role in stopping the transmission of infection. Sign up to receive monthly alerts from APIC about consumer-related infection topics.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that infects the respiratory tract. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age. Most children will have been infected with the virus by their second birthday. Humans are the only known source of RSV.
RSV is spread by contaminated secretions and surfaces. You can get RSV by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. RSV can live on contaminated hands for up to 30 minutes but can survive for several hours on solid surfaces such as doorknobs and telephone handsets.
Measles, also called rubeola, is a serious respiratory illness caused by the measles virus. It is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. Measles can be spread even if the infected person is no longer in the room.
The measles virus is spread through the air, or by direct contact, by infectious droplets. The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain contagious for several hours. You can contract the virus by touching these surfaces and then putting your fingers in your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes. The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after a person with measles has occupied the area.
Norovirus is a serious gastrointestinal illness that causes inflammation of the stomach and/or intestines. This inflammation leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Norovirus is extremely contagious (easy to spread) from one person to another. Norovirus is not related to the flu (influenza), even though it is sometimes called the stomach flu. Anyone can get norovirus, and they can have the illness multiple times during their lifetime.
What you need to know about adenovirus
Adenovirus infections have recently been in the news for causing outbreaks in infants and young adults from two states. Adenovirus infections are common in the late winter, spring, and early summer, overlapping with flu season. Though these viral respiratory infections may easily be mistaken for the flu, there are distinct differences to keep in mind.
How to prepare for an outpatient surgery procedure
Outpatient surgery (also known as ambulatory surgery) refers to procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay. These procedures take place in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). ASCs are facilities that provide surgery, medical procedures, and diagnostic services outside of the hospital. Some commonly performed outpatient procedures include endoscopy/colonoscopy, hemodialysis, cataract surgery, ear/nose/throat procedures, gynecological procedures, gall bladder removal, kidney/bladder procedures, arthroscopic/orthopedic procedures, and hernia operations.
Chickenpox versus shingles—What’s the difference?
Did you know? The same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. Although shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus, they are not the same illness. Chickenpox is usually a milder illness that affects children. Shingles results from a reactivation of the virus long after the chickenpox illness has disappeared.
What is conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, occurs when the conjunctiva (the white part of the eyeball and the inner eye lid) is irritated by an infection or allergies. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be caused by several different types of viruses and bacteria. It can occur with colds or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a sore throat. Wearing contact lenses that aren't cleaned properly, or aren't your own, can cause bacterial conjunctivitis.
Vaccination saves lives
Vaccination is needed to protect us as individuals, family members, neighbors, classmates, and our communities. It also protects future generations by stopping the spread of disease. Although vaccines have reduced harmful infectious diseases, the germs that cause vaccine-preventable diseases still exist and can be spread to people who are not protected by vaccines. Thanks to vaccines, many deadly diseases have become rare in the United States.
What You Need to Know about Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. Legionella is commonly found in fresh water sources, but it rarely causes illness in these settings. However, in man-made water sources that are not maintained properly, the bacteria can multiply and cause illness.
How to Enjoy a Salmonella-Free Summer
Summer is the perfect time for cookouts and barbeques. The best way to enjoy your cookout is to follow food safety instructions in the kitchen and while grilling, thus preventing foodborne illnesses like Salmonella. A cookout should be a place where you share memories, not Salmonellosis.
How to Prevent Pesky Summer Pests
We love summer, but we hate the bugs that come with it. As the weather heats up, it is likely you will encounter these pesky creatures. If you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito, tick, or flea, you probably have experienced the itching and irritation they cause. We may call them “pests,” but these vectors can spread germs and diseases with their bites. The term “vector-borne diseases” refers to the illnesses these bugs spread from person-to-person and animal-to-person.
Nightmare Bacteria: What are they, and what can I do?
Perhaps you’ve heard about drug-resistant “Superbugs” in the news. These new threats we are facing now are called “Nightmare Bacteria.” Some of these germs include: Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA), Candida auris, and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Nightmare bacteria are resistant to all antibiotic treatments and can share their genes for resistance with other germs.
Preventing infections during a natural disaster
The past year brought many disasters across our globe, from wildfires to hurricanes, flooding to tornadoes. Natural disasters like these bring not only devastation, but also infection implications. It is important to remember to remain as safe and healthy as possible, and preventing infections is one way you can regain control during and after a disaster.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It is usually a mild illness, but in some instances, it can cause severe liver damage. A person can get hepatitis A by ingesting food or drink contaminated with fecal matter, or by coming in contact with an object that was contaminated with feces (stool) from a person who has hepatitis A.
Who are infection preventionists?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
1 in 25 hospitalized patients will get an infection as a result of the care they receive, and an estimated 75,000 patients will die each year. Because healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a threat to patient safety, many hospitals and healthcare facilities have made the prevention and reduction of these infections a top priority.
What are healthcare-associated infections?
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients can get in a healthcare facility while receiving medical care. These infections are often preventable. No matter where you are—a hospital, a long-term care facility, outpatient surgery center, dialysis center, doctor’s office—you are at risk for infections.
Cleaning your home environment: Steps to take if someone in your house is sick
During the fall and winter months, we are more prone to illness because we spend more time indoors. It’s cold and flu season, and staying healthy can be hard when you are living in the same household with sick individuals. Shared close living space creates a home for germs, especially when people are coughing and sneezing, with fevers and runny noses.
How to be a good visitor during flu season
Keeping your loved ones healthy during their healthcare stay is a priority. If you’re visiting a friend or family member, it’s important to be a good visitor and employ the basic principles of infection prevention. This is especially true during flu season.
Gonorrhea—A sexually transmitted disease with growing resistance
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea can cause infections in the mucous membranes of the genitals, rectum, and throat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 820,000 new gonococcal infections occur in the United States each year.
Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a serious respiratory illness characterized by an infectious cough. Although most of us were vaccinated against it as children, our ability to fight it off weakens, leaving us once again susceptible as adults. Pertussis is very contagious and can be quite serious, especially for infants less than one year of age.
Candida auris—A new threat to patients
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert to healthcare providers because patients in several countries have been infected with Candida auris, a yeast that can lead to invasive infections. Read more to learn about this emerging threat.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can result from the bite of an infected deer tick also known as blacklegged ticks. Lyme disease was first recognized in the United States in 1975 after an unusual outbreak of arthritis near Lyme, Connecticut.
What you need to know about Zika virus
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is currently causing a large outbreak in many countries. The mosquito that can carry the Zika virus can be found in many parts of the world, including the United States. See areas where Zika has been found.
The summer season brings with it many things like graduations, parties, and barbecues. Food safety is important for all these gatherings, and typically focuses on food preparation in the home. It is important to follow food safety instructions in the kitchen, while grilling, and home canning. Botulism has no smell or taste, so it is hard to detect, but it can be deadly. Therefore, it is important to learn how to prevent this foodborne illness.
Hand hygiene and antimicrobial stewardship
May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day: The World Health Organization's annual global call to action for health workers. This year’s theme is “Fight antibiotic resistance—it's in your hands.” So, what can you do to protect yourself and your family from the spread of harmful antibiotic resistant germs? You can pledge to wash your hands.
Cute, fluffy, and harboring bacteria? The truth about backyard poultry.
Soft, fluffy chicks are practically synonymous with spring. With their downy feathers, chicks seem like great cuddling companions, but caution must be taken to prevent infection. Many human illnesses can be acquired through contact with live poultry (including chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys), even when the birds do not appear to be ill. Therefore, it is important to learn how to prevent infection while handling these birds.
Mumps: A vaccine-preventable disease on the rise
Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is spread from person-to-person via direct contact or by droplets of saliva from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, typically when the infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The virus may also spread if the infected person touches items or surfaces without washing their hands, and then someone touches those contaminated surfaces and then touches their mouth or nose.
Preventing infection in adult day centers
Adult day centers provide medical, social, nutritional, and recreational services to seniors and adults with disabilities. The primary aim of the adult day center is to provide care and increase interaction with others, often times engaging them in group activities. Adult day centers also provide meals, activities, socialization, and supervision.
Is it an old wives’ tale or is it smart advice?
Every day, we are bombarded with information from a variety of sources. We can safely ignore some of it, but when it comes to your health, how do you know if the information you’re viewing on the TV screen or internet is factual?
Preventing infection in early childhood centers
As you drop your child off at day care, you are probably thinking: Will they eat enough? Will they take a nap? Will she miss me? How will he get along with the other children? These are all important questions, but your overwhelming concern is likely that your infant or toddler is safe and healthy. Learn more about preventing infections in early childhood centers.
Why should I get a flu shot?
National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), highlights the importance of getting an influenza vaccination every year. Seasonal influenza, often referred to simply as “the flu,” associated with approximately 200,000 hospital admissions and as many as 49,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the CDC. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
Is it allergies or the flu?
The change in seasons also brings illnesses that cause the eyes to water, itch, and become puffy. Soon sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats develop. Are these allergies or is this the flu? Knowing the key differences will help in deciding the best treatment.
How to be a good (and healthy) roommate
It’s that time of year again. School has started, and many young adults are heading off to college for the first time. There will be new adventures and experiences. Personal hygiene may not be a priority for everyone on your dorm floor, so we want to give you some tips on how to be a good roommate and how to stay healthy while you’re away at school.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that may be caused by viruses, drugs, alcohol, or some hereditary or immune problems. The most common types of hepatitis are A, B, and C. In the United States, the most common type of viral hepatitis is hepatitis C.
Diabetes, infections, and you
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which blood glucose (a type of sugar) levels are above normal levels. In people who have diabetes, the pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin (a hormone that helps glucose get the cells of our bodies), or it doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. This can cause sugar to build up in the blood and lead to serious health complications like blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Clean your hands often!
May 5 is the World Health Organization's World Hand Hygiene Day. Hand hygiene (washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer) is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. Because it is the number one way to stop the spread of germs, it is important to clean your hands often. Remember: CLEAN HANDS COUNT for safe healthcare!
Meningococcal disease: What it is and how to prevent it
Meningococcal disease is any infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause bloodstream infections or meningitis—an inflammation in the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord. The type of meningitis that is caused by meningococcal disease is referred to as meningococcal meningitis. It will strike otherwise healthy individuals and can cause devastating illness—even death.
Is strep causing that sore throat?
“My throat hurts!” That’s not a phrase any parent wants to hear, and their first guess is often strep throat. Strep throat (or Group A Streptococcal pharyngitis) is a common illness in children, but can affect people at any age. Here’s what you need to know about strep throat and how to prevent it.
Fecal transplants: A new Clostridium difficile treatment option
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection is a diarrheal illness that causes almost half a million infections among patients in the United States each year. The illness happens more commonly in people who have been taking antibiotics. This is because the antibiotics change the normal bacteria in the gut. A new treatment is now being given to patients with recurrent C. diff. It is called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), or bacteriotherapy, and it involves putting stool or fecal specimen (poop) from a healthy person into the gastrointestinal tract of the patient who has C. diff.
World AIDS Day: “The time to act is now.”
December 1 is World AIDS Day. Learn how HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) are spread, and the impact it can have on your life.
Get Smart: Your role in preventing antibiotic resistance
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. In recognition of Get Smart about Antibiotics Week, November 14-20, we are providing you with important information about the appropriate use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.
Germy gloves and scarves—Oh, my!
Winter is coming, and with that, comes colder weather. And during the cold weather season, it’s common to see many runny noses, coughs, sore throats, and respiratory infections such as the flu.
Sepsis is a serious medical condition resulting from an infection. As part of the body’s inflammatory response to fight infection, chemicals are released into the bloodstream. These chemicals can cause blood vessels to leak and clot, meaning organs like the kidneys, lung, and heart will not get enough oxygen.
Herd immunity (or community immunity) occurs when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness), making the spread of this disease from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and the immunocompromised) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.
Preventing foodborne illness
Proper handling and preparation of food are important to prevent and avoid foodborne illnesses (food poisoning). Before you fire up the grill for summertime cookouts, picnics, and holiday celebrations, here is important information about foodborne illness.
Be prepared for natural disasters
Natural disasters are an unfortunate reality of living on planet earth. So what are we to do when Mother Nature barges in and takes control? Be prepared. As hard as we wish we could predict the future, we simply cannot. We cannot reliably and accurately predict tomorrow evening’s winning lottery numbers, traffic on the expressway, or even a natural disaster. Our best option is to be prepared.
Genital herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases
Genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex type 1 and type 2 viruses, is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Any person who is sexually active is at risk for getting herpes. In fact, most people with the virus don’t have any symptoms; however, even without symptoms, the disease can still be spread between sexual partners.
Tuberculosis: Unite to end it
Tuberculosis (TB) is an ancient disease, yet remains a worldwide problem. In 2014, 9.6 million people had active TB worldwide, leading to more than 1 million deaths. The United States reported nearly 10,000 people with TB, meaning about 3 in every 100,000 persons was affected.
ERCP procedures and duodenoscopes: Infection risks and considerations
You may have heard about recent reports of infections with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a highly resistant form of bacteria, linked to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures. Most recently, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center notified 179 patients who underwent ERCP that they may have been exposed to CRE from contaminated duodenoscopes.
Medical tourism: Risks and safety concerns
Medical tourism is a growing practice in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 750,000 people travel to other countries each year for surgical or dental procedures. Dental work, cardiac surgery, and bariatric, cosmetic, and orthopedic procedures are the most common procedures.
Travel tips to keep you healthy and safe
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the last thing you need is to get sick. It is important to remember that there are many other diseases in the world that can also make you very ill. Taking some precautions before you leave and while you’re at your destination will help prevent a ruined trip.
Caring for your PICC line at home
If you have just had a PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) put in your arm, there are some important things you need to know. This line is used for intravenous therapy such as medications, blood transfusions, extra fluids, or nutrition that you will need over an extended period of time.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)
There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a non-polio enterovirus. Uncommonly reported in the U.S., this virus was first identified in California in 1962.
Stay safe from stomach bugs at the country fair
Do your autumn plans include a trip to a country fair? Spending a day at the fair is fun, but it’s important to make hand hygiene an important part of your day, especially if you will be coming into contact with certain animals.
Recreational water illnesses
Summer is here, so now is the time to get out and enjoy the weather and get into the water. But don’t let all that beautiful blue water fool you; it can be contaminated with many germs that can cause recreational water illnesses (RWI). Knowing the basic facts about RWI can make the difference between an enjoyable time at the pool, beach, or water park, and getting a rash, having diarrhea, or developing another potentially serious illness.
Traveling this summer? Pack more than just your clothes—Pack a vaccination!
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It is usually a mild illness, but in some instances, it can cause severe liver damage. A person can get Hepatitis A by ingesting food or drink contaminated with fecal matter, or by coming in contact with an object that was contaminated with feces (stool) from a person who has Hepatitis A.
Urinary tract infections: what you need to know to reduce your risk
A urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI, occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the urinary tract. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that UTIs are the third most common healthcare-associated infection, accounting for more than 93,000 infections in hospitals alone. Read about how you can reduce your risk of developing a CAUTI.
Finding reliable health information on the web
Millions of websites offer health-related information. Some of the information is reliable and up to date, but some of it is just wrong or impossible to understand. How can you tell the good from the bad? Read more to find out.
Top 9 ways to reduce the risk of pneumonia if you or a loved one is hospitalized
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia. Certain people are more likely to get sick with pneumonia including adults 65 years of age or older; children younger than 5 years of age; people who have medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma; and people who smoke cigarettes. Learn more about pneumonia and steps you can take to prevent it.
There is no doubt that antibiotics save lives; however, misuse of antibiotics can result in resistant infections and deadly diarrhea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report on improving antibiotic use among hospitalized patients. Learn more about antibiotic uses, antibiotic resistance, and patient safety.
What is an HAI?
You may have read about HAIs in the newspaper or seen news about them on TV, but you may still be wondering what exactly they are. Look no further, my friend, for you have come to the right place. Simply stated, HAI stands for healthcare-associated infection. Learn more about these infections and how you can help prevent them.
How to be a good visitor at a nursing home
You all know the feeling. You wake up with a scratchy throat, a headache, a cough, or you might be feeling a bit achy, or feel like you have “just a touch of a cold.” Your stomach may be upset or you may be making frequent bathroom stops. But you had planned to visit your loved one at a long-term care facility (also known as a nursing home), and you know he/she has been looking forward to your visit.
These can be symptoms of many things, but they might be symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses that can spread quickly and infect a long-term care facility’s residents, patients, families, and staff. What to do?
Clean your home to prevent winter illness
As colder weather settles in and we spend more time indoors in enclosed spaces, it is time to think about winterizing our homes and cleaning dust and dirt which carry germs. A few simple tips can make the daunting task easier and provide for a cleaner environment for you and your family—limiting the spread of cold and flu germs and other types of infections. Start at the top and work down…second floor to first floor to basement. Remember to make cleaning a family affair. Keeping a home clean should be shared by all members of the family.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Holiday hand hygiene
The holiday season is a time for enjoying the company of our family and friends, marathon mall shopping to look for that perfect present, office parties, and interaction with many members of our community. Coincidentally, illnesses such as colds and the flu tend to flourish during this time as well. Learn how to stay well to enjoy the festivities by keeping your hands clean!
Get smart about antibiotics... and antibiotic resistance!
It has been a common practice for decades—you get sick, you go to the doctor, you ask for antibiotics, and you get a prescription (whether you need it or not); you feel better in a couple of days and you stop taking the antibiotic. Sound familiar? Because of overuse and improper use of antibiotics for so many years, the bacteria have become smart and they have adapted (or mutated) to let themselves continue to multiply and spread. Some of the bacteria are resistant to just one group (also known as family) of antibiotics but there are some bacteria that are resistant to many families. These we call multidrug-resistant organisms and unfortunately, we’re seeing more of them.
Influenza and pneumococcal immunization
The best way to prevent pneumococcal disease and influenza (also known as the flu) is by getting vaccinated. By doing so, you not only protect yourself, but you protect others (e.g., cancer patients, people with suppressed immune systems) who are vulnerable to severe illness or even death if they get one of these viruses. Learn more about these vaccines and how to protect yourself and loved ones.
Protect the young
Flu is so highly contagious that it leads to thousands of hospitalizations each year and can even cause death. More than 600 children have died from the flu over the past four years. Everyone 6 months and older needs flu vaccine every year. Families are an essential member of vaccination team!
Injection safety: What you don’t know can hurt you
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported nearly 50 outbreaks linked to unsafe injection practices, with more than 150,000 patients affected since 2001. These outbreaks have included transmission of hepatitis B and C, as well as bacterial infections. Learn more about how patients can ensure providers are using safe injection practices by knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask.
The very basics about HIV and AIDS
Approximately 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and 17 million are infected worldwide. Read more about HIV, how it is spread, controlling HIV, and more.
Chlamydia: What you need to know
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States, with 3 million infections occuring each year. This bacterial disease can infect the penis, vagina, anus, urethra, eye, or throat and may result in serious health problems. Teens and young adults have the highest rates of infection. Learn how to prevent this infection.
Hepatitis C screening for baby boomers
If you were born during 1945-1965, talk to your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C. More than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die each year from hepatitis C-related illness. Deaths related to hepatitis C have been on the rise and are expected to increase. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the leading reason for liver transplants.
CRE: The ‘nightmare bacteria’
CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) infections come from bacteria that are normally found in a healthy person’s digestive tract. When a person is receiving serious medical care (for example, involving urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, or surgery) these bacteria can end up where they don’t belong—for example in the bladder or blood. Because these bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, these infections are very difficult to treat.
Outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics—what you need to know
What is the difference between outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics? What do consumers need to know to be best prepared? The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) presents some practical information so everyone can feel most prepared.
Top 10 ways to prevent infection in the New Year
The beginning of a new year represents a fresh start and an opportunity to make resolutions to achieve specific goals. What about setting some New Year’s resolutions to prevent infections before they happen to you? Beyond the obvious—steering clear of runny noses and hacking coughs—APIC presents some other practical ways of staying infection-free.
Antibiotics – Preserving them for the future
Antibiotics are life-saving drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Using antibiotics inappropriately contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections. As a result, stronger, more expensive antibiotics are needed to overcome the same bacteria. People who develop antibiotic-resistant infections are more likely to need hospitalization and are at increased risk for death.
Herpes Zoster vaccine—Protection that adds up!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles (Herpes Zoster). People with shingles develop a painful skin rash. Shingles can also cause symptoms, such as fever and headache. Rarely, the infection can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. The CDC recommends that adults ages 60 and older should receive the Zostavax vaccine to prevent shingles. Learn more about how to reduce the risk and complications of shingles.
Scabies and lice — How nice!
Just the words scabies and lice can start to make you itch, but with a little knowledge on your side these common creepy crawlies can be treated and prevented. Learn the facts, and ditch the myths.
Rabies: What you need to know
Rabies is a virus that is transmitted from animals to humans (or other animals) through saliva, central nervous system tissue (brain, spinal cord), and brain/spinal cord fluid. The fluid or tissue containing the virus enters the system via fresh bites or scratches or through contacting the eyes, nose, and mouth. Rabies affects mammals and is often found in bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, cats (feral), dogs, and livestock. Bites by some animals, such as bats, can inflict minor injury and can sometimes be difficult to detect. It is therefore important to understand the disease, be able to recognize an exposure, and know how to protect yourself after an exposure has occurred. Listen to the public service announcement.
Get the facts about necrotizing fasciitis: The flesh-eating disease
There are many strains of bacteria that can cause the flesh-eating disease known as necrotizing fasciitis, but most cases are caused by a bacteria called group A strep, or Streptococcus pyogenes. More common infections with group A strep are not only strep throat, but also a skin infection called impetigo. Flesh-eating strep infections or necrotizing fasciitis is considered rare.
If you could prevent cancer with a vaccine, would you get it?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause cervical, penile, anal, vaginal, and/or oropharyngeal (mouth or throat) cancers. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended vaccination against HPV for all girls 11 or 12 years of age. In 2011, the ACIP recommended that boys ages 11 or 12 also receive the vaccine. Since there is no cure for the virus, vaccination is the best way to prevent people from getting the illness.
Preventing infections when visiting the nail salon or tattoo parlor
If you’re thinking about heading to the nail salon for a little pampering or getting a new tattoo, follow these infection prevention strategies to decrease your risk of getting an infection.
What you need to know about Clostridium difficile
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is part of the normal bacteria found in some people’s intestines or colons. However, when you take an antibiotic, the levels of good bacteria are reduced down to a smaller number. This makes it possible for the C. diff to overpopulate your intestine or colon.
Three steps toward preventing infections during cancer treatment
More than one million patients receive treatment for cancer in an outpatient oncology clinic every year. One of the most dangerous side effects of receiving chemotherapy is a reduction in the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in the body. Infections are a major cause of hospitalization and death among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Preventing the flu depends on you
Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can then land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, has recently been recognized as an important public health problem in the United States.
Prevent infections by keeping your environment clean
Keeping your environment clean—whether at home, work, school or the hospital—is an important way to prevent infection. Dangerous germs can take up residence anywhere. By keeping them to a minimum, you will reduce your chances of developing an infection and improve your health.
Meningococcal disease: What you need to know
Meningococcal disease is a very serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. It is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children ages 2 through 18 in the United States. Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes that enclose the brain and spinal cord.
Mosquitoes, West Nile Virus, and you
The “Fight the Bite” campaign championed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has one focus – to eliminate or radically reduce diseases in humans that are carried by mosquitoes. One of those diseases is West Nile Virus (abbreviated WNV), which was first recognized in the United States in 1999. Since then, a lot has been learned about this virus which is thought to have originated in Africa, west Asia and Europe.
Infection Prevention and You
Learn about who is working to keep you safe from healthcare-associated infections and how you can have a role in speaking up about your care.
Five important reasons to vaccinate your child
You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?
Tuberculosis: Considerations for an old threat
Tubercuolosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that involves the lungs, but may spread to other organs. In the United States, there are approximately 10 cases of TB per 100,000 people. However, rates vary dramatically by area of residence and socioeconomic status.
You never outgrow vaccines
Vaccine-preventable diseases haven't gone away. The truth is, the viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines.
Responsible use of antibiotics
Antibiotics are precious, just as our lives are precious. To protect our lives we must use antibiotics wisely.
Throughout the year, we gather with friends and family for potlucks, parties, catered events, and celebrations in our homes and in restaurants. It is important to take steps to avoid food poisoning through the proper handling and preparation of food.
Infection prevention outside the hospital
We know that hospital rooms can harbor germs that can cause serious infections, especially for elderly or immunocompromised patients. But did you know that germs and infections live everywhere, even out in the community? As the "family infection preventionist," understand the risks and take action in preventing the spread of community infections. We all play a part in keeping loved ones safe and cared for at home and while eating out.
Workplace infection prevention
Most Americans work outside the home. Whether in an office or in a more non-traditional setting, we come into contact with many different individuals and multiple potential reservoirs for the transmission of infection. So what can we do on a routine basis to protect our health and the overall health of our working environment?
Molds are one of two groups of fungi (the other group is yeast) that live in the outdoors or can live indoors. Molds grow in wet, damp and humid conditions; they reproduce by making tiny spores. The spores are not visible to the naked eye, and they can float in the air. Mold spores serve a function similar to that of seeds in plants; they germinate and grow into new mold under conditions of moisture, the right temperature and availability of food. Spores can also survive in incompatible conditions for periods of time.
Infection prevention in the home
A fresh start... As we emerge from the long winter, so too do many of the germs tracked inside from our snow boots, pets' feet and hibernating AC units. Although spring cleaning can be a major undertaking, maintaining an infection-free, healthy home is worth the time and energy you will spend. Spring cleaning reinforces our commitment to keep germs out of the home and stop infectious diseases from spreading in the warm months ahead.
Surgical site infections (SSIs)
A surgical site infection is one that occurs following surgery, around the site of the surgical incision. While SSIs are uncommon, they occur in about 1%-3% of every 100 surgery patients.
Keeping your hospital room clean
Hospital rooms can harbor germs that can cause serious infections, especially for elderly patients, those with weakened immune systems, and those who have undergone surgery or who have catheters or tubes inserted in the body. Patients play an important role in reducing the risk of infection transmission by keeping their hospital room as clean as possible.
Hepatitis and dialysis: What patients can do to prevent infection
In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month APIC presents information on these infections, why patients undergoing dialysis are more susceptible and what dialysis patients can do to protect themselves from hepatitis and other infections.
Keeping loved ones safe from infection in healthcare facilities: Be a good visitor
Visitors to a healthcare facility play an important role in guarding patient safety. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) offers simple tips to be a good visitor.