Being clean is crucial

Courtney Gladstone (12:00 Micro) realizes the importance of hand washing. She found an article from Live Science that perhaps warnings on passing on infections to our patients are having an effect on health care workers; this is great news, but we cannot become complacent. Here is what Courtney found out:

As we discuss in class and lab especially, there are microorganisms everywhere.  They’re on the door handle, the hand railing in the stair case and the most obvious place for microorganisms to be would be in the hospital. For most of the people taking this microbiology class their jobs are most likely going to have them working hands on with these microorganisms in a hospital, an assisted living facility, the list goes  on and on. It can be scary working hands on with these types of microorganisms but with the proper cleaning and disinfecting techniques it can be controlled and cases of these infections can even be decreased!

MRSA which stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus is exactly what it sounds like, it is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin which makes it very hard to treat. This microorganism can range anywhere from mild to potentially fatal. There are different types of Staphylococcus that can infect the body but the most common in the body is the Staphylococcus aureus which is what we are dealing with in this article.

This disease can be acquired by skin to skin contact. Some examples of this can be in contact sports like wrestling. In the article it was brought up that MRSA has been a problem in jails and homeless shelters because of the close quarters and the unsanitary environment. However it’s not just places like shelters and jails that can be a risky place for this, its hospitals too! However as shown in the article proper hand washing and other sanitary techniques can prevent the spread of MRSA and even decrease the rate of infection!

There were a lot of neat statistics stated in the article that showed how these steps towards more sanitary environments can prevent and lower the rate of infection.  “The number of deaths associated with MRSA has also dropped. In 2005, more than 21,000 people in the U.S. were infected with MRSA at the time of their death, Dantes said. By 2011, the number had fallen to slightly more than 11,000 — a 47 percent drop. In total, there were 80,461 invasive MRSA cases nationwide in 2011, compared with 111,261 MRSA cases in 2005, according to the study.” All of these statistics were said to be the aftermath of proper education about keeping yourself sanitary with all of the correct hand washing methods. “The decline of MRSA is likely due to hospital programs that encourage hand washing, and the wider use of sterile techniques to keep catheters and intravenous lines clean, Dantes said.” Dr. Eli Perencevich, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa who was mentioned in this article as well said that healthcare workers can prevent all of these antibiotic resistant just by practicing great hand hygiene and following other guidelines in their facility.

This doesn’t just have to be followed in places like the hospital; these precautions should be taken everywhere. You never really know what could be lurking on the lab bench or on the elevator buttons. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially in this case. Something to take from this…. WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE!

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About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on November 6, 2013, in Guest Post, Wash your hands!. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nothing grosses me out more than when I see fellow students exit the bathroom without washing their hands. Thanks to my microbiology class, I am more than aware of the microorganisms found on living tissue and non-living surfaces. In addition, I recognize that these microorganisms cause a widespread number of infections and/or diseases. I think everyone should take an introductory microbiology course to become educated on the microscopic creatures around us. I am positive I’d notice a steady drop in the grimy non-handwashers of York College and surrounding areas if everyone became educated on microorganisms. I am thankful for the decline in MRSA cases and I hope the decline continues in the future.

  2. It might also be important to note that just using hand clensers is not enough. The most important part washing your hands is the action of thoroughly rubbing your hands together in order to remove microorganisms and viruses. I’m sure is what they mean when they say “proper handwashing methods” in the article. It might also be important to recognize that the better options for hand sanitizers, especially in healthcare settings, are alcohol based like purell. Antibacterial hand washes and disinfectants may actually aid in increasing antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

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