As a nurse and specialist for biohazard cleanup in Los Angeles and Southern California, I know a lot about infectious diseases, and since it’s “cold and flu season,” I wanted to share some handy illness prevention tips.
According to a recent CDC report, there were more than 16.8 million visits to physician’s offices for infectious diseases in 2016. Infectious diseases are caused by certain types of bacteria, viruses or organisms that cause harm or death if a human is in contact through ingestion, inhalation, or mucous membrane absorption. Infectious diseases such as Clostridium difficile, MRSA, Hepatitis and Staph are highly contagious and easily passed between people.
Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are invisible to the naked eye and are impossible to detect unless you detect an actively infected individual or contamination is highly suspect. If a family member, co-worker or cohabitant have been diagnosed with an infectious disease or are showing symptoms it is imperative that the living space be contained and decontaminated.
Any items touched or used are possible contaminants and, in many cases, the pathogens may be airborne. Surfaces, personal items and even air space need to be properly decontaminated by a biohazard cleanup company that is licensed and experienced to conduct such work. Not doing so puts anyone exposed to the environment at risk of contracting the infectious disease. The BioClean Team provides this type of biohazard cleanup in Los Angeles County, as well as throughout Southern California.
Here’s a quick at some of the most common infectious diseases:
MRSA is an acronym for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus bacteria that is resistant to certain “cillin” antibiotics, such as penicillin and amoxicillin. Most MRSA infections are skin, mucous, or wound infections; however, the more severe and life-threatening infections often will occur in healthcare facilities affecting immunocompromised individuals, elderly and the very young.
MRSA can be found in wounds, mucous membranes such as nares (nostrils) or mouth, and lives on hard surfaces for days to weeks. MRSA bacteria can live on surfaces for longer than some other bacteria and viruses because they survive better without moisture.
2. C. Diff
Clostridium difficile (C. Diff) are very hardy bacteria that cause intestinal illness and excessive diarrhea. There are many bacteria and viruses that can cause intestinal illness, so it is important to be tested if C. Diff is suspected. Common pathogens that lead to intestinal illnesses include bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, C. Diff and campylobacter, as well as viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus. C. Diff is particularly dangerous because it causes excessive watery diarrhea which rids the body of electrolytes and hydration. This can be deadly in the elderly, immunocompromised or the very young.
While other stomach illness pathogens such as salmonella and campylobacter survive only for short periods of around 1 to 4 hours on hard surfaces, C. Diff, can survive for up to five months on hard surfaces. C. Diff is highly contagious and is passed through fecal oral contamination, meaning, if you touch a surface with this pathogen that another person has touched and then touch your face, mouth, or nose, you have a high probability of contracting C. Diff. As stated before, the elderly and immunocompromised have the greatest risk of contracting C. Diff. Handwashing is VERY important as C. Diff is affected by soap and water, but has shown resistance to hand sanitizers. These bacteria will NOT be killed by sanitizing your hands with over-the-counter hand sanitizers.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that affect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Symptoms of flu involve muscle aches and soreness, headache and fever.
There are potentially 144 different subtypes of influenza A viruses, not to mention Influenza B, C and D. The virus is constantly mutating making it very difficult to find a suitable preventative.
Influenza can be deadly for adults 65 and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and children younger than 5 years. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
Help protect yourself and others from the flu:
• Stay away from people who are sick with the flu.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer).
• Try not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes. This helps keep germs from spreading.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – whether or not you have the flu. Throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands.
• Clean surfaces and objects that may have flu germs on them, such as doorknobs.
• If you have the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone without using a fever-reducing medicine.)
• If you or a loved one has a respiratory illness, contact The BioClean Team for decontamination of hard surfaces to reduce the risk of exposure, contaminants and infection. We provide decontamination and biohazard cleanup in Los Angeles County, as well as all other counties in Southern California.
4. Hepatitis A, B & C
The Hepatitis A virus, which causes liver damage, has become very common among the homeless community. Major cities have seen an increase in these cases due to the rise of homelessness and homeless encampments. San Diego recently implemented portable hand-washing stations through the downtown area due to the Hepatitis A epidemic.
Hepatitis A is also fecal oral, which means it is transmitted from feces to mouth and through the consumption of contaminated water and food. Decreased hand washing and unsanitary conditions make Hepatitis A more likely to spread.
The Hepatitis A virus often is transmitted when an infected person uses the bathroom and doesn’t follow proper hand -washing protocol. One reason that Hepatitis A is so prevalent in the homeless communities is that, unfortunately, the homeless have limited ways to wash their hands after defecating and often are eating expired food from contaminated areas.
The Hepatitis B virus is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. The virus is highly contagious and transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (feces, saliva, urine, vomit) of an infected person. Blood often is found in feces, urine and vomit.
According to the CDC, most persons with Hepatitis B acquire the infection as adolescents or adults through parenteral drug use, occupational exposures and household contact with a person who has an acute infection or with a chronic carrier.
The Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne virus, and the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood. This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. There currently is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, and it is the most chronic and life threatening of the three forms of hepatitis.
Only those with blood-borne pathogen training and certifications in proper PPE (personal protective equipment) should clean blood, feces, saliva, urine or vomit due to the possibility of contracting Hepatitis A, B or C.
The BioClean Team is well versed in viral decontamination. Technicians are trained within the same guidelines as hospital staff as the owner is a registered nurse with a background in microbiology and more than 10 years of experience in infection control and pathogens. The BioClean Team will decontaminate hard surfaces using appropriate decontamination chemicals far more powerful than over-the-counter cleaners. Contaminated porous surfaces must be removed and disposed of according to the protocol set out by the California Department of Public Health.
If you need decontamination cleanup or biohazard cleanup in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino counties, the BioClean Team can help. Feel free to contact us at any time, and we are available 24/7/365.