Part 1: What is Infection?
Infections occur when harmful pathogens invade tissues, multiply and trigger a response, from the body’s tissues to combat the agent and its toxins. Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, are illnesses that arise from infections.
A variety of pathogens, with bacteria and viruses being the ones can cause infections. Hosts have the ability to combat these infections through their systems. When faced with an infection mammals typically respond with a reaction that often includes inflammation, followed by a targeted adaptive response.
We are constantly in contact with infectious germs. Our body has many tricks to defend itself against germs. In reality, the immune defenses take over when the germ is really tena cious. Many infectious agents are stopped long before they reach the body. Before the germ even enters the body and causes an infection, it must pass 5 shields put in place by the body.
The Body’s Natural Defenses Against Infections Include:
- Lysozyme : Enzyme present in tears , nasal secretions and saliva , capable of destroying the cell membrane of bacteria .
- Sebum : the oil produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin exerts a protective action on the skin itself, increasing its impermeability and exerting a slight antibacterial action.
- Skin : protective barrier against the penetration of both physical and biochemical substances and pathogens, due to the aforementioned properties of sebaceous secretion and sweat .
- Acidic pH of the stomach , skin and vagina : the microorganisms are destroyed by the acidic environments of the stomach, vagina and skin. With these defenses, the skin and mucosa provide a physical and chemical barrier that prevents entry of pathogens into the soft tissues of the body.
- Mucus : viscous, whitish substance secreted by the mucous membranes of the digestive , respiratory, urinary and genital systems.
- Ciliated epithelium of the respiratory system : mainly present in the nose and trachea , it is responsible for the so-called ” mucociliary clearance “, an essential mechanism for the protection of the respiratory tract. Mucus and cilia are able to fix and hold foreign bodies, filtering the air.
- Microorganisms of the intestinal bacterial flora : they prevent the proliferation of pathogenic bacterial strains by removing their nourishment, occupying the possible sites of adhesion to the intestinal walls and producing active antibiotic substances which inhibit their replication.
- Spermine : present in seminal fluid , spermine is one of the substances responsible for the smell of semen and also gives it an important anti-infective action.
- Microorganisms of the vaginal bacterial flora : under normal conditions, a saprophytic bacterial flora is present in the vagina which, together with the slightly acidic pH, prevents the excessive growth of pathogenic germs.
Part 2: Infection Control
The main goal of infection control is to decrease the occurrence of infections. It encompasses practices and protocols designed to minimize the spread of infections in healthcare settings and other communal establishments, like refugee centers or childcare facilities. Infection control involves implementing both specific measures, for monitoring, prevention and management based on the risks associated with different environments, activities or populations. These measures can include maintaining hygiene standards, identifying individuals who may pose a risk practicing isolation methods when necessary administering vaccinations and providing exposure prophylaxis as needed.
Infection prevention and control practices (IPAC) are evidence-based procedures and practices that can prevent and reduce disease transmission, and eliminate sources of potential infections.
Infection Control Practices Include:
1. Assess the level of risk to determine if you need equipment (such as a gown, gloves, mask, face shield or goggles).
2. Follow the hospital’s hand hygiene policy. Practice handwashing.
3. Adhere to correct procedures for cleaning and disinfecting patients and the surrounding environment (room etiquette). These measures help prevent the growth of microorganisms in areas.
4. Always follow respiratory etiquette.
5. Use gloves when necessary based on a risk assessment especially when handling blood and bodily fluids.
6. Follow guidelines for suspected or confirmed infections or communicable diseases. Use protective equipment depending on how the infection spreads (contact, droplet or airborne).
7. Refrain from eating or drinking in patient/client/resident areas.
8. Take procedures/actions to the risk of infection transmission.