Measles Outbreak Puts Spotlight on Infection Prevention
By Medline Newsroom Staff | February 14, 2019
The CDC is now tracking three separate outbreaks of measles, the most affected area being Clark County, Washington. The disease, which can result in brain damage, deafness and in rare cases, death, is highly contagious to those not vaccinated against it. Given those risks, it’s worth taking a look at how simple infection prevention measures, on the institutional and individual level, can help prevent pathogens from spreading further.
Since the measles virus can survive in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours (and other pathogens can survive much longer), infection prevention measures at hospitals start with hand hygiene and cleaning.
“With any type of infection or outbreak, hospitals are prepared by having basic infection control measures in place, says Rosie D. Lyles, M.D., director of clinical affairs at Medline. “Optimal hand hygiene, environmental cleaning and disinfection, vaccinations, antimicrobial stewardship, cohorting of patients, wearing proper PPE and universal decolonization are strategies hospitals have in place before an outbreak even starts.”
The way hospitals are constructed and planned help as well. Units are separated (adults vs. pediatrics vs. neonates) and cohort of patients (known positive with an infectious pathogen like MRSA) are kept isolated from each other. That way, an individual with measles-like symptoms, admitted through the ER or by their primary care doctor, has no contact with unvaccinated newborns or vulnerable geriatric and immunocompromised patients. In addition, hospitals follow certain protocols and procedures in the case of patients showing signs and symptoms of an infectious disease, whether it be measles, mumps or influenza.
While doctors, nurses and administrators work diligently to get these outbreaks under control, individuals can fall back on the basics. Practice good hygiene and make sure loved ones do the same. Do not let sick individuals go to work or school. And get vaccinated.
“Whether we’re in a big city or rural area, all healthcare providers are always going to recommend patients get their vaccinations; for themselves and for their loved ones as well,” says Dr. Lyles.
Learn more about how Medline helps institutions large and small prevent infections.