Textiles as Vectors?

Angie SzumlinskiHealth

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) strike 2 million Americans annually, killing 99,000; more people die from HAI than car accidents and homicides combined. People, either a healthcare worker or the patient himself could be a source. Hand hygiene, carefully washing with soap and water or cleaning using alcohol rubs, is followed only 40% of the time. Doctors’ and nurses’ coats carry MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) 65% of the time.

Granted, a lot of things have to line up just right in order for infection to spread. The typical chain starts with an infectious agent, a biological, physical, or chemical agent capable of causing disease. Next is a reservoir (something to carry the agent) such as a human, the environment, or an animal. Next is a portal of exit, say the respiratory tract or a person’s blood, leading to a mode of transmissions, such as a sneeze or a handshake. Next is a portal of entry, the gastrointestinal tract or the skin, for example, into a susceptible host, particularly a person already hospitalized for another reason. All of these pieces have to be in place for you to get an infection, TEXTILES AS VECTORS!

What we want to do is break the chain of infection. Put something in place to stop it. Are you doing enough in your center? Are your staff handling linen cautiously and carefully? Do your nurses wear the same lab coat every day and maybe wash it once a week? It might be a good exercise to do a little research into how you can prevent TEXTILE VECTORS in your center! Read the full McKnights article to learn about the causes and ways to help prevent the spread of infection. Stay well, stay safe, and stay tuned!