Respiratory Virus Hazards for Health Care Workers

Source: morganka - 123RF

Those bugs are everywhere, and if you’re employed in EMS or in the hospital as a health care worker, you’re at even greater risk.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Epicenter for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections analyzed swab samples collected from the PPE of 59 health care workers before further sampling the workers’ hands, faces, and medical scrubs.

Findings showed that viruses were present in 31% of glove samples, 21% of gowns and 12% of facemasks. Additionally, 21% of hand samples tested positive for viruses, as well as 11% of scrubs and 7% of face samples.

According to the CDC, practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half the number of times they should. On any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water. However, if these are not available, the agency suggests an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

CDC recommends rubbing hand sanitizer on all surfaces of your hands and fingers until dry, which should take about 20 seconds.

The study concluded that healthcare workers (HCWs) are routinely contaminated with respiratory viruses after patient care, indicating the need to ensure that HCWs complete hand hygiene and use other PPE to prevent dissemination of virus to other areas of the hospital.

Modifying self-contact behaviors may decrease the presence of viruses on HCWs.

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