It’s not just about COVID-19, staying vigilant about infection prevention and disinfection can help keep you safe from a whole host of microorganisms that cause disease.
Infectious agents that replicate by infecting a living organism. Viruses cause a wide range of diseases, from seasonal flu to COVID-19. Common examples: Influenza, Norovirus, Coronavirus.
Microscopic organisms that are all around us. Most are harmless, but some types are pathogenic, meaning that they cause disease. Common examples: Hospital-acquired infections (Staphylococcus, C. difficile), foodborne infections (Salmonella, E. coli).
A large group of organisms ranging from mushrooms we eat to microorganisms that cause disease. Common examples: ringworm, Candida, athlete’s foot.
Unlike bacteria and fungi, viruses are not actually alive! This means that they cannot replicate without using the cells of a living organism.
The best way to prevent infections is also the simplest – avoid sick people!
Respiratory droplets and airborne particles can spread pathogens when we cough or sneeze. These can be inhaled or picked up on our hands and infect us when we touch our face.
Wear a mask, keep a safe distance from infected individuals, and wash your hands regularly.
Wash and cook your food properly, avoid cross contamination in the kitchen, and wash your hands thoroughly before eating.
Contaminated surfaces or objects are known as fomites and can also spread pathogens. Surfaces we touch most often pose the greatest risk.
Clean and disinfect fomites regularly and practice hand hygiene.
Inanimate objects become “contaminated”, including clothing, devices and surfaces. People, animals and other living organisms become “infected”.
The process of removing dirt and debris from a surface. Cleaning is an important step and can remove a lot of the pathogen load from a surface, and prepare the surface for proper disinfection.
Reducing the number of bacteria on a surface to a safe level. This does not include other types of pathogens such as viruses and fungi, and does not necessarily kill bacteria to the level of disinfection.
The process of killing pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. Disinfectants are registered with Health Canada or the EPA, and must be tested in an accredited facility. For higher risk surfaces, disinfection is a crucial step in keeping us healthy.
See the difference: The plates below shows the amount of germs before and after cleaning and disinfecting.
Some disinfectants contain detergents so they can clean and disinfect at the same time. Bleach alone does not contain detergents or have cleaning capabilities.
Some disinfectants can be toxic, and negative side effects can include eye and skin irritation, respiratory issues, dizziness, and fertility complications. They can also impact the environment.
But, there are alternatives that are both safer and effective.
REMEMBER: Even with the safest products, it’s always important to read the label carefully to be aware of any safety precautions needed.
A Vector is the spread of pathogens through an organism that acts as a carrier, such as a tick, flea or other humans.