International Infection Control Week, October 21-27, 2002, gives us opportunities to recruit new champions for our campaign against the spread of infection. Taking control of the elusive enemy, germs, is a battle that rages on and a battle that we all need tools and tactics for outwitting. The goal is to promote Infection Control as a team effort between physicians, healthcare personnel and patients. This year’s theme is "Patient Safety First."
To go along with the patient safety theme are campaigns to prevent antibiotic over-use, antibiotic safety for patients, prevention of infections during chemo-therapy, dining out safely and Viral Meningitis information. At all times the campaign for good hand hygiene is at the top of the agenda.
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, eating out has become a way of life for many Americans. Nearly 40% of people ages 15-24 eat their main meal out 3 or more times a week. Some simple things we can all do to protect ourselves while eating out would include checking the restaurants last inspection score. Look at cleanliness that would include clean servers, clean overall appearance for the restaurant, and clean, unstained dishes. Server’s hands should not come into contact with your food. Fruits and vegetables should look and smell fresh.
As for food temperatures, order hamburgers well done, order eggs thoroughly cooked and take leftovers directly home after eating out and place in the refrigerator. If you will be out as long as two hours before reaching a refrigerator, forget the doggie bag and leave the leftovers. Don’t be afraid to complain.
It’s estimated that 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses occur each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 325,000 people are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from food poisoning. The most severe cases usually occur in the very old and very young. Symptoms may occur in 2-3 hours or up to 2-3 days and might include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or fever. Dehydration could occur quickly due to loss of fluid due to diarrhea and vomiting. You could be contacted by the health department to find out where and when you ate out so that other people might be protected.
Hospitals across the United States will be observing Infection Control week with posters, flyers and reminders for everyone that "Patient Safety First" is our theme for Infection Control. One particular Hospital will be giving chances to win free manicures to their staff. Remember your hospital’s "Bug Lady" who works hard to help keep those infections under control.