How environmental hygiene protects vulnerable patients

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While the world battled COVID-19, Candida Auris grabbed and spread exponentially. This terrible pathogen can cause serious illnesses and remain on various surfaces indefinitely. Despite being a yeast, it behaves like a bacterium and spreads easily in healthcare settings among vulnerable patients.

Doe Kley, RN, MPH, CIC, T-CHEST, joins in the conversation Protection against infection today® (ICT®) around cauris and to talk about their presentation”Candida Auris: An Emerging Threat” at the Association for Health Care Environment (AHE) Annual Conference: : AHE Exchange, AHE Conference & Solution Center, October 3-5, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

Kley is the senior infection prevention specialist for The Clorox Company (health department) and she also teaches an infection control course at Ohio State University. She is a registered nurse with a degree in microbiology and has a master’s degree in public health. She is state certified in infection control and epidemiology and has 20 years of experience in hospital infection control.

“Unfortunately, while our attention was solely focused on COVID-19, Candida auris has taken full advantage,” says Kley ICT® in an exclusive interview. “And it seems to have really taken hold in this country. Some of the contributing factors include the PSA [personal protective equipment] and the supply shortages, staffing challenges, and disruptions to our usual surveillance programs that help infection prevention professionals detect such pathogens early. The pandemic has disrupted those things. And of course, the nature of a COVID-19 infection severe enough to hospitalize a patient is in and of itself a high risk of contracting a pathogen like cauris. We saw a 60% increase cauris Number of cases during the pandemic.”

As frightening as cauris is, Kley explains that healthy people have a very low risk of becoming infected with the pathogen, including medical staff. Cleaning and disinfecting are key to preventing outbreaks. “But it’s an important reminder of the importance of frequent hand hygiene, wearing PPE when appropriate, wearing it correctly and taking it off properly, and then keeping surfaces clean and disinfecting, particularly the area around the patient bed, as well as any heavy touching surfaces.” And with that particular pathogen, mobile or wearable devices.”

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