Virox Insights Blog

What’s new for 2017?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Wed, Jan 04, 2017 @ 01:58 PM

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Let me begin by saying…HAPPY NEW YEAR! In my last blog post, I admitted to being a total Christmas junkie. I am sure I was not the only one who felt a little bit sad packing up the Christmas decorations knowing that I still have to endure another 3-4 months of winter without having any holiday cheer. There is something satisfying, however, about starting a new year with fresh starts and new beginnings. In fact, I started 2017 by giving my house a top to bottom clean with my new vacuum cleaner, re-organized all my closets, and purged a bunch of junk that we collected during 2016. Fresh starts feel great, but I am not the only one taking advantage of New Year. The New Year also signifies new opportunities for emerging pathogens to make their debut appearance. Let’s take a look at some of the top emerging pathogens from 2016.

According to the World Health Organization, emerging diseases from 2016 requiring urgent attention include: Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, Lassa fever, MERS, SARS, Nipah and Rift Valley fever. As these diseases start to make headlines the tendency is to start freaking out! We go straight to our disinfectant to see if it has an efficacy claim against the new pathogen and when we can’t find the efficacy claim we call the manufacturer frantically asking if our disinfectant will be effective. It’s important to understand that when new pathogens emerge, it takes time to identify what that pathogen is and develop an EPA/Health Canada approved efficacy testing protocol and/or determine if regulatory bodies will in fact allow such a claim on the label. But there is no need to panic because if your facility is using an ideal disinfectant, your facility should be protected from these emerging pathogens.

Spectrum of Efficacy

Did you know that all of the emerging pathogens I mentioned above are enveloped viruses? Enveloped viruses are considered the easy to kill viruses (compared to non-enveloped viruses) and are very susceptible to hospital grade disinfectants. However, what we don’t know is if the emerging pathogens of 2017 will be just as easy to kill which is why we want to use a disinfectant with a broad spectrum of efficacy. Having efficacy claims against bacteria, enveloped viruses, non-enveloped viruses and fungi will ensure that your disinfectant can handle any new pathogens that might come your way. Non-enveloped viruses are especially important, as in 2016, the EPA developed an emerging pathogen guidance document for viral pathogens not listed on EPA registered disinfectant labels. In order to be eligible to meet the Emerging Pathogen Guidance, the disinfectant product must meet the following 2 criteria. 

  1. The product is an EPA-registered, hospital/healthcare or broad-spectrum disinfectant with directions for use on hard, porous or non-porous surfaces.
  2. The currently accepted product label (from an EPA registered product as described above) should have disinfectant efficacy claims against at least one of the following viral pathogen groupings:
    1. A product should be approved by EPA to inactivate at least one large or one small non-enveloped virus (such as Poliovirus, Norovirus or Adenovirus) to be eligible for use against an enveloped emerging viral pathogen.
    2. A product should be approved by EPA to inactivate at least one small, non-enveloped virus to be eligible for use against a large, non-enveloped emerging viral pathogen.
    3. A product should be approved by EPA to inactivate at least two small, non-enveloped viruses to be eligible for use against a small, non-enveloped emerging viral pathogen.

Disinfectant Compliance

While your disinfectant may have a broad spectrum of germicidal efficacy, it will ultimately be useless if staff do not properly use the disinfectant. There are many factors that result in poor compliance including: long contact times, 2 step disinfection verses 1 step, poor safety profile, and not being user friendly. Ultimately we want our disinfectants to not only have a broad spectrum of efficacy but we want them to have fast and realistic contact times that can be achieved in 1 application, be a one-step cleaner disinfectant, be non-toxic and non-irritating and come available in multiple sizes and formats. In fact, Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) disinfectants have been designed with all of these criteria in mind. All AHP® based disinfectants have a broad spectrum of germicidal efficacy including efficacy against gram negative and gram positive bacteria, enveloped viruses, non-enveloped viruses, and fungi in fast and realistic contact times (as fast as 30 seconds against non-enveloped viruses). Furthermore AHP® based disinfectants have been formulated to stay wet for their required contact time, and are proven to be non-toxic, non-irritating and non-respiratory sensitizing. Finally, AHP® based disinfectants are available in multiple sizes and formats making it user friendly to ensure that we give users the best shot at compliance.

I’m sure many of you have made some New Year’s resolutions, so please share them with me in the comments, or tweet them to me @olivialattimore! I hope we can all make creating cleaner and safer environments for our patients, clients, customers and staff a goal for 2017. I wish you all an amazing year ahead!

Insightfully yours,

Olivia

Topics: cleaning, new year cleaning, vacuum, potential outbreaks, world health organization, new year, 2017

Spread Christmas Cheer...Not Christmas Germs!

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Thu, Dec 08, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

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Can you relate to being a total Christmas junkie? I had my Christmas tree up November 18th, have already watched 4 Christmas movies, baked my first batch of Christmas cookies and almost have all of my Christmas shopping done and gifts wrapped. I am THE crazy Christmas lady. Normally my husband is much more of a Christmas junkie than I am (he wanted to put the tree up November 1st!), but he recently came down with the flu which unfortunately has given him the holiday blues. I absolutely refuse to get sick this Christmas season. In fact, I am making my husband sleep in our spare room and I have been disinfecting like crazy, because there is nothing worse than missing out on the holiday cheer because you are feeling ill.

Whether you are a Christmas junkie like me or desperately try to escape the holidays, I am sure we all have a common goal to stay healthy over the next month. To help make this Christmas wish come true, this month’s blog is dedicated to providing you with tips to prevent becoming a grumpy Grinch.

The common cold, including chest colds, head colds, and the seasonal flu are caused by viruses that can put a damper on your holiday spirit. While cold and flu season can start as early as October and can last as late as May, activity peaks during Christmas time and will want to make you say Bah-Humbug! The single best way to protect yourself and family against the flu is to get vaccinated each season. Another effective way to prevent the cold and flu is to practice good hand hygiene, as hands play a major role in the transfer of infectious diseases. In fact, our hands spread up to 80% of germs! The CDC recommends that we wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. We also need to be conscious not to touch our face, eyes or mouth to prevent transmission.

Furthermore, whether you are escaping the Christmas cold or eating your way through the holidays, gastroenteritis is one way to give you the holiday blues. Gastroenteritis is commonly referred to as the stomach flu and is caused by irritated and inflamed intestines or stomach typically caused by a bacterial or viral infection such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Norovirus. Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of food borne illness and Norovirus. Additionally, contaminated foods may look and smell normal so it is important to ensure that foods are thoroughly cooked to destroy bacteria. It is also important to stay home when sick as this may substantially reduce transmission of these illnesses.

 

Lastly, who doesn’t love a little mistletoe during the Christmas season?! If you happen find yourself caught under the mistletoe, watch out for cold sores! Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are painful blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). To prevent catching a cold sore, avoid skin-to-skin contact with others while blisters are present. Avoid oral contact with anything that might touch the lips or skin of another person before it is decontaminated including drinking glasses, coffee mugs, straws, washcloths, towels, utensils, and lip balm.

One last important Christmas illness prevention strategy is to ensure surfaces (especially high touch ones) are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Using a hospital grade disinfectant, with a broad spectrum of efficacy, will be an imperative part of any infection prevention program. Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) is an EPA and Health Canada approved disinfectant technology with proven efficacy against enveloped viruses (easy to kill such as the flu virus), non-enveloped viruses (hard to kill such as Norovirus), and vegetative bacteria (like E. coli and Salmonella). Not only does AHP® have a broad spectrum of efficacy, but it has realistic contact times and is non-toxic and non-irritating resulting in user compliance, providing confidence that surfaces have been disinfected.

So rather than spreading our germs this holiday season, let’s stick to spreading Christmas Cheer. From all of us at Virox, we wish you a safe and healthy holiday season.

Insightfully yours,

Olivia    

 

Topics: disinfect, germs, christmas, holiday, cold and flu

Disinfectants: Our Shield against Antibiotic Resistance

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

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I’ll admit I am a total Apple brand snob. I love having the latest and greatest Apple technology (not that I can keep up with it!). It’s CRAZY the technological world we live in. Every time I experience a technology pain point, Apple someway, somehow, finds a way to overcome it. Imagine we lived in a world where technology never evolved, I would probably be writing this on a typewriter! It seems like a crazy concept doesn’t it? But this is very much our reality when it comes to a very important and essential innovation…antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic and is considered one of the world’s most pressing health concerns. Antibiotic resistant organisms (AROs) can cause illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics to become dangerous and potentially deadly infections. As such, there has been a push towards antibiotic stewardship to ensure antibiotics are prescribed and used responsibly, to inhibit the development of resistance. However, did you know that disinfectants also play an essential role in preventing AROs? When an EFFECTIVE disinfectant is used CORRECTLY, disinfectants have been proven to prevent the transmission and development of harmful AROs. So what should you look for in a disinfectant product to help you tackle antibiotic resistance?

First, we want to prevent resistance with the disinfectants we use, not contribute to the problem.   Choose a disinfectant with an active that readily degrades into the environment such as Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®), Citric Acid, and Peracetic Acid. The reason we want to use products with actives that readily degrade, is because actives that leave behind an active residue and build up in the environment, such as QUATs have been shown to lead to bacterial resistance.

Secondly, we don’t know what pathogens are lurking on our surfaces, so we want to make sure that our disinfectant covers all our efficacy needs. Therefore look for disinfectants that achieve a broad spectrum of germicidal efficacy in fast contact times. AROs are considered vegetative bacteria which can be easily inactivated using a low level disinfectant. Furthermore, we want our disinfectant to achieve this efficacy quickly – the shorter the contact time, the higher the likelihood of compliance from staff responsible for infection prevention

Lastly, we want to ensure that our disinfectants are non-toxic and non-irritating and that staff feel comfortable using their disinfectant. The best way to prevent the transmission and development of AROs is to ensure that staff uses disinfectants correctly, guaranteeing that AROs are killed. The most effective disinfectant in the world is useless if the staff is afraid to use it! Disinfectant users don’t just clean and disinfect once a day or once a week, they are disinfecting multiple times a day increasing their exposure to these chemicals.

Where can you find a disinfectant that meets all of these criteria? AHP® is an excellent weapon of choice when it comes to the war against AROs. AHP® readily breaks down into oxygen and water, ensuring that it doesn’t contribute to resistance, it has germicidal efficacy against a variety of pathogens of concern (including AROs), it has fast and realistic contact times and it has been designed to be non-toxic and non-irritating so users are fear free when it comes to using AHP®. And best of all, AHP® has been proven to dramatically reduce AROs such as VRE (20-23%)!

When it comes to antibiotic resistance we ALL have a role to play. From practicing antibiotic stewardship to choosing responsible disinfectants, we can all be a part of the solution to this global problem.

Insightfully yours,  

Olivia Lattimore

Topics: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, AHP, Resistance, ARO, Antibiotic Resistant Organisms, Prevention, ESKAPE

Disinfectant Bunk!

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

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Bunk
Noun
Synonym: nonsense



Infection Control Week happens to be one of my favorite weeks of the year.  As a total germ nerd, there is nothing more exciting to me than education pertaining to the prevention and control of harmful microorganisms. But, as much as I LOVE education, my absolute pet peeve is when education is not backed by scientific evidence and therefore becomes BUNK. We see it all the time with new celebrity health crazes such as cupping and detox diets, but did you know there is also a whole bunch of Disinfectant Bunk out there as well? Join me as we unravel the top 3 disinfectant bunk!

Bunk #1: The Claims Game

Did you know that many disinfectant manufacturers will contain a shopping list of pathogens on their product label in order to look more effective? Instead of looking for disinfectants with the greatest number of efficacy claims, we want to look for disinfectants with the most applicable claims. There are different classes of pathogens, each with surrogate organisms that are reflective of the gold standard or more difficult to kill pathogen in that class such as:

Vegetative bacteria: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

Fungi: Trichophyton mentagrophytes

Viruses: Poliovirus

Mycobacteria: Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacterium terrae

Bacterial Spores: Bacillus subtilis and Clostridium sporogenes

When cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, it is important to consider what pathogens are relevant to patients and the facility and focus your attention on a disinfectant formulation that provides you with a balance between effectiveness and minimal toxicity to increase user compliance.  

Look at Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) for example, on our product label, you won’t see a ridiculous number of efficacy claims, instead we focus on the pathogens that matter for all our low level, intermediate level, high level and sporicidal disinfectants. Furthermore, we know that AHP® is extremely effective as it has been proven to reduce HAIs by 20% saving facilities thousands of dollars! 

Bunk #2: 24 Hour Sanitizing

How many of you have seen the phrase for liquid disinfectants “Continues to sanitize for up to 24 hours, even after multiple touches”? Seems too good to be true doesn’t it…that’s because it is! What marketing literature doesn’t tell you is that surfaces need to remain clean in order for the disinfectant to keep on sanitizing for 24 hours.   Furthermore, what this also indicates is that this product doesn’t readily degrade, but rather builds up in the environment leaving an active residue behind. Studies show that disinfectants that leave an active residue behind on surfaces contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, a major global health crisis we are currently facing. Instead look for disinfectants with actives that readily degrade into the environment such as hydrogen peroxide! In fact, AHP® breaks down into water and oxygen leaving no active residues behind, ensuring that it won’t contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

Bunk #3: Green Claims

With the global movement to become more environmentally sustainable, many disinfectant manufacturers claim to be green by putting their own “green” logo on their disinfectant label. Just because a product claims to be green doesn’t mean that it is. Product environmental preferability claims should be validated by credible third party certifications (such as EcoLogo, Green Seal, Green Guard, and Design for the Environment (DfE) that have been designed to ensure strict standards are followed in the formulation of cleaning and disinfection products. A number of AHP® based cleaners and disinfectants meet both industry and government requirements to be labeled a “green” product, in fact, a variety of AHP products have received DfE, EcoLogo, Green Guard and Green Seal certification.

 

Marketing can be sneaky and can unfortunately lead to believing in a lot of bunk! That’s why it’s so important to make educated and informed decisions about the products we use and ensuring that they have been validated by third parties so we can effectively and efficiently combat germs in the war against microbes!  

Insightfully yours,

Olivia

 

Topics: Infection Control Week, Claims Game, Green Claims, Infection Prevention Week, Hour Santizing

The Diva in the Laboratory

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

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In my last Blog “Get an A+ in Infection Prevention”, I reminisced on the excitement around the first day back to school. With all the students back in school, I am reminded of one of my favorite subjects…SCIENCE! In high school I had the BEST chemistry teacher and always looked forward to his labs. As someone who loved science class, contrary to what you may think, I was not a science nerd…more like a major DIVA! I will never forget the day I wore a brand new blouse to chem lab and refused to wear my lab coat because there was no way that a frumpy lab coat was going to cover up my fabulous top.  Did I ever learn a lesson!  Not 10 minutes into the lab and I spilled sulfuric acid all over my new top and burnt a hole right through it! Needless to say…after learning the hard way I wore my lab coat for the rest of the year.

You may be wondering why I am telling you this story and how it relates to you. You see, while our lab had protocols and procedures that were meant to be followed (i.e. wearing PPE); I did not recognize the importance of complying with these protocols. In my case, I got lucky and only ruined my shirt, it could have been a lot worse and I could have been seriously injured. The same often goes for cleaning and disinfection. Many lab facilities such as life science labs, compound pharmacies and clean rooms, have protocols and procedures in place but still experience a lack of compliance. There are three main factors that influence compliance and that is Product, Protocol and Compliance Monitoring.

A facility may use a gold standard product; however, unless staff is trained on how to properly use the disinfectant…the product is well…useless. When implementing a new disinfectant, staff should be educated on the ins and outs of the disinfectant including safety precautions, proper application, cleaning and disinfection best practices as well as the facility’s protocols and procedures. 

There are hundreds of different disinfectants to choose from, so how does one choose the right product for their facility? Studies show that decision makers tend to focus on four key criteria when selecting a product: Cleaning Efficiency, Germicidal Activity, Safety and the Environment. Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) disinfectants have been designed with these criteria in mind. AHP® has excellent cleaning efficiency and has been proven to prevent cross contamination! Furthermore, AHP® offers a broad spectrum of efficacy against some of the toughest to kill pathogens in fast contact times without causing harm to users or the environment.

Finally, how can you tell if staff is cleaning what they should be? The answer is compliance monitoring! Compliance monitoring is not only important for monitoring the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection practices but is also crucial for training and quality control. As per the Hawthorne effect, behavior can be altered due to the awareness of being observed.  When staff is aware that the surfaces they clean are going to be audited, they are more likely to comply with cleaning and disinfection protocols.

A study by Alfa et al  and Boyce et al sums up the importance of Product, Protocol and Compliance Monitoring perfectly! When an effective product (AHP®) was paired with an effective training program and compliance monitoring, VRE, MRSA and C. difficile were reduced by 20% and 23%! WOW!

While I will admit that I am still a bit of a Diva, I have definitely changed my ways about following protocols and procedures and recognize the seriousness behind them! With that, I hope you will stop and evaluate your infection control programs to ensure your facility is equipped with the fabulous trio: Product, Protocol and Compliance.

Insightfully yours,

Olivia 

Topics: chemistry, school, laboratory, science, lab, class, diva

Get an A+ in Infection Prevention!

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

shutterstock_204138913.jpgI have always been a nerd and loved school. While my brother and sister soaked up every last bit of summer, I couldn’t wait to start packing my pencil case, organize my binders and of course pick out my “first day of school” outfit.  One of the most exciting things about starting a new school year was seeing what new students would be joining the attendance list. During the school year however, there always seems to be an unwelcomed guest appearance in the classroom…GERMS!

Many infections spike during the school year due to the nature in which kids play and interact with one another. For example, Norovirus, Chickenpox, Pink Eye, and Cold and Flu are all easily spread through close contact with an infected individual or through picking up the bug by touching contaminated surfaces.  Kids constantly hear “Did you wash your hands?”, “cover your mouth when you cough”, and as much as we try to drill hand hygiene into children, many kids would rather get back to playing instead of taking the time to properly wash their hands. When child care providers and teachers have so many kids to look after, it’s challenging to monitor hand hygiene compliance of all children. So what can teachers and child care providers do to keep kids and themselves germ free this school year?

As mentioned earlier, many school related illnesses are caused by transmission of contaminated surfaces. While hand hygiene is important in preventing the spread of infection, you can’t always count on kids to properly wash their hands. That’s why cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces will be your best bet to keep those germs off the attendance list.  High touch surfaces, and toys should be disinfected daily or more frequently during an outbreak.

To effectively combat these school year germs you need an effective disinfectant with efficacy against vegetative bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), enveloped, easy to kill viruses such as Influenza virus as well as non-enveloped, more difficult to kill viruses such as Norovirus. But it’s not just a product’s germicidal efficacy that should be considered. Children play on floors, sprawl on surfaces and engage in hand-to-mouth behavior giving them greater exposure to chemical residues left on surfaces after cleaning. Additionally, some disinfectants are known respiratory sensitizers which can lead to the development of asthma, thus it’s important to look for cleaners and disinfectants that won’t cause any harm to vulnerable children. When looking for cleaners and disinfectants that are safe for students and children, using the ChildSafe Guidelines as a reference for what characteristics to look for is a great start! They recommend considering the following:

  1. Products should be bio-based and biodegradable or naturally occurring ingredients
  2. Products should not contain chlorine-based ingredients (e.g. bleach)
  3. Products should not contain quaternary ammonium compounds (quats)
  4. Products should not contain phenolics
  5. Products should not be packaged as aerosol spray using propellant
  6. Products should not add to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria (e.g. quats)
  7. Products should be certified by GreenSeal, EcoLogo or DfE (Design for the Environment)

 

Is there a disinfectant product that meets all this criteria?! The answer is YES! Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) is the only disinfectant technology that doesn’t compromise safety for efficacy. AHP® offers broad spectrum efficacy against difficult to kill pathogens without compromising safety to the user. In fact, AHP® has one of the best safety profiles when compared to other products on the market as AHP® is non-toxic and non-irritating to the eyes or skin and is approved as an asthma-safe disinfectant. Furthermore, as the name would suggest, AHP® is a hydrogen peroxide base disinfectant technology, meaning it degrades into oxygen and water, leaving no actives resides behind on the surface that children could potentially be exposed to. Another advantage of AHP® is that many of our cleaners and disinfectants have been third party green certified by GreenSeal, EcoLogo and Design for the Environment (DfE)! With the movement towards using products that are safer for staff, and students in schools and daycare facilities, the proven health and safety profile of AHP® solutions will make these products a perfect alternative to harsh chemicals.

Now that we through our lesson plan on how to protect the classroom from bugs and harmful chemicals, class is dismissed! I wish all the teachers, parents and students a germ free school year!

Insightfully yours,

Olivia

Topics: germs, Sickness, kids, education, school, back to school

Summer Buggin'

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, Jul 05, 2016 @ 11:13 AM

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As the oldest sibling of three, my sister and I no longer have the privilege of enjoying summer break and we are super envious of our younger brother who gets 4 months of summer vacation! Contrary to what you may think, this Canadian girl HATES winter and I count down the days until I get to enjoy day trips to the beach, cottages, and lots of ice cream! But as much as I love the summer heat and all the fun that comes with it, there is one thing I always try to avoid and that’s summer bugs! No, I’m not talking about spiders, black flies or mosquitoes, the bugs I’m talking about can turn you into a Hot Mess during the summer months!

The dog days of summer might be great for pool parties but it also acts as a breeding ground for certain germs that won’t leave you feeling very “hot”. Take MRSA for example, MRSA skin infections peak in the summer months as skin is more likely to have scratches and abrasions due to summer sports and other recreational activities. It’s important to make sure you keep those cuts clean to avoid skin from competing with your flawless summer tan. Another favourite summer activity of mine is barbeques, but did you know that food poisoning from E. coli and Salmonella tend to peak in the summer? The higher summer temperatures allow these bacteria to thrive in the heat, making it that much more important to ensure your favourite BBQ meats are thoroughly cooked and your food preparation surfaces are cleaned and disinfected! With so many activities to pack in during the summer, there is nothing worse than catching a summer cold which can take you from the beach chair to bed! Enterovirus D68, parainfluenza and coxsackievirus are all summer viruses that cause cold and flu-like symptoms including fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, sneezing and muscle aches.       

Besides ruining your summer fun, these summer bugs have one more thing in common…they can all be transmitted through contaminated surfaces! Along with practicing good hand hygiene, frequent cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces can help reduce the risk of catching one of these summer bugs. From vegetative bacteria to non-enveloped (hard to kill) viruses, choose a disinfectant that will take care of them all. Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) has proven efficacy against vegetative bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, enveloped (easy to kill) viruses such as influenza and non-enveloped viruses such as enterovirus! And not only does AHP® have a broad spectrum of efficacy against these summer pathogens, but it cleans and disinfects faster, so you can spend less time disinfecting and more time having fun in the sun. AHP® is not only safe for users, but it’s environmentally sustainable so you don’t have to worry about AHP® polluting our lakes that we love to go swimming and fishing in.  

I hope you join me in having a fun, cool and bug free summer!

Insightfully yours,

Olivia  

Topics: Sickness, bacteria in hot weather, Summer

Got Disinfection Dysfunction?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 03:19 PM

I am known to brag about my super immune system to my friends and family, because I hardly ever get sick! Perhaps it’s because my company’s products prevent infections and I am constantly disinfecting my work space and washing my hands. My husband on the other hand seems to catch a bug every other month and he never fails to do the famous “Google” search of his symptoms to diagnose what it is exactly that he has instead of making a trip to the doctor’s office (which happens to be only 5 minutes away!).  When doing his Google search, he is asked to check off the listed symptoms that he is experiencing and is then directed to a plethora of possible illnesses he may have from the common cold to a collapsed lung.  Today I hope to act as your Google search and help you identify if your disinfectant has symptoms of Disinfection Dysfunction. However, instead of giving you an abundance of possible dysfunctions that just leave you more confused and concerned, we will narrow your disinfectant’s symptoms down to 4 possible dysfunctions: 1) Safety Indifference Syndrome, 2) Dwell Time Disease, 3) Label Deficit Disorder and 4) Cross Contamination Conundrum.

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Question 1: Is your disinfectant safe for users and the environment?

If it isn’t, then your disinfectant is suffering from Safety Indifference Syndrome. Some disinfectants may pose a health risk to users, patients and the environment. When looking into the safety profile of disinfectants I always refer to the Safety Data Sheet to identify if the product will cause any possible harm or injury to me or the environment. Consider chemistries that don’t compromise safety for germicidal efficacy such as Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®). AHP® is non-toxic and non-irritating at the in-use concentration. Furthermore, hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water and leaves no toxic residues behind making it environmentally preferred. Using a disinfectant with a preferred safety profile will increase user compliance as users won’t be afraid to use the product!

 

Question 2: Does your disinfectant dry before it’s time?

If your disinfectant can’t stay wet long enough on the surface to reach it’s required contact time, then your disinfectant has symptoms of Dwell Time Disease. Unfortunately, many disinfectants evaporate before achieving disinfection, leaving surface vulnerable to harmful pathogens. Avoid chemistries that are known to evaporate quickly such as alcohols or chemistries that have unrealistically long contact times such as QUATs. Instead, consider chemistries that are fast acting and have superior wettability such as AHP®. A 2010 study by Omidbakhsh compared the efficacy of 7 different disinfectant chemistries at their drying time (length of time the surface took to dry after an application) versus the approved label contact time and associated product efficacy.  The study revealed that AHP® was the only chemistry that not only reached its required contact time and achieved the efficacy noted on the label but its wet dwell time exceeded the contact time listed on the label! Using disinfectants that stay wet for the required contact time will increase product compliance.  

 

Question 3: Does your disinfectant’s label have misleading claims?

If you answered yes, or are unsure if your disinfectant can do what it says, your disinfectant has symptoms of Label Deficit Disorder. Some disinfectants have labels that are ambiguous, and you might be asking yourself “how can I tell if my disinfectant’s label is misleading”? Due diligence is required to effectively select disinfectants to meet regulatory compliance. Therefore, look for products whose claims can be verified by third party testing and validation. For example, many disinfectants claim to be “green” however are not backed by third party certifications such as EcoLogo, DfE, Green Seal and/or Green Guard. 

 

Question 4: Does your disinfectant contribute to cross contamination?

This might be the hardest symptom to diagnose, but it’s possible that your disinfectant has Cross Contamination Conundrum.  Some disinfectants or the cleaning substrates used to clean can transfer pathogens from surface to surface during the cleaning and disinfection process. Disinfectants that inhibit cross contamination prevent outbreaks and aid in protocol compliance.  In a recent study by Sattar and Kibbee et al, several commercially available disinfectant wipes were tested to see if they transferred pathogens to clean surfaces. AHP® was the only technology that was able to prevent cross contamination.


The truth is, finding the perfect disinfectant is not easy. However, using criteria such as I’ve discussed above as part of your investigation when selecting a disinfectant will help you to make a more holistic decision. Disinfectants should be safe for users and the environment, should not have misleading or ambiguous labels or claims, should have realistic contact times and superior wettability and finally, should not cross contaminate. How would you diagnose your disinfectant?  Are you willing to join me in preventing Disinfection Dysfunction?

Insightfully yours,

Olivia   

Topics: disinfection, dysfunction, apic, ipac

Is your disinfectant a Green Clean Killing Machine?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

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“All Natural”, “Biodegradable”, “Organic”, “Non-toxic” and of course “Green” are all commonly used marketing claims we see on cleaners and disinfectants, but how Green are they really? As we become more concerned with our environment, many of us try to implement “green” habits in our everyday lives such as recycling, composting and of course buying greener cleaning products. While the effort of buying green cleaners and disinfectants is well-intended, many fall into the famous marketing trap of thinking that a product is Green simply because it says it’s Green. With Earth Day just around the corner, there is no better time to educate on what to look for in Green cleaning and disinfecting products to ensure you make informed decisions about the products you use on a daily basis.

To begin, the simplest and easiest way to ensure you are choosing a truly Green cleaner or disinfectant is to look for credible third party certifications that have been designed to ensure that strict standards are followed in the formulation of cleaning and disinfectant products. In Canada, products with an EcoLogo are certified to reduce environmental impact. In the US, cleaners with Green Seal or Green Guard certifications are guaranteed to have preferred environmental profiles giving consumers comfort in knowing they are purchasing certified green products. Lastly, US EPA registered disinfectants that are DfE (Design for the Environment) certified ensure that chemicals have been used that are environmentally favored. 

If you are having difficulty finding any of these certified green products try looking for cleaners and disinfectants with actives that don’t leave behind toxic residues. These residues can create harmful byproducts, have high aquatic toxicity and contribute to antimicrobial resistance. If you see the marketing claim “Continues to kill hours after applied to surface”, what this really means is that this product leaves behind an active residue. Instead look for products that don’t bio-accumulate such as Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide®, Hydrogen Peroxide, Peracetic Acid, Citric Acid or Lactic Acid.

Another thing to be mindful of is misleading or irrelevant “Green” claims. Some products claim to be green by being “biodegradable” or “all natural”. The truth of the matter is that EVERYTHING is biodegradable because everything breaks down over time! If a product claims to be biodegradable is should be backed by third party testing or validation.  In addition, all-natural doesn’t necessarily mean green either. Many substances are naturally occurring but are harmful to the environment such as Arsenic, Uranium, Mercury and Formaldehyde. Furthermore, some disinfectants make claims that might be truthful but are completely irrelevant, take “CFC-Free” for example. CFCs have been banned for over 30 years so NO products manufactured use CFC! To prevent being misled by Green claims, look for claims such as: readily or inherently biodegradable, Phenol Free, Phosphate Free and VOC Free.

You might be thinking “I want to choose environmentally friendly cleaners and disinfectants, but is it possible to have a green product that will be effective against tough pathogens?” The answer is YES! Take Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) based disinfectants for example. Not only are AHP® based products manufactured in a LEED Silver certified building but our Green claims have all been certified and validated by third parties. In fact, today we have multiple product lines that are EcoLogo, Green Seal, Green Guard and DfE certified. Furthermore, the active ingredient in AHP® products is Hydrogen Peroxide which breaks down into water and oxygen leaving no active or toxic residues behind. We don’t believe in smoke and mirrors marketing, and ensure that all our claims are relevant and not misleading. And while we are environmentally preferred we are also a killing machine! AHP® disinfectants are effective against some of the toughest pathogens including vegetative bacteria, enveloped viruses (easy to kill such as Influenza) non-enveloped viruses (harder to kill such as Norovirus) and Mycobacteria.

We all fall into marketing traps from time to time, so this Earth Day I challenge you to audit your Green cleaners and disinfectants and ensure that they truly are environmentally friendly. Perhaps it’s time for a little spring cleaning of your cleaning and disinfecting products?

Insightfully yours,

Olivia

Topics: green, going green, clean, disinfectants, non toxic

Are you being Spa Safe?

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 02:21 PM

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I will admit, I am a bit of a social butterfly and I can’t help but be envious of all my friends posting pictures of their upcoming spring break destinations. And if you are like me, that pre-beach prep is almost as exciting as getting that sun-kissed glow. After months of hiding my unpolished toes in my snow boots, you better believe that when my toes hit the sand they will be polished and freshly pedicured. When I do go to the spa, I want to completely unwind and relax, I don’t want to worry about what’s lurking in that pedicure bath water or what is hiding in those nippers and clippers. But bacteria, viruses and fungi enjoy going to the spa, even more than I do. You may have heard about the Mycobacterium fortuitum outbreaks in California from 2000 that caused over 100 pedicure customers to have prolonged boils on their lower legs which resulted in significant scarring. This outbreak was traced back to biofilm which had built up in the circulating food baths, a very common problem for these types of foot baths. Another story that made headlines was American Idol’s Paula Abdul who had to have her thumbnail removed after being infected with a Staph infection during a manicure. And while these stories have made news headlines, we still don’t consider the risk to ourselves when we go to the spa or for spa owners, the risk we are putting others in when we fail to implement effective Infection Prevention measures. Some infections that can be transmitted at a spa are:
Mycobacterium fortuitum, Onychomycosis (nail fungus), tinea pedis (athletes foot), MRSA, HIV and HBV, 
to name a few. To prevent Mycobacterium fortuitum circulating foot spas must be disinfected after every customer with a Health Canada or EPA registered Intermediate or High Level Disinfectant. Not only must it be disinfected after every customer, but it is essential that the product be used according to the label instructions, which includes ensuring that the contact time has been met. To prevent those nasty germs such as nail fungus, athlete’s foot, MRSA, HIV and HBV, it is imperative that tools are properly cleaned, disinfected or sterilized. Items that touch the customer’s skin but don’t puncture the skin are considered non-critical items which only require low level disinfection. These would be items like chairs, tables, and anything that the customer might come into contact with. Items like nippers and clippers are considered semi-critical or critical instruments as they have the potential to puncture the skin and therefore need to be disinfected with a High Level Disinfectant or a Chemical Sterilant. It is also important to know which instruments are considered single-use items only. These are normally porous instruments like a pumice stone that cannot be properly cleaned and disinfected and must be used for one customer and one customer only.

Prevention is the best line of defense against the transmission of spa associated infections. A key aspect to an effective Infection Prevention program is choosing an effective disinfectant. Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide® (AHP®) is a synergistic blend of commonly used safe ingredients that when combined with low levels of hydrogen peroxide, dramatically increase germicidal efficacy. AHP® is available to Spa’s under our new brand PREempt™ for a variety of applications including both surface and device disinfection.

PREempt™ Surface Disinfectants offer protection against all these pathogens of concern, in fast and realistic contact times, without causing any harm to the user. And for those tricky biofilms, PREempt™ is available in a concentrate that can be used in both circulating and non-circulating foot baths so customers can feel confident that you provide both a relaxing environment and a CLEAN environment. 

PREempt™ Device Disinfectants are available for both High Level Disinfection (PREempt™ HLD5) and Chemical Sterilization (PREempt™ CS 20).  PREempt™ HLD5 can reach High Level Disinfection in only 5 minutes and PREempt™ CS 20 provides Sterilization in only 20 minutes, saving you time and money in a fast paced environment.

Since working in Infection Prevention I have developed Infection Prevention Spidey senses. I naturally do a self audit of all facilities I enter, including spas. I encourage all you professional service workers to perform your own facility audit, where do you think you can improve your Infection Prevention measures? And for you frequent spa goers, don’t be afraid to ask your favourite spa what their Infection Prevention measures are. Ask questions like what disinfectants they use, how they sterilize, how they disinfect their circulating foot spas, etc. It’s up to all of us to make Infection Prevention a standard so we can fully enjoy the spa experience without having to worry about ending up with more than freshly pedicured toes.

Insightfully yours,

Olivia Preempt-Family-CAN-Product-Image.jpg

 

Topics: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, disinfect, pedicure peril, infection prevention, pedicure, sanitization, biofilm, audit, Preempt, CS20, Wash, spa, safe, nail fungus, HLD5

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  • Insights--Blog.jpgOlivia is a passionate member of the Professional and Technical Services (PTS) team and is dedicated to educating readers on the importance of Infection Prevention and Control..