According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million people each year become infected with pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. Preventing the spread of these pathogens is of paramount concern in many industries, such as food supply chain industries, health care and even among school campuses and colleges with an interest in protecting their workers, students and the general public. Among the pathogens generating the most concern are the following:
- Clostridium difficile colitis – Infections occur in hospitalized or recently hospitalized patients, but also in nursing home settings.
- Campylobacter – Present in raw dairy, seafood and raw meat – most frequently chicken. Infections also occur in restaurant, food processing and production stages.
- Salmonella – Several different strains are now strongly resistant to treatment, largely because of overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Present at all levels in the food supply chain from farms to grocery stores.
- Streptococcus A and Streptococcus B – Responsible for the common strain of strep throat as well as meningitis and flesh-eating bacteria.
- Staphylococcus Aureus – Increasingly present in school and athletic settings, the bacteria now exhibits resistance to Methicillin (MRSA) and Vancomycin (VRSA).
Hand Sanitizer vs. Hand Washing
While the ubiquitous pump of hand sanitizer has become part of the public landscape everywhere from the DMV to the grocery store, most of them are less effective against some of the drug resistant bacteria, and it does very little to protect against the growing threat of Norovirus. A study by the American College of Preventive Medicine that was reported in MedScape actually showed that the use of hand sanitizer and the lack of soap and water hand washing contributes to outbreaks of Norovirus on cruise ships, in nursing homes, at schools and colleges, and even in the general population. The wily, quick-breeding protein jacketed little beast is unfazed by hand sanitizers and can live for up to two weeks outside of the body, even re-infecting those who have previously had the disease. It remains contagious for about the same amount of time unless done in by applications of 10 percent bleach solution, Lysol, or… yes… washing hands vigorously with soap and water for 30 seconds and using touchless cleaning systems to help remove the human error factor.
Putting sanitation and hygienic practices at the top of the to-do list is the concern of every institution sensitive to maintaining the trust of the general public and remaining on the right side of regulatory authorities. One could even say that by implementing best practices in hygiene, an institution can also avoid the sometimes fatal loss of public trust and goodwill. The use of touchless hygienic cleaning systems, especially the automated handwashing systems Meritech manufactures, is a natural fit for entities such as hospitals, nursing homes, food production facilities, and all clean room settings, but also for supermarkets, pharmacies, athletic facilities, and even school campuses. Touchless cleaning systems for hands and footwear ensure that pathogens are wiped out with the most effective method – soap and water – thus breaking the chain of infection. The results are a healthier environment, and the elimination of a vector for contagious disease.