Swine Flu: Infection Control in Hospitals Will Be Critical
But in the U.S. the disease is already among us. The severity and extent are unknown. The SARS outbreak (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003 teaches that rigorous infection control in hospitals may be key to limiting deaths from swine flu in the U.S. Much will depend on what hospitals do when the first seriously ill victims arrive.” If hospitals have effective infection controls in place, the disease can be prevented from spreading to visitors, healthcare workers and their families,” warns
SARS — four letters that filled the headlines in the spring of 2003, and then disappeared. “A report issued after the fact by the government of
Many hospitals in the U.S. are under-prepared for a similar challenge. As many as ten percent of patients contract infections in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Clostridium difficile race through hospitals, spread by unwashed hands and unclean equipment. How can hospitals that are failing to prevent ordinary infections spread by touch contain a new, unknown virus that can spread whenever someone coughs or sneezes?
“The best defense against swine flu and other unknown pathogens is rigorous hospital hygiene and routine infection prevention. That is the lesson of SARS,” says McCaughey.
Dr. McCaughey is available to speak about the precautions that should be taken in hospitals, schools, day care centers, nursing homes and other places where the disease can spread easily.