Preventing antibiotic resistance in the workplace
Friday, November 22, 2019
For facilities professionals, the findings of the new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may have some relevant data for keeping workplaces healthy.
Employee health is especially important, given that someone in the United States gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds, and someone dies from one every 15 minutes. When Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause deadly diarrhea and is associated with antibiotic use, is added to these, the U.S. toll of all the threats in the report exceeds 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths.
This new report shows that there are about twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections as the CDC initially reported in 2013. Prevention efforts have reduced deaths from antibiotic-resistant diseases by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in hospitals. Without continued vigilance, however, this progress may be challenged by the increasing burden of some infections.
The report sets a new national baseline of infections and deaths from antibiotic-resistant germs, and it categorizes the top antibiotic-resistant threats based on the level of concern to human health: urgent, dangerous, or concerning.
In recent years, there have been fewer infections from five of the germs previously listed as “serious.” Infections from the urgent threat “nightmare bacteria,” carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), have remained stable.
Recent infection prevention efforts have been successful, even though antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi are now causing more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Biological agents are transferred via air, such as exhaled bacteria or mold toxins. Rushed construction and poorly designed air-conditioning systems present severe problems with the air conditioning system. The equipment is unable to dry the air properly.
For example, early outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease were found in hospitals or health centers, hotels, shopping centers, office buildings, and manufacturing plants. The most common bacteria currently breed in air-conditioning systems and water tanks.
Proper education is essential to implement effective prevention measures at the early stages of the infection chain and is necessary to avoid the spread of infection to non-affected areas by infected workers who come into contact with uninfected materials, animals, or people, or by contaminated travelers.
Measures to stop the spread of drug-resistant microorganisms and the contamination of workers include the improvement of work organization, regular cleaning of the work premises, use of safety-engineered sharp instruments, appropriate handling of clinical waste, and thorough hand-washing.
If the exposure is not avoidable, keep it to a minimum by limiting the number of workers who are exposed and reducing their exposure time. People who have an increased chance of contact with drug-resistant microorganisms in an occupational setting are also recommended to have their health check routinely assessed when starting work and then periodically thereafter.
Employers also have the responsibility to provide workers with information and training to enable them to recognize the hazards and to follow safe working procedures, to make the risk assessment that identifies the dangers in the workplace, and evaluate the risks posed by these hazards.
“The new AR Threats Report shows us that our collective efforts to stop the spread of germs and preventing infections is saving lives,” said Robert R. Redfield, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Today’s report demonstrates notable progress, yet the threat is still real. Each of us has an important role in combating it. Lives here in the United States and around the world depend on it.”
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