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Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at risk of acquiring and transmitting respiratory viruses while working in healthcare settings.
To investigate the incidence of and factors associated with HCWs working during an acute respiratory illness (ARI).
HCWs from 9 Canadian hospitals were prospectively enrolled in active surveillance for ARI during the 2010–2011 to 2013–2014 influenza seasons. Daily illness diaries during ARI episodes collected information on symptoms and work attendance.
At least 1 ARI episode was reported by 50.4% of participants each study season. Overall, 94.6% of ill individuals reported working at least 1 day while symptomatic, resulting in an estimated 1.9 days of working while symptomatic and 0.5 days of absence during an ARI per participant season. In multivariable analysis, the adjusted relative risk of working while symptomatic was higher for physicians and lower for nurses relative to other HCWs. Participants were more likely to work if symptoms were less severe and on the illness onset date compared to subsequent days. The most cited reason for working while symptomatic was that symptoms were mild and the HCW felt well enough to work (67%). Participants were more likely to state that they could not afford to stay home if they did not have paid sick leave and were younger.
HCWs worked during most episodes of ARI, most often because their symptoms were mild. Further data are needed to understand how best to balance the costs and risks of absenteeism versus those associated with working while ill.
To describe the frequency, characteristics, and exposure associated with influenza in hospitalized patients in a Toronto hospital
Prospective data collected for consenting patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza and a retrospective review of infection control charts for roommates of cases over 3 influenza seasons
Of the 661 patients with influenza (age range: 1 week–103 years), 557 were placed on additional precautions upon admission. Of 104 with symptoms detected after admission, 57 cases were community onset and 47 were nosocomial (10 nosocomial were part of outbreaks). A total of 78 cases were detected after admission exposing 143 roommates. Among roommates tested for influenza after exposure, no roommates of community-onset cases and 2 of 16 roommates of nosocomial cases were diagnosed with influenza. Of 637 influenza-infected patients, 25% and 57% met influenza-like illness definitions from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), respectively, and 70.3% met the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) febrile respiratory illness definition. Among the 56 patients with community-onset influenza detected after admission, only 13%, 23%, and 34%, met PHAC, CDC, and PIDAC classifications, respectively.
In a setting with extensive screening and testing for influenza, 1 in 6 patients with influenza was not diagnosed until patients and healthcare workers had been exposed for >24 hours. Only 30% of patients with community-onset influenza detected after admission met the Ontario definition intended to identify cases, hampering efforts to prevent patient and healthcare worker exposures and reinforcing the need for prevention through vaccination.
To examine the impact of introduction of an alcohol-based hand rub on hand hygiene knowledge and compliance and hand colonization of healthcare workers (HCWs) in a long-term-care facility (LTCF).
Two floors of an LTCF participated. Ward A used the hand rub as an adjunct to soap and water; ward B was the control. HCWs' hands were cultured using the bag-broth technique for Staphylococcus aureus, gram-negative bacilli (GNB), Candida, and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). HCWs completed a questionnaire at baseline and after an educational intervention and introduction of rub.
Hand hygiene practices, knowledge, and opinions did not change after the educational or rub intervention. Ward A HCWs thought that the rub was faster (P = .002) and less drying (P = .04) than soap. Hand hygiene frequency did not differ at baseline between the two floors, but increased on ward A by the end of the study (P = .04). HCWs were colonized frequently with GNB (66%), Candida (41%), S. aureus (20%), and VRE (9%). Although colonization did not change from baseline on either ward, the rub was more effective in clearing GNB (P = .03) and S. aureus (P = .003). Nosocomial infection rates did not change.
The alcohol-based hand rub was a faster, more convenient, less drying method of hand hygiene for HCWs in an LTCF, and it improved compliance. Although microbial colonization did not change, the rub was more efficacious in removing pathogens already present on the hands of HCWs.
To determine differences in the identity and quantity of microbial flora from healthcare workers (HCWs) wearing artificial nails compared with control HCWs with native nails.
Two separate studies were undertaken. In study 1, 12 HCWs who did not normally wear artificial nails wore polished artificial nails on their nondominant hand for 15 days. Identity and quantity of microflora were compared between the artificial nails and the polished native nails of the other hand. In study 2, the microbial flora of the nails of 30 HCWs who wore permanent acrylic artificial nails were compared with that of control HCWs who had native nails. In both studies, nail surfaces were swabbed and subungual debris was collected to obtain material for culture. Staphylococcus aureus, gram-negative bacilli, enterococci, and yeasts were considered to be potential pathogens. All organisms were identified and quantified.
In study 1, potential pathogens were isolated from more samples obtained from artificial nails than native nails (92% vs 62%; P<.001). Colonization of artificial nails increased over time; by day 15, 71% of cultures yielded a pathogen compared with 21% on day 1 (P=.004). A significantly greater quantity of organisms (expressed as mean log10 colony-forming units ± standard deviation) was isolated from the subungual area than the nail surface; this was noted for both artificial (5.0±1.4 vs 4.1 ±1.0; P<.001) and native nails (4.9±1.3 vs 3.7±0.8; P<.001). More organisms were found on the surface of artificial nails than native nails (P=.008), but there were no differences noted in the quantities of organisms isolated from the subungual areas. In study 2, HCWs wearing artificial nails were more likely to have a pathogen isolated than controls (87% vs 43%; P=.001). More HCWs with artificial nails had gram-negative bacilli (47% vs 17%; P=.03) and yeasts (50% vs 13%; P=.006) than control HCWs. However, the quantities of organisms isolated from HCWs wearing artificial nails and controls did not differ.
Artificial fingernails were more likely to harbor pathogens, especially gram-negative bacilli and yeasts, than native nails. The longer artificial nails were worn, the more likely that a pathogen was isolated. Current recommendations restricting artificial fingernails in certain healthcare settings appear justified.
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