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The Chain of Infection
As healthcare professionals, it is important to understand two things about infection:
the various ways infection can be transmitted2. the ways the infection chain can be broken
There are six links in the chain of infection :
1st - The Infectious Agent-any disease-causing microorganism (pathogen)
Types of MicroorganismsBacteria- simple one-celled organisms Cocci (round shape-e.g.., streptococci) Bacilli (rod shaped – e.g., TB) Spirilla (spiral shape – e.g., syphilis) Protozoa – one-celled animals often found in decayed materials & contaminated water (amebic dysentery, malaria) Fungi - Plant-like organisms that live on dead organic matter (yeasts and molds – e.g., thrush) Rickettsiae (parasitic organisms – fleas, ticks, mites – e.g., Lyme disease) Viruses - smallest microbes (HIV, Hepatitis B and C) Helmiths - parasitic worms
-the organism/place in which the infectious microbes reside2nd - The Reservoir -the organism/place in which the infectious microbes reside
What are “Carrier Hosts”Hosts that do not show any outward signs or symptoms of a disease but are still capable of transmitting the disease are known as carriers.
-route of escape of the pathogen from the reservoir.3rd - The Portal of Exit -route of escape of the pathogen from the reservoir. Examples: respiratory secretions, blood exposure, breaks in skin
4th - The Route of Transmission-method by which the pathogen gets from the reservoir to the new host
Transmission may occur through:direct contact
5th - The Portal of Entry -route through which the pathogen enters its new host
Respiratory System inhalation
Urinary & Reproductive TractsSexual contact
Breaks in Protective Skin Barrier
6th - The Susceptible Host-the organism that accepts the pathogen The support of pathogen life & its reproduction depend on the degree of the host’s resistance.
Organisms with strong immune systems are better able to fend off pathogens.
Organisms with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the support & reproduction of pathogens.
How to interrupt the chain of infection:-The essential part of patient care & self-protection.
1. Pathogen Identification-identification of infectious agent & appropriate treatment
2. Asepsis & Hygiene -potential hosts & carriers must practice asepsis & maintain proper personal hygiene
3. Control Portals of Exit-healthcare personnel must practice standard precautions:
(Control body secretions & wash hands according to protocol.)
4. Prevent a Route of Transmission-prevent direct or indirect contact by: Proper handwashing Disinfection & sterilization techniques Isolation of infected patients Not working when contagious
5. Protect Portal of Entry-Health professionals must make sure that ports of entry are not subjected to pathogens. (nose, mouth, eyes, urinary tract, open wounds, etc.)
6. Recognition of Susceptible Host-health professionals must recognize & protect high-risk patients
Cancer Patients AIDS Patients Transplant Patients Infant & Elderly Patients
Remember--breaking the chain of infection is the responsibility of each health professional.
SIMPLE ONE-CELLED ANIMAL
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Copyright © 2007 by Thomson Delmar Learning. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.1.
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