There’s no doubt about it, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and other dangerous pathogens are everywhere. This means that infection control and prevention have to be a priority focus for medical facilities, commercial properties, and anywhere that pathogenic cross-contamination can occur.
Of course, disrupting the transmission of pathogens from their source, in an infected animal or a human being can be challenging. Especially since many powerful pathogens are prone to finding new hosts and rapidly spreading to new locations.
Being able to better understand the routes of disease transmission and progression will go a long way toward reducing the risk of it spreading from person to person, animal to person as well as from one location to the next. This requires accurate identification of effective prevention and control measures not just for specific, known diseases, but also for similar pathogens that might also be transmitted by a similar route. This includes setting up protocols for dealing with unanticipated infectious diseases, as well as new, previously unidentified pathogens.
What Are The Most Common Means Of Pathogen Transmission?
The healthcare and disease management industries often categorize the transmission of microorganisms into five main routes. They are:
- Direct contact
- Aerosol AKA Airborne transmission
- Oral ingestion
While some pathogens are primarily transmitted by only one type of transmission route, there are still a lot of microorganisms that can be transmitted by more than one route.
Direct Contact Transmission Of Pathogens In A Facility
Direct contact transmission of a pathogen in a facility typically occurs via direct body contact with the tissues or fluids of a specific infected individual. From there, the incubation time of the pathogen can also be a factor in determining how likely that disease is to spread to the next person that newly infected individual comes in contact with.
In many of these cases, the physical transfer and entry of the pathogenic microorganisms occur through mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. Though certain pathogens are also capable of spreading from contact with open wounds, abraded skin, or other dermal defects.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that direct inoculation or infection can sometimes occur from bites or scratches. This includes dangerous pathogenic diseases such as rabies, Microsporum, Leptospira spp., staphylococci, and even multidrug-resistant (MDR) species methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP).
Fomite Transmission Of Pathogens In A Facility
Fomite transmission of a pathogen in a facility typically involves prolonged contact or exposure to a contaminated inanimate object by an infected individual. Then another unsuspecting person comes in contact with a susceptible animal or human which further allows the microbes to move through a series of hosts. Sometimes with rapid progression to multiple individuals at the same time.
Common fomites for the transmission of pathogens in a facility can include a wide variety of objects including things like:
- Examination tables
- Cages & kennels
- Improperly sterilized medical equipment
- Environmental surfaces
Some of the more common microbial diseases known to be spread easily from fomite transmission include canine parvovirus and feline calicivirus infections.
Aerosol or Airborne Transmission Of A Pathogen In A Facility
Aerosol transmission of a pathogen in a facility usually involves the transfer of infectious microorganisms in very small particles or respiratory droplets referred to as nuclei. These airborne aerosol particles might be inhaled by a susceptible host or deposited onto the mucous membranes of another host human or animal. In some cases, the airborne nuclei droplet can remain viable for days, even when deposited on environmental surfaces.
Many times aerosol transmission of a pathogen occurs from breathing, coughing, sneezing, or even speaking from an infected individual. Though it’s also possible for certain medical procedures like suctioning, bronchoscopy, dentistry, and even inhaled anesthesia to pass an airborne pathogen.
These very small particles can sometimes remain suspended in the air for extended periods and be disseminated by air currents in a room or through a facility. Though a lot of pathogens that can come from companion animal veterinary medicine will not survive in the environment for extended amounts of time. They also don’t tend to travel great distances due to size and as a result, require close proximity or contact for disease transmission.
Oral Ingestion Transmission Of A Pathogen In A Facility
The ingestion transmission of a pathogenic organism through a facility is often linked to something like a shared source of microbially contaminated food or water. Though it might also be spread via contaminated objects or by contact with a recently contaminated hard surface.
In some of these instances, environmental contamination might come from improperly cleaned deposits of feces, urine, or saliva. Some of the more common orally transmitted pathogens include things like Campylobacter, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Leptospira.
Vector-Borne Transmission Of A Pathogen In A Facility
In terms of the spread of pathogens, a “Vector” is a living organism that is capable of transferring pathogenic microorganisms to another animal or human being. This can even include different species such as arthropods, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, rodents, or other pests/vermin.
Vector-borne transmission is often an important route of transmission in climates where these vermin exist year-round. This increases the likelihood of them being brought into a facility by an infested patient, where they can spread throughout the facility. Especially if pests are living or hiding in the facility to enable rapid transmission.
Some common examples of pathogens that use vector-borne transmission include heartworm disease, Bartonella infection, Lyme disease “Borreliosis” and even the Bubonic plague.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Pathogens In A Building
Once you understand the five different methods that pathogens and common diseases spread through a facility, you can begin to develop a strategic plan for preventing them or curbing their spread. This involves some of the following techniques and policies.
Encourage Employees to Stay Home When Sick
The best way to prevent a pathogen from spreading through your building is to not let it through the front door. This starts with encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick. Establish what the protocols are for when they should call in and stick to them. If possible, see if there is a way for a sick employee to work from home.
Provide Hand Sanitizer Stations
Hand sanitizer stations are a great way to prevent the spread of fomite transmissible pathogens in your building. You should strategically distribute them at all entry and exit doors, as well as key high-traffic locations as well as in restrooms. Then assign an employee to make sure that all hand sanitizer stations are fully stocked at all times.
Wipe Down High Touch Surfaces
High-touch surfaces like light switches, door handles, and kiosks are another way for pathogens to transmit from one person to another. Assigning an employee or custodial staff member to occasionally wipe these surfaces down with a disinfectant cloth multiple times a day will help reduce the risk of pathogenic spread.
Hire A Professional Cleaning Service To Maintain Your Building
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of pathogens and common diseases moving through your building is to have it professionally cleaned frequently. At Building Services Inc., we specialize in cleaning and disinfecting commercial buildings.
This includes things like vacuuming floors with a HEPA filtration system to catch particulate matter and microbes that might have settled onto carpets. We also use state-of-the-art dry mopping and other professional floor cleaning techniques to prevent the surface spread of pathogens on hard floors.
Building Services Inc. also offers daytime custodial services and day porter services. These are individuals who remain on hand in your facility throughout your normal hours of operation. They can do things like wipe down high-touch surfaces, empty garbage cans, maintain restrooms, refill hand sanitizer stations, and much more.