In the news this month:
In Profile – The Corona Virus outbreak dominates the headlines
– Keeping up-to-date with the latest advice
– Practice effective hand hygiene by singing ‘Happy Birthday’
– Tracking the virus
– Dinosaur health problems
– Can too much cleaning make your home unhealthy?
– A new approach to diagnosing coeliac disease in children
Sterile Services News
– Keeping hospital sinks germ free
– Helpful products for hand hygiene and virus prevention
News in profile – The Corona Virus outbreak dominates the headlines
It is impossible to ignore the major health story that is dominating the headlines at the moment as the whole world is on alert over the recent Corona Virus outbreak (now named COVID-19).
Keeping up to date with the latest advice
This is a fast moving situation with lots of speculation in the media, which can make it difficult to know which information is accurate and what is the best advice to follow.
The UK government publishes its most up-to-date guidance for the public on the GOV UK website so this is a good source for the latest official guidelines.
Practice effective hand hygiene by singing ‘Happy Birthday’
It is important to note that at the time of writing this blog, the Corona Virus is not currently circulating in the UK so it is important to keep fears about contracting the virus in perspective. That said, it always makes sense to follow reasonable advice on the benefits of thorough hand hygiene to help avoid all sorts of germs including colds and the flu.
Doctor Michael Mosley offers some helpful advice in a recent article on the Mail Online. He points out that of all of the different strategies which are supposed to stop germs and illnesses from spreading, the most effective is probably still good old fashioned hand washing.
To be effective you should wash your hands for 20 seconds (singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ twice is about the right amount of time!). When done thoroughly this is a sufficient amount of time to remove germs but also to avoid irritating skin.
Tracking the virus
In order to prevent a full blown outbreak in the UK, public officials are using sophisticated ‘contact tracing’ to try and identify anyone who has come into contact with the very small number of people who have had the virus in the UK.
The detailed exercise of sitting down with a patient and tracing every individual person they have had contact with for the past weeks is hugely time consuming but can pay dividends where there are a relatively small number of people affected.
This method becomes less successful in a wider outbreak because it is physically impossible to trace every single contact.
Please see our Newtons News section below for further information on our virus tackling products.
Dinosaur health problems
In our ongoing quest to seek out interesting news stories about health and medical matters we sometimes come across stories which show how history can provide an insight into the development of modern medicine.
In this month’s blog we delve into the world of Palaeontology!
A recent article from the Independent online caught our eye. Palaeontologists have unearthed a 66 million year old fossilised dinosaur skeleton in Alberta in Canada which, unbelievably, shows evidence of a modern disease in its tail bone.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel carried out a CT scan of the fossilised tail and were able to identify a tumour which they diagnosed as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH).
This is a rare form of cancer which still affects humans today, particularly children under ten years of age.
The finding is useful because it helps scientists in the field of ‘evolutionary medicine’. This discipline investigates how different diseases have evolved, in order to identify appropriate treatments.
It is fascinating to think that information from so many millions of years ago can still help medical professionals today!
Can doing TOO MUCH cleaning make your home unhealthy?
In our blogs we have often looked at the importance of finding the right methods to remove germs – particularly in medical and hospital environments, but are there occasions where the opposite is true?
The Daily Mail online has recently featured an article about research which suggests that cleaning products used at home could actually contribute to poorer health rather than the opposite.
The study was carried out by the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
It looked at 2000 newborn babies and found that those who lived in households which most frequently used household cleaning items like surface cleaners and laundry products were 37% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma (before three years of age).
Scented and sprayed products were associated with the highest risk, so a switch to non sprayable chemicals may help.
Scientists think that regular exposure to these products may damage or inflame the airways of very small babies, who tend to spend a lot of time indoors, which exacerbates the problem.
The study identified this as a ‘potentially important public health concern’ with more advice and clearer labelling required to help parents make the right decisions about the products to use at home.
A new approach to diagnosing coeliac disease
Endoscopy investigations are often a vital and important element in diagnosing a number of serious illnesses, but this procedure can be invasive and cause anxiety – particularly for children.
New guidance has now been published in the Journal of Paediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition which says that a biopsy carried out by endoscopy is not always necessary to diagnose coeliac disease in children.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition which makes people sensitive to the protein gluten and affects one in every one hundred children across Europe and more in some countries. It is a chronic disease and the only treatment is to avoid gluten in the diet.
It is also thought that the condition may be widely under-diagnosed, leading to nutritional problems which can cause developmental and growth issues for children and young people.
About half of children who are suspected of having the condition currently undergo a biopsy, but the new guidelines say that a two stage blood test will provide an accurate diagnosis, meaning an endoscopy procedure can be avoided. This makes diagnosis much more straightforward and also costs considerably less.
Good news for sufferers and clinicians alike.
Sterile Services News
Keeping hospital sinks germ free
Regular readers will know that we have a keen interest in stories about the control of pathogens in hospitals
Running water, and therefore sinks and plugholes, can be found throughout hospital settings and as we know from our own kitchens and bathrooms – it can be difficult to manage germs in these areas.
In a recent Study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology and reported by Infection Control Today, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin looked at two different types of hydrogen peroxide disinfectants which are regularly used on hospital sinks, to assess their efficacy and determine which type works best.
The study was carried out at a hospital in Milwaukee, in the 26 rooms of the intensive care unit, and on those sinks situated nearest to toilets.
Three different disinfectant approaches were used:
- Product A was mix of hydrogen peroxide, octanoic acid and peroxyacetic acid and was ready to use
- Product B was a single ingredient hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant which was diluted to manufacturer’s instructions
- The third approach was to use no product at all
One environmental services person managed all of the sinks on their regular cleaning schedule and swabs were taken on the day that the sinks were treated and after their use on days 1, 3, 5 and 7.
Researchers found that all three approaches had a similar level of CFU (Colony Forming Unit – the measurement used by scientists to indicate how many pathogens are present in a particular place) when first measured.
However, over time, the sinks that were treated with disinfectant A – the combination of products – showed a notable reduction in pathogens. There was also a reduction when using product B (just hydrogen peroxide) but this was not statistically significant.
The scientist therefore concluded that regular application of the mixed version every three to five days should be considered for environments where there is a possibility that sink drains could harbour pathogens.
Helpful products for hand hygiene and virus prevention
If you are looking for practical solutions to enhance daily hand hygiene, our recent Product Alert Blog includes information on some handy products which help to combat the spread of viruses, including Allied Sanisafe Hand and Surface Disinfectant Wipes and Clinell Hand Sanitising Gel.
Both are available along with all of our high quality medical products, in our online shop.
For more information about Newtons Medical Supplies or our products, please get in touch.