Infection risks in care homes

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Infection risks in care homes will always be a concern. In part, this is because there is an increased risk of outbreaks where people use shared facilities; in part it is due to the fact that the elderly are much more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

Unfortunately, there are numerous viruses and bacteria that can spread within a care home environment, although some are more common causes of infection outbreaks than others.

For example, one study found that over 50% of all infection agents came from only four organisms – influenza virus, norovirus, salmonella and S pyogenes. (Utsumi et al, 2012).

Reviewing 206 infection outbreaks in care facilities for the elderly, the study found that the respiratory tract was involved in 45% of outbreaks, the gastrointestinal tract in 36%, the skin in 7% and the eyes in 2%.

Below we take a look at some of the more common infection risks in care homes and how you can tackle them:[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://cairncare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/influenza.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 20px 0px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://cairncare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/norovirus-1-350×280.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]

  • Influenza

Influenza or flu is an infectious viral illness spread by coughs and colds. Although it causes aches and fatigue in many people, in some instances it can lead to further complications and even death.

As any affected resident will be infectious for three to seven days after their symptoms start, there is plenty of opportunity for the infection to spread, especially if effective infection control measures are not taken.

  • Norovirus

This gastrointestinal infection causes sickness and diarrhoea, but in extreme cases it can also lead to death, particularly with care home residents aged 85 or over.

Known as the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus can easily be transmitted via airborne particles, the faecal-oral route or contaminated surfaces in a care home. Click here to find out how to prevent an outbreak if a resident becomes infected with Norovirus.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 20px 0px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]

  • Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of food poisoning that causes vomiting, fever, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. In some cases, it can also lead to severe dehydration requiring hospitalization. Accounting for around 2,500 hospital admissions per year, it is imperative that proper precautions are taken to prevent its spread.

To find out about infection control measures for Salmonella and other food poisoning infection risks in care homes click here.

  • Streptococcus pyogenes

This Gram-positive bacterium can cause several diseases, including pharyngitis, skin infections, acute rheumatic fever and scarlet fever. Penicillin is the usual treatment for group A streptococci, although a range of antimicrobials can also be used to tackle the bacterium. To find out more about S. pyogenes click here.[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://cairncare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Salmonella-small.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 20px 0px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://cairncare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Clostridium-Difficile.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]

  • Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile or C. diff is a highly infectious bacteria that can lead to mild to severe diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and even life-threatening damage to the intestine.

Capable of surviving for a long time on hands and surfaces, it can easily spread from person to person by the faecal-oral route. To help avoid an outbreak of C. diff, click here and follow these steps.

  • Bacillary Dysentery

Caused by shigella bacteria, bacillary dysentery causes nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea that contains blood or mucus, fever and stomach cramps.Hand hygiene within the care home is essential for tackling the risk of an outbreak, as it is spread from faeces deposits on unwashed hands that are then transferred to touch points throughout the home.

To find out more about controlling the risk of an outbreak click here.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 20px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]

More advice on infection risks in care homes

If you are interested in more detailed information on infection risks in care homes why not click here to open and bookmark our Cairn Care blog. With advice on everything from MRSA and VRE to Hepatitis B and CPE, it is a useful resource for tackling the various bacteria and viruses that can affect care home residents.

You can also find some useful outbreak action plans in the free training section on our website. Just click here to access and download the plans, along with other useful resources such as our Effective Handwashing Guide and our Daily Cleaning Plan.[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”https://cairncare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/mop.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

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