The future of infection control: Long lasting antimicrobial technology

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 80 percent of the germs that make us sick are spread by our hands. The other 20 percent is from foods, sharing drinks, and sometimes even through the air.

As a nurse, I frequently offer advice to my patients and their loved ones on how to avoid getting colds and the flu. The advice has always been the same, get the flu shot, wash hands regularly, and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Standard practice for most of the 20th century including recommendations from the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) for preventing the spread of communicable diseases is to wash our hands regularly throughout the day and especially before and after we treat patients.

The many hands that we shake, computer screens we touch, and door handles we open, and then inadvertently touching our faces and rubbing our eyes with our hands, is unnerving because we are intimately interacting with all kinds of germs that can be prevented.

When we pick up germs we are also depositing them. Therefore, we are unintentionally contributing to the spread of germs as well as exposing ourselves to them all the time.

Hand washing continues to be the gold standard and remains an effective means to ridding our hands of germs. However, if it is not done properly then germs are left behind to be deposited elsewhere. While using traditional hand sanitizer after hand washing is a good insurance policy, these approaches alone are temporary. Traditional hand sanitizers work only when they are wet and quickly evaporate. Therefore, as soon as we touch the next surface recontamination begins all over again.

Tips to Reduce Germ Exposure:
• Use liquid hand soap versus bars of soap that are breeding grounds for bacteria
• Wash hands for at least 15-20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice)
• Use hand sanitizer that offers persistent and residual efficacy and stays on hands longer throughout the day for greater protection against germs that can make us sick
• Avoid hand dryers in public as germs are spread through the air; use disposable towels

The bottom line is: proper hand hygiene is the single best way to prevent contracting and the spread of illness.

The real question is, how often can we wash our hands daily or apply hand sanitizer to truly keep us protected from the germs that make us sick by way of our hands?

As healthcare providers, we are required to do this as many as 100 times a day before and after we see each patient. However, this is often not very practical for most of us, nor is it good for the skin on our hands.

There is recent innovation I was excited to come across that makes for certain that a hand sanitizer can provide long lasting protection – some up to 24 hours, and which work synergistically with hand washing to reduce our exposure to germs.

What is needed is a hand hygiene protocol that provides continuous antimicrobial action for 24 hours. This not only would help to keep hands germ-free longer but would also mean less damage to the skin. If hands are consistently protected, that means hands are neither picking up nor depositing germs.

We need to break the cycle of infection.
In addition to me being a nurse, as a mom, I see things in a whole new light. While I do my absolute best to protect my family from the hostile world of germs, once they leave my side I cannot guarantee they are adhering to proper hand hygiene, which I know they likely are not.

Not only are my loved ones exposing themselves to germs that can make them sick, they are also unwittingly bringing those germs into our home and exposing the entire family. The same is true for our patients and the germs they bring into our medical facilities. With a hand sanitizer that works for up to 24 hours, on top of regular hand washing, exposure to these germs can be significantly lessened.

The good news I want to share is that there is an innovative new solution that I have become well acquainted with that offers continuous protection in the form of a sanitizer called ULTRA GermFree24 by Zoono. I have seen the data in support of how this product works and a recent study that indicates it is highly effective on Human Norovirus conducted by Norocore, a lab associated with North Carolina State University. ULTRA GermFree24 is a hospital-grade formulation that can be used in the home as well. It is FDA compliant and manufactured according to the exacting standards of a Drug product.

This type of long-lasting antimicrobial technology is the future of infection control and it will change the way we in healthcare think about and control germs. To learn more visit www.zoonousa.com.

Meghan Clemente, ANP-C is a nurse practitioner in Middletown, NJ. She specializes in nursing and adult health nursing (nurse practitioner).

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