Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

Our expertise is utilized by Infection Preventionists, Public Health Experts, First Responders, Dentists, Physicians, Nurses, Veterinarians, Aestheticians, Environmental Services professionals and janitorial product distributors to develop more sustainable cleaning and disinfection practices in North America.

Our commitment to providing chemical disinfectant education is more than business, it is a passion.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lazy? Naïve? Complacent?

Do you ever sit back and wonder how the human race has managed to survive and evolve?  I’ll admit, there are days that I do.  When we first launched the Talk Clean to Me blog back in 2011, I wrote a blog titled “To Clean or Not to Clean…” that opened with examples of self-cleaning products.  I’m embarrassed to say I now own a self-cleaning kitty litter, but happy to say after 5 years, my self-cleaning pool vacuum (aka my husband James) is still working fine!  The focus of the self-cleaning blog was the fact that cleaning is important.  Cleaning is necessary as it removes dirt that can harbour pathogens.  It can save lives and while we can develop self-cleaning devices, we cannot get away from having to physically remove the dirt ourselves.

In October I wrote a blog “The quest for the silver bullet” which again talked about our obsession with developing surfaces that will kill pathogens.  As I concluded in that blog, it’s not that I’m against innovation, but what I am against is the use of Silver Bullets like doorknobs, handrails, or what have you made out of antimicrobial agents when we have not addressed the fact that hand hygiene rates continue to be dismal or we continue to understaff housekeeping departments.

Hence the title of this week’s blog.  I’m not sure if we’ve just become a society built on entitlement and laziness that think we’re too good to clean up after ourselves, or if we are simply naïve because of the constant bombardment of new technologies,  or if we are just unaware of the potential dangers that come with  blindly believing in  the success of these self-cleaning surfaces.   

A recent letter to the editor in ICHE talks to just this.  Titled “Antimicrobial Curtains: Are They as Clean as You Think?, this letter discusses an investigation to determine the degree of contamination of antimicrobial curtains that had been implemented at their facility.  The long and the short is that 95% of the curtains they sampled showed bacterial growth and included both Gram-negative and Gram-positive organisms!  While there are published studies that support the fact that there is a reduction of pathogens on pre-treated textiles, there are studies that show that these surfaces can and do become contaminated with pathogenic organisms.  If we blindly believe that they only need to be changed when visibly soiled, we are forgetting the fact that we cannot see pathogens with our naked eye and could be ignoring a very real fomite that could be the reservoir for contaminating the hands of healthcare workers.   Can they help to reduce the load?  Yes.  Should we wait until they look dirty to us to change?  Probably not.  If we’re truly looking to protect our patients we probably should change the curtains upon terminal cleaning regardless of how clean they look!

Bugging Off!


Nicole 

Friday, November 18, 2016

You can help fight antibiotic resistance!

I bet many of you think your actions do not impact the plight of antibiotic resistance.  Answer honestly – how many of you have been prescribed antibiotics for an infection like strep throat only to stop taking them after a few days because you felt better?  If you answered yes, you my dear reader, are helping to create antibiotic resistance.

This week is antibiotic awareness week.   Around the world, healthcare workers, dentists, veterinarians, farmers, policy makers and we, the consumer, are talking about ways to help reduce this threat.  In case you did not know, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and food security.  It’s easy to think that “it’s not going to affect me”, but the truth is antibiotic resistance knows no boundaries; age, country, economic status, and health status mean nothing to an antibiotic resistant bacteria.  If you don’t believe me, check out the IDSA website and read the stories of those who have been impacted by an antibiotic resistant infection.  Some like 9 yr old Brock Wade were lucky and survived.  Others like 21yr Ricky Lannetti, a healthy football player, were not and the lives of their families were impacted forever.

Aside from not finishing our antibiotic treatments, some of the other causes of antibiotic resistance include:

  1. Over-prescribing antibiotics.  Infections like a cold or flu, while nasty to deal with are caused by viruses.  Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.  If you have a cold, don’t beg your doctor for or go from walk-in clinic to walk-in clinic in search of antibiotics.
  2. Over-use of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming.  The good news is starting in 2017, Veterinary Feed Directives are being implemented that allow antibiotics to be used only to treat disease and not aid in the growth of animals.
  3. Poor infection control in hospitals and clinics.
  4. Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation.  The truth is most antibiotic resistant bacteria are among the easiest organisms to kill with the proper use of disinfectants.  Ensuring we wash our hands, tend to wounds or scrapes and clean our homes thoroughly and frequently will help reduce the risk of transmission.
  5. Lack of new antibiotics being developed. 

If you’re interested in learning more about some of the specific antibiotic resistant organisms, cleaning protocols and other tips to fight off antibiotic resistance organisms, check out our most recent educational campaign – No ESKAPE!

Bugging Off!


Nicole

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pigs are for eating not petting!

Attending fall fairs is a rite of passage – at least for those of us who grew up in the country.  When I was showing horses, I literally went from fair to fair on weekends competing.  Those of us with horses that could “ignore” the unusual sights and sounds did well.  Those with skittish horses…..well……not so much.  I was one of the lucky ones.  The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was one of my favorite events and to this day I still love spending a day (or two) walking around looking at the vendors, the farmers who have brought their best animals to be judged and of course, the horses! Especially the show jumpers! 

The best part of being around animals is of course petting them.  Growing up on a farm, as far as I’m concerned, any animal can be a pet; cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, you name it.  Give me enough time with them and they’ll be “pets”.  For those who grew up in cities and did not have the opportunity to be around farm animals, fall fairs are an amazing opportunity to interact with them.  However, we need to ensure that everyone understands the potential risk of interacting with them.  They can carry pathogens that make us sick making hand washing so vital.

As we’re winding down to the end of the fair season, it was with great interest that I came across the CDC’s notification that they have found 4 variant virus infections linked to pigs.    According to the study, the CDC has confirmed that 18 people (16 of which were children) from Michigan and Ohio were found to have been infected with a flu virus (Influenza A H3N2) which is associated with pigs.   All 18 patients reported exposure in some form to pigs at agricultural fairs.  There were no deaths associated with the cluster and there was no evidence suggesting the virus transmitted from person to person.  While they did not find proof that there was person-to-person transmission what they did find is that some of the viruses found were reassortant, meaning both human and swine genetic material was found.  The fact that there were genes of human origin indicates that the virus could be in a position to become more likely to spread from person to person.

All is not lost however, fall fairs are safe.  We just need to be smart.  If you’re planning on attending a fall fair, remember that animals can carry pathogens that make us sick.  The single most important thing we can do is wash our hands after petting the animals and certainly before eating!  We also need to avoid putting our hands on our faces or in our mouths.  My rule is every time is see a hand sanitizer station, I use it!

I don’t have time to attend The Royal this year, but there are still 3 days left – so if you’re in the Toronto, Ontario area and have never been, I highly recommend it!

Bugging Off!

Nicole


Friday, November 4, 2016

What’s your home hygiene grade?

Being in the infection prevention business, many people may think that means I obsess over the cleanliness of our home.  While I may not “obsess”, I will admit I do “nag” when it comes to hand hygiene.  I’m pretty sure by the age of 4, my son was conducting hand hygiene audits of his preschool classmates, and I do fondly recall having one of those proud mommy moments when my son realized that someone had not washed their hands after using the restroom.  Admittedly there was a bit of “public shaming” involved – you know the kind that only a child can get away with?  A child yelling out in a public restroom “Mommy – that woman did not wash her hands!  GROSS!”   It was a moment of equal parts mortification and delight; mortification of the “public shaming” and delight over realizing my nagging really was getting through!    

Most of us know that children, particularly young children, have immature immune systems that improve and strengthen with age.  But are you aware of the number of child deaths that occur each year from infectious diseases?  I didn’t.  I did however, get an alert of a new report, "Small Steps for Big Change", that was just released by the Global Hygiene Council (GHC)  that investigates the alarming burden of preventable infectious diseases in children worldwide. 

According to the report, more than 3 million children under the age of 5 die from infectious diseases each year.  Of that 3 million, almost a million die from pneumonia, and more than 700,000 children under the age of 5, die as a result of diarrhea.  The report also indicates that the general public are pretty cavalier when it comes to improving our cleaning and disinfection practices in our homes.  In fact, 52% of families do not increase surface disinfection at home during the cold and flu season.  Further, 31% of reported foodborne outbreaks occur in at home – something to think about with the US Thanksgiving Holiday fast approaching!

In an attempt to try and improve both our personal and home hygiene practises, the Global Hygiene Council has developed a 5-step plan that includes; improve worldwide hygiene, hand hygiene, kitchen hygiene, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and just plain improvement personal hygiene in general.  The study concludes that families, communities and healthcare professionals need to acknowledge that improved hygiene is effectively a first line of defence in preventing the spread of infection.  If we adopt better hygiene practices we could have a dramatic impact on improving the lives of young children around the world.
While I strive to set a high standard for hand hygiene, I do not obsess over disinfecting each and every surface in our home.  Heck, I can’t even pretend that I always step up cleaning of the high touch surfaces in our home when one or more of us have a cold or flu….  Like many, I try my best.  I hope that by revealing the staggering number of childhood deaths, we as a community, can work to improve everyone’s understanding of the importance of hygiene.  I hope, however, we don’t get into “public shaming” of people when their hygiene is not the same as ours – not everyone has the same easy access as many of us to clean water and cleaning products.  I do think (hope) that by drawing attention to the relatively simple 5 steps that can be instituted to improve hygiene, we will save many of those 3 million children.

Bugging Off!

Nicole