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, April 28, 2017

Is snot our newest Superhero?

I’m hoping there are a few of you who like to shock, awe, or gross out your family, friends and colleagues.  Juvenile perhaps, but is there anything better than watching people squirm when regaling a tale?  I take great pleasure in grossing people out by talking about something I find fascinating, knowing others likely don’t feel the same.  By noon today I had was able to hit on 3 different stories – screwworms in Key Deer, the topic for today’s blog and my Sunfish story (message me if you want to hear that one!).

I will admit talking about boogers, snot, mucous, and phlegm is gross.  Truthfully, it grosses me out, but yesterday I came to realize that snot may be our newest superhero friend in the fight against antibiotic resistance!  According to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology we may have found a new way of combating problematic pathogens.  If we think of this logically, mucous is everywhere in our body (mouth, eyes, lungs, nose, digestive tract, etc.) and microbes are also widely found within (e.g. digestive tract) and on our bodies (e.g. skin flora).  By understanding the functions of the slimy substance we refer to as snot or mucous, the researchers were out to determine how it works to protect us.  It’s not our next silver bullet for killing, but it seems to be excellent at taming pesky pathogens.

As the study describes, when looking at two different bacteria known to compete for dominance in human mouths, synthetic mucous impacted bacterial populations. They found that when the samples were grown outside of the synthetic mucous the bacteria known to cause cavities prevailed. However, when the samples were grown in the presence of the synthetic mucous the bacteria associated with good oral health prevailed.  From this, it would appear that mucous could be key to maintaining a healthy microbial diversity in other areas of our body.  Furthermore, work is being conducted around the world looking at how and if the synthetic mucous can in fact help control problematic pathogens both inside and outside of the body.

Perhaps the next time you see someone picking their nose and wiping it on a surface or hacking up phlegm and spitting it out, while still gross and generally unacceptable from a social perspective, you’ll wonder how quickly it tames whatever pathogenic bacteria are present.  The possibilities could be endless!  Will synthetic snot be our next antimicrobial surface coating? We’ve gotten over the ick factor of fecal transplantation for C. diff management…perhaps we’ll be popping phlegm pills in the future!

Either way, I think this is a fascinating topic and look forward to keeping up with where the research goes!


Bugging Off!

Nicole

Friday, April 21, 2017

Do you have a Preventative Maintenance Plan?

If you have a car and live in an area where snow is a winter fact, you likely have winter tires; and with spring arriving, you’ve likely been to your mechanic to have your winter tires swapped out for your summer tires.  You may also have timed the tire change with a LOF (Lube-Oil-Filter) and maybe changed out your windshield wipers.  We understand that when we drive a car we need to do more than just fill it up with gas.  Many of us are also probably pretty good at our own preventative maintenance plan for our health and well-being with annual physicals, eye checkups, working out, eating and sleeping right and if you are like me, your preventative maintenance plan also includes hair appointments, manicures and pedicures!

I would hazard a guess that most of us recognize that virtually any piece of equipment we use, in order to be effective at our jobs, also needs preventative maintenance.  We know that with patient care equipment or other medical equipment this is an important aspect of protecting the lives of our patients.  How many of you consider the dilution systems we use to dilute concentrated surface disinfectants or the associated test strips used to validate the dilution (assuming your facility uses test strips)?  The unfortunate truth is that while we now acknowledge that compliance in cleaning and achieving the contact time as indicated on the label in order to ensure disinfection occurs are important, we do not stop to think of other factors that may impact the effectiveness of our chosen disinfectant.

The one area that we often overlook is the preventative maintenance required to ensure the dilution systems that we rely on to properly dilute the disinfectants are working properly.  Over the course of my career in Healthcare, it never ceases to amaze me that many facilities still fail to consider this.  While I will not name facilities I can say that I have been in more than my fair share of facilities helping brainstorm why a disinfectant seems to be failing to support the infection control program.  When I ask when the last time the dilution system was serviced and / or validation had been done to ensure it was diluting properly I often get blank stares….  

The importance of preventative maintenance on dilution systems is not just to ensure that the product dilutes at the correct concentration to kill the pathogens we’re concerned with, but to also ensure that it is diluting correctly so that the product is safe to handle.  Case in point is a call recently received from a facility who realized the product they were using seemed foamier than normal and a few concerns with skin irritation had been noted.  When looking at the dilution system they found there was no tip on the syphoning tube meaning more product than needed was being used.  When asked about the use of test strips the answer was that the strips were not changing colour.  When asked about the expiry date on the test strips it was determined they have long since expired…

The long and short is that disinfectants must be used in the dilution specified on the product label as indicated by the manufacturer.  The importance of this is not just for optimal decontamination, but also for optimal occupational health and safety of the workers using the disinfectants and the patients who may come in contact with the disinfectant.  I hope you’ll go check to find out what your preventative maintenance plan for your dilution systems is – and while you’re at it be sure to check and confirm the test strips have not expired!


Bugging Off!


Nicole

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Volcanic Soil vs Hantavirus

Do you ever get really excited about something, only to have the rug pulled out from under you?  That happened to me this week.  In scanning through my e-newsletters and outbreak summaries I came across an article “Ugandan outbreak of elephantiasis linked to walking barefoot in volcanic soil”.  As geeky as I know I’m going to sound, without reading the article I was giddy and I had already come up with how I would start the blog by tying in the fact that I HATE sand.  I know it’s rather ironic having just gone on vacation to a beach resort, but I really do HATE sand and assume the same would be said of volcanic soil.  It gets everywhere and I particularly HATE walking in sand – the feel on the bottom of my feet, the feel when it gets between my toes….  Ask my husband, me walking on sand is akin to a cat outdoors walking in snow.  You know that pick foot up and shake before you put it down again?  That’s me. 

Then I read the article and learned that the elephantiasis was not being caused by an infectious organism.  It was actually caused from walking on the volcanic soil itself which has sharp mineral crystals that penetrate the soles of feet and cause inflammation and pain…  There was no tie in with disinfection of hands, surfaces or devices which is the intent of Talk Clean To Me….  The rug had been pulled out from under me.

And then this morning, I came across an article stating that the first person for 2017 in New Mexico has died from Hantavirus.  While no death from an infectious agent is funny, I had to chuckle a bit as several years ago I involuntarily acquired a “bestie” who called concerned about finding a mouse nest in his boat when he went to launch it in the spring.  The conversation was memorable because it did not just end with one call, but over a couple of years each spring I would get a call to confirm how to deal with the newest mouse nest he found to ensure he did not get hantavirus….

Hantaviruses are a group of viruses, carried by rodents, particularly wild rodents such as deer mice, white-footed mice and several species of rats.  Hantaviruses found in North, South and Central America, can cause severe respiratory (lung) disease in humans.  They are transmitted to rodents and humans alike, via both direct contact through bites and via aerosolization of dust contaminated with rodent droppings, urine or saliva.  While human infection concerns exist in environments where rodents may be, pets and livestock do not have any concerns with becoming infected with hantavirus.  That said, if you happen to have a pet mouse or rat, you do want to keep them away from wild rodents to avoid transmission.

If you’re doing any form of spring cleaning – particularly in a cottage or boat that may have been closed up for the winter, a few key tips to avoid infection include: wearing rubber gloves when cleaning areas where rodents may have been, allow the area to air out before entering, wet surfaces with a disinfectant and avoid sweeping or other activities that raise a lot of dust.  If you’re concerned with raising dust, then wear a face mask to protect yourself.

Happy spring cleaning!


Bugging Off!

Nicole


Friday, April 7, 2017

Who’s wasted?

Many of you have likely heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  Nothing could be truer than the picture that inspired this week’s blog.  Today we celebrated a milestone birthday for a man some of us would call a mentor and many of us would call a friend.  As soon as I took the picture at lunch I knew it was going to be a muse for this week’s blog.  Do I go with the obvious and talk about the perils of getting older and dealing with a weakened immune system?  It would work for a topic as influenza and several other respiratory viruses are still widely circulating.  Do I go with the “ick factor” as everyone around our table winced and wondered about the chance of our colleague getting lice from a hat that has not likely ever been cleaned and/or disinfected?

I could, but as you know in recent years I have become more involved with infection control within the animal health industry.  I grew up on a farm so livestock and wildlife have always been a part of my life.  It was like the stars aligned.  When I got back to my desk the first email I saw was one from the US Animal Health Association with an article on investigating ELK carcasses for disease.  EUREKA!  The last several months several of my news feeds have been buzzing over Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Now do you get the title?  Wasting Disease…..you should be ashamed if you thought otherwise….

Whether you’re in human health or animal human markets, we have all heard of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE’s) caused by prions.  Mad Cow Disease (or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) may be the one that many people recognize due to the epidemic in the late 1980’s in the UK and subsequent tie to cases of humans diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease

Chronic wasting disease like BSE or CJD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative disease of the brain ungulates (elk, mule, deer, and white-tailed deer).  Similar to all TSE’s, it can be years before an animal shows symptoms.  Eventually, the “wasted” animals will exhibit loss of condition, excessive salivation, trouble swallowing, difficulty judging distance and changes in behavior.  The exact mechanism of transmission is unclear, but we do know that CWD can spread from animal to animal and females can pass the disease to their offspring.  There is no evidence that CWD can affect other animals, but to be on the safe side, the WHO advises against allowing any meat source possibly infected by prions into the human food system.

Regardless of what wasting disease we may come across, the long and the short of it is that infection prevention is an important aspect of our lives to keep both humans and animals healthy!  If your birthday is coming up, be sure to celebrate, but think twice before you put a “moose” hat on!


Bugging Off!


Nicole