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, March 16, 2018

#TBT but on a Fri-Yay: V-logging anyone?

Blogging is all about inspiration. Some weeks I have a topic and it speaks to me, while other weeks the topic and I just don’t jive.  This week I had the perfect topic considering I landed back home after a week away on a combo work and vacation trip with enough time to get most of the laundry done, pack up and jump back on a plane.  It was about the dirtiest things in airports. That topic is going to have to wait.

Today I was searching for something and I came across one of the videos I did a few years back for ISSA.  The video is a condensed version of a 45 minute presentation.  The presentation “How cleaning can control infection…..and costs” discusses just how much infectious diseases such as influenza cost society each year.  I briefly provide an explanation of how cleanliness not only saves lives, but can save money and share four scientific best practices that can be used to strengthen your argument, when you are trying to convince others that decontamination is not a cost, but an investment.

The reason I’m sharing the video is that I’ve recently toyed with adding V-logs (video blogs) to Talk Clean To Me. The reason I haven’t is like most people I hate watching myself. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to be self-critical.  I notice if my mouth moves funny, my necklace is crooked, I think I look old – you name it I’ve likely thought it.  Here’s the video – go ahead, critique away!

If you like the video and the idea of an occasional Vlog let me know!  If there’s enough interest I’ll start putting some together…but only if I shoot my good side!

Bugging Off!


Friday, March 2, 2018

#FF Spring in like a Lion

If you live in an area where winter equates to cold and snow, there really is nothing better than seeing your first robin and hearing the twittering of birds in the morning.  Spring is a time of renewal and growth. It’s a time to watch nature come alive with budding trees and blooming flowers, but it’s also a time when we tend to shake off the winter blahs. We feel alive and want to refresh our lives. Your refresh may come in the shape of purging closets to make way for your spring/summer wardrobe, a spring tune up for your car and removal of winter tires, hitting the gym to lose the extra pounds that somehow showed up or waking up your brain with a little education.

As noted in past blogs, the Teleclass Education by Webber Training is an international lecture series on topics related to infection prevention and control. The objective is to bring the best possible education to the widest possible audience with the fewest possible barriers when trying to access it.  Here's the list of teleclasses that may help you clear out the winter cobwebs!

Title of Teleclass
Jan 18th
Using the right model to calculate the financial implications of Clostridium difficile infection
Dr. Mairead Skally, Ireland
Jan 24th
Global infection prevention and control priorities 2018-2022: A call for action
Prof. Benedetta Allegranzi, Switzerland
Jan 25th
Practical approaches for monitoring cleaning in healthcare facilities
Prof. Curtis Donskey, USA
Feb 8th
Patients are your partners – why and how this partnership works
Judy Birdsell, Kim Neudorf, Ioana Popescu, Canada
Feb 15th
Refugee Health: A new perspective for infection prevention and control
Prof. Ruth Carrico, USA
Feb 21st
Improving the knowledge and receptiveness of medical students towards hand hygiene: Exploring new approaches
Dr. Rajneesh Kaur, Australia
Feb 22nd
Root cause analysis to support infection control in healthcare premises
Dr. Anne-Gaëlle Venier, France
Feb 28th
Why leadership matters for effective infection prevention and control
Julie Storr, Switzerland
March 8th
Infection prevention in nursing homes and palliative care
Prof. Patricia Stone, USA
March 14th
Climate change and the impact on infectious diseases
Prof. Mark Birch, New Zealand
March 15th
Clostridium difficile asymptomatic carriers: The hidden part of the iceberg
Dr. Yves Longtin, Canada
March 22nd
Challenges and facilitators to nurse-driven antibiotic stewardship: Results from a multisite qualitative study
Prof. Eileen J. Carter, USA

For more information on Webber Training, including a full list of the upcoming Infection Prevention and Control Teleclasses, please visit www.webbertraining.com

I hope many of you will take the opportunity to listen to these teleclasses and share them with your colleagues!  And don’t worry if the date you see above has passed!  All teleclasses are recorded and available to listen to at your leisure!

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Priority status for priority diseases

I travel a fair bit. Enough to have priority status to skip lines, get upgrades and free drinks in lounges. It sounds glamorous, but travel for work takes its toll.  The perks you earn from all the travel basically balance out the hours of being stuck at airports due to delayed flights and nights away from home. Priority is status. It means you’re special. It means you’re treated differently or regarded to as being more important. For example, when boarding planes, the passengers are organized into zones. Zone 1 are the really special people who get to board first, Zone 2 are pretty special and by the time you get to Zone 4 or 5…well, you’re not so special.

The same can be said about diseases. There are the really special ones, the pretty special ones and the run of the mill ones that we’re not too concerned with. At the beginning of February, Disease Experts reviewed the numerous known diseases and identified those that based on the potential to cause a public health emergency and the fact there are no drugs or vaccines to cure and/or mitigate transition, urgently need our focus.  The “Zone 1” diseases identified were: Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever (RVF), Zika and Disease X.

CCHF, Ebola, Marburg and Lassa are all haemorrhagic fevers that while limited to areas where animals that carry them live are of concern, not only because of transmission from person to person, but also because of the potential use in bioterrorism.  In relation to MERS-CoV and SARS, I will admit I have a bit of a soft spot for as it was during the 2003 SARS Outbreak that hit Toronto that I began my career in infection prevention. The most interesting disease of this group for me is Disease X.  Disease X does not exist.  It represents the knowledge that at any time a serious international epidemic could be caused by a currently unknown pathogen.  I suppose back in 2003, SARS would have been considered Disease X.  We did not know what we were dealing with. We simply knew that we were dealing with something that caused severe respiratory distress, was killing people and was showing up in cities around the globe.

There are of course additional diseases of interest.  These would be the Zone 2 and Zone 3 diseases. We need to mindful and not forget about them.  We need to ensure research is on-going to understand their attributes, develop better diagnostic tools and of course develop ways to treat these diseases and/or vaccines to prevent the transmission.

The long and the short is that while the current priority diseases listed in WHO’s Blueprint priority diseases are viruses, any type of pathogen can land on this list. The experts also discussed the importance and value of a One Health approach as many of our priority list diseases are zoonotic in nature. While we need to develop measures to protect human health, we cannot forget or underestimate the importance of considering animal health measures. These measures can help prevent and control animal diseases to minimize spill-over to humans and of course, protect our food supplies.

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Post Valentine’s Day Incubation

I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a sap. I love my husband to the moon and back. Just looking at my son makes my heart melt. I love all my family members dearly and absolutely adore my parents and my father-in-law. I may not always show it, but I do. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, however, I don’t think that you need expensive dinners, gifts or flowers to show that you love someone. I’m a card girl. This year, the card I got from my husband was simple “My wife, my love. Then, now, and always, you’re the one for me.”  Yep. I’m a sap. To quote one of my favorite movies, Jerry Maguire,You had me at hello.

Valentine’s Day, love and infection control go hand in hand. Kissing and cuddling are among the most common signs of love. Kissing your loved ones is as natural and common as taking a breath, but did you know that our mouths are home to more microorganisms then I care to think about? While it’s true that some microorganisms are beneficial to our health, there are many disease producing germs such as Streptococcus mutans (a pathogen that causes pneumonia and sinusitis), herpes simplex virus (cold sores or canker sores), cold and flu virus, and of course “kissing disease” (mononucleosis) that may also reside there.

If our mouths are not bad enough, there are also surfaces and even food for us to contend with. If you went out for dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day you may have come into contact with germs left behind from the people who ate at the table prior to you, your server and even the people who prepped and cooked your meal. We had takeout…sushi. We love it, but I admit, eating raw fish can sometimes be a bit like playing Russian roulette.

You may think that Valentine’s Day is over for another year and for some, you may be in the clear. For others, you may need to wait another 24hr or so hours.  Why? Well, the incubation period for some of the more common diseases you make catch over Valentine’s Day range from 12 hours to 5 days. Mono on the other hand takes 4 – 7 weeks!  I hope you don’t have plans for the weekend.  Some of you may be coming down with the flu, a cold or norovirus. My brother and his family are coming for the weekend. I hear my brother has a man cold…  But he’s family and I love him.

You can be assured I will be washing my hands and wiping the surfaces in my house down this weekend. I’m heading on vacation in a couple of weeks and I do not plan on being sick for it!

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 9, 2018

Colon Infection Control

Contrary to my nickname “Niki the Nibbler”, I’m not ashamed to say I like to eat. I just don’t like feeling full and I really don’t like to have to buy new clothes because I’ve over indulged. I can certainly say that I’ve tried my fair share of diets…most unsuccessful or at best very short term success.  The truth is eating healthy, not over indulging EVERY day and moderate exercise is the best way to live a happy and healthy life.

In recent years there has been a craze for colon cleansing (a more pleasant way of saying eliminating poop). If you’ve ever looked into it, there are a number of different “therapies” (colonics, enemas, oral supplements, etc.) that claim to remove toxins from the colon and intestinal tract by removing any accumulations of poop. It’s been touted as a safe way to rid your body of the bad stuff and you may lose some weight or at least feel less bloated. Based on how colon cleansing has been positioned, many truly believe that it’s a way to enhance your well-being. The truth is you may be doing more harm than good including increasing your risk of contracting blood borne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B or C.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of infection transmission, we likely all recall our high school health classes on sexually transmitted diseases. One such way is of course contact between mucous membranes (such as the anus, colon etc) and infected body fluids. Because of the idea that “Colon Cleansing” has health benefits, it’s not that hard to find a place to go. BUT, did you know that these places are not regulated?  By regulated, I mean that they do not have a college or regulating body to dictate what infection prevention and control measures need to be put in place to ensure infections are not transmitted?  This means they also generally fly under the radar of Public Health and are not subject to the same audits restaurants, spas, salons or tattoo parlors are!

You may be asking, why this topic? Well, a Public Health Unit in Ontario investigated two locations after receiving complaints from the public. It was found that the cleaning agents being used in at least one of the cases would have been completely inadequate to eliminate hepatitis C, hepatitis B, or HIV should they be present on the instruments used to perform the colonics. The long and the short is that there would be quite a significant risk for transmission of infectious diseases. While there have not been any confirmed cases of disease transmission, the two locations have been closed and anyone who used their services are being advised to undergo testing.

If you think this is an isolated incidence, think again. As far back as 1978 there have been outbreaks associated with colonics including 36 cases of amebiasis in western Colorado. According to the Mayo Clinic, bacterial infections are possible with colon cleansing if the equipment is contaminated. Their advice is to make sure that the equipment is disposable, sterile and has never been used before.  I would happen to agree to that particularly if there is no regulation, no clear infection control guidelines to be followed and auditing of facilities is not necessarily completed by Public Health. My hopes however, is this recent situation will put these facilities under some scrutiny as the procedure is definitely a risk for infection transmission. 

You can be assured, I will be keeping to my healthy eating and moderate exercise regime!

Bugging Off!


Friday, February 2, 2018

Are you ready for some football?!

My son plays hockey, so I’ve had to become a hockey mom. The truth is even though I’m Canadian, hockey’s not my first choice when it comes to sports. Football on the other hand is a different story! This weekend signifies the end of the season with SUPERBOWL SUNDAY! I don’t get to host a party or partake in our annual tradition of an “all fried food day” since most of our weekend will be spent at the rink for a hockey tournament… You can be assured, I will somehow find a way to watch the game and as a Seahawks fan I am NOT cheering for New England!

What does football and the Super Bowl have to do with infection prevention? Well, you have crowds, you have food and it is influenza season. But influenza, Norovirus, food poisoning or the common cold is not the only infection prevention concern. In 2015, Public Health Officials in Arizona were battling a measles outbreak. The week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, 1000 people were being monitored after being exposed to infected people. Similarly, in 2012, Public Health Officials in Indiana began outbreak management after a couple who had been exposed but were not yet showing symptoms of infection attended the festivities at the Super Bowl Village and put 200,000 at risk of possible exposure.

So what’s in store for this year when we are experiencing one of the worst flu seasons? Well, the organizers are taking things seriously! Staff are wiping down all exhibits multiple times a day with sanitizers and disinfectants, and volunteers with the United Way are disinfecting the virtual reality equipment between each use at their Super Bowl Experience booth. Health Officials are urging Super Bowl visitors to get vaccinated before arriving in Minnesota. Once they arrive, they are being reminded to wash their hands with soap and water more frequently and have hand sanitizer on hand. It’s going to be crowded. There are going to be some sick people, which means there will be germs floating around especially in crowded areas. Aside from getting vaccinated, washing your hands frequently is the other way to avoid getting sick, and after the game is over avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth (unless you’ve washed your hands first).

But what about the food? Well, according to our family motto “if it’s fried, it must be tried”!  But to be safe when it comes to eating safely at a Super Bowl party, avoid eating food that has been left a room temperature for too long. If you’re scarfing down dips or other cold-favoring treats, eat the ones that are served on ice or have been kept cold in the fridge.  Allowing these foods to get warm can lead to unintended consequences….if you know what I mean! The same goes for food that needs to be served hot like chili or other meat products.  Avoid a penalty and keep them warm!

If you’re around Oakville on Sunday you may hear me singing the Eagles fight song:
Fly Eagles Fly! On the road to victory!
Fly Eagles Fly! Score a touchdown!
1, 2, 3! Hit'em low! Hit'em high!
And watch our Eagles Fly! On the road to victory!

Bugging Off!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Under the weather? Under productive!

I know, enough about influenza already!  I’m a proponent of the old adage “too much of a good thing can be bad for you” unless of course we’re talking about chocolate, Ruffles Regular chips and Hell of a Good dip or talking about outbreaks and other geeky topics related to infection prevention.  So, bear with me for yet another blog on influenza.  I say “yet another” because if you’re following Talk Clean To Me you’re very likely in the Infection Prevention business and influenza (or Norovirus) has likely taken over your life.

Pediatric deaths from influenza are drastically higher (30 vs 17) compared to this point in time last year.  This is also the first year ever, that the CDC has reported widespread influenza activity in all areas of the continental US by the end of the first week of January.  If you equate an epi-curve to a rollercoaster ride, we had best make sure we’re buckled up and ready for a very bumpy ride! Not to belabor a point, but if you’re sick with the flu, the CDC recommends staying home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides as most people are at peak contagiousness in the three or four days after becoming sick. When it comes to influenza from an infection prevention standpoint, we know that staying home when sick will help minimize transmission to your coworkers, but from a business perspective is there any other reason that as an employer we may want to take influenza seriously and have a sick policy in place?

According to a study published in December in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, influenza is associated with greater workplace productivity loss (sick days and presenteeism) than any other acute respiratory illnesses. Putting the statistical findings into something we can grasp a little easier, the study findings show that a typical full-time employee loses an extra half day of work per 5 day work week when infected with influenza.  The researchers also concluded that the data supports the importance of widespread vaccination in working populations as a method to reduce infections.

According to the CDC, losses due to absenteeism are estimated to cost employers $1,685 per employee annually. Of interest is the fact that 60% of the total cost of sick workers is due to employees who come to work while ill. Presenteeism is costly!  In fact it costs employers in the United States $150 billion annually. YOWZERS!

Knowing that this year influenza is bad, what can be done to protect staff, profits and our bottom line? Luckily, it’s not rocket science and really doesn’t cost that much. Have hand sanitizer available through the office, provide wipes to staff so they can clean their keyboards, telephones, desktops etc.  Empower and engage your employees to help clean the germ hotspots around the office!  They may readily jump in if you share the fact that phone receivers have been shown to harbor more than 25,000 germs per square inch!  A few years ago, I heard of a hospital that would randomly page the song “Wipe Out” over the PA system. When it came on, every employee would stop what they were doing, grab a wipe and clean the high touch surfaces around them! 

Do I think increasing cleaning and disinfection at work works? You bet! Up until this fall we had a facilities person who during flu season disinfected our high touch surfaces and if someone was off sick would disinfect their office or work-space. He unfortunately left and I would say our “infection rates” have been worse because of it…that and of course a whole lot of presenteeism!  Thankfully a new person started this week and I’m hoping that we’ll see a rapid decrease in our illness rates!

Bugging Off!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Measles at O’Hare Airport!

A new year, signifies the start of a new tradeshow calendar of events meaning, I start packing my bags and booking flights. Traveling is a bit like Russian roulette, as once you walk in the front door of an airport you’re in close quarters on planes, trains, elevators, security lines and bathrooms. Heck let's face it, virtually any area of the airport you’re in you’re lucky to have a foot of free space around you.  In the infection control world this is bad because we know respiratory droplets can travel. In fact a study I found from 2007 showed that respiratory droplets varied in how far they could travel depending on their size and how they “left” the body. They found that large droplets are carried more than 6 m away by sneezing, more than 2 m away when you're coughing and less than 1 m away when breathing normally.  Hmmm, I say.  I may need to invest in a bubble to wear when travelling.

As I mentioned in my “Welcome to 2018” blog, you never know where the next outbreak may come. You may be wondering why I’m talking about airports and the distance respiratory droplets travel. Well, if you haven’t heard, a passenger with an ACTIVE case of measles recently arrived (January 10th) at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. They arrived on an international flight landing into terminal 5 and departed on a domestic flight that left from terminal 1. For those that have been at O’Hare that leaves a lot of ground to cover, people to come in contact with and surfaces that could be touched.

Why care about a single infected person who has been on a plane (confined space), or walking around an airport? Well…there is a reason why Public Health panics and promotes vaccination. Measles is spread to others through coughing and sneezing (think 2 – 6 meter radius). If that’s not bad enough, this highly infectious virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed meaning if people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. If we’re willing to be honest we know that in public spaces like this, surfaces are not likely cleaned more than once every 24 hours except perhaps for bathrooms. This is certainly something to consider particularly as according to the CDC, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.  I wonder what type of plane this person was travelling on…

If one person with active measles is not bad enough, apparently a second measles infected person has been identified. This person arrived at the airport on January 9 (also arriving in Terminal 5) and also visited an office plaza and three suburban hospitals between January 10th and 13th.

On a positive note, vaccination rates in children for MMR (the vaccine that covers measles) in the US is about 92%. The negative side, is that there is data now showing that twenty years after a second MMR vaccination, antibody levels for all 3 viruses in the MMR vaccine wanes. In Canada, MMR was introduced in 1983 which saw a significant decrease in the number of cases. In 1997, a two-dose vaccination protocol was introduced. This means there could be a number of adults who only received 1-dose of the MMR vaccination. If your GP does not routinely screen for antibody levels to some of the vaccine preventable diseases and you’re like me and only received a single dose in my childhood you may want to check out your antibody levels. I had mine checked a couple of years ago after an outbreak of measles at a university happened in a population of immunized students. My levels showed my immunity was questionable but with a quick shot to my arm I’m now completely covered!

I will admit, I avoid O’Hare at all costs. I don’t have anything against the city of Chicago. I just don’t like missing connecting flights due to snow and rain storms that seem to be so prevalent in that part of the country!

Bugging Off!


Friday, January 12, 2018

Spoil Yourself by Considering Spa and Salon Safety

My sister-in-law and I decided that for Christmas we would treat ourselves to some girl time. An afternoon out and about that included some pampering in the form of a manicure and pedicure. As I was travelling to my home town in South-Western Ontario, I let her organize the location for said pampering, albeit with a little trepidation of not knowing what type of infection prevention was being followed. As it turned out, the aesthetician is a long-time friend of our family and she was in fact going to cancel my mani & pedi because she’d seen one of my social posts about having Norovirus! The long and the short is that I assured her I was fine and she assured me after chatting about her reprocessing procedures and fact she uses a basin and not a circulating tub for the pedicures! 

It always amazes me how life works. Serendipity, happenstance or coincidence – call it what you will, things happen for a reason and when it comes to infection prevention, it has been my experience that after talking about the importance of cleaning and disinfection, an outbreak or advisory notice of some sort invariably comes across my news feed that highlights the point I was making or solidifies my belief that ignorance is not bliss and that if we want to live a long, happy and healthy life, we need to be educated, ask questions and put ourselves first.

Case in point, just yesterday a story hit the news about an advisory from the Middlesex-London Health Unit (South-Western Ontario area) about a salon that had been cited with repeated infection control infractions and the report of a client who had tested positive for a blood-borne infection.  The Health Unit has stated that clients who obtained services at the salon may have been put at an increased risk of contracting a blood-borne infection.

Now, before we all start panicking and swearing off manicures, pedicures, tattoos or facials, the risk of acquiring a blood-borne infection is low. Inadequate infection prevention practices such as improper reprocessing of equipment can result in the potential transmission of blood-borne infections as well as common skin infections such as MRSA. The long and the short is that as a consumer you need to educate yourself on what questions to ask and what practices (present or absent) to look out for in order to keep yourself safe and healthy.  While I hate to say it, money talks and generally speaking, higher end spas and salons put more emphasis on infection prevention measures. I realize the choice of location is personal so to keep you healthy, the following are a couple of great check lists to refer to before your next appointment!

As I said in my blog last week, you never know when the next outbreak might pop up!  You can also be assured that this advisory will not stop me from enjoying spa services.  It just reminds me the importance of asking questions before “handing” myself over to be pampered!

Bugging Off!


Friday, January 5, 2018

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?

After the last couple of days, I think mine may be to not get so excited when I see that Norovirus and Influenza are ramping up…..   Why do I get excited?  Well, I’m in the cleaning and disinfection business.  Environmental surfaces, fomites and let’s face it, when it comes to Norovirus, anywhere our hands will touch has the potential to spread that nasty virus.  Why after the last couple of days?  Well, as they say “Karma’s a witch”.  I got bit by Noro, but on the bright side, I have successfully lost any weight I gained from consuming sweet treats over the Christmas Holidays! 

As we enter the 7th year of Talk Clean To Me, I would like to reflect back on the hundreds of blogs that have been shared and the dialogue with many of you that has started as a result of reading them.  One would think that the topic of cleaning and disinfection would get stale after a while.  What I have learned in my almost 15 years in the industry is that we never know what is around the next corner.  

If I look just at the last several weeks, there have been updates on the rising Flu cases across Canada and the US, cruise ships being hit by Norovirus, virtually a total ban on Romaine lettuce due to E. coli (seriously – skip the Caesar salads until Health Canada says it’s safe), Salmonellosis in Australia linked to a bakery, Avian Influenza cropping up in numerous countries causing millions upon millions of poultry to be culled, Leptospirosis in Colorado and scrub typhus has turned out to be the 2nd most frequent infectious disease in parts of India after dengue. Of course these are just the highlights of the “cool” outbreaks and do not touch on any of the science that is being published about new disinfectant technologies, surfaces or issues with reprocessing surfaces, materials or devices.

The long and the short is that 2018 promises to continue to provide great fodder for blogs and of course we never know when or where the newest pathogen will arrive and with that what we need to do to keep ourselves safe and healthy!  I hope that Talk Clean To Me will continue to be a source of education and entertainment!

Until next week, I have some surfaces I need to disinfectant to get rid of my highly contagious virus that is a “great” jump start to my winter weight loss program!

Bugging Off!