1.1 – Bacteria are extremely small singular organisms what can be found almost everywhere.
Viruses are a piece of genetic material inside a coat of protein that invades cells and use the cells apparatus for reproduction.
Fungi is a multi celled living organism.
Parasites are a type of living plant and animal that benefit from the metabolism of other plants or animals.
Common illnesses and infections that are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasite are:
Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Tuberculosis,
Norovirus, Measles, warts or verrucas, Chickenpox
Tinea pedis, Ringworm,
Colonisation is when microorganisms inhabit part of the body without causing any harmful effects or signs of infection towards the host.
Infections mean that the organism is present and is causing harm or invasion to the body tissues from a disease caused by microorganisms
When someone is exposed to MRSA or Clostridium difficile they become colonised. Meaning that the organism takes up residence harmlessly but doesn’t cause an infection. The colonisation can continue harmlessly indefinitely, it can also clear all of a sudden or it can develop into a infection if not dealt with correctly.
Localised infection is an infection that is at the site of entry, it is confined or restricted to a specific location of the body typically an infected wound.
Systemic infection is when a pathogen is what has caused an infection has then spread throughout the body to several organs in different systems of the body that could be the digestive system, respiratory or circulatory systems. Some can be carried in the blood stream. Some organisms are spread to nearby tissues.
There are some poor practices that may lead to the spread of infection and there can be many different ways this can happen, these include:
Lack of poor hand hygiene –
There are millions of microbes on your hands that can lead to infection. Most of them are harmless but many can cause colds, flu, diarrhea, hepatitis and E-coli infection. When not or undertaking a poor hand hygiene routine it can lead to the spreading of these germs to others or even ourselves by touching an entry site. Microbes can also be picked up from everyday objects like doorknobs, taps and frames that can be touched by others who may not have washed their hands. Reflecting on how many things you touch daily and imagine how many people have touched that too before or after you. This is why it is highly important to have a good detailed hand hygiene. Germs can live for a certain period outside the body, for example: Cold viruses can survive on indoor surfaces for more than seven days although through this period their ability to cause and infection in someone starts to decrease after 24 hours. Washing hands reduces the number of microorganisms on our hands and helps prevent the spreading of infection from others. In my job role I make sure that i wash my hands before starting my shift, before coming into contact with patients, after taking my gloves off and before leaving the patient’s house, also I carry a small bottle of hand gel and I apply this after i get out of my car at the patient’s house.
Contaminated linen and clothing
Workers may become infected or cause cross contamination when handling infected linen when not using sufficient PPE such as gloves or an apron. When dealing with soiled or infected linen special care should be used to avoid any risks of splashing, spraying or splattering of faeces or vomit if present. Precaution should still be kept even if there is no visible sign of the linen or clothing being soiled. Microbiological pathogens can still be present and spread. Leaving the linen around on chairs or floors is also very bad practise as it can lead to cross contamination.
Understanding the use and consequences of poor practice can help support me in the way that I undertake tasks and strengthen the use of good hygiene techniques, it also support me in the use of PPE and why it is so vitally important to always use it. Also, it supports and reinforces why trusts value the use of all personal protective equipment. Learning and maintaining the best known practice for hand washing is very important for my role as a support worker, hands being one of the main transmissions of germs should always be kept clean especially when interacting with patients.
For the microorganisms to multiply and reproduce they require certain conditions, these are moisture, nutrients, temperature and time. All these conditions in their own way are perfect for the development of micro-organisms.
Bacteria must have a source of moisture to stay alive. Bacteria cannot multiply in dry conditions although as soon as liquid is added bacteria have the perfect condition to thrive.
For example, dried food can offer the required conditions for bacteria to reproduce and multiply but salty or sugary foods soak up the required moisture for the bacteria making it more difficult for the bacteria to thrive. Although foods provide the conditions for microorganisms to thrive, skin and damp environments can also provide the thriving conditions that they require. Areas on the human body can be perfect for the growth of bacteria for example, the feet they can provide the right amount of moisture for them to thrive. This is why tinea pedis (Athlete’s foot) is so common in individuals that are on their feet for long periods of time or athletes as the sweat provides a good source of moisture for them to survive in.
Bacteria being a living microorganism requires nutrients like most living things do to survive. Bacteria that causes food poisoning can live on a vast range of different foods, but the perfect foods are those that would have moisture and are rich in protein.
Ready to eat items are classed as high risk foods this is because the foods like meat, poultry, dairy products, shellfish, pasta or cooked rice provide the right conditions for bacterial growth after they have been cooked and eaten later when served cold.
Temperatures between 5 degrees to 63 degrees are the perfect condition for food-poisoning bacteria to multiply, this zone of temperatures is known as the ‘danger zone’. Room temperatures are generally within the danger zone. Bacteria’s perfect temperature condition is about 37 degrees this is ideal for the multiplication and survival. This is why food is normally stored at temperatures colder than 5 degrees, although this only halts the bacteria from thriving until conditions are more suitable for them to continue the process.
Hot foods should be kept above 63 degrees this either slows or stops the process. Heating foods to temperatures above this mark will normally kills bacteria. Freezing foods will make most bacteria dormant, although this stops the process it does not kill them, so when that food is then defrosted the food is just as susceptible to risks as what fresh food would be.
When bacteria along with time and living in warm conditions with the correct type of nutrients and an adequate source of moisture can reproduce at a fast rate. Food poisoning bacteria can reproduce in around 10 – 20 minutes if they have the right conditions to allow for this.
The are four main entry portals or routes for infection, or ways that the infection can gain an entry to the body.
The respiratory tract either through the nose, windpipe or lungs. Pathogens that are airborne such as coughs or colds can be inhaled providing access to the body.
The skin provides us with protection against infection and this is an important function of the body, but when the skin is compromised for instance from bites, scratches, puncture wounds or dry chapped skin it provides the perfect route for infection to enter the body.
The digestive tract
Infected products such as foods or drink can be swallowed, this often affects the bowels or stomach. Bacteria such as salmonella in foods that haven’t been cooked properly, salmonella being a group of bacteria that causes food poisoning.
The urinary tract and reproductive systems
Infection in these areas of the body might remain localised or can enter the bloodstream. A major problem with the catheterisation is the possibility of bacteria being carried into the urinary tract during the catheterisation procedure, a way for this to be minimised is the use of aseptic non touch technique (ANTT) and making sure that the equipment is sterile before use.
Although these are the main routes for infection into the body, the infection has to be in sufficient numbers for the infection to take its place. The host’s body has a few external defences that help to protect the host these can be the use of the skin, gastric red and the use of tears.
We have an internal defence that is the immune system this plays an almost key role in keeping the body health, although when the immune system is weakened the body is more likely to be breeched and infection is more likely to take its course.
Catheters are a prime example of how infection can enter the body, if the equipment is compromised it can be an easy portal into the body for bacteria this can happen if the equipment is touched.
Bodily fluids for example a sneeze or a coughing into the hand and then not washing said hand, the bacteria gets transmitted, this is a source of infection.
Bacteria and germs can multiply in unhygienic conditions particularly bathrooms, kitchen and toilets that are not cleaned properly, a common source of infection can be of human or animal origins or even environment origins.
Transmission to infection has two categories in which infection can be spread to a person and these are direct and indirect
Direct transmission is when infection is spread through person to person though one of the portals of entry.
Indirect transmission is infectious agents being spread through the ingestion of contaminated food or water or through contact with inanimate objects, for example, walking frames, door handles, toilet taps or pens or pencils.
Infectious agents can be transmitted through the air, through a sneeze or cough, spreading the germs. The germs can also be transmitted and picked up from the surface and clothing. Bodily fluids can also be a way of carrying infection from person to person, this can be done through sexual activity which is most common. Any activity that risks the exchange of bodily fluids between people can pose a risk of infection if one of the parties is already infected.
Cutting yourself on unsterile items can pose a risk of infection, like a rusty nail poses a threat of tetanus. Using PPE equipment is an important step in minimising the risk of infection and adhering to the trusts policy or legislation can help to keep you safe while at work.
A excellent example of how an infectious agent can be spread is through the Chain of infection, this chain shows you how infections can be spread from person to person.
Either through direct or indirect transmission.
Reservoirs of infection
The health protection agency (HPA) Describe a reservoir of infection as being “where microorganisms normally lives and reproduces, for example, in animals, water or food. The human body is the most common reservoir for microorganisms. A person with an infectious disease such a salmonella, tuberculosis, polio, hepatitis A or hepatitis B may act as a source of infection to others because of the microorganisms are present in some of the bodily fluids and can be present when being passed on to others”.
There are many reasons of why people can be more susceptible to infection, this differs from person to person. Risk factors for infection can be:
Infections are more common in people that are run down and their immune system is running low meaning that it cannot fight off the infection.
The very young and very old are more vulnerable being susceptible to catching infections.
With age the body becomes more susceptible to infections, this would be as the body gets older the wear and tear on the body for example, arthritis becomes normal for the body to maintain. This however this allows the body to become unguarded in certain areas and easier for infections to attack the immune system having become naturally weaker.
Psychological well being
Improper or lack of hygiene can result in being at risk of infection, this is because bacteria can thrive in the conditions if not properly cleaned. Cuts or sores not being treated or cleaned properly can increase the risk of infection.
Medical therapies can pave the way to infectious agents gaining a portal of entry to the body examples of this can include certain therapies like cancer chemotherapy or steroids.
Immune system status
The immune system is an important body defence, so when the immune system is weakened it is more likely that the body will be susceptible to infection.