Several months ago, we featured an entry entitled “Understanding E. Coli” which covered some of the basic facts about this nasty bacterial strain. While E. Coli's contagion is not necessarily as virulent as the various forms of influenza, you still can catch it from infected persons. For this reason, it's important to observe good infection control practices in order to minimize your risks of exposure. Follow these guidelines in order to protect yourself from infection.
- Avoid known areas of contamination. When your municipality issues an alert to inform you of contaminated waterways, avoid all primary and secondary contact with those waterways at all costs. Primary contact would be if you yourself were to be exposed directly to the area of contamination. Secondary exposure would be at play if you had contact with somebody (another person, or an animal for example) that was exposed to the contamination.
- Protect yourself in public restrooms. Unfortunately, you cannot assume that everyone around you is as steadfast in adhering to infection prevention measures as you are, so protect yourself from the laxness of others. Only two thirds of people report that they wash their hands after using the rest-room at work. Given that E. Coli lives in fecal contamination, this behaviour could literally be deadly. By washing your own hands frequently (particularly before consuming food) you lessen your risk of having to pay for another's sins.
- Remember that money is the root of all evil. Well, it's the root of many infections anyway. Think of how many times in a given day you are involved in the exchange of money. Each of those exchanges presents exposure to infection. Less than half of all Canadians wash their hands after handling money. This means there is much room for improvement in shutting down this avenue of infection-spread.
- Be careful about sharing. If there are common work surfaces (phones, keyboards, etc) that you must share with others, try to get into the habit of disinfecting them before you use them. If there are items you can avoid sharing altogether, then opt to do so. For example, if you frequently have visitors who require a pen when working with you, keep a pen for yourself, and have several available for those who visit you.
It may seem like a hassle at first to try and modify your practices to include various means of infection prevention, but soon it will become second nature to you, and you'll be grateful for the added protection.