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Infectious Disease

Germ “Superspreader” Healthcare Professionals Identified

9 years ago

887  0
Posted on Oct 22, 2009, 6 a.m.

Mathematical modeling reveals categories of healthcare workers who are more likely to spread pathogens if they are lax in hand hygiene.

In the hospital setting, infectious disease outbreaks tend to be “superspreading events” in which cross-transmission occurs via a single individual to a large number of patients. Laura Temime, from the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers (Paris, France), and colleagues, studied trends in hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers.  The researchers found that "peripatetic" workers -- such as therapists or radiologists -- were most likely to spread pathogens if they neglected hand hygiene.   In contrast, so-called "assigned" workers -- typically nurses and doctors -- were less likely to spread pathogens.  The team warns that: “Noncompliant peripatetic [healthcare workers] may play a disproportionate role in disseminating pathogens in a hospital ward. Their unique profile makes them potential superspreaders.”

Laura Temime, Lulla Opatowski, Yohan Pannet, Christian Brun-Buisson, Pierre Yves Boëlle, Didier Guillemot.  “Peripatetic health-care workers as potential superspreaders.” PNAS published online before print October 19, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0900974106.

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