Cleaning Paramount as Latest Pandemic Threat Emerges

Cleaning as a front-line defense against emerging viral and bacterial health threats has another related news headline this week, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

An emerging severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath has killed eight after infecting 14, three of whom are in England, according to the CDC. Originating on the Arabian Peninsula, the disease infected a British traveler after visiting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Subsequent infections took place in two of the traveler’s immediate family. One member who had an existing illness has died. The CDC said the traveler had both the new virus and H1N1, or swine flu. Countries affected include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and now England.

Before they enter the body, many pathogens – germs that are harmful to humans – are relatively easy to eliminate or control on surfaces. So many are in fact, that the role of modern cleaning and cleaning chemistry is absolutely critical to the cost-effective management of disease.  The interruption of the infection process through control of objects they pass onto and from is known as breaking the "cross-contamination cycle."

Here is a presentation on that process and the role of cleaning. This Cleaning for Health Scorecard can help you size up your opportunities to reduce disease transmission in your facility. 

The new disease probably came from an animal, and is very similar in effect to SARS, but not the same. SARS broke out in Asia in 2003 and was of great concern before being contained. Both are in the same family of coronaviruses. The new infection produces acute lower respiratory illness, and has been show to pass easily from human to human. These are all factors relevant to concerns about pandemic.

When a new disease emerges, there are generally two main concerns. First, is the threat easily transmissible. If it is easy to catch, it can circle the globe rapidly from the Middle East to New York to Chicago and Kansas City in a matter of days or even hours. Second, the mortality rate is important to threat level. This infection has killed over half of those infected to date. One member of the British family infected, who was healthy previously, has recovered.

Most respiratory diseases are transmissible through coughs and sneezes. Germs travel on water droplets. From a cleaning standpoint, coughs and sneezes also infect commonly visited hard surfaces such as desks, door handles, restroom fixtures and other common-contact points.

CDC overview of the new coronavirus.