Infectious diseases cause more than 13 million deaths worldwide among children and young adults alone. It makes them one of the top causes of mortality in the world. The spread of infectious diseases, like bacterial infections and viral infections, leads to increased use of antibiotics. This enforces a bigger problem regarding antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which the World Health Organization has declared to be one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further raised awareness about the issue of addressing the threat of AMR to public health and the economy. With the lack of proper sanitation and poor infection prevention and control procedures, microbes causing infectious diseases continue to spread in the environment.
So, how can we help create a cleaner and safer environment for everyone around us?
What is an Infectious Disease?
Pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi, cause infectious diseases. Some pathogens like E. coli and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), and viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, can survive on surfaces. Unfortunately, this can spread from the environment and from one person to another.
The chain of infection is the series of events that allow infectious diseases to spread between individuals in our population. Transmission occurs when the agent leaves its reservoir or infected host and invades a susceptible host.
What is Antimicrobial Resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, happens due to microorganisms undergoing changes that make medicines that are used to treat them ineffective. This naturally occurs over time, and such organisms, like drug-resistant bacteria, can be found in humans, animals, food, plants, and the environment. This allows for the spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms from one person to another, from animals to people, and from the food that we eat and the environment that we live in. Its presence everywhere makes it a rising issue for global health and the economy.
Several things can cause the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, including:
- Overprescribing of medications
- Patient nonadherence to treatment protocols
- Lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Poor infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities and farms
This has resulted in ineffective and poor treatments of some common infectious diseases that were once effective. This raises the issue of finding new treatments, all while attempting to preserve the efficacy of the existing antibiotics.
Why Does This Matter?
As antimicrobial resistance continues to threaten the ability to treat common infections, the growing effects of this issue within the populations serve to be no surprise. There has also been a rapid spread globally of “superbugs,” the strains of organisms that are resistant to most antibiotics.
Antimicrobial resistance was found to cause over 700,000 deaths per year in 2014 globally. It is projected that this will grow to 10 million deaths per year by 2050, which provides a greater threat to humans than cancer, predicted at around 8.2 million deaths by 2050.
AMR is costing the economy and their existing health systems quite a hefty amount, with a predicted potential annual loss of up to $3.4 trillion by 2030. These costs are accumulated from the need for more medical resources, including more expensive and intensive care, increasing health care costs. The prolonged hospital stays of patients and their caregivers also affects their productivity, costing the economy money.
This issue creates higher risks for healthcare providers performing medical procedures, including surgery, organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, and more.
What Can We Do?
It is important to be able to provide the correct support and resources for the prevention and control of infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), ensuring proper hand hygiene is key in decreasing an individual’s susceptibility to infections.
Apart from this, everyone must consider the everyday items that they use that can be a source for microbial reservoirs and can contribute to the transmission of infections. In today’s technologically advanced society, it is rare to find individuals who do not have a smartphone on hand. Such devices were found to have an elevated level of bacterial contamination, with over 17,000 microbes on each mobile device! This is why the best way to prevent disease transmission is focusing on both hand and phone sanitization.
It is CleanSlate UV’s goal is to promote not just proper device sanitization through UV technology, but hand hygiene. With a proven increase of 50-110% in hand hygiene events with a CleanSlate UV Sanitizer by the vicinity, we are committed to ensuring that everyone can move around a clean and safe environment.
The issue of antimicrobial resistance will continue to rise, and at the end of the day, it is up to us to ensure that we are contributing to preventing the spread of infectious diseases through proper hand and device sanitization.