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WASHINGTON, D.C. - A recent study of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Toronto revealed that 77 percent of the 144 observed patients acquired SARS in a nosocomial environment, according to Barry Farr, MD, MSc, speaking at the recent 30th annual conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). The same study also indicated that 51 percentof all SARS patients were healthcare workers.
"This study clearly emphasizes the vulnerability of hospital environments to new outbreaks and the need to exercise full-time infection control surveillance," said Farr, the William S. Jordan Jr. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Virginia (UVA) and hospital epidemiologist of the UVA Health System. Farr spoke at the conference during the first-ever State of the Science Lecture sponsored by the APIC Research Foundation.
Farr noted that with the threat of bioterrorism and the onset of new viruses that can be borne across the globe in literally hours, infection control professionals will play an increasingly important role in helping to prevent and limit infections in nosocomial environments. Farr is the former president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and now serves as editor of the SHEA journal, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
According to Barbara Russell, president of the research foundation and head of infection control at Baptist Hospital of Miami, "Hospital-transmitted infections are a serious concern in highly developed as well as emerging nations. In the U.S., more than 80,000 patients die of infection-related deaths every year, and over two million non-fatal infection cases are reported." She added that measures employed by infection control professionals have proven to be the most effective and cost-efficient means to reduce the risk of contagion in health care facilities.
The APIC Research Foundation is committed to improving the quality, value, and cost-effectiveness of health care by supporting research aimed at preventing health care associated complications, and evaluating the efficacy of infection prevention practices.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC) is a non-profit, international organization that seeks to influence, support and improve the quality of health care through the practice and management of infection control. Based in Washington, D.C., APIC (www.apic.org) has more than 110 regional chapters in the U.S. and more than 12,000 members worldwide.