Infection Prevention Hot Topics: Week of Halloween


What is scary in infection prevention and control? Dr. Popescu tells us what's in the news this week of Halloween.

This picture is of the author, Saskia v. Popescu, PhD, MPH, MA, CIC.

The author, Saskia v. Popescu, PhD, MPH, MA, CIC.

What’s scary to an infection preventionist? In truly, I always jokingly say that my personal risk tolerance is pretty nutty from years of working infectious diseases and that I tend to hit the panic button around Clostridioides difficile more than other things that would worry folks. As we celebrated Halloween this week, I’d be curious if your version of “scary” in the work of infection prevention and control (IPC) has changed over the years? What about since COVID-19? Ebola is likely on the list for most of us, though. (Email Infection Control Today® and let us know!)

Ebola Outbreak

Unfortunately, Uganda has reported 2 more Ebola Sudan cases and 9 more deaths, which now means this outbreak has reached 130 cases and 43 deaths. “At a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing today, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said Mubende is still the most affected district, but cases have recently risen in two neighboring districts. He said that, so far, 17 cases have been confirmed in Kampala, the country's capital and largest city. He also added that the WHO yesterday released an additional $5.7 million from its emergency contingency fund to further support the response.” Efforts are ongoing to perform contact tracing and control the spread of the outbreak. Given these numbers, it would be helpful to share with emergency department and urgent care personnel about travel-related exposures and to ask those important questions. Remember, in 2014 we didn’t think Ebola wouldn’t happen in the United States…until it did.

COVID-19: Are We Starting to See an Increase in Cases?

From October 29th until early November, we’ve started to see a slight increase in cases of COVID-19 within the United States. Ever so small, but a 2% increase in cases in the last two weeks. This is also mirrored in hospitalizations.If we look at what’s happening across the country, some places are seeing a more substantial increase in cases. Missouri has a 67% increase in cases in the last two weeks, while New Mexico has a 53% spike, Arizona has 101%, and Nevada has a 92% increase in cases as well. It’s early still, but those numbers are already starting to worry many. With respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) numbers causing a spike in pediatric cases and hospitalizations, and flu on the rise, it’s not surprising that these numbers are something we should keep an eye on in healthcare readiness and infection prevention. Pandemic fatigue is real, but we all know how severe the winters can be, so now is the time to check on personal protection equipment (PPE) levels, make sure those isolation signs are available, and folks are aware of what surges in influenza and RSV are like after several years of (mostly) COVID-19.

A few tidbits that you may find interesting…

  • Elk in Wyoming may want to worry – chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been confirmed in two elk within the state. Officials from The Wyoming Game and Fish Department are now working to collect samples and warning people not to eat meat from infected animals.
  • What was the hospitalization rate for monkeypox patients? A new study assessed 7,553 reported cases and the 555 hospitalizations that occurred as a result of monkeypox infection. This particular meta-analysis found a hospitalization rate of 14.1% in monkeypox patients, and this current outbreak ultimately experienced lower case-fatality rates as well.
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