What is a cross infection?
A cross infection is the transfer of harmful
microorganisms, usually bacteria and viruses. The spread of infections can
occur between people, pieces of equipment, or within the body.
These infections can cause many complications.
So, medical professionals work hard to ensure equipment safety and a clean
of cross infection
The symptoms of a cross infection depend on
the source of the infection. And also the part of the body that is infected.
One of the first symptoms of a cross infection is a fever. This is the body’s
first course of action to help get rid of an infection.
Many different types of infections can occur.
Some examples include:
- a urinary tract infection (UTI)
from an infection caused by a catheter
- a surgical wound infection that
may cause redness, swelling, and pus
- an infection related to the
presence of a peripheral or central venous access line
Causes of cross infection
Cross infections can be caused by:
These microorganisms can be transmitted by:
- unsterilized medical equipment
- coughing and sneezing
- human contact
- touching contaminated objects
- dirty bedding
- prolonged use of catheters, tubes, or intravenous lines
Media coverage has raised concerns over cross
infection in hospitals by “superbugs” like Mycobacterium
But infections can be spread in any setting, including:
- government buildings
The risk for infection is greater when
undergoing a medical procedure. But cross infection can happen within the body.
An infection in one part of the body can spread to another, like a respiratory
infection spreading to the ears or eyes.
Doctors may use a combination of ways to
diagnose cross infection. These include:
- physical exams
- blood tests
- culture tests
- urine tests
- health history reviews
Treating a cross infection depends on the
condition. Antibiotics are used for bacterial, fungal, and parasitic
infections, but not for most viral infections.
Over time, bacteria can adapt and become
resistant to medications. This leads to the evolution of “superbugs.” These are
strains of bacteria immune to multiple antibiotics. This can make them more
difficult to kill, and can increase complications.
Prescription anti-viral drugs are used to
treat specific types of viruses. Anti-fungal medications in topical or oral
form can be used to treat fungal infections. And parasites transferred through
cross infection may be treated with antibiotics and dietary changes.
Untreated infections can lead to:
- multisystem organ failure that could include the lungs, heart,
liver, and kidneys
The risk for life-threatening complications
during medical procedures increases when cross infection is present.
It’s important to call your doctor
immediately if you notice symptoms of infection. The earlier an infection is
identified, the easier it is to treat.
Cross infection is best treated at the
source. Medical professionals follow special procedures to help prevent
infections. Aseptic technique is a common
process used to sterilize equipment so harmful microorganisms can’t spread from
patient to patient.
Hospitals and other healthcare settings all
have procedures to prevent infection. Before undergoing a procedure, you can
check the facility in advance and ask about preventative measures.
Cross infections can complicate a condition
or procedure. The best way to avoid getting one is to prevent it from
transferring. Many public institutions have strict rules to help reduce cross
Schools may not allow students to attend
classes while sick. And some companies send employees home if they show symptoms of the flu.
These measures can significantly reduce the
chance of cross infection. Also, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, and
practicing good hygiene, greatly reduces the risk of cross infection.