What is Cross Infection?
Cross infection is the
transfer of harmful microorganisms. Bacteria and viruses are among the most
common. The spread of infections can occur between people, pieces of equipment,
or within the body. These infections can cause many complications. Medical
professionals work diligently to ensure equipment safety and a clean
Types of Cross Infection
Cross infection can stem
Causes of Cross Infection
Cross infections are caused by:
- bacteria from
coughing and sneezing
- the transmission
of viruses through human contact
- dirty bedding
Media coverage has raised concerns
over the cross infection of “superbugs” in hospitals. An example is the Mycobacterium abscessus (Medline Plus). Infections can be
spread in any setting. Bacteria and viruses may be numerous in outpatient medical
facilities and in public settings. Examples include schools, banks, stores, and
the risk for infection is greater when undergoing a medical procedure, cross
infection can also occur within the body. In some cases, an infection on one
part of the body can spread to another. An example is a respiratory infection
spreading to the ears and eyes.
Symptoms of Cross Infection
The exact symptoms of cross
infection depend on the source. For example, an infection caused by a catheter
can result in a UTI. The symptoms include pain in the kidneys, abdomen, and
groin. Infections spread through surgery may cause redness, swelling, and pus
at the operation site. One of the first telling signs of a cross infection is a
fever. This is usually the body’s first course of action to help get rid of an
Diagnosing Cross Infection
Doctors may use a
combination of methods to diagnose cross infection. These include:
- physical exams
- blood tests
- culture tests
- urine tests
- health history
Treating Cross Infection
Treating cross infection
depends on the condition. Antibiotics are often used for bacterial infections.
These medicines don’t treat viruses. The problem with antibiotics is that bacteria
can learn to adapt and potentially become resistant to medications overtime.
This not only leads to individual resistance, but can lead to the evolution of
“superbugs.” These are strains of bacteria immune to antibiotics, which make
the risk for related complications high.
drugs are used to treat specific types of viruses. Anti-fungal medications can
be used to treat fungal infections, either in topical or oral form. Parasites
transferred through cross infection may be treated with antibiotics as well as
Cross Infection Complications
Untreated bacterial and
viral infections can lead to:
The risk for
life-threatening complications during medical procedures increases when cross
infection is present. It is important to call a physician immediately if any
symptoms of infection are suspected. The earlier treatment starts, the more
probable a positive outcome will be.
Preventing Cross Infection
Cross infection is best
treated at the source. Medical professionals use techniques to help prevent
infections at facilities, as well as during and after surgical procedures. Aseptic technique is a common process
used to properly sterilize equipment so that harmful microorganisms can’t
spread from patient to patient.
Hospitals and other health
care settings all have specific means to prevent infection. Before undergoing a
procedure, a patient might consider checking the facility in advance. They can
also ask about which infection preventative measures are used.
Many public institutions
have strict rules that help reduce cross infection. Schools may not allow
students to attend classes while sick. Some companies send employees home if
they show signs of the flu. While this can seem like a burden, such measures
can significantly reduce the chances of cross infection. Frequent and thorough
washing of the hands also reduces risk of cross infection.