Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

Protecting Vulnerable Patients from Disease

August 1st, 2016 9:58 AM by Dan Howard

            Protecting From Communicable Disease as Printed H2H.pdf

                It seems like a bad science fiction movie, or maybe if you like the stuff a “good science fiction movie” made real. You know the story, new virus, bacteria, nasty chemical, whatever contaminant emerges and there is not any way to stop it. Or so it seems, except for the heroic discovery of the scientist who is helped by the government agency security person that stops the evil perpetrator of the biological threat to all of humanity.  

                The truth is that we are fighting newly evolved viruses and bacteria. We live longer and survive with diseases and conditions that would have killed the last generation. The cost of that survival is often weakened immune systems.

                To give a gift of continued life, we take organs out of one person and give them to save a recipient. Then we lower the immune system of the recipient so that their body does not attack the new organ.

                 The problem is that we have slowly been creating some of those superbugs in the course of the practice of modern medicine. Evolution is a part of the natural plan. We may kill most of the bacteria or virus that made someone ill, and a couple of the little bugs survive. These stronger biological nightmares reproduce. Repeat treatment, repeat strongest bug survive and bingo…. bango pretty soon penicillin no longer saves the day. New treatments evolve and at some point the bacteria or viruses get ahead of medicine.  


              Add to that the evolution of existing “bugs”, some of these afflictions such as HIV or Ebola that first prey upon our close genetic relatives like the monkey and then “come on over” to mankind.

               The Center for Disease Control’s latest infection health crisis is CRE, a Colistin resistant form, of E. coli. In some cases, this superbug kills up to 50 percent of the infected patients. This is one of many new infectious agents. This particular one started with pigs in China.

                We live in a society where we travel across continents in a day in close quarters carrying each of our biological exposures along with us for the ride. CRE is now in the United States.

               We learned from the news stories of the UPMC organ transplant program deaths that mold exposure can result in death of the organ recipient. We need to consider that If mold can be deadly in a hospital, it can be deadly in the home when a patient leaves the hospital.   

               The tricky thing is that the most likely to acquire a disease or infection are the same people who are the most difficult to cure. Many of us are exposed to serious health threats each day. As an example, the infection rate for Legionella exposure is less than 5%.  More simply put, 95% of those in contact with Legionella do not get sick.  

                 MRSA, C-diff, Hepatitis, Rotavirus, flu, Pneumonia, Meningitis and Strep Throat are some of the many diseases we face. Health issues from molds and other chemical contaminants get added to the lists of threat to public health.      

Those most likely to get ill from a biological exposure

  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Chemotherapy patients
  • Respiratory and cardiovascular patients
  • Patients with health threatening injuries or illness
  • Aging patients
  • People with extreme stress
  • Those with open wounds
  • Caretakers                   



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