Can Cutaneous Mucormycosis Happen Again?

By Ken Buben, President,

The CDC reported yesterday that the deadly fungus that manifested itself after the May 22 Joplin tornado has not been seen after a tornado before, but it could show up again.

Tornado Fungus

rare fungas after tornado's

There were 13 confirmed cases and 5 deaths from this rare fungus after the Joplin tornado.  The CDC report said early diagnosis, surgical removal of the affected tissue and anti-fungal medication were used effectively to treat the fungus. The infection spread quickly and turned those infected with black tissue and caused mold to grow inside their wounds.

The infection develops in two ways: when the fungal spores are inhaled or when a tree branch or other object carrying the fungus pierces the flesh. The fungus blocks off blood vessels to the infected area, causing tissue to turn red and begin oozing. Eventually it becomes black. Treatment is intravenous medications or surgical removal of the tissues themselves.

What exactly is Cutaneous Mucormycosis?

An infectious disease caused by fungus from the order Mucorales which is normally found in the soil and in decaying plant matter. Transmission is usually through the inhalation of spores. It is generally harmless to healthy individuals but can cause infection in patients who are immunocompromised or who have a serious chronic illness such as uncontrolled diabetes. Symptoms and severity can vary considerable depending on the part of the body the infection occurs in – gastrointestinal tract, skin, lungs, central nervous system, eye orbit and the paranasal sinuses. Cutaneous mucormycosis is very rare and involves infection of the skin.

Healthcare workers should be prepared after a tornado or other natural disasters to watch for patients with symptoms of this deadly fungus, especially those with diabetes or chronic illnesses.  The symptom of this rare fungus is a painful patch of skin.






World Hepatitis Day

By Ken Buben, President,

World Hepatitis Day

Today is the first World Hepatitis Day marked by the United Nations bringing much needed attention to the disease that affects almost 1 in 3 on earth. Viral hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious diseases in the world.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, spread through infected blood, can range in severity from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a serious, lifelong chronic condition that badly damages the liver.

The theme of the campaign is Know it, Confront it. Hepatitis affects everyone and the campaign  was designed to highlight the fact that more than two billion people have been infected by the virus, and each year nearly one million  deaths are attributed to viral hepatitis infections. Millions who have the disease don’t know it and could be unknowingly spreading this infection.

There are  five strains of hepatitis though hepatitis B accounts for the majority of the world’s cases. It’s transmitted through contact with infected blood or other body fluids and yet it is 50 to 100 times more infectious, making it easier to catch.

About 90 percent of adults who catch hepatitis B recover and are rid of the disease completely but not so with children.  25% of children will die later from liver cancer or liver cirrhosis caused by the infection.

There are vaccines for 2 of the 5 viruses, A and B. Hepatitis D occurs only with those with the B virus.  The dual infection can be very serious.

Symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

as well as these less common symptoms:

    • Dark urine
    • Light-colored stools
    • Jaundice
    • Generalized itching
    • Altered mental state, stupor, or coma

If you experience any of these symptoms or if a family member or close contact comes down with hepatitis contact your doctor.

Hepatitis A is spread primarily through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. It can also spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. If you are a healthcare worker get extra protection with medical uniforms that repel blood and all fluids including bodily fluids.



Do You Wear Your Medical Uniforms More Than 1 Shift?

By Ken Buben, President,

Medical Uniforms can act as reservoir of infections with areas around cuffs and pockets the most contaminated.  Investigators from the Public University of Navarra, the University of Vavarra Clinic, and the University of Vavarra Clinic in Pamplona, Spain, compared the contamination levels as well as measured the influence of the number of shifts as uniform was used in its contamination.

Medical Uniforms

Do you wear your medical uniforms more than 1 shift?

They collected microbiological cultures from 88 nurses in which they found a positive correlation between the number of days and microbiological count.  (44.36 cfu/cm vs. 65.20 cfu) A drastic difference!

The differences were found when nurses wore their uniforms for more than 2 shifts. Hospitals need to provide healthcare workers with enough uniforms to last more than 2 shifts so they do not spread germs throughout the hospitals from their medical uniforms.

Their research was presented at the International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC) held in Geneva, Switzerland June 29-July 2, 2011.

There is technology available now in medical uniforms that can prevent this – they are self cleaning and repel all fluids including blood.  These medical uniforms contain fluid barrier, antimicrobial and comfort properties that may provide a solution to the emerging issues associated with high rates of hospital infections from clothing.

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Nasal Spray Cause of Hospital Bacteria Outbreak

By Ken Buben,

Nasal Spray Cause of Latest Hospital Bacteria Outbreak

A rare bacterial outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) identified contaminated nasal spray as the root cause of the infections, leading to a national recall of the product. An article in the August issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, describes how researchers were able to trace the outbreak back to the nasal decongestant spray.

Nasal Spray cause of Bacteria Infection Outbreak

Nasal Spray Cause of Infection

According to Wikipedia BCC organisms are typically found in water and soil and can survive for prolonged periods in moist environments. Person-to-person spread has been documented; as a result, many hospitals, clinics, and camps have enacted strict isolation precautions for those infected with BCC. Infected individuals are often treated in a separate area from noninfected patients to limit spread, since BCC infection can lead to a rapid decline in lung function and result in death.

Treatment includes use of multiple types of antibiotics as one alone will not be enough to fight this infection in most cases.

The spray was voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer, but the findings raise lingering questions about how manufacturers should test nasal spray products before distribution. They are not regulated by the FDA to be sterile.

Other products, such as mouthwash, nebulization therapy, tap water, disinfectants, and reusable temperature probes have previously been implicated as Bcc outbreak sources.