Home Hygiene & Health
The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information

IFH Newsheet: Jan 2017


   Get the latest news & research – Follow IFH on Twitter




  1. IFH resource – Breaking the Chain of Infection - now with sound commentary

  2. Reflections of 2016: how and why the fight against infectious diseases has entered a new era.

  3. IFH hygiene advice sheets on preventing spread of norovirus, and colds and flu in home and everyday life this winter


1. IFH resource - Breaking the Chain of Infection - preventing spread of infections in home and everyday life

In October 2016 IFH produced a simple elearning resource which is available online.  We feel that this was a "not to be missed" opportunity to get this simple concept over to the public (and infection control professionals), who find it hard to understand that preventing spread of infections is not about whether the home is visibly clean or not – it’s about cleaning in the places and at the times that are necessary to break the chain of infection.  Understanding this concept is vital because it forms the essential foundation for understanding effective hygiene in home and everyday life - and elsewhere. The resource is intended to help people to visualise how infections are spread and how hygiene can break the chain of infection through targeted Hygiene.

A revised version of this resource is now online – and we have added a spoken commentary

2.  Reflections 2016: Infectious diseases making a comeback: the fight against infectious diseases has entered a new era.

In the Dec 24th Issue of Science News, Sonia Shaw reviews current concern about infectious disease, set against the complacency of the second half of C20th.  She shows how the need to be concerned is exemplified by events of 2016:

  • As the Ebola in West Africa was coming under control in early 2016, WHO declared Zika virus, newly emerging in the Americas, an international health emergency
  • At the same time, the largest outbreak of yellow fever in Angola in 30 years had just begun.
  • A few months later, scientists reported discovery of the mcr-1 gene in microbes collected from humans and pigs in the US. The gene produces resistance to the last-ditch antibiotic colistin, bringing us another step closer to an era of untreatable infections.
  • Although in 2015, WHO had declared Nigeria, one of the three last countries in the world suffering the infection, free of wild polio, by August 2016, it was back. Millions would have to be vaccinated to keep the infection from establishing a foothold.
  • 2016 saw the convening of the UN General Assembly to consider the global problem of antibiotic resistance. It is only the fourth time in its 70-plus-years that the assembly has been compelled to consider a health issue.

This is all a far cry from 1962, when Nobel Prize winner Sir Frank Macfarlane Burne wrote “To write about infectious disease is almost to write of something that has passed into history.”  Five decades on he would be surprised that, since then, over 300 infectious pathogens have either newly emerged or emerged in new places.
Experts suggest that three fundamental, interrelated factors fuel the microbial comeback:

  • Across the globe, people are abandoning rural for city life, leading to rapid, urban expansion. In crowded conditions with limited access to health care and poor sanitation, pathogens like Ebola, Zika and influenza are more easily spread. With more infections mingling, there are also more opportunities for pathogens to share virulence genes.
  • Global demand for meat has quadrupled in the last 5 decades by some estimates, driving spread of industrial livestock farming techniques that can allow benign microbes to become more virulent. Use of colistin in livestock agriculture in China, has been associated with emergence of mcr-1, first discovered during routine surveillance of food animals. Gene analyses suggest that siting chickens and pig factory farms in proximity to wild waterfowl has played a role in emergence of highly virulent avian influenza strains. Crosses of Asian and North American avian influenza strains caused the biggest outbreak of animal disease in US history in 2014–2015. Containment required slaughter of nearly 50 million domesticated birds and cost over $950 million. Worryingly, some strains of avian influenza, such as H5N1, can infect humans.
  • Global warming provides further opportunities for pathogen spread. Scientists have documented movement of disease-carrying creatures including mosquitoes and ticks into new regions in association with newly amenable climatic conditions. Range changes will also encourage spread of bats and other animals carrying pathogens such as Ebola, Zika and Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) with them.

Since we can rarely develop drugs and vaccines fast enough to staunch spread of disease, early detection will be key. Researchers are now developing models showing how environmental cues such as temperature and precipitation fluctuations. Insights of wildlife and livestock experts can help pinpoint pathogens with pandemic potential before they cause outbreaks in people. Chlorophyll signatures, a proxy for the plankton concentrations associated with cholera bacteria, can be detected from satellite data, potentially providing advance notice of cholera outbreaks.

Shah believes that innovative financing methods, such as the World Bank’s recently launched Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (a “global pandemic insurance policy” funded by donor countries, the reinsurance market and the World Bank) could help ensure that resources to isolate and contain new pathogens are readily available. The non profit EcoHealth Alliance, is one of a handful that aim to detect new pathogens at their source and proactively minimize risk of spread – instead of waiting for epidemics to emerge and then spending billions on developing vaccines and drugs.

Shah concludes “The challenge of surviving in a world of pathogens is far from over. In many ways, it’s only just begun”.

Suzán G, García‐Peña GE, Castro‐Arellano I, Rico O, Rubio AV, Tolsá MJ, Roche B, Hosseini PR, Rizzoli A, Murray KA, Zambrana‐Torrelio C, Daszak P et al . Metacommunity and phylogenetic structure determine wildlife and zoonotic infectious disease patterns in time and space. Ecology and Evolution. 2015 Feb 1;5(4):865-73.

3.   IFH fact and hygiene advice sheets

IFH has prepared Fact and hygiene advice sheets, giving advice on how to prevent the spread of norovirus, and colds and flu in home and everyday life this winter. You are welcome to download and adapt this material for your own needs –provided you acknowledge IFH as the source.

Colds, flu and other respiratory infections in the home

Respiratory infections are the most common illnesses in people of all ages. Good respiratory hygiene can help to reduce the spread of these diseases.
This briefing material  has been produced for those who work in healthcare professions, the media and others who are looking for background understanding of hygiene and hygiene issues and/or those who are responsible for providing guidance to the public on how to reduce the risks of spread of respiratory infection in their homes.

Norovirus: infection and infection prevention through hygiene in the home

This leaflet has been put together to provide background information and advice on what to do if there is risk of spread of norovirus in the home.

This briefing material has been produced for those who work in healthcare professions, the media and others who are looking for background understanding of norovirus infection and/or those who are responsible for providing guidance to the public on how to prevent the spread of norovirus in their homes.


Published: 01/01/2017

Publication Type: Newsletter