Experts at the AMMI Canada conference in Vancouver shared hot topics in infection control, from the changing role of infectious disease (ID) physicians to striking research on masks and air filters. They also highlighted growing concern about drug-resistant infections and new data on the dangers of sinks.
Redefining the ID doc
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked an explosion of interest in infection control --and cast ID doctors in new roles, said Lynora Saxinger, an ID specialist and associate professor at the University of Alberta.
According to Saxinger, ID physicians have spent a "tremendous amount of uncompensated time" over the past two years acting as a bridge between lab colleagues and public health, and pharmacists and clinicians. She said the specialty should consider integrating science communication, media literacy, social media, and knowledge translation into its core competencies.
Looking to the future, Saxinger said the official role and training of ID physicians could expand to include communicating with the medical community, the public, and the media to help "interpret the science, triangulate on recommendations and leverage trust."
Making the most of masks
The pandemic has also had a "huge impact" on infection control research, particularly around the use of masks, says Yves Longtin, chair of the Infection Prevention and Control Unit at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and an associate professor at McGill University.
More papers were published about N95 masks in the last two years than in the previous 20 years, Longtin said.
Meanwhile, there was a 25% increase in publications on surface disinfection, a 60% increase in research on hand hygiene, and a 10-fold increase in papers on airborne transmission.
One notable American study found that wearing a cloth mask on top of a medical mask captured at least 85% of particles the wearer exhaled or coughed, while wearing an elastic brace over a medical mask blocked at...