NEW YORK, April 27 (UPI) -- Rigorous infection control in hospitals may be key to limiting deaths from swine flu in the United States, a non-profit group official says.
"If hospitals have effective infection controls in place, the disease can be prevented from spreading to visitors, healthcare workers and their families," Betsy McCaughey, chairwoman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths -- a national organization that educates the public and medical community about preventing infection -- says in a statement.
McCaughey says 77 percent of those who contracted severe acute respiratory syndrome during a SARA outbreak in Canada were patients, visitors or workers in hospitals.
"SARS was almost entirely a hospital infection epidemic," she says.
Many U.S. hospitals are under-prepared for a similar challenge, she says.
"As many as 10 percent of patients contract infections in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile race through hospitals, spread by unwashed hands and unclean equipment," McCaughey says. "How can hospitals that are failing to prevent ordinary infections spread by touch contain a new, unknown virus that can spread whenever someone coughs or sneezes?"
The less of SARS is that the best defense against swine flu and other unknown pathogens is rigorous hospital hygiene and routine infection prevention, McCaughey says.