By N. A. Simmons

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Additional resources for An Introduction to Microbiology for Nurses

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T h e transmission of infection by ingestion of pathogenic bacteria is the prime m o d e of spread of the infectious diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract. Food and drink may be the source or vehicle of transfer. U n c o o k e d poultry or other meat is c o m m o n l y contaminated with Salmonellae which may be carelessly transferred in the kitchen to cooked and otherwise safe foods thereby causing food poisoning. Other i m p o r tant diseases transmitted by ingestion include enteric fever and cholera.

At this stage of the outbreak of infection the problem is to attempt to discover the source of infection and the major method of spread. The organism may have been introduced into the ward by a patient w h o was already suffering from an infection, or was canrying the organism on admission, or by a member of the medical or nursing staff. T h e history of the outbreak may sometimes suggest which of these possibilities is the most likely. If a patient has introduced the organism it is sometimes found that the first cases of infection occur in patients whose beds are in the Infection 37 immediate vicinity of the offending patient.

Ruffling the hair disperses bacteria-carrying particles, and for this reason in operating theatres the hair should be completely covered with a cap made of an impervious fabric. N o one would knowingly eat or drink foods k n o w n to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and although without bacteriological examination it is impossible to detect such contamination, the risk of food poisoning can be diminished by good food hygiene practice. It is of great importance that food on sale to the public should be as safe as possible.

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