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Haskell Memorial Hospital

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Break the Chain of Infection

September 20, 2019

Article by: Karen Wolf, Infection Control Nurse

Germs are spread from person to person through a series of events referred to as the Chain of Infection. There are six links to the chain and if even ONE link is broken, an infection will not occur!

  1. Infectious Agent – This is the pathogen, the bacteria, or the germ that causes disease.

This link can be broken by killing the pathogen through proper hand hygiene and using masks or other protective wear when exposure is a threat.

  1. Reservoir – This is where the germ lives. It can be people, animal or the environment.

Breaking this link requires prevention of contact. Isolation precautions should be used in contagious conditions.

  1. Portal of Exit – This is the way the germ gets out of its reservoir. Germs can exit through a cough, a sneeze, through an open wound or through bodily fluids. To break this link is to prevent the germ’s escape by covering your mouth before coughing or sneezing and to cover open wounds with a bandage.
  2. Mode of Transmission: This is the method the germ uses to pass on, or to spread. It can be by direct or indirect contact; it can be ingested or inhaled. Preventing transmission of any mode by killing infected animals or insects, properly treating sewage, and chlorinating drinking water will all serve to break this link in the chain.
  3. Portal of Entry: This is how the germ is able to enter a new host, creating a new reservoir. It can enter through broken skin, through our respiratory system or through mucous membranes. Blocking the ports of entry by covering wounds and by eating properly prepared food will help break this link.
  4. Susceptible Host: This can be any person where the germ has found a way to enter.

Becoming resistant to germs by developing a strong immune system through exercise, a well-balanced diet and receiving appropriate immunizations will help break the final link in the chain of infection.

For more questions, comments, or to suggest future infection control topics, feel free to contact me at [email protected].