Classically the term ‘outbreak’ is used when there are two or more related cases with the same infection at the same time in one clinical area. On occasion the presence of organisms related to only one case maybe termed an ‘outbreak’.
The rapid recognition of any outbreak is vital. Members of staff must report any suspicion of an outbreak to a member of the Infection Prevention and Control Service (IPCS). b. The IPCS will assess the extent and severity of any suspected outbreak, provide advice on immediate infection control measures, and decide whether an outbreak has occurred.
A risk assessment will be based on the following criteria, which will be used in deciding
whether a ward or department will be closed to further admissions.
The characteristics of the infecting micro-organism eg virulence
Evidence of continuing transmission of infection.
Patients admitted to the ward or department will be at risk of acquiring the infection
The number of staff affected compromises the standard of care.
The decision to close wards or departments to patient admission will be made by the ICT after discussion with the Medical Director and Clinical Manager for the affected area.
1 Damani N.N (1997) Manual of Infection Control Procedures Bayer plc
2 Department of Health (1995) Hospital Infection Control - Guidance on the control of
Infection in Hospitals. DH/PHLS. Hospital InfectionWorking Group. HMSO, London
3 Hawryluck L, Lapinsky S.E, Stewart T,E (2005) Clinical review: SARS – lessons in
diaster management, Critical Care 9 (4); 384-9
4 Rebmann T (2005) Management of patients infected with airborne spread diseases: An
algorithm for infection control professionals. Am J Infection Control 33 (10): 571-9
5 ShawK (2006) The SARS outbreak and its impact on infection control practices. Public
Health 120 (1): 8-14.
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