Key infection control concepts and terms.


        Infection: Is an invasion of the body tissue by pathogenic microorganism.

        As a direct care staff person, an important part of your job is to protect yourself and the clients from infectious disease(s). Some clients have weakened immune systems and are more vulnerable to getting infections. An important part of maintaining a safe environment is to recognize signs of infection. This section will present several ways to control and limit the spread of germs that cause infections. Germs cause illness and disease. As a direct care staff person, you will come in contact with body fluids that may contain germs such as blood, mucous, vomit, tears, semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, urine, feces and sweat.

        In order to prevent an infection from spreading, it is important to understand where germs live, how germs get to people and how germs enter people’s bodies. There are many “sources” of germs. These are places germs live before they infect. Sources include: under the fingernails, on the skin, on an unclean surface and in water and food. There are many germs on the kitchen counter and in the bathroom. Germs can be found almost everywhere, including: in the air, on surfaces, on your hands and in your nose. Germs can enter the body through any opening such as your nose, mouth or any opening such as cuts.

        The Personal Care Worker must know the importance of cleanliness. You need to try to achieve ideal sanitary conditions. Cleanliness is an important part of controlling disease and keeping diseases from spreading. This unit will explain pathogens, the chain of infection, signs of infection, keeping surroundings clean, hand washing, and body substance isolation.

What are microorganisms?

        Very small, living microorganisms are everywhere. Many are helpful to people. For instance, microorganisms in the human digestive tract break down foods and turn them into waste products when not used by the body. When microorganisms move out of their natural environment into a foreign one, they become pathogens. Pathogens are disease producing microorganisms. They destroy human tissue by using it as food and giving off a waste product called toxins. Toxins are absorbed into the body and poison it, causing an infection.

        Signs of Infection

  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Chills
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Swelling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Change in behavior.
  • Confusion.

Report these signs to the care recipient’s Doctor or other responsible person.