Evolving with new threats

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  Posted by: Dental Design      14th July 2022

Medicine has advanced at astonishing rate over the last century. Indeed, it was only in 1928 that penicillin, the first true antibiotic, was discovered, kickstarting a revolution in healthcare by being able to successfully treat numerous highly fatal conditions.[i] It was also during the 1920s that blood types were first identified and that vitamins began to be understood, ushering in a new era of treatment that harnessed a better understanding of our biology and nutritional needs.[ii]

In fact, it could be argued that a century ago was a true turning point in how we approach infectious disease and systemic health. Today, we’ve entered into a truly innovative age and healthcare is constantly innovating to tackle diseases in new ways. Potential innovations on the horizon such as nanorobots could all but completely transform the way we treat diseases in a not-so-distant future.

However, although we’ve rapidly improved our understanding of pathogens and disease, infection control remains vital. But why is this the case?

The new faces of disease

The vast majority of communicable diseases are caused by viruses and bacteria. What makes these pathogens such a threat is that they both have evolved over time to become resistant to certain measures that we’ve developed to destroy them. For example, viruses such as Influenza continually mutate, meaning that there is no effective way to eradicate them. It is for this exact reason that a yearly vaccine is still necessity during Influenza season to protect the most vulnerable. This process is commonly known as an antigenic drift. Effectively, it means that the virus steadily alters certain characteristics through mutation as it moves from host to host and replicates, becoming a disease that is genetically different enough from its original form to survive any targeted measures created to protect against it.[iii]

Another, more recent example is of course Covid-19. Since the initial breakout of the virus, numerous strains have developed throughout the last two years showing exactly how quickly viruses can mutate and remain a significant threat. It is perhaps no surprise that, at the time of writing, Europe is once again seeing infection levels rise.[iv]

Bacteria, too, are able to adapt to certain situations. Antibiotic resistance is a very real concern in the modern world, and as more and more bacteria develop immunity to drugs and other measures, there are fears that we will be eventually be faced with bacterial strains that are impossible to kill using known measures. Bacteria do not have to become immune to all antibiotics to be considered a significant threat, as even immunity to one drug can result in widespread transmission of deadly disease.[v]

Emerging threats

It’s not just the mutation of established diseases that we need to worry about, either. New viruses and bacteria are still being discovered, and it’s inevitable that some of these could have the potential to become threats to humanity in the future.

For example, recent news has reported that ticks in various American states have been linked to a new, potentially fatal virus called the Heartland virus.[vi] Plus, to circle round to Covid-19 again, we have to remember that this, too was a novel virus two years ago and one that caught us quite unprepared.

Ready for every challenge

So how does this relate to infection control in dentistry? With so many infectious pathogens remaining a substantial threat despite our modern developments, dentists need to adopt infection control measures that are adaptable and as versatile as the bacteria and viruses they are protecting against.

As such, it’s necessary to really think about the infection control processes you’re currently using in practice. Cleaning products must of course be efficient and able to destroy the vast majority of bacteria and viruses, but they should also have the ability to be used across all surfaces and material in your practice and remain effective.

Other infection control solutions should also provide versatility depending on your needs. For example, if you want to enhance the traceability of your infection control measures or process various types of load with your autoclave, it pays to have a piece of equipment that can adapt to suit your unique situation.

The Lyla S type steriliser from W&H offers clinicians the unique opportunity to upgrade their infection control to suit the requirements of their practice. Already an outstanding base system, the Lyla can be upgraded via activation codes to include new features, including remote data storage, an upgrade to a B type steriliser and more. This way, professionals can assess their infection control needs and adjust the system when necessary to ensure all current and future needs are met.

Infection control for a new era

While we’ve come leaps and bounds in 100 years, the threat of infectious disease is still very relevant in the modern day. Pathogens have evolved alongside our solutions, so it pays to have infection control equipment that is versatile and adaptable in practice to ensure that it remains a key part of your infection control routine even should your needs change over time.

  

 

To find out more visit www.wh.com/en_uk, call 01727 874990 or email office.uk@wh.com

 

[i] ReAct. 7 Ways Penicillin Has Cured The World For More Than 70 Years. Link: https://www.reactgroup.org/news-and-views/news-and-opinions/year-2018/7-ways-penicillin-has-cured-the-world-for-90-years/ [Last accessed March 22].

[ii] 1920-30.com 1920s Medicine. Link: http://www.1920-30.com/medicine/ [Last accessed March 22].

[iii] CDC. How Flu Viruses Can Change: “Drift” and “Shift”. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm [Last accessed March 22].

[iv] CNN. Europe thought it was done with Covid-19. But the virus isn’t done with Europe. Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/16/world/coronavirus-newsletter-intl-16-03-22/index.html [Last accessed March 22].

[v] CDC. About Antibiotic Resistance. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html#:~:text=Antibiotic%20resistance%20happens%20when%20germs,in%20the%20U.S.%20each%20year. [Last accessed March 22].

[vi] Yahoo! News. Tick linked to dangerous virus in people now found in at least 6 states. Link: https://news.yahoo.com/tick-linked-dangerous-virus-people-214807423.html [Last accessed March 22].


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