Infection Prevention is a hospital department that prescribes procedures to prevent infection. Infectious diseases are caused by microscopic viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. These germs are everywhere - they can be "in" us or "around" us. Infectious disease takes a huge personal toll: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates Americans take four million sick days per year. Almost $950 billion is spent in direct medical costs to combat infection. Over 160,000 die from infectious diseases each year, not counting AIDS. Infectious diseases can include the common cold, and deadly diseases like E.coli infections or Hantavirus Respiratory Syndrome (aerolized virus spread from rodents to humans). New and emerging infectious diseases include invasive strep infections, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. Infectious diseases are on the rise due to a number of converging factors, says the CDC: Not washing hands often enough - after handling food, after each sneeze or cough, after handling pets (and the list goes on);
- Worldwide population growth and immigration;
- Increasing international travel;
- Changes in food processing and handling;
- Human intervention in wilderness habitats that are home for infects or animals carrying infectious agents;
- Natural disasters;
- Microbial evolution that is resistant to current antibiotics and antimicrobial medications - often attributed to antibiotic overuse.