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MRC Prion Unit
From fundamental research to prevention and cure
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Infection minimisation

Patients with prion disease are at an increased risk for being invaded by pathogenic organisms.

Persons at risk for infection are those whose natural defence mechanisms are inadequate to protect them from the inevitable injuries and exposures that occur throughout the course of living. Infections occur when an organism (e.g., bacterium, virus, fungus, or other parasite) invades a susceptible host. Breaks in the integument, the body’s first line of defence, and/or the mucous membranes allow invasion by pathogens. If the host’s (patient’s) immune system cannot combat the invading organism adequately, an infection occurs. Open wounds, particularly pressure sores can be sites for infection; soft tissues (cells, fat, muscle) and organs (kidneys, lungs) can also be sites for infection either after trauma, invasive procedures, or by invasion of pathogens carried through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Infections can be transmitted, either by contact or through airborne transmission, sexual contact, or sharing of intravenous (IV) drug paraphernalia. Being malnourished, having inadequate resources for sanitary living conditions, and lacking knowledge about disease transmission place individuals at risk for infection. Health care workers, to protect themselves and others from disease transmission, must understand how to take precautions to prevent transmission. Infections prolong healing, and can result in death if untreated. Antimicrobials are used to treat infections when susceptibility is present. Organisms may become resistant to antimicrobials, requiring multiple antimicrobial therapies. There are organisms for which no antimicrobial is effective, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

MRC Prion News