Modes of transmission
When micro-organisms have been transferred from one person to another, from equipment or the environment to people or between staff, infection can occur. If there are any disorders of the person’s ‘normal bacterial flora’ this may predispose that person to infection. A woman is put at risk when bacteria are transferred from one part of her body to another where they are not usually resident, such as the movement of faecal bacteria from the perineum to the face during washing, or the administration of medication without performing hand hygiene or failing to change gloves in between caring for women.
Infectious agents are biological agents that have the potential to cause disease or illness in their hosts. Women and healthcare workers are often the most likely sources of infectious agents and are usually the most common susceptible hosts. Visitors and those working in healthcare may also be at risk of both infection and transmission.
Standard precautions refer to those work practices applied to everyone, despite their perceived or confirmed infectious status; they aim to ensure a basic level of infection prevention and control. Standard precautions should be applied as a first-line approach to infection prevention and control, minimising the risk of transmission of infectious agents from person to person, even in high-risk situations.
The use of standard precautions is the first line of prevention of infection.
Transmission-based precautions are additional work practices for specific situations where standard precautions are inadequate to interrupt transmission. These precautions are adapted to the particular infectious agent and its mode of transmission.