CONTROLLING THE SPREAD OF PATHOGENS
Controlling the spread of an infectious agent is a complex process, requiring a number of interventions, some of which will depend on the microorganism involved. Epidemiological investigations can help to pinpoint the source of the infection. Strict hygiene precautions, for example thorough cleaning and disinfection of contaminated materials, and hand washing, can prevent the spread of pathogens between patients. The boiling of drinking water may be necessary, depending on the source of the outbreak. Routine microbiological investigations may be carried out to ensure that the microbe is under control. For the patient, antibiotics or antiviral drugs may be given, while patient contacts may be offered vaccination and/or drug treatment. Examples of this multifactorial approach can be seen following outbreaks of Neisseria meningitidis, in schools and colleges, where all contacts with infected patients are offered antibiotics and vaccines, depending on the serotype.