When it comes down to protecting your employees, customers, and clients from illness, understanding pathogens is a great start. Though often used interchangeably, the word “pathogen” is actually the umbrella term for bacteria, fungi, protozoa, prions, and viruses – all the tiny infectious things in our environment that can cause disease.
Pathogens work by setting up shop in our skin, mucosal surfaces of the respiratory, urogenital, or gastrointestinal tracks. Afterward, they begin learning how to bypass our immune system defenses, allowing more and more cells to propagate. Once they are ingrained in a person’s tissue, they can easily spread to the next person (then the next, and so on).
The 4 Ways Pathogens Spread
Despite the five types of pathogens being extremely different from one another, they all spread in much the same way. In fact, there are four basic transmission paths that all pathogens follow, including:
1. Through the Air
Airborne pathogens are usually transferred from one person to another via coughing, sneezing, or even talking too close. They can also adhere to dust particles, propagate there, and then infect the person who inhales them. Good examples of airborne pathogens include measles, the flu, and the common cold.
2. Through Fluid Transmission
While it might seem a rather ineffective way to get from one place to another, so-called bloodborne pathogens can easily be transmitted without actual blood. In fact, sweat, saliva, and sexual contact are usually enough to do the job. That said, sharing needles and injuries involving sharp objects are also common ways for people to get infected.
3. Through Droplets
Droplets are bits of mucus or other fluid passed on when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Germs of all kinds can travel in this manner and usually only need a short period of contact with another person’s mouth, eyes, or nose to infect them. Pathogens that tend to travel quite easily via these droplets include meningitis and pertussis.
4. Through Direct Contact
Many types of pathogens are spread through direct contact with the mucus membranes, skin, or bodily fluids of an infected person. Herpes and HIV are both examples of such pathogens, though they vary widely in terms of how common they are. It’s also not uncommon for people to contract direct touch pathogens via high touchpoint objects that haven’t been properly sanitized, such as railings, doorknobs, or even elevator buttons.
Preventing the Spread of Pathogens
If you pay attention to all of the transmission paths outlined above, it should be clear that all of them are equally likely avenues for infection. So even in a professional area like an office or manufacturing space, everyone needs to take steps to safeguard themselves (and their coworkers). Among the most important steps in this process are:
- Make sure all employees follow proper hygiene practices, especially when it comes to their hands. This means washing their hands often, especially before and after using the restroom. You should also consider putting alcohol-based sanitizer stations around the facility.
- Ask cleaning personnel to wear PPE equipment like gloves, masks, and goggles. When performing their duties, these individuals often leave themselves open to infection.
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces all around the facility, especially those that are often used by multiple people throughout the day. Common examples include break room areas, microwave doors, coffee machines, and kitchen appliances.
Consider a Professional Cleaning Crew
Even the most dedicated staff can never make up for a full-service janitorial and disinfection crew. That’s what you get when you hire Windsor Building Services. As the leading commercial cleaning company in Greater Houston, we provide a wide range of sanitation services to keep you, your employees, and your clients / customers healthy. If you own a business in Spring, The Woodlands, Conroe, or any other Houston-area suburb, Windsor can be your long-term partner to help keep pathogens at bay and productivity high.