Infection Control Measures in the Home
Whether you're delivering food to the home of a sick person,
helping family members keep the house clean, or providing hands-on care;
getting sick is always a concern. In a recent report, 76% of Americans worried
about becoming sick if they had to take care of a family member during an
influenza pandemic1.This section
presents information about the three levels of infection control that
individuals, families, and communities of care can use during an influenza
If you are a family or community of care member who delivers food or meals, runs
errands or does outside chores, but does not enter the home, you should:
Wash your hands before doing any of the outside chores
Cover a cough or a sneeze with tissue
Do not touch your face, nose, or mouth while you are doing
Use waterless hand cleaner until you are back home and can
wash your hands with soap and water
not go into the house or have direct contact with anyone
in the home
If you are a family
or community of care member who does chores in the house for other healthy
family members including food preparation, taking care of healthy children, and
housework, but does not enter the sick room, you should:
- Wash your hands before and after cooking,
cleaning, and doing laundry
- Wear disposable or exam gloves when handling dirty laundry that
has any body fluids like phlegm, mucus, vomit, or diarrhea
clothes on warm cycle with regular detergent. Dry on warm cycle
- Wash dishes
in warm, soapy water or in a dishwasher on regular cycle
supplies outside the sickroom door or in a place where the caregiver can
easily pick items up. Do not enter
If you are a caregiver
who is involved in daily monitoring and care of the sick person, go in and
out of the sick room, but do not do other needed chores, you should:
your hands before entering the sick room and after you leave the sick room
an apron, mask (or N95 respirator) and disposable or exam gloves if you
are taking care of a sick person with a cough
the sick person cover his or her face with a tissue when coughing
the sick person wash his or her hands after using a tissue
- Do not
do other family chores like cooking or cleaning
- Stay healthy. If you become sick with
fever, coughing, or muscle aches, you should stop taking care of sick
people in the home
Additional Infection Prevention and Control Information
The U.S. Department
of Health & Human Services
Pandemic Influenza Plan Supplement 4 Infection Control, available online at http://www.hhs.gov/pandemicflu/plan/sup4.html
provides the following recommendation for infection control measures in the
home under section G-3:
- "All persons in the household
should carefully follow recommendations for hand hygiene (i.e.,
hand-washing with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand rub)
after contact with an influenza patient or the environment in which care
- Although no studies have
assessed the use of masks at home to decrease the spread of infection, use
of surgical or procedure masks by the patient and/or caregiver during
interactions may be of benefit. The wearing of gloves and gowns is not
recommended for household members providing care in the home.
- Soiled dishes and eating
utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with warm
water and soap. Separation of eating utensils for use by a patient with
influenza is not necessary."
- "Laundry can be washed in a
standard washing machine with warm or cold water and detergent. It is not
necessary to separate soiled linen and laundry used by a patient with
influenza from other household laundry. Care should be used when handling
soiled laundry (i.e., avoid "hugging" the laundry) to avoid contamination.
Hand hygiene should be performed after handling soiled laundry.
- Tissues used by the ill
patient should be placed in a bag and disposed with other household waste.
Consider placing a bag for this purpose at the bedside.
- Normal cleaning of
environmental surfaces in the home should be followed."
of April 25, 2008, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not released additional guidelines
for infection control measures in the home2.Current World Health Organization
(WHO) guidelines3] and CDC
guidelines for infection control in hospital settings are available4.
infection control measures used in
- "Isolating the infected
person (keeping them in a room away from others)
- Limiting contact with the
person by staying at least 3 feet away
- Wearing a gown if the
caregiver is likely to come in contact with any body fluid
- Wearing a surgical or
procedural mask once, and then discarding it
- Using disposable gloves if
there is contact with respiratory secretions, blood, or body fluids
- Remembering to not touch
eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands"
1Blendon, R. J., L. M. Koonin, J. M. Benson, M. S. Cetron, W. E. Pollard, E. W.
Mitchell, et al. "Public Response to Community Mitigation Measures for Pandemic
Influenza." Policy Review. Vol. 14,
No. 5, May 2008. Found at Emerging
Infectious Diseases on Centers for Disease Control website. <http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/14/5/778.htm> p. 779.
2Centers for Disease Control. "Guidelines for Control of Infection in Home Care
Settings." 5 May 2008.
<http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/gl_home_care.html> accessed 24 Mar. 2008.
3World Health Organization. "Non-pharmaceutical Interventions for Pandemic Influenza,
National and Community Measures." Emerging
Infectious Diseases.Vol.1,No. 12, 2006. pp. 88-94.
4Siegel, J. D., E. Rhinehart, M. Jackson, L. Chiarello, and the Healthcare
Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. "Standard Precautions." Guideline for Isolation Precautions:
Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007.
June 2007. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/gl_isolation.html> accessed 24 Mar. 2008.