Infection Prevention and Control in global outbreaks

Dale Fisher1,2

Division of Infectious Diseases, National University Hospital, Singapore

2 Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore


The best infection prevention practitioners can adapt infection control principles to the setting. An Infectious disease outbreak can begin or become amplified in healthcare settings as well as the community. Infection prevention incorporating outbreak management is required in a variety of healthcare settings from the non acute and residential care through to large hospitals, intensive care and other specialised units treating the most vulnerable. Failed infection prevention in the community is also a major source of outbreak onset, notably species jump of known and novel infectious diseases and also outbreak amplification such as within households, at burials and in areas with poor sanitation and access to clean water.

A global outbreak response requires remarkable coordination of many contributors. IPC is just one of these and needs to work with social mobilisation teams, case managers, logisticians, epidemiologists and laboratories from national and international organisations. In Liberia in 2014 there were over 40 distinct organisations contributing to the IPC response.

The principles of infection prevention are no different in any setting but the “art” is in establishing the aim of the outbreak response, creating interventions that are likely to be acceptable and practical in the setting and then working with the many stakeholders to move forward.

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