HAI Happenings Quarterly Newsletter: Q3 2023

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Prevention Program

HAI Happenings: 2023 Quarter Three Newsletter

This message is being sent to local public health department officers, nurses, and staff; Tribal health directors; infection preventionists; and key DPH staff. 

HAI Happenings highlights new and noteworthy topics for all things related to healthcare-associated infections (HAI), including infection prevention and control (IPC), antimicrobial stewardship (AS), antibiotic resistance (AR), surveillance, and more. You will also be able to find links to helpful guidance and resources and learn more about current Wisconsin HAI Prevention Program activities.

Knowledge check

Test your HAI knowledge. See the end of the newsletter for the answer.

True or false: The newly approved respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine for adults ages 60 years and older can be co-administered with the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.

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What's new with the HAI Prevention Program? 

Paula Pintar-Southern RIP
  • The HAI Prevention Program welcomed a new Regional Infection Preventionist (IP), Paula Pintar. Paula is available to provide infection prevention support and assistance to health care and public health partners in the southern region.
  • The HAI Prevention Program recently updated its antimicrobial stewardship webpages. The updates make it easier for health care providers and patients to find stewardship and AR resources.
  • Seven local and Tribal health department (LTHD) staff from across the state were selected for round two of the LTHD HAI and Infection Prevention Training Program, which starts October 2. The program aims to enhance local public health capacity to respond to HAIs and infection control risks. Learn more about the program on the DHS website.
  • A new, statewide IPC media campaign launched in August. The campaign encourages health care professionals and the general public to practice basic infection control best practices, whether on the job or at home. Get handy hygiene tips and meet Wally by visiting the campaign webpage.
Wally-Handy Hygiene Tips

Stay in the know on best practices and guidance

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the RSV vaccine for adults aged 60 years and older, as well as infants and young children. Learn more about the vaccines available by visiting the RSV immunization webpage.
  • On September 12, 2023, CDC announced that updated COVID-19 vaccines are now available and recommended for everyone 6 months and older. See the CDC press release for additional information.
    • DHS supports and encourages Wisconsinites to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine as well as the newly available RSV vaccine. Read the DHS press release and listerv message for more information.
  • In August 2023, CDC released the first-ever Hospital Sepsis Program Core Elements to help all hospitals improve sepsis survival rates. The new resources include guidance for managing sepsis programs, tips for getting started, and assessment tools.
  • As of July 2023, Implementing Strategies to Prevent Infections in Acute-Care Settings, 2022 Update is available to introduce and explain common implementation concepts and frameworks relevant to health care epidemiology and IPC. The document is a companion guide to the “SHEA/IDSA/APIC Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals: 2022 Updates,” which contains technical guidance for specific HAIs.
  • CDC’s Project Firstline released new training resources for frontline health care personnel. Micro-learn training guides provide short, adaptable IPC education that can easily be incorporated into team meetings or huddles. Prepare your team and get ahead of respiratory season with the cough and congestion micro-learn!    
Project Firstline Cough and Congestion Micro-Learn

In the news

  • On September 5, 2023, CDC issued a health advisory to notify clinicians and caregivers about increases in RSV activity in the southeastern United States. The health advisory provides prevention tools available to protect patients.
  • CDC reports an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths across the country. They are also monitoring a new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86.
  • The Wisconsin HAI Prevention Program’s very own Southern Regional IP, Paula Pintar, recently published an article reflecting on the experiences of infection prevention professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data snapshot

By the end of 2022, carbapenemase-producing carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CP-CRAB) cases were detected in every Wisconsin public health region except the western region. CP-CRAB cases are detected through testing at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH), which performs a PCR test for carbapenemase genes that are unique to CRAB including OXA-23-like, OXA-24/40-like, and OXA-58-like genes.

In Wisconsin, CP-CRAB cases have affected both acute care and post-acute care locations. Proactive facility transfer communication, colonization screening for additional cases, and use of appropriate IPC principles and precautions prevent the potential for rapid increases of CP-CRAB and other multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs).

Figure 1. CP-CRAB by Wisconsin Public Health Region, 2019–2022

CRAB Isolates, 2018-2022

Note: Case counts include both clinical and colonization screening isolates. 

Data source: WSLH

To learn more about CP-CRAB, MDROs, and prevention measures, visit the DHS reportable MDROs webpage.

HAI Prevention Program spotlight

Did you know the HAI Prevention Program has experienced IPs on staff that provide infection prevention support for specific care settings, including dialysis, ambulatory care, and dental settings? The support they provide is educational, collaborative, non-regulatory, and free. Reach out to them directly for more details.

  • Rebecca LeMay, MSN, RN, is the program’s dialysis IP. Rebecca utilizes her more than 20 years of experience as a dialysis nurse to provide on-site and remote infection control assessments to support dialysis facilities or other health care facilities that provide dialysis care. Please contact Rebecca by email or phone at 608-609-1918 with inquires, questions, and concerns.
  • Jennifer Kuhn, BSN, RN, CIC, is the program’s ambulatory care IP. Jen provides support to outpatient care facilities throughout the state, including specialty clinics and ambulatory surgery centers. She provides on-site or remote infection control assessments and technical assistance. Please contact Jen by email or phone at 608-772-4768.
  • Ashley O’Keefe, MLS(ASCP)CM, CIC, CDIPC, and Linda Coakley, RN, MS, CIC, work with dental clinics on their infection prevention needs and questions, including developing new tools for on-site IPC assessments. Please contact them by email or phone at 608-556-8608 for inquires.

Save the date

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is November 18–24, 2023. Plan ahead to promote awareness of proper antimicrobial use and resistance messages among health care personnel and patients by sharing resources from CDC’s partner toolkit.

CDC recently released new AS resource bundles for antibiotic stewards and health care professionals by setting of care, audience, and type of resource. Review and consider sharing them as part of your organization’s U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week promotion efforts.

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Knowledge check answer

True. These vaccines can be co-administered. In fact, CDC recommends that adults ages 60 years and older who are most at risk of developing severe disease should receive not only the RSV vaccine but should also be up to date on COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.