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4 Jul

Cross infection policy update

4 July 2019

After several years work by the Clinical Advisory Panel, CFNZ has released revised guidelines on infection prevention and control in non-healthcare settings.

The position statement is designed to educate people with CF, their caregivers and families about the risks of person-to-person infection from respiratory pathogens of any kind. It recognises that there is no reliable way to completely prevent the risk of cross infection.

Research has now confirmed, for example, that coughing and sneezing can project pathogens into the air further than originally thought. Bacteria in airborne droplets can be ‘live’ for up to 45 minutes and be detected up to 4 metres from the source.

People without CF rarely carry the particular bacteria that cause chronic infection in CF, but they may still carry other bacteria or viruses that cause problems for people with CF. Thus, “The concept of ‘less threatening’ bacteria is no longer accepted and all pathogens should be considered as potentially transmissible and universal precautions should be taken.”

The statement outlines general hygiene guidelines for people with CF, as well as particular policies relating to households, schools, workplaces, sports, pools, gardening, pets and animals and events organised by CFNZ.

The key elements of the new policies are:

  • The risk of infection remains for people with CF who have had a lung transplant.
  • The ‘safe’ distance between people with CF has been increased from 1.5 metres to 4 metres.

CFNZ has updated its Cross Infection Policy to reflect the new global findings reflected in the position statement.

Key changes relating to indoor events are:

  • CFNZ will only invite one person with CF to be physically present at an indoor event organised by CFNZ, regional volunteer branches, groups or committees.
  • CFNZ will not support or promote any external event where more than one person with CF is likely to be, for example, Christmas parties, the offer of holiday homes or ‘CF camps’ and retreats.

For outdoor events there is no way to completely prevent the risk of cross infection and the safest approach is for people with CF not to attend, if they do people with CF should be separated by a distance of 4 metres.

While the position statement and policies are more restrictive, the alternatives such as social media, webinars, online conferences and interactive elements are becoming more available. Several CFNZ branches are now including adults with CF at their meetings via free video conferencing technology.

Read the full position statement 

Find out more about cross infection