Cross-contamination

Cross-contamination

I hear people talking about cross-contamination between CF patients a lot. Is it true that CF patients are not allowed to meet in the same place?

Crossed-contamination is the transmission of microbes or infections from one person to another. It’s been known in the CF world for a long time. In March 2000, researchers in Denmark published a study on passed observations: in 1990, 22 children CF patients participated in a winter camp lasting 1 week. 17 of them had Pseudomonas geruginosa at the beginning of the camp. At the end, everyone was infected with the same strain.

To prevent crossed-contamination between CF patients, many organisations have decided to promote forbidding any and all contact between them. This isolation allowed limiting the spreading of certain infections. However, according to us, forced isolation is not the most effective method to fight crossed-contamination. We prefer education. As a grass-roots organisation, we know that, even with rules forbidding contact, CF patients meet each other regularly, especially outside the hospital. Strong ties are built by people who have similar social and medical backgrounds. We also know it’s important for CF patients to live an active and productive life in an inclusive society that respects their rights. This is why we developed a hygiene policy on crossed-contamination and prevention of infections.

This policy clearly states the behaviour one should have while with other CF patients, whether it be during friendly gatherings or public events like fundraisers. Being particularly vulnerable to bacterial infections or to any viral infection or other source of contamination, it’s essential that you respect the protocol to prevent infections. While CF patients have to maintain at least a 1-meter distance between one another, avoid handshakes or close contacts. Wash your hands often, especially when you touch an object that could have been manipulated by others. You should also wear a mask when you feel symptoms of an infection to protect yourself and others or simply to feel more protected. This behaviour should be the same with anyone who has influenza or even the common cold.

There are certain advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. The different studies preach prudence, but nothing is totally black or white. Crossed-contamination is a complex issue. It’s a medical issue, but also a personal philosophy issue. Luckily, in our day and age, it’s possible to break isolation thanks to social media. However, we remain convinced that education is far better than forbidding. Well-informed people who meet each other will be more prudent than those who are not well informed on the best protection methods. We invite you to visit our website in order to read the whole policy and take the best measures to protect yourself.

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