Champagne Sports Resort, Drakensberg. www.fidssa.co.za
Infectious diseases have an impact on all levels of society. Patterns and type of infection can be influenced by and in turn influence human behaviour and socio-economic factors. At one end of the spectrum, infections such as tuberculosis and HIV cause extensive disease, have significant public health implications and have a major impact on poor people.
This includes sexually transmitted diseases. At the other extreme, rhinovirus infections, although considered fairly innocuous, affect all members of society regardless of socioeconomic status, cause morbidity through the precipitation of asthma and have an economic impact through loss of work.
A neglected area often compounded by lack of infrastructure and exacerbated by behavioural practices is infection control. Although general standards are reasonable, outbreaks of nosocomial infections occur regularly, often being reported in the press and televised media. While these often represent a break in a specific aseptic technique such as when preparing total parenteral nutrition, there is a background of nosocomial sepsis often contributed to inadequate attention to basic principles such as hand washing.
Increasing antibiotic resistance is of major concern and an enormous challenge to contain, both in community and hospital acquired infections. South African Society of Clinical Microbiology (SASCM) representing private and public sector provides invaluable data on antibiotic resistance patterns in South Africa.