This is how life is sometimes. You do your best, you follow all the recommendations and you're sure you're on the right track. Then, bam! A 200-mile-per-hour super train comes whizzing 'round the bend and takes dead aim. It's really not fair.
Well, that's just how it may seem to some hospital and nursing home workers these days. New research shows the steps they've been using to contain the spread of germs may not work. In fact, they make actually make matters worse.
British researchers studied the use of antibacterial wipes in health care settings. The theory is they kill germs on hospital equipment. But, the scientists found they don't kill all the germs, and they actually can help spread the surviving germs to other surfaces.
Of particular concern is the spread of the superbugs, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These bacteria are resistant to antibiotic treatment and especially prevalent in health care settings. It's one of the age-old dilemmas about receiving health care: the very place you must go to get well is the most likely place to receive a serious infection.
MRSA infections are serious. They typically begin on the skin, causing small boils, but quickly become large abscesses that may require surgical intervention. The infection may also spread to the rest of the body, affecting the bones, joints and vital organs.
The researchers say the antibacterial wipes can be used effectively - if they are used on a single surface and used only once.
"On the whole," said Dr Gareth Williams, a microbiologist at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, "wipes can be effective in removing, killing and preventing the transfer of pathogens such as MRSA but only if used in the right way. We found that the most effective way to prevent the risk of MRSA spread in hospital wards is to ensure the wipe is used only once on one surface."
One use - one surface - throw it away.
Follow those steps carefully and you'll have the track all to yourself.