| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | P | R | S | T | U | V | W |
| Abbreviations & Acronyms |
Acid-fast bacilli: bacteria that are stained by an acid-fast stain.
Acid-fast stain: a stain used to differentiate bacteria (typically mycobacteria). The Ziehl-Neelsen stain is a common acid-fast stain.
Additional precautions: precautions used for patients known or suspected to be infected or colonised with highly transmissible pathogens that can be spread by airborne, droplet or contact transmission.
Aerosols: A fine mist or spray that contains minute particles and may contain microorganisms.
Airborne transmission: the spread of infectious microorganisms through the air, usually over distances greater than one metre from the infected host.
Anaerobic: ability to grow in the absence of oxygen.
Aseptic technique: procedures used to prevent microbial contamination of living tissue or sterile materials.
Autoclave: colloquial term for steam under pressure steriliser, the more appropriate term is steam under pressure sterilisation.
Bacteraemia: the presence of bacteria in the blood stream.
Bioburden: the number and types of microorganisms present on an item.
Biocide: an agent that destroys microorganisms.
Biofilm: a matrix of microorganisms and extracellular material that attaches to surfaces that are bathed with liquids.
Carrier: a person who harbours and sheds an organism without displaying symptoms of disease.
Colonisation: the process in which microorganisms live and reproduce in or on either the human body without causing disease, or an inanimate object such as a disinfection machine.
Common vehicle transmission: spread of an infectious agent to a number of people via the same vehicle such as air, food or water.
Contact transmission: spread of an infectious agent by person to person contact.
Contaminant: an unwanted microorganism and/or foreign matter.
Critical site: sterile tissue, cavity or bloodstream.
Direct contact: close or intimate contact that results in the spread of infectious agents.
Disinfection: a process that reduces or completely eliminates all pathogenic microorganisms except spores. See also high-level disinfection.
Divalent cations: ions with a double positive charge.
Droplet transmission: transmission of infectious agents in droplets from respiratory secretions.
Duty of care: an obligation of all participants in the workplace to ensure the health and safety of all persons in the workplace.
Endogenous infection: an infection caused by organisms from a person's own body.
Endovascular surface: the surface of the endothelial cells that lines blood vessels.
Exogenous infection: an infection caused by organisms from a source external to the person.
Faecal-oral transmission: mode of transmission of pathogens that enter the body via the mouth and are excreted in faeces.
Fomite: an inanimate object that can be the source of an infection.
Gastroenteritis: inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Gram negative bacteria: a bacterium that stains red with the Gram stain.
Gram positive bacteria: a bacterium that retains the blue colour of the Gram stain.
Gram stain: a procedure for staining bacteria that is the first step in classifying and identifying them.
Hazard: something with the potential to cause harm.
Hazardous substance: a substance designated as hazardous because it is listed as such or it meets the classification criteria laid down by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC).
Health care associated infection: an infection that is acquired in a hospital or other health care establishment.
High-level disinfection: is the minimum treatment recommended for reprocessing a device or item of equipment for use in a semi critical site, if it cannot be sterilised. It involves killing all microorganisms, with the exception of high numbers of bacterial spores.
Horizontal transmission: transmission of an infectious agent from one person to another.
Iatrogenic: infections that arise as a result of health care interventions.
Immunisation: the exposure of a person to material that is antigenic but not pathogenic, to make them immune to a particular microorganism.
Indirect contact: contact with contaminated surfaces or objects that results in spread of infectious agents.
Intermediate-level disinfection: kills tubercle bacilli, vegetative bacteria, most viruses and most fungi but not necessarily bacterial spores.
Intrinsic: originating from or on the inside of an organ or part.
In-use life: the maximum number of days a biocide may be reused provided it is still above the minimum effective concentration (MEC).
Low-level disinfection: may kill most vegetative bacteria, some fungi and some viruses.
Minimum effective concentration (MEC): the lowest concentration of active ingredient necessary to meet the label claim of a reusable high level disinfectant/sterilant.
Non-critical site: intact skin.
Normal flora: the microorganisms that inhabit the human body without causing disease.
Pathogenic: capable of causing disease.
Peak (Peak Limitation): a maximum or peak concentration of a hazardous substance to which workers may be exposed.
Portal of entry: the point of entry of an infectious agent to the body.
Potency: the chemical strength or efficacy.
Prophylactic antimicrobials: an antibiotic administered in order to prevent the occurrence of an infection.
Pseudoepidemic: the sudden rise in the incidence of a disease due to pseudoinfection.
Pseudoinfection: the presence of microorganisms in a stain or culture of a body fluid or tissue that does not correlate clinically with the signs or symptoms of infection characteristic of that microorganism.
Reservoir of infection: a site where organisms persist and which acts as a continual source of infectious agents.
Resident flora: the microorganisms that normally inhabit that particular site of the human body without causing disease.
Risk: the likelihood that harm might result because of a hazard.
Risk assessment: a process to assess and prioritise any risks to health and safety associated with identified hazards.
Risk management: a process of systematically identifying hazards, assessing and controlling risks, and monitoring and reviewing activities to make sure that risks are effectively managed.
Semicritical site: intact mucous membranes or non-intact skin.
Septicaemia: a clinical syndrome resulting from the presence of organisms in the blood stream.
Seroconversion: the change of a serological test from negative to positive, indicating the development of antibodies in response to infection or immunisation.
Serotype: different antigenic strains of a microorganism.
Short term exposure limit: airborne concentrations averaged over a period of 15 minutes which should not be exceeded and should not be repeated within 60 minutes or more than four times per day.
Source of infection: the person or object from which an infection is acquired.
Spore: a specialised type of resting Gram positive bacterial cell, with a thick coat. Highly resistant to heat and chemicals.
Sporicidal: ability to kill bacterial spores.
Standard precautions: work practices which require everyone to assume that all blood and body substances are potential sources of infection, independent of perceived risk.
Steam under pressure sterilisation: the most efficient and reliable form of sterilisation of instruments and equipment. The latent heat of condensation is transferred to the load causing it to heat rapidly resulting in coagulation of protein structures, thus inactivating infectious agents.
Sterilisation: the use of physical and/or chemical procedures to completely eliminate or destroy all forms of microbial life (including resistant bacterial spores).
Sterilising agent: the medium used for the sterilising process (physical/chemical).
Steriliser: the equipment (sealed chamber) used to achieve steam under pressure sterilisation.
Sterility assurance level: the probability of a viable organism being present on an item after sterilisation.
Susceptible: vulnerable or lack resistance to an infection.
Time weighted average: an average concentration over an 8-hour day for 5 working days.
Ultrasonic: a frequency above the human ear's audibility limit of about 20,000 hertz.
Vegetative bacteria: bacteria that are in the growth and reproductive phase, ie. not spores.
Vertical transmission: transmission of an infectious agent from mother to foetus.
Window period: the period immediately after a person is infected with an agent, during which the infection is not detectable by laboratory tests, although the person may be infectious.