Defence against infectious pathogens

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  Posted by: Dental Design      5th April 2022

While other potentially problematic particles exist such as yeasts, fungi and pollens, it is primarily bacteria and viruses that are responsible for the majority of infectious illnesses.

But what are the differences between bacteria and viruses and how can you defend against these threats in your setting?


By definition, bacteria are microbes with simplistic cell structures. This means that they are without a nucleus or any membrane bound organelles and their genetic information is usually contained within a single loop of DNA. In some cases, a strain of bacteria may evolve to form extra genetic material named a plasmid – this will often grant the bacteria certain advantages such as resistance against antibiotics.[i]

There are millions (or even billions!) of strains of bacteria in the world,[ii] and due to the unique way that these microorganisms thrive in even the most remote places on Earth, we’ll possibly never know exactly how many different types there are. Only a very small percentage of bacteria are dangerous to humans, but common bacterial illnesses that can spread in workplaces include E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella.[iii]


Unlike bacteria, viruses are microscopic parasites that need a host environment in order to survive for any extended period of time. Smaller in size than bacteria, viruses are generally more deadly, and in the past few decades alone there have been numerous viral outbreaks – including the recent threat of COVID-19.

Much like bacteria, there are billions of viruses in the world, but only a handful of these have been found to affect humans. They also thrive in unexpected environments – viruses have been found everywhere from in soil and seawater, to the very air we breathe.[iv]

Structurally, viruses differ from bacteria significantly. Though not technically living organisms, viruses are complex and are comprised of nucleic acid, RNA or DNA (never both), and a protein coat. Enveloped viruses have an additional layer of fat or protein which helps protect them from being destroyed.[v] Common viral illnesses that spread in healthcare settings include influenza and cold viruses.

So, how does infection control help minimise the threat of these pathogens?

Hand hygiene

Viruses and bacteria can both be spread through poor hand hygiene. This means that areas of your workplace that regularly come into contact with hands, such as washrooms door handles and light switches, are prime areas of transmission.

Correct handwashing techniques and adjuncts such as hand sanitiser can significantly curtail the spread of microorganisms as they destroy bacteria and viruses on the hands and prevent them from moving to a new host/other surfaces. It’s especially important to consider how effective the soap and hand sanitiser you use in your workplace are. Hand sanitiser, in particular, should be able to kill at least 99.9% of pathogens and have a high alcohol content, as this will make sure that even enveloped viruses are properly eliminated as alcohol dissolves the protective fat or protein layer.[vi]

Instrument disinfection

Viruses such as Hepatitis C may be transferred by any instruments contaminated with blood, while bacteria such as salmonella can easily colonise on instruments that come into contact with saliva or other fluids.

Instrument disinfection via washer disinfector and autoclave works by removing any potentially infectious substances such as blood and then heating the instruments to destroy any remaining viruses or bacteria. Both are eliminated by high temperatures (over 65°C) as this causes their structures to deteriorate.[vii] Processing instruments through both a washer disinfector and an autoclave offers the best possible level of protection as this guarantees that instruments are treated more than once before reuse.

Air disinfection and surface disinfection

Both viruses and bacteria can be spread via airborne transmission. Respiratory droplets expelled via actions such as coughing or sneezing may suspend pathogens into the air – putting people at risk of breathing them in. Plus, these droplets eventually settle on surfaces, resulting in pathogens being transferred to people’s hands and spread around the workplace.

To defend against these threats, an air disinfection system may be used. These systems filter the air of pathogens or utilise features like Nanostrike plasma technology in order to destroy microorganisms in the air flow. This works on both bacteria and viruses as it destroys them at a DNA level.

Surface cleaners and wipes, much like infection control solutions for hands, should be effective against a wide variety of bacteria and viruses (look for those with a efficacy of at least 99.99%) as well as being safe to use on various surfaces and equipment.

Turn to Eschmann

Eschmann has everything that you need to ensure that your workplace remains at the forefront of infection control. Our range of solutions includes industry-leading Little Sister autoclaves, washer disinfectors, scientifically proven air disinfection units, hand sanitiser, surface wipes and more – giving you ultimate peace of mind in every area of your practice. You can also protect your investment with Eschmann’s exceptional Care & Cover package which offers unrivalled maintenance, breakdown cover and more.

Comprehensive defence

Though bacteria and viruses are diverse, modern infection control solutions have given us the tools we need to effectively defend against the spread of disease. By investing in high quality products and systems, you can guarantee that your workplace remains safe against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.


For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of infection control products from Eschmann, please visit our new website at or call 01903 875787


[i] Microbiology Society. Bacteria. Link: [Last accessed January 22].

[ii] Dykhuizen, D. Proc Calif Acad Sci. 2005 Jun 3; 56(6 Suppl 1): 62–71.

[iii] Healthline. Infection. Link: [Last accessed January 22].

[iv] National Geographic. There Are More Viruses Than Stars In The Universe. Why Do Only Some of Them Infect Us? Link: [Last accessed January 22].

[v] Molecular Expressions. Cell biology and Microscopy Structure and Function of Cells & Viruses. Link: [Last accessed January 22].

[vi] Rolling Stone. Don’t Panic, You Don’t Need Hand Sanitizer To Fight Coronavirus. Link: [Last accessed January 22].

[vii] World Health Organization. Technical Brief – Boil Water. Link:[Last accessed January 22].

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