A housekeeper’s world is more dangerous than it appears. In preparation for the next occupant’s arrival, housekeepers are the front-line defense to sanitizing and cleaning a rental after a previous guest’s visit. Some of the microbes that a housekeeper must kill and remove can create flu-like symptoms, while other types of microbes, in some cases, can be as life-threatening as HIV.
Here are several microbes that vacation rental housekeepers should be aware of:
Escherichia Coli Bacterium (E-Coli)
- E-coli currently exists in our intestines.
- It comes from undercooked ground beef.
- In ideal conditions, one cell can regenerate into one billion cells within ten hours.
- Most strains are harmless.
- Some strains can cause diarrhea, while others can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, pneumonia and other illnesses. (1)
- Salmonella is transmitted through unclean surfaces.
- Infections occur about 6-36 hours after ingestion.
- It is very common.
- Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. (2)
Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph)
- Staphylococcus lives on our skin and can enter through a cut, hair follicle or crack in the skin.
- Washing with soap is generally sufficient to protect against staph.
- Staphylococcus may cause “food poisoning” symptoms, Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and pneumonia
- 30 percent of people carry Staph in their noses. (3)
Multiple-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- MRSA occurs naturally in the environment and is resistant to many antibiotics.
- MRSA lives on the skin and can be prevented by good hygiene.
- It is currently a major problem in the healthcare industry.
- Most MRSA infections are skin infections. (4)
Hepatitis B or “The Housekeeper’s Disease”
- Hepatitis B infection is transmitted through exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), as defined in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. Proper personal protection and cleaning products.
- Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through needles and razors.
- Symptoms include: fever, fatigue, jaundice, dark urine, vomiting and abdominal pain. (5)
The proper cleaning products must be used in order for our housekeepers to sanitize properties properly. If you are unsure about your cleaning products’ ability to neutralize certain microbes then ask your vendor for a list of what each product will terminate. If the cleaning products you are using do not serve their purpose then change your products immediately.
Also, please make sure that your housekeepers are utilizing their personal protective equipment (PPE). Disposable gloves are a housekeeper’s best friend. Consistent use of disposable gloves is imperative in creating a protective barrier so that microbes (transmitted by touch) do not make contact with the skin. Gloves should also be removed in a precise manner in order to abstain from potential contamination. For more information on proper glove removal, please visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ikC338BJc.
A little knowledge goes a long way in establishing and maintaining a sanitized and protected environment for our housekeepers and guests.
Be Safe, Be Clean, Be Happy!
By: Durk V. Johnson, Industry Consultant and Executive Director, Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals