Biohazardous and Infectious Disease Cleanup Processes: What to Know

The need for biohazardous and infectious disease cleanup isn’t a topic that comes up for most people every day. But when you do need to know how to respond, it’s often an emergency—and not everyone can respond as well under trying circumstances as compared to when they are prepared or have easy access to information about what to do.

In this post, we share the information you need on what to do when biohazard cleanup or infectious disease cleanup is needed, including:

  • The definition of biohazard cleanup
  • The definition of infectious disease cleanup
  • How NOT to handle these types of situations
  • How to handle blood cleanup/bodily fluid cleanup
  • How to clean up after an unattended death occurs
  • How to manage infectious disease cleanup
  • Commercial cleanup
  • Choosing a professional cleaning company

If you have questions about this type of professional cleaning for your home or business, you can contact us online. Or, if you need biohazard cleanup or infectious disease cleanup services now, we have a live operator available to take your call, 24/7 at 800-295-1684.

Definition of Biohazard Cleanup

“Biohazard” is just a shorter way to say “biological hazard.” The term refers to the specialized form of cleanup that’s required for biological substances such as viruses, toxins or microorganisms that can threaten the health of humans—and, in some instances, other animals, as well. Biohazard cleanup should be left only to specially trained and experienced technicians.

Definition of Infectious Disease Cleanup

Closely related to the concept of biohazard cleanup is infectious disease cleanup. This process is needed to control and prevent threats such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (better known as MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff). Because these can be exceptionally difficult to treat, it’s crucial that they not spread, and this means cleanup by specialists.

At a high level, MRSA is a bacterium that can cause infections in multiple places in our bodies. The challenge about MRSA is that, unlike most strains of “staph,” the types of antibiotics doctors commonly use to combat infection often don’t work well. According to WebMD.com, some strains are relatively easy to manage, but the condition can also be life-threatening.

Because you don’t know ahead of time what strains you’ll be dealing with, it’s much safer to prepare for the worst. Why? Many experts in public health are “alarmed by the spread of tough strains of MRSA. Because it’s hard to treat, MRSA is sometimes called a ‘super bug.’”

C. diff bacteria can be found in soil, air, and water, as well as in animal and human feces—and even in processed meats and other food products. Like MRSA, infections can range from those that can be treated to situations where lives are at risk.

As the Mayo Clinic warns, studies show increasing rates of this infection, even among people that traditionally hadn’t been considered high risk, including the young and healthy. In “recent years, C. difficile infections have become more frequent, severe and difficult to treat.”

How NOT to Handle Infectious Disease or Biohazardous Cleanup

Do not:

  • Have people who are inexperienced in this type of cleanup attempt it
  • Have people who don’t have proper protective equipment do this kind of cleanup, even if they have experience in doing so
  • Clean to a lesser degree than what’s needed to return the area to a safe condition

Biohazard Cleanup: Blood Cleanup

Blood Cleanup-ABT blood and bodily fluid cleanupBlood can contain multiple pathogens, including some that are quite dangerous. Some of the most common bloodborne pathogens that can cause significant, long-lasting harm include:

  • HIV: The leading HIV charity in the United Kingdom does a good job of explaining how HIV can be transmitted when an infected person’s blood comes in contact with absorbent areas of another person’s skin, including eyes and mouth. HIV can also be transmitted through blood if the person cleaning it up has a cut or broken skin.
  • Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis Trust explains how this pathogen can be spread by the blood of the infected person coming into contact with someone else’s cut or broken skin.
  • Hepatitis B: The Hep B Blog suggests that if you’re cleaning up blood, it’s better to be safe than sorry, saying that, “All blood should be considered contaminated with an infectious agent.”

Still other dangerous pathogens that can be transmitted through blood are syphilis, the West Nile virus and the human t-lymphotropic virus.

We recommend that blood cleanup (and that of other bodily fluids, as well) be performed by people who are trained professional cleaners. By simply looking at the potential dangers found in blood and other bodily fluids, the risks associated with cleaning them up is clear and the benefits of professionally-trained cleaners include:

  • Protecting the current and future residents of a property
  • Protecting people who would have otherwise had to do the cleaning

One of the dangers associated with this kind of cleanup is how the blood/bodily fluids aren’t always visible to the naked eye, so you might not even know where the risks are highest.

If you do feel as though you should do the cleanup yourself, wear:

  • Gloves
  • A protective gown
  • A face mask
  • Eye protection

Biohazard Cleanup: Unattended Death

An unattended death often adds another component to a stressful situation, since it likely comes at a highly emotional time. First, there is the loss of a loved one. Next, unattended deaths require investigations, which can add more emotional upset to friends and family members of the deceased. If the death is suspicious, law enforcement may become involved.

Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, cleanup must be done. Specifics of the cleanup process depend upon which stage of composition the body was in when discovered, and each comes with unique circumstances and challenges. Factors, besides the passage of time, include:

  • Weather conditions
  • The temperature inside the building
  • The cause of death
  • The body’s pH balance and oxygen levels
  • The position of the body

If this death occurred in a rental property that you own or manage, you are faced with different challenges, and we created this comprehensive checklist to guide you.

Even though no one wants to think about these things, an unattended body means the existence of blood and other bodily fluids, including urine. It often means body tissue cleanup, feces cleanup and more—and the reality is that one single drop of decomposing body fluid can contain infectious diseases, as well as other biohazards.

Some of these can remain dangerous for significant periods of time. Depending upon how long the death was unknown, these pathogens can seep into:

  • Fabric
  • Carpet
  • Wood
  • Flooring and subfloors
  • Spaces between walls
  • Ceilings

For this type of biohazard cleanup, the cleaners must adhere to OSHA and EPA regulations, both in the collection and disposal of hazardous materials. Few people know the proper way to manage this, which is why we recommend a professional cleaning company after an unattended death. This situation is especially challenging when it’s a loved one who has been lost.

With our unattended death cleanup services, we strictly follow OSHA and EPA regulations from start to finish, collection to disposal. We handle the entire disposal for you. And, unlike most other cleaning companies, we:

  • Permanently remove odors from the rooms, including furniture, walls, carpets and more; many companies simply cover up decomposition odors and smells can return as quickly as in a few hours
  • Neutralize the biological hazards and the accompanying odors at the molecular level

We also show compassion for our clients and sensitivity to their needs, understanding this can be a very trying time as the cleanup process is being done.

Infectious Disease Cleanup

pictures of mrsa infectionsAlthough MRSA and C. diff aren’t the only two infectious diseases that present significant cleanup challenges, they’re good examples to use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling C. diff an “urgent threat” (with two million becoming ill with it each year, and 23,000 of them dying of the disease) and MRSA a “serious” one.

Cross-contamination is a significant concern, as surfaces can continue to be re-contaminated through people touching the surfaces, walking on them, using a wheelchair over them and much more. If someone in your household or business has a weakened immune system, coming in contact with these germs can be especially deadly. At particular risk are the elderly, those who have been seriously ill, and young children.

Cleaning for C. Diff

You don’t want to catch C. diff. You don’t want any of your loved ones to catch C. diff. You don’t want to unknowingly spread the infectious disease. When the disease becomes severe, people often need to be hospitalized.

Symptoms of this infectious disease, when severe, are (quoted from the Mayo Clinic):

  • Watery diarrhea 10 to 15 times a day
  • Abdominal cramping and pain, which may be severe
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Blood or pus in the stool
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Kidney failure
  • Increased white blood cell count

Disinfecting your house when C. diff is present can be extremely challenging. This is why we recommend professional cleaning services for this type of infectious disease. Our C. diff cleaning services protect you from increased risk of pathogen exposure. We have the equipment, materials, methods and experience to mitigate these risks.

MRSA Cleaning

MRSA can start out appearing to be relatively harmless, little bumps that might look like spider bites or pimples. But then the bumps get painful, red and swollen, warm to the touch. Because MRSA is so antibiotic resistant, the infection easily spreads. Symptoms can then progress, according to the Mayo Clinic, to pus and other drainage, along with a fever.

This infectious disease doesn’t necessarily just affect your skin. It can affect the bloodstream, along with your lungs and heart, and your bones and joints. So, just like with C. diff cleaning, MRSA decontamination needs careful planning, including a risk mitigation strategy; it’s also important to have experience in this type of cleaning, and have the right equipment and materials to successfully decontaminate.

Commercial Biohazard Cleaning

Accidents that happen at a workplace, such as an industrial site, can create hazardous cleanup situations that can quickly become quite complicated. Whether the issue involves blood and bodily fluid cleanup or, even worse, an unattended death, complications can include:

  • Regulations, both state and federal, which must be strictly adhered to
  • High-risk areas that must be cleaned
  • High-security areas that must be entered
  • Hazardous materials that must be properly disposed of

Plus, strategies must be created to minimize (or, ideally, eliminate) business interruption. So it’s important to choose a professional cleaning company that is experienced in commercial/industrial biohazard cleanup, following all OSHA and EPA regulations and more.

How to Choose the Right Biohazard Cleanup Company

  1. Make sure you choose a company that specializes in what you need. For example, a company might specialize in only residential services or only commercial services, or it might only service a particular geographic area. Or, if a crime scene is involved, a company may or may not handle those cleanups.Also make sure a company is licensed to do the needed cleanup.
  2. Don’t assume that just because a company is licensed for a particular cleanup job, they’re experienced and well qualified to complete the decontamination process for you. Using crime scene body fluids as an example, the
  3. Florida Department of Health (FL DOH) does need to license companies before they can transport, store, and dispose of biohazardous materials; to stay licensed, the company must do all of these things in an approved-of manner. But, the license does NOT mean that the FL DOH monitors or verifies the training employees receive, or tests their knowledge about the processes or in any way oversee how professionally they work. It doesn’t mean that the company has the right equipment and it doesn’t monitor their insurance coverage.
  4. Also, make sure that the company you’re considering is experienced in doing just the kind of biohazard cleanup you need. Ask the company about their experience and also ask for customer references.

Also keep in mind that when you’re in need of biohazard cleaning services, you likely need them ASAP. And, if you’re a commercial entity or a landlord, the reality is that you might need these services from time to time. So, it can make good sense to be proactive and explore your choice of professional cleaning companies ahead of time. That way, you can follow up on references given and make a thoughtful, educated choice, rather than needing to respond in the moment.

It never hurts for individuals to be proactive and have a professional cleaning company in mind, either, even if you ultimately never need biohazard cleanup.

How to Choose the Right Infectious Disease Cleanup Company

The process is similar to that described above, with one distinction. While you can’t predict when, say, an industrial accident might occur or an unattended death might be discovered, there is at least some data available about outbreaks of infectious diseases. It may make sense for your human resources department or other designee of choice to monitor your geographical area for outbreaks.

The CDC offers insights into MRSA outbreaks and C. diff outbreaks, as well as places where healthcare-associated infections are occuring. If your area isn’t a hot spot right now, that’s great—but that doesn’t mean that no cases exist where you are, just that they aren’t at a peak right now. Create an emergency plan, one you hope you never need to put into place.

Why Advanced Bio Treatment is the Smart Professional Cleanup Company Choice

For more than 15 years, we’ve set the highest of standards for response and remediation for biohazards, including infectious diseases. Our teams are experienced and highly trained, which is one reason why we’re truly a trusted name in the cleanup industry.

We also respond quickly. If you have a cleanup emergency, you can call us 24/7 at 800-295-1684 to talk to a LIVE operator who is trained in knowing exactly how to respond to your emergency.

Here’s something else to consider about Advanced Bio Treatment. We started out with some of the toughest cleanup jobs out there—crime scene and unattended death restorations. Our founder, Jerry Turner, worked with trauma survivors and crime victims in his role as a police officer and as an insurance agent—and he saw a way to reach out and truly help them by specializing in the toughest restoration jobs, doing them compassionately.

The company began in the Atlanta, Georgia, area and, as Advanced Bio Treatment filled the needs of people in this part of the country, it became clear that these same services were needed elsewhere.

As the company grew geographically, we’ve also expanded our cleanup services to include:

  • Biohazard waste
  • Infectious disease
  • Drug labs
  • Hoarding situations
  • And much more

As our company has expanded, we’ve done so in a way that still remains true to our core mission: to respond to your circumstances, being available 24/7, and to keep all occupants of your residential, commercial or industrial property safe. We understand that when you need our services, you’re likely to be under a great deal of stress and feel overwhelmed by the choices you need to make. Because we understand that, we can guide you through the proper steps to address your unique situation.

We stay current with professional certifications and meet the strictest industry standards, including:

  • OSHA
  • IICRC
  • API
  • HAZWOPER
  • AMDECON
  • API Worksafe
  • Regulations in your state

We put your health and safety first, keeping our staff’s training, education and experience current so they can provide you with the best service possible. We carefully vet our staff, looking for:

  • Excellent professional qualifications
  • Attention to detail
  • Empathy
  • High regard for customer privacy
  • A desire to help people in need

Here is what just one customer has to say about our work. You can find more customer testimonials here.

Dear Cynthia,

I just wanted to express on behalf of my family our gratitude to you and to ABT for the level of service and care we received throughout our remediation experience.

Having a family member hospitalized with c-diff was a scary experience, and remediation for c-diff at our home we had no experience with. In the first call we placed to you, on a Sunday afternoon, you helpfully explained a great deal about the logistics of c-diff remediation as well as walking us through the typical process for homeowner claims. You continued to answer our questions and assist us throughout the entire process. It was very reassuring to know you were there.

In addition, the techs who performed our remediation could not have been more friendly, helpful, or professional. They did a great job on a fairly large house with a lot of furniture where wall to wall carpet would need to be replaced. It is amazing they could do all that in the time they did. It was a pleasure to work with them also; they represented ABT very well.

In closing let me say that we would, without hesitation, recommend ABT and you personally to anyone in need of remediation services.

How can we help you? Let us know by contacting us online or, if you need assistance now, call us at 800-295-1684, no matter what time of day or night. We’re here for you!