Cross-infection at events

Cross-infection is the transmission of an infection from one person with cystic fibrosis (CF) to another, which means two people with the condition should never meet face to face. Find out more about our guidelines for reducing the risk of cross-infection at events.

As there are a number of different infections, each with its own range of symptoms and long-term health risks, the risk posed by cross-infection can be very serious. To find out more about the different types of bug that can be transmitted, visit our cross-infection page.

Cross-infection at outdoor events

The risks

There is less risk of transmission of bugs in an outdoor environment, but meeting indoors, travelling with other people with cystic fibrosis, or spending time with them socially carries a high level of risk. The risk of cross-infection increases the longer people with CF are in close proximity to one another.

Bugs such Burkholderia cepacia complex and Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be transmitted from person to person by close personal contact and activities such as sharing rooms, medical equipment, cutlery or crockery, and by kissing, shaking hands or coughing near each other.

Steps to avoid cross-infection

Owing to the special risks that Burkholderia cepacia complex and Mycobacteria abscessus pose, people with either of these two infections should not attend any event if another person with CF may be present.

For those without these infections, the risk of cross-infection at outdoor events is reduced, but not eradicated. Prolonged contact, such as sharing travel arrangements or attending indoor social events after the event, increase the risk.

Our advice is to:

  • Avoid travelling with others with CF (unless you already share a house with this person, such as a close relative).
  • Wash your hands before and after eating, shaking hands with anyone, using the toilet and any other time that seems appropriate.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough, preferably into a tissue, which can be kept in a sealed container and disposed of later, and do not spit.
  • Don’t share any eating or drinking utensils, food, drink, medical inhalers or other equipment, and don’t help with any food preparation or distribution.
  • Don’t shake hands with or kiss the cheeks of other people with cystic fibrosis.
  • Do not go into a pub or restaurant after the event if there may be others with CF present. If you find you have accidentally arrived at the same indoor venue as someone with CF, try to sit well apart (more than three feet) and try to choose an outdoor seat.
  • Try to avoid being in close proximity to others unless you are sure they do not have cystic fibrosis.
  • If you need to cough, move away from others who have – or may have – CF, and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Think carefully before attending if you have a cold, your chest is worse than normal or if you are likely to have to cough more than usual.
  • Think very carefully before bringing very young children with CF to an event as it may be difficult to ensure that they will maintain the same standard of hygiene as an adult.

Cross-infection at indoor events

Since close contact between people with CF is much more likely to occur at indoor events, which significantly increases the risk of cross-infection, it is our policy for only one person with CF to be present or allocated a place at an indoor event organised by Cystic Fibrosis Trust staff or its volunteer branches, groups and committees.

This place is often reserved for a speaker or guest with CF and no other attendees with CF are invited to ensure there is no contact with another person that could compromise their health. Alternatively, if there is no speaker or guest with CF attending, this single place for a person with CF is allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Cross-infection after transplant

After having a transplant of any kind, you are required to take immunosuppressant drugs to prevent your body from rejecting your new organ. Unfortunately, this also makes you more prone to infection and less able to fight off any bugs you do pick up. For that reason, our guidelines apply to everyone with CF, including those who have received a transplant, either recently or many years ago.

More information about cross-infection

Take a look at our cross-infection policy (PDF) for more detail on the risks posed by cross-infection and our recommended guidelines for reducing the risk.

Life with CF

From new parents and best friends of someone with cystic fibrosis, to journalists and those with a professional interest in it – there’s a lot to learn! Take a look at our informative resources.

Look closer

Our interactive body gives you the lowdown on the affects of cystic fibrosis, from head to toe.

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