The rapid development of antimicrobial agents from the 1930s to the 1980s spawned optimism about the potential for conquering bacterial diseases. Unfortunately, the 1980s and 1990s have seen the re-emergence of traditional bacterial pathogens and have become resistant to currently available therapies. These new pathogens of the 1990s present formidable obstacles to healthcare practitioners. In addition, the presence of new bloodborne pathogens in the healthcare workplace has forced a reassessment of occupational risks for those working in this complex environment. This review assesses recent information about occupational and nosocomial pathogens, analysing the potential for healthcare institutions to become ‘hot zones’.
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