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Pathogens

 micrograph of Clostridium difficle

Photo courtesy of JA Hobot University of Wales College of Medicine UK

 

Treatment Failures:
In order to treat pathogens effectively, one must understand how failures occur in the treatment processes that are currently being used. The spread of infection is dependent on a number of factors. Temperature and humidity are critical to the life of the pathogen, whether it is airborne or on a surface. As the temperature approaches 980F and the humidity is above 50%, pathogens demonstrate the ability to survive up to 30 days on fomites (surfaces that support viability). Also critical to its spread is the quantity of the pathogen that is transferred or inhaled by the next victim, the body resistance of that person, and their personal hygiene habits.

Failure to stop the infection does occur because the pathogen is not destroyed. Chemical's that are used to wash surfaces require time to break down the surface of pathogens. Most must have contact times from 30 seconds to as much as 5 minutes. If the liquid wash dries short of the required contact time, the pathogen lives on. If steam cleaning is used, the temperature at the pathogen must exceed 400C for some period of time before the pathogen will be destroyed.

The spread of infection is dependent on a number of factors. Critical to the survival and spread of pathogens are temperature and humidity, whether they are carried airborne or exist on a surface. As the temperature approaches 980F, and the humidity rises above 50%, pathogens demonstrate an ability to survive up to 30 days on fomites (surfaces that support viability). Also important in its spread are the quantity of deadly organisms transferred or inhaled by the next victim, the body resistance of that person, and the individual's personal hygiene habits.

Failure to prevent an infection occurs when pathogens are not destroyed. Chemicals used to wash surfaces require time to break down the membranes of these infective agents. Most require a contact period that ranges from a minimum of 30 seconds to as long as 10 minutes. If the liquid wash dries short of the necessary contact time, deadly pathogens will continue to thrive. If steam cleaning is used, the temperature pathogens are exposed to must exceed 400C for short period of time for destruction to take place.

An example of an all-too-common situation is that of a cruise ship where there has been an outbreak of a NLV infection. When one or multiple DEs (vomit or discharge events) occur, the staff undoubtedly does their best to clean up. The ship is then sanitized and returned to service. If a one-year old crawls on this rug while the virus is still viable, it will be transferred into his system when the child puts their hands to their mouth. Since the child's resistance is much lower than adult's, it will take only a small number of pathogens to cause an infection. Within 12 hours, the child appears sick and a DE occurs. Pathogens are now in sufficient numbers in the air and on surfaces so that further spread of infection is certain.

A New Treatment Methodology:
UV lamps currently using mercury vapor require from 10 to 100 seconds before deactivation of a sufficient number of organisms occur. The organism is not destroyed so there is a potential for re-activation. Sterilray™, unlike mercury lamps, will destroy pathogens in less than 0.1 seconds without the possibility of regeneration. Because Sterilray™ represents a 100-fold improvement in the disinfection process, it can produce a significant change in the ability to stop the spread and contain infection 24/7.

Immediately after a DE, the ventilation system must be changed to prevent airborne pathogens from entering into the general ventilation system. Windows should be opened to the outside and ceiling fans used as soon as possible to facilitate air exchange with fresh air.

Prior to any disinfection process, the liquid and solids from a DE must be removed. A wet/dry vacuum canister fitted with an HEI exhaust sterilizer is a convenient method for the initial cleanup. However, the surfaces do not have to be dry before decontamination begins.

A Far-UV Sterilray™ Disinfection Wand is used to disinfect all types of surfaces that act as fomites. Critical surfaces are those that are touched frequently by people transversing through the area. These include handrails, chairs, counters, utensils, gift shop nick nacks, keyboards and commonly touched items.

The time required for disinfection depends on the conditions that require the treatment and the potential for re-infection. Conditions are the potential for infectious pathogens to be present. During the flu season or the presence of a local outbreak, treatment could be required daily or hourly depending on the estimate of sick people re-infecting the area or surfaces. For extreme conditions, a log 5 or 6 reduction may be desired. This would require the medium power level and possibly two or three passes depending on the targeted organism. For normal conditions, a log 3 or 4 reduction is all that is required. The low power setting with a high walking or sweep rate would be sufficient for this condition.

 

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