It has long been known that superbugs cannot survive outdoors; they are destroyed by the germ-killing properties of fresh air.
However, in enclosed spaces like hospital wards, surgeries and offices, these germs persist and, until now, there has been no safe and easy way to kill them. Scientists identified the germ-killing constituents of fresh air as chemicals called hydroxyl radicals. Outdoors these radicals are produced by the reaction of ozone and olefins (the natural scent of flowers and plants).
British scientists and engineers have created a new device, the “AD”, which can generate these hydroxyl radicals in enclosed places, and in a way that is entirely safe to humans but which kills any airborne bacteria.
Sunderland Royal is one of a number of NHS hospitals beginning to use the AD as a central element of their response in the fight against airborne superbugs, including the drug resistant strain of organisms such as MRSA, C. difficile and E.coli.
The AD is also being used to prevent the spread of norovirus, or “winter vomiting bug”, which has so far affected over two million people this winter in Britain.
Tests conducted by the Health Protection Agency and other independent experts prove that a room heavily contaminated with pathogens is cleaned to below detectable levels within a matter of minutes, and unlike standard cleaning of surfaces the hydroxyl radicals continue to be just as effective in destroying superbugs even when an infected person or material subsequently enters the room.
Leslie Boobis, Medical Director of Sunderland Royal, said:
“We were sufficiently impressed by these devices to install them in each of the bays and side rooms of our infection control ward with further devices being deployed in ward areas where there are patients who are considered to be an infection risk. Infection control is our highest clinical priority at the moment and this device has the potential to be a critical tool in helping us to win this battle.”
Mike Heath, Managing Director of Mid-States Plc, manufacturer of the AD, said:
“We know that superbugs can’t survive in fresh-air, but clearly it isn’t practical to have the windows open all the time! The AD allows us to bring the outdoors indoors.
“The AD is the product of over 40 years of British research and we believe it can be instrumental in the battle to beat hospital acquired infection.”