UV light proves itself when disinfecting hospital rooms

Method also kills resistant hospital germs

This lamp emits UV-C light and is used for disinfecting. © Deglr6328 / CC-by-sa 3.0
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Simple UV lamps could be used in the future to curb the spread of hospital germs: Placing them strategically in the middle of a hospital room kills the high-energy radiation from the lamps a large part of the bacteria, which is often touched on bed frames, telephone handsets and the like Accumulate surfaces. This suggests a first smaller study of American infectiologists. The decisive factor, however, is that the lamps emit short-wave UV-C radiation, the team emphasized at a conference on hospital hygiene in San Diego, California. The method has been used for many years in laboratories and for the disinfection of air and liquids.

Resistant hospital germs in focus

Deverick Anderson, a Duke University researcher in Durham, has focused their research on three very common hospital germs: Clostridium difficile, an intestinal bacterium that causes severe diarrhea in certain circumstances, the Acinetobacter genus, which causes both pneumonia and wounding in immunocompromised individuals and urinary tract infections, and the antibiotic vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), which are common in intensive care patients and can lead to various serious infections.

Altogether, the physicians selected 50 hospital rooms for their study, which previously had patients with at least one of these infections. Partly these were rooms in the intensive care unit, partly rooms on conventional wards. The researchers took samples of various surfaces in these rooms, including remote controls, the toilet and the handles on the bed. They then placed a lamp in the middle of the room, with eight UV-C bulbs attached to a central tube, and let the light in for 45 minutes. Afterwards, they again took samples of the surfaces.

Electron micrograph of Enterococcus faecalis, a germ from which several resistant strains already exist. CDC / Pete Wardell

Drastic reduction of germ counts

The number of viable germs on the surfaces decreased drastically as a result of the irradiation, the comparison of the samples showed. In Acinetobacter, the burden fell by over 98 percent, with the AER 97.9 percent, the researchers reported. The values ​​in Clostridium have been similar, but there was a very low burden from the outset. Already in a previous study, a similar treatment showed that even the well-nourished hospital germ MRSA can be combated with UV light, reported Anderson.

"Of course, we would never suggest that you clean the rooms exclusively with UV light, " Anderson pointed out. However, given the increasing number of bacteria that conventional antibiotics do not harm anymore, the lamps could become an important additional weapon in the hospital arsenal. UV disinfection has the advantage that no personnel is necessary and that no additional chemicals have to be applied. It is also unlikely that the germs will become resistant to treatment. Surfaces in hospital rooms are usually treated with a liquid disinfectant, for example, based on alcohol. In case of heavy contamination, a chemical such as formaldehyde can also be aerosolized to clean the entire room. display

(Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, 19.10.2012 - ILB)