Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiant (UVGI) Kills Ebola Viruses on Surfaces and in Air in Healthcare Settings

The Ebola virus outbreak is worsening everyday in West Africa. The government of Sierra Leone has instituted quarantine measures for those who are in communities that are affected by the Ebola outbreak, causing anxiety and civil unrest. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. has issued warnings to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the U.S. about how to diagnose Ebola, and ask questions about a patient’s recent travel history.

Once Ebola has infected a community, how can the virus be eradicated from hospital and healthcare rooms that previously housed patients with Ebola? The answer is high tech, Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiant Devices (UVGI) used in hospital and health care settings to disinfect hospital rooms and equipment effectively. UVGI harnesses UV-C, 254nm energy f bulbs that irradiate surfaces, objects and air to disinfect from deadly diseases such as Ebola, Tuberculosis and Lassa. UVGI devices kill microorganisms that spread disease and are being employed more frequently in healthcare settings in the U.S. and globally.

UVGI Technology Irradiates Dangerous Microorganisms

UVGI devices are effective for health care settings and other public spaces where the danger of the virus spreading can mean the difference between life and death. Chlorine Dioxide has also been used to sterilize hospital rooms, fixtures, beds and equipment. UVGI used in healthcare settings to eliminate viruses such as Ebola have been found to be just as effective as Chlorine Dioxide with the use of UVC energy.

Sagripanti and Lytle Study Effectiveness of UVGI Against Ebola in 2010
UVC light was used to irradiate surfaces with Lassa, vaccinia and Ebola viruses dried on surfaces in a study published in 2010 by Jose-Luis Sagripanti and C. David Lytle. The study, entitled, “Sensitivity to Ultraviolet Radiation of Lassa, vaccinia and Ebola viruses Dried on Surfaces,” found that UVGI applied to surfaces left only “three to four percent of UV-protected irradiated virus particles.”

“UVC treats the Ebola virus on surfaces and in the air and it treats it significantly enough to be effective,” says Karl Linden, President of the International Ultraviolet Association and the Helen Croft Professor of Environmental Engineering at University of Colorado Boulder.

2014 Laboratory Studies on the Effectiveness of UVGI Against Ebola
Mount Sinai Hospital is conducting research on life threatening human pathogens that can persist for prolonged periods on surfaces in the hospital environment. Of these pathogens, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C-diff) and Klebsiella species are major concerns. These organisms can be transmitted from person to person consequent to inadequate cleaning of touched surfaces in hospital rooms. The Ebola virus can also be transmitted by this route.

Manufacturers of moveable whole-room UVGI decontamination devices claim that their equipment can clean organisms from surfaces by irradiating patient rooms. No objective test has been conducted to verify these claims.

In a 2013 study, Mount Sinai, in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health, developed a proof-of-concept protocol for surface decontamination of a simulated bedrail with coupons [plates] seeded with M. Serratia (an inert bacterium), placed on opposite surfaces and simultaneously exposed directly and indirectly to UVGI from one mobile UV (254nm) multi-lamped device. Use results from proof-of-concept protocol to develop the full laboratory.

These studies are headed by Richard Vincent, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, an architect with a specialty in lighting and ultraviolet technology. His work, and that of his late colleague, Philip Brickner, MD, “has focused on interrupting the transmission of airborne diseases and tuberculosis and influenza, using upper room UVGI treatment systems.” Mr. Vincent stated that the next phase of the work is to begin in Fall of 2014. A range of these moveable whole-room UVGI decontamination devices will be tested according to this protocol. This will allow a comparison of the devices on a common basis. Should the laboratory studies show significant decontamination potential we would plan to conduct a further study with a number of these devices in clinical settings.

Xenex Germ-Zapping Robots
One company that makes UVGI applications for healthcare settings is Xenex. The Germ-Zapping Robots Xenex produces are mobile devices on wheels. The Xenex Robot is initiated by a hospital staff member. Once the robot is started, the room is vacated while the light pulses for approximately 5 minutes.

ClorDisys Offers Chlorine Dioxide Systems and UVGI
Another company which provides both types of healthcare solutions for the disinfection of dangerous viruses and pathogens is ClorDisys. ClorDisys provides the option of using UVGI devices such as the Torch or the Flashbox to disinfect rooms and equipment or Chlorine Dioxide Gas Systems such as the Minidox Chamber and the Equipment Decon Chamber – fumigation devices used to detoxify furniture and equipment.

UVGI devices need to be utilized more widely in order to properly sterilize rooms between patients, for the safety of staff, patients and visitors. To learn more about the science of UVGI technology and the effectiveness of UVGI against the spread of HAIs (Hospital Associated Infections), visit http://www.iuva.org.

Source: “Sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation of Lassa, vaccinia, and Ebola viruses dried on surfaces” by Jose-Luis Sagripanti and C. David Lytle, 2010

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