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UV Cleaning Kills Hospital Superbugs

Dec. 15, 2014

Ultraviolet regimen can reduce incidence of dangerous viruses up to 20%.

With strict hygiene and disinfection standards has come the rise of so-called superbugs – antibiotic-resistant disease strains that are harder to eradicate and can thrive in healthcare settings. A new study shows that healthcare professionals may have a new weapon with which to fight back. Published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the study shows that adding ultraviolet environmental disinfection (UVD) procedures to the existing cleaning regimen could reduce the incidence of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) by up to 20%.

The study measured levels of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile (CD) during a period in which a hospital used a standard cleaning protocol of disinfecting with bleach. After the test period, the hospital added UVD to the disinfection protocol and researchers were able to compare both infection incidence rates. Though the researchers are hesitant to imply a direct causal relationship, they are quick to point out that during the UVD period, VRE infection rates were at 10-year lows and stayed at that level for the entirety of the 22-month test period.

“Use of UVD as an adjunct to routine discharge cleaning of contact precautions rooms is feasible and temporally associated with a significant decrease in hospital-acquired MDRO plus CD in our institution,” say the study’s authors.

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