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Ultraviolet light shows promise in reducing hospital infections

Health-care officials may have a new weapon against bacteria lurking on surfaces around hospitals, including those deemed drug-resistant. Findings presented today at IDWeek 2012 in San Diego show a specific spectrum of ultraviolet light can nearly eliminate all bugs from door handles, bedside tables and other contaminated areas in hospital rooms.

 Scientific American reports:

A team of researchers sampled five high-contact areas in hospital bedrooms and bathrooms (such as bed rails, toilets and remote controls) where patients with C. difficile, Acinetobacter or VRE infections had been staying. They then brought in a machine outfitted with eight bulbs to emit short-wave UV radiation (UV-C) for 25 to 45 minutes. Afterward, the researchers sampled the same locations for any persisting bacteria or spores.

“We were able to demonstrate that we could achieve well over 90 percent reduction in each of those three bad bugs after using the UV light,” Deverick Anderson, co-director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, and study collaborator, said during a media briefing call earlier this week. Even shadowed surfaces that escaped direct UV exposure demonstrated this drastic reduction in bacteria.

Researchers caution that the approach is meant to enhance hospital cleaning procedures, not be the sole method of disinfecting rooms.

Previously: Harnessing evolutionary forces to develop more effective methods for treating superbugs
Photo by Ronald Woan

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