Hospitals can heave a sigh of relief. The new and deadly fungal infection c. auris CAN be removed and eradicated.
Seriously ill and long-term patients are now better protected from this particularly virulent killer. Not yet on everybody’s radar, but with a 60% mortality rate, this deadly newcomer is rapidly causing concern.
Candida auris (C. auris) is also difficult to diagnose, often mistaken for something else. Particularly in blood tests, the usual screening for invasive candida infections. A specific laboratory test – MALDI TOF MS – is needed to make sure.
But what makes C. auris especially dangerous is its resistance to the 3 main classes of anti-fungal drugs – amphotericin, azoles and echinocandins.
A maverick of its own, C. auris behaves more like a nosocomial bacteria than a fungus. It sticks easily to surfaces and transfers from patient or care-giver to patient. Contaminating chairs, bedrails, catheters and patient monitoring equipment.
Thankfully, like a bacteria, it can be taken down – effectively neutralised by advanced cleaning techniques such as UV radiation and exposure to hydrogen peroxide.
UV is an easy first choice because it is dry to use. Fungi are notorious for thriving in wet conditions. So liquid cleaners including hydrogen peroxide risk accelerating further growth as fast as they destroy it.
UV however does have the disadvantage of short range and only working in line of sight. Radiation units have to be moved close and frequently to be effective. And even then, cannot reach under or behind objects where spores can escape.
A better option is ionised hydrogen peroxide dry mist. Plasma treatment similar to the autoclaves used to sterilise surgical instruments. But, easily deployed by an automatic mobile unit, a lot less unwieldy.
A single press-button actively disperses the mist. A mild, non-toxic 6% solution similar to the over-the-counter type sold in Boots or Tesco as an antiseptic, skin treatment or mouth wash.
Ionising however turbo-charges its capability. Releasing further antimicrobials in the form of hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.
Charged particles jostle to escape each other – rapidly dissipating in all directions. They fill the air, ram hard up against all surfaces, walls, ceilings, countertops. And push actively under and behind, deep into cracks and crevices. If necessary, a separate nozzle can reach into tight places and ducting. Typically behind wash basins and scrub-up units.
Whole room sterility
Because of their charge, the hydrogen peroxide particles actively reach out and grab oppositely charged pathogens. Fungi, viruses, bacteria – everything is clamped in a death-grip, ripped apart by oxygen atoms and completely destroyed.
Forty minutes or so later, depending on room size, all that’s left is oxygen and a small quantity of water. So small that it evaporates before it even begins to fall.
The room itself is sterile – germ-free to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level. No more C. auris – no more pathogens of any kind. Safe and secure for those fragile patients so at risk to ANY kind of infection.
The mild solution ensures no damage or harm to any surface, however delicate. And the dry mist presents zero risk to digital and electrical connections, however sensitive.
The giveaway that it’s worked is that all smells are gone, easily confirmed by swab tests or ATP meter. C. auris is gone and not coming back. Nor is any other pathogen.
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