By: Carl L. Ricciardi
Date: November 30, 2014
Ebola, did not arrive on the world stage unannounced. Scientific leaders in the field of epidemiology and infectious disease have expressed concern about the constant battle between pathogens and humans for a very long time. It was not until after the end of WWII that antibiotics became readily available to the general population. Over the next 70 years the world benefited by the proliferation of a wide range of new medications to treat common pathogens. Most childhood diseases were eliminated by vaccination: Polio, Tuberculosis, Small Pox, Measles, Yellow Fever, and many others were eradicated, except perhaps in third-world countries. On occasion, a rare disease sprang from the jungles of Africa which did not react predictably to the medicines on the market. Physicians also began to see old, once conquered, diseases that no longer reacted favorably to traditional treatment options.
It was not until the published research by Dr. Crick and Dr. Watson in 1953 that the science of DNA and RNA was unlocked. For the first time scientists could actually see the results of genetic mutation. Scientists now had an explanation for why once conquered diseases made a resurgence. Antibiotic resistant pathogens such as MRSA, C. difficile (C-Diff), Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and many others have grown to present real challenges to the medical community. The over prescription of antibiotics, genetic mutation, and the financial disincentive for the creation of new drugs by the pharmaceutical industry, have over the past thirty years, contributed to the creation of a perfect storm. Recently the CDC published an article entitled, “The End of The Antibiotic Era”. The article concluded with the pronouncement that the bacteria have won.
While Ebola, a dangerous virus, has certainly taken center stage recently, let us not forget that hospital acquired (nosocomial) infections have claimed at least one hundred thousand (100,000) lives on the low side, and perhaps closer to hundreds of thousands more, if accurate records were maintained, each and every year.
Despite the needless loss of life caused by MRSA and C. difficile (C-Diff), neither the media nor the public have demanded that government establish cleanliness standards for hospitals and nursing homes.
Until the Ebola scare, the American public had been convinced to accept as reasonable, the unreasonable proposition, that it was acceptable to acquire an incurable infection as a normal consequence of the hospital experience. Until the availability of “no-touch” large area disinfection technologies, and their ability to change the way medical facilities are cleaned, the health care industry had a defense to allegations that not enough was being done to make hospitals safer.
The recent media focus on Ebola and the lack of preparation nationwide to deal with a potential Ebola epidemic has caused great concern and realistic fear. Many have expressed the view that a crisis should not go to waste. In recent weeks we have seen a rash of companies making unsubstantiated claims that their products can “kill Ebola”. These claims were made without actually testing the technology against the Ebola organism or a reasonable surrogate.
Because Ebola is so dangerous, only the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Defense (DoD) can have access to this virus for laboratory testing. Even if a given technology can kill the Ebola virus in a laboratory setting there is no guarantee that it can obtain the same result in the real world. For example, products incorporating UV light have been shown, in the published peer reviewed literature, to be problematic and unable to obtain a complete kill of any organism in a hospital setting. This is because UV light is limited by four (4) simple principals of physics. The first being, shadowing. Light cannot pass through opaque materials and therefore cast shadows preventing the UV light from reaching pathogens. Second, is the ability for materials to absorb light energy. This diminishes the power and efficacy of reflected light that is depended upon to reach out of the way places. Third is that the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence. This principle is complicated by the fact that all surfaces do not reflect light to the same degree. Fourth, the intensity of the light beam will decrease inversely with the square of the distance. Simply said, the further from the light source, the ability to obtain a kill will decrease. By illustration, the headlight of a car can cast light only so far and so wide...what is dark is in the shadows. The same holds true for technology based on UV light. This is why UV light products only claim a reduction in the number of living organisms, and not a total kill. When dealing with deadly organisms such as Ebola, or even Anthrax, “reduction only” performance is not acceptable, and creates a false sense of safety.
Technologies that are tied to the human interface, such as surface wiping by hand or hand held sprayers possess an inherent inability to guarantee a consistent result. The literature is replete with articles that clearly demonstrate the Achilles heel of technologies that are solely dependent on individuals to direct the means for cleaning in order to reach all surfaces and all geometries. Numerous articles have shown that even fifty percent (50%) of the surfaces can remain untouched.
In addition, technologies that are only capable of cleaning “high touch” surfaces, create a false sense of cleanliness and safety, in that there is no proof that an employee or patient will only become contaminated by contacting a pathogen on a designated “high touch” surface.
With Ebola, the situation is worse because contaminated bodily fluids can come from many sources. Whatever and wherever an infected patient touches, or their body fluids land, will become a potential source of contamination and have the ability to infect anyone who happens to come in contact with that area for many days.
Only technologies that have a history of being able to achieve high-level disinfection of all surfaces, with a “no growth” outcome, irrespective of complex geometry and various objects in the room, should be considered for large area disinfection of all life threatening organisms, including dangerous pathogens like Ebola.
Aerosol fogging technologies, such as Altapure's, which is capable of creating a dense cloud of sub-micron droplets of an agent comprised of an oxidizer such as PAA, possess the capability to reach all surfaces and obtain the required level of kill in order to eliminate the targeted pathogens (all federal labeling and directions for use must be followed). Altapure has demonstrated in thousands of field tests, that it can achieve a consistent “no growth kill” of the hardest to kill gold standard organism (ie: Geobacillus stearothermophilus spores) on all hard surface geometries within a targeted area.
While Altapure has not had the opportunity to conduct testing against Ebola, it has achieved “total kill” / “no growth” against the Poliovirus (VR-1562), per the AOAC International's test methods ( Please see this page: Test Results & Efficacy ).
In addition, since there are no products on the market with specific label claims against the Ebola virus, the CDC recommends using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered hospital disinfectant with a label claim for a non-enveloped virus (ie: Norovirus, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Poliovirus) to disinfect environmental surfaces in rooms of patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection.
The CDC also states that EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims against non-enveloped viruses (ie: Poliovirus) are broadly antiviral and capable of inactivating both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. However, as a precaution, selection of a disinfectant product with a higher potency than what is normally required for an enveloped virus, is being recommended at this time.
Please visit the following CDC link for more information:
Altapure meets the recommended level of performance, and it is believed that Altapure's technology can achieve a more consistent, faster, and better result, than any other large area, high level disinfection option currently available to the world today.
Copyright © 2014, Carl L. Ricciardi, All Rights Reserved. 113014-V3