The Dawn of a New Era in Infection Control
There has not been a significant development in infection control since the late 19th century, when British surgeon Joseph Lister began using carbolic acid as an antiseptic in 1867.
As “Superbugs” become more resistant to traditional medicines and procedures, the technology sector must play a role in their eradication. That’s the position that’s being taking with this infographic, which illustrates that as developments in healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) prevention tapered off at the turn of the 20th century, the Superbugs started growing stronger, more resistant to antibiotics, and more deadly. But it’s not a doomsday scenario.
Read more below....
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Each year in the U.S., HAIs affect nearly 2 million people and add billions of dollars to healthcare costs. HAIs kill more people annually than breast cancer, prostate cancer and automobile accidents combined.
In 1867, British surgeon Joseph Lister began using carbolic acid as an antiseptic in surgical procedures, significantly reducing mortality rates from infection by 30 percent within a decade. Before Lister introduced sterile surgery, a patient could undergo a procedure successfully only to die from a postoperative infection known as ward fever. The mid-to-late 19th century saw the discovery and adoption of a number of infection control protocols still vigorously enforced today: hand-washing, using heat to sterilize surgical instruments, and surgical masks. Mankind won some significant battles against infectious diseases, including the eradication of tuberculosis.
But in the mid-20th century, bacteria started fighting back. In 1947, only a few years after mass production of penicillin began, Staphylococcus aureus -- Staph -- is one of the first bacteria discovered to be resistant to penicillin. Half of all S. aureus infections in the U.S. today are resistant to penicillin, methicillin, tetracycline and erythromycin.
More recently, we have seen worldwide outbreaks of infectious diseases such as H5N1 (“avian flu”), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and H1N1 (“swine flu”). Earlier this month, the World Health Organization announced the discovery of a new airborne strain of Coronavirus.
As antibiotics and traditional best practices first implemented in the 1800’s, such as hand-washing, instrument sterilization and surgical masks, are losing the battle against Superbugs, enter technology: the Superbug’s kryptonite.
We believe we’re at the cusp of a new era in infection control technology development, and Novaerus is leading that charge. The Novaerus system creates a plasma field that has a total and immediate destructive effect on microorganisms; with viral kill rates near theoretical perfection (99.9999999999%) and reduced microbial surface counts by up to 68 percent.
Novaerus is not alone, there are other technology companies focusing their efforts on infection control, and that is why we expect that over the next decade we will finally turn the tide.
Please post your comments and questions below. The most important first step is starting a national, even global, dialogue to raise awareness.
Infection Control History Timeline:
1546: Hieronymus Fracastoriious described three modes of disease spread: direct contact with infected persons, indirect contact with fomites and airborne transmission.
1674: Anton Van Leewenhoek invents the microscope.
1809: First mandatory vaccination law in the United States was enacted, giving the government the power to enforce mandatory vaccination or quarantine in the event of a disease(smallpox) outbreak that posed a threat to the public health.
1847: Mortality rates dropped by 10 to 20 fold within 3 months after a strict policy of hand washing with chlorinated antiseptic solution was instituted.
1883: Sterile gowns and caps were introduced.
1891: Heat sterilization was introduced, which proved superior to chemical sterilization.
1897: Surgical mask was invented.
1915: The first school of hygiene and public health is created at John Hopkins University.
1928: Alexander Fleming was attributed with discovering the antibiotic properties of penicillin which is derived from a fungus.
1943: Quarantine and isolation were emphasized because diseases such as smallpox and TB were seen in the US hospitals. (This was the last significant development in infection control)
1944: U.S. produced the first mass production of penicillin – 2.3 million doses.