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Reduction in infection risk through treatment of microbially contaminated surfaces with a novel, portable, saturated steam vapor disinfection system

      Background

      Surface-mediated infectious disease transmission is a major concern in various settings, including schools, hospitals, and food-processing facilities. Chemical disinfectants are frequently used to reduce contamination, but many pose significant risks to humans, surfaces, and the environment, and all must be properly applied in strict accordance with label instructions to be effective. This study set out to determine the capability of a novel chemical-free, saturated steam vapor disinfection system to kill microorganisms, reduce surface-mediated infection risks, and serve as an alternative to chemical disinfectants.

      Methods

      High concentrations of Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Salmonella enterica, methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, MS2 coliphage (used as a surrogate for nonenveloped viruses including norovirus), Candida albicans, Aspergillus niger, and the endospores of Clostridium difficile were dried individually onto porous clay test surfaces. Surfaces were treated with the saturated steam vapor disinfection system for brief periods and then numbers of surviving microorganisms were determined. Infection risks were calculated from the kill-time data using microbial dose-response relationships published in the scientific literature, accounting for surface-to-hand and hand-to-mouth transfer efficiencies.

      Results

      A diverse assortment of pathogenic microorganisms was rapidly killed by the steam disinfection system; all of the pathogens tested were completely inactivated within 5 seconds. Risks of infection from the contaminated surfaces decreased rapidly with increasing periods of treatment by the saturated steam vapor disinfection system.

      Conclusions

      The saturated steam vapor disinfection system tested for this study is chemical-free, broadly active, rapidly efficacious, and therefore represents a novel alternative to liquid chemical disinfectants.
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