Airborne Infection Control

Airborne Infection Control

Airborne contamination can traveling significant distances and remaining suspended in the air for prolonged periods. Left untreated,  airborne contamination they pose a significant threat.

Hospital heating and ventilation systems are often unable to effectively filter aerosolised droplets, viruses and bacteria, so that for effective airborne infection control, a localised and often a mobile solution is needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Airborne respiratory infections come in many forms in the hospital environment, and our team of experts is specialised in providing cost efficient and effective air filtration solutions for airborne infection control. Standalone HEPA air filtration systems can be used to control airborne contamination in regard to:

  • Tuberculosis
  • COVID-19
  • H5N1
  • Measles
  • Meningitis
  • Chicken Pox
  • Anthrax
  • Whooping Cough
  • Smallpox
  • Legionella
  • Clostridium Difficile
  • Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
  • MRSA
  • and more.

Clinical trials have shown that many infective organisms, including Clostridium difficile (C. diff), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) can be transmitted by the airborne route and are an important part to consider in airborne infection control. For instance, air sampling before and after bed making showed that MRSA levels remain higher for up to 15 minutes after completion of the task.

As most bacteria are 25 microns to 0.25 microns and fungal spores are 200 microns to 2 microns. Viruses tend to be smaller, in the size range 0.025 to 0.05 microns. All can be effectively removed from the air with a high-efficiency, mobile air filtration units.

The demand for airborne infection control measures is increasing, as the potential for airborne infection remains in many healthcare institutions with a relative lack of focus on the cleanliness of the indoor air within hospitals. Whilst open windows can often help to dilute internal contaminants, many urban healthcare facilities will simply replace one set of contaminants with another when they bring urban pollution into the indoor hospital environment.

Research by Leeds University showed a fourfold increase in infection when hospitals close windows, to reduce heating costs for example. The solution; open windows to bring oxygen-rich air in, and filter the air within the hospital where needed with a high-performance hospital air filtration – the best of both worlds.

Portable high-performance HEPA-filtration units can virtually remove all airborne particle pollution. These high-performance air purification systems are used to remove Aspergillus spores near building sites to reduce the risk of infection to workers.

There are many places in a hospital where a portable HEPA-filtration air cleaner can be used to advantage - such as airborne infection control in the intensive care unit or in wound dressing clinics. Higher capacity units are available for larger or open-plan areas, providing a reduction of surface contamination with MRSA and can achieve a significant reduction in airborne infection rates.

A recent clinical study illustrated the importance of portable high-performance HEPA air purifiers in airborne infection control. These systems significantly reduced the number of MRSA colonies measured on settle plates (the measure of how many bacteria might settle on a hospital surface after being dispersed in the air). There is a clear link between the rate of HEPA air filtration achieved and the reduction in the number of MRSA colonies counted - the higher the filtration rate, the cleaner the air. The researchers, from Nottingham City Hospital, concluded that an IQAir high-performance air purifier is a useful addition to existing MRSA control measures for airborne infection control. The high-performance air cleaning system used in this study was the IQAir Cleanroom H13 model.

Coughing, sneezing and bed-making can all release microbial aerosols into the environment, which are carried and dispersed by air movement. Each poses a significant hazard for airborne infection control.

Inhalation of these particles, particularly amongst weakened or immune-compromised patients, is to be avoided. Airborne Infection Control can be difficult to maintain through the exclusive use of whole hospital HVAC heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, where certain areas require more effective cleaning.

The three main classes of infectious agent are bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Many species from each class are responsible for healthcare-associated infections. Some of the more important are highlighted below.

Bacteria  Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is dangerous because it is not treatable by many commonly-used antibiotics. In vulnerable patients, MRSA can cause life-threatening blood infection (septicaemia) which can spread to vital organs.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) is a bacterium found in soil and stagnant water which can cause serious infection among people with cystic fibrosis and those with weakened immunity. Premature babies and people with severe burns are also at risk (P.aeruginosa accounted for the deaths of three babies in Belfast's Royal Jubilee Hospital in January 2012). The bacterium is tough and can survive for some time on a contaminated surface. The Health Protection Agency reports around 4,000 cases a year, mostly among babies and the elderly.

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is the most common cause of debilitating diarrhoea in the hospital setting and in care homes. It spreads when people touch an infected person or a contaminated surface.

Fungi/spores  Aspergillus is the most important fungus giving rise to infection in the healthcare setting. Its spores are found everywhere, and particularly in damp conditions. Aspergillosis (infection of the lungs with Aspergillus) can be dangerous for those with compromised immunity and poses a serious threat to any airborne infection control regime.

The use of IQAir mobile air purification units enables clinical staff to position units wherever there is a specific need – for example in areas with suspected TB patients, waiting and reception areas, or patient rooms for transplant or immuno-compromised patients.

Aerosol generating activities in a hospital or healthcare environment are many, and eliminating the source of infection for health care workers should be a priority. Sputum induction, bronchoscopy, elective intubation, and extubation in addition to autopsy procedures all generate potentially virus and bacteria-laden aerosols causing difficulties with airborne infection control.

Nosocomial transmission of influenza is often reported in health care settings and because of the special clinical and environmental conditions, the potential for aerosol transmission of disease increases.

Aerosol Transmittable Diseases (ATD) can be effectively reduced by the use of high-performance air filtration units. Droplet and aerosol transmission can be reduced with localised air filtration close to its origination, before reaching the healthcare worker with or without adequate PPE.

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