Superbugs Poised to Become Main Cause of Death

Hospitals testing new cleaning solutions to eliminate antibiotic-resistant germs

May 16, 2019

New disinfecting techniques and the development of germ-resistant surfaces may help save the human race from what is predicted to be the most common cause of human death in about 30 years—antibiotic-resistant germs, Newsweek reports.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2 million people a year are sickened in the United States by bacteria or fungi resistant to major antibiotics, and that 23,000 die from their infections. The World Health Organization predicts that worldwide death rates from drug-resistant germs will increase from the current 700,000 per year to 10 million by 2050, surpassing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes to become the main cause of death in humans.

Doctors are limiting the use of antibiotics to help slow the development of resistant strains. But this strategy will only buy some time. Infection control experts are looking for new strategies to kill superbugs and reexamining practices in hospitals and other spreading-grounds for germs.

In the meantime, new and developing hospital cleaning techniques are focused on stopping the spread of supergerms. Many hospitals use robots to disinfect walls with ultraviolet light. A researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO, is developing bacteria-resistant materials for tabletops and healthcare worker clothing using copper nanocrystals. And a biologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, is experimenting with blue laser lights that change of the color and weaken certain drug-resistant bacteria. If his experimentation succeeds, environmental services (EVS) workers would be able to use a flashlight-sized laser to disinfect hospital rooms or a doctor’s office.

In the meantime, EVS workers can practice the following tips from CMM to help eliminate germs that cause health care-acquired infections:

  • Choose a low-, medium-, or high-level cleaning solution depending on the infection
  • Follow the product instructions regarding dilution and dwell times
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect each zone, including restrooms, countertops, floors, and high-touch surfaces.

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