Hospital acquired infection is one of the most common reason which results in fatal complications among hospital patients. One of the most common and potentially dangerous bug which causes this type of infection is the bacterium called acinetobacter. This bacterium is found naturally in the environment and survives drying and thrives in dust and on inanimate surfaces for long periods. This bacterium which is not harmful to healthy humans can pose serious threat to patients in the ICU who are critically ill and whose body defences are weakened. Acinetobacter can cause infections of the lung (pneumonia), blood stream (septicaemia) and infections of surgical wounds and burns as well as urine infections which are difficult to treat as many strains of the bacterium are resistant to more than one antibiotic, with the most resistant strains only treatable by one or two drugs.
Researchers from Leeds University have now found that ionising machines, which work by producing small negatively charged ions of oxygen that are thought to be good for health, are effective in battling against these bacteria. The year-long study started with monitoring the normal situation in the intensive care unit at St. James's University Hospital, which has had recurrent problems with acinetobacter infections, for the first six months. Researchers took samples from surfaces, patients and from the air to monitor bacteria levels, and logged the number of patient infections. During the next six months of the study, the ionisers were switched on and it was found that the infections due to acinetobacter reduced dramatically.
Lead researcher Clive Beggs believed that the negative ions produced by the ioniser may be removing the bacteria from the air, thus stopping the transmission of infections. He also added that the present study focused only on acinetobacter, but it is possible that the ionisers may have had an effect on other airborne bacteria also. Though further research is required to establish the effectiveness of the ionisers, the fact that the ionisers, in the trail phase, have produced fantastic results and have already been adopted by the St. James's University Hospital, has made these new weapons a viable option to fight hospital acquired infection.