Bacteria-busting paint may end hospital infection

A UNIQUE coating that can be painted on to hospital walls and floors is the latest weapon in the fight against super bugs such as MRSA.

Called Easy-On, the varnish-style solution allows bacteria to be completely wiped off surfaces and is effective against the super bug clostridium difficle.

The coating forms an inert surface that stops bacteria colonising and multiplying.

Scientists at Sheffield Hallam University in Britain found that 100% of bacteria were removed from surfaces protected with Easy-On.

The scientists tested the coating on seven types of bacteria, including bacillus cereus and salmonella enterica, which causes food poisoning, stapylococcus aureus, a common skin organism and klebsiella and psuedomonas, common causes of hospital-acquired infections.

All seven species survived on surfaces that had been coated with acrylic paint and more than half lingered on areas coated with emulsion paint.

The developers, Doncaster-based paint company Urban Hygiene, said the solution’s bacteria-resistant effects would last up to 20 years, regardless of how many times the coated surface is cleaned.

Dr Justine Daniels from Sheffield Hallam University’s Biomedical Research Centre said their tests proved that Easy-On allowed the complete removal of all bacteria strains tested, compared with traditional painted surfaces that allow bacterial growth even after cleaning.

While normal bacteria colonised in most places and were generally harmless, there was a problem with bacterial strains emerging that were resistant to standard antibiotic treatments, he pointed out.

“This is the real issue for hospitals as many patients also have weakened immune systems making them particularly susceptible to infection,” he said.

“Minimising the risk of hospitals acquired infections is therefore vital and the use of this coating could be a real help in achieving that.”

Urban hygiene director, Roy Johnson, said work on the project began in 2005 and he was now hoping that hospitals would introduce the engineered siloxane coating in their redecoration and cleaning routines.

Mr Johnson said the coating could also be effective in the food industry where bacteria could be harmful.

Last October a study found that Irish hospitals were cleaner than those in Britain.

It looked at more than 75,000 beds in acute hospitals and found that 4.9% of patients suffered potentially life-threatening infections while being treated compared to 7.6% in Britain.

Inspectors looked for diseases such as MRSA, pneumonia and blood poisoning in the survey.

The Health Service Executive’s assistant national director of population health, Dr Kevin Kelleher, said that while the results were good for the country, more could be done and the HSE was committed to doing all it could to reduce the infection rate.

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