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Infection Control: Study Shows Steam Vapor Technology Kills C. difficile Spores in Seconds

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A groundbreaking study conducted by Texas-based Antimicrobial Test Laboratories (ATL) showed the TANCS® steam vapor system from Advanced Vapor Technologies (AVT) destroyed Clostridium difficile or C diff  spores in seconds on high-touch environmental surfaces using an environmentally-safe, water-only method. The peer-reviewed study detailing these findings, among others, was published online in the July, 2008 American Journal of Infection Control [Abstract Available].
 
“The new data is a milestone in the battle to control this resistant and persistent emerging pathogen commonly acquired within healthcare facilities,” said Rick Hoverson, principal of Advanced Vapor Technologies.  “Routine use of this potent and environmentally-preferable disinfection process has the potential to break the chain of infection and prevent untold suffering, and even death, for millions of patients affected by C diff.”
 
“Lab studies have shown TANCS steam vapor is consistently effective against many types of microorganisms,” said Antimicrobial Test Laboratories’ lead microbiologist Benjamin Tanner, PhD. “This study is especially exciting because it suggests there may be a new way to quickly inactivate C. difficile endospores on contaminated surfaces.”
 
C. difficile is a spore-forming anaerobic bacterium. Inside the intestines, C. difficile is like many other intestinal bacteria, but upon entering the environment it commonly transforms into a spore that is highly resistant to many chemical disinfectants, including quaternary ammoniums.
 
C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) is persistent and may include inflammation of the colon, diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping. It can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and other immunocompromised groups. Ironically, the actual infection is often brought about by the administration of antibiotics which suppress the normal microbial intestinal flora and enables C. difficile to grow.
 
The recent emergence of more resistant and virulent C. difficile strains, coupled with the inability of many liquid chemical disinfectants to kill C. difficile spores, has highlighted the need for new surface disinfection technologies. TANCS® steam vapor is a nontoxic approach to killing bacteria and other pathogens while deep-cleaning surfaces by removing embedded contaminants. Moist heat, not pressure, enables thorough cleaning and disinfecting. Saturated steam vapor penetrates surfaces and soils, releasing heat that quickly breaks the bond between contaminants and a surface, while simultaneously destroying bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
 
“While the C. difficile study we conducted for TANCS steam vapor was limited in terms of how many endospores we could generate for each individual test surface, the data showed it consistently disinfected the endospore form of the microorganism, which is responsible for many of the infections we see in hospitals.”  Dr. Tanner said. “We are pleased that this research on TANCS steam vapor will soon appear in the print version of the American Journal of Infection Control, where it has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication.”