INTRODUCTION
:

Microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) are the most numerous, diverse, and adaptable organisms on Earth. Microbes have thrived on this planet for over three billion years, which makes the four million year history of the human race pale by comparison. Infectious diseases from bacteria and viruses are the second greatest cause of death in the world. They are an ever-increasing threat to the survival of the human race, and a formidable and dangerous enemy.

As the "Perfect Storm" of infectious diseases gathers momentum, the incidence of "incurable infections" will explode. "Incurable infections" are those which cannot be remediated through the use of antibiotics and antiviral drugs. Victims of incurable infections fight them until they die, or until medical science comes up with a cure (which is rare). Vaccines and antibiotics are losing the war against the "Perfect Storm" of proliferating infection rates caused by:

  • The Explosion of Drug-Resistant Bacteria and Viruses: Superbugs or more concisely, "Super Germs," are infectious microbes which have developed resistance to antibiotics. Many superbugs have developed a resistance to two or more antibiotics and are referred to as "multi-drug-resistant organisms," or MDROs (e.g., MRSA, Acinetobacter, Clostridium difficile and Pseudomonas). According to the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine and the Infectious Disease Society of America, multi-drug-resistant organisms are considered a substantial threat to the U.S. Public Health and the U.S. National Security (due to the proclivity for striking military personnel).

  • The Collapse of Antibiotic Research and Development (R&D): According to UCLA's Dr. Brad Spellberg, there has been a 75% decline in antibiotic R&D since 1983, despite a 2,125% increase in non-antibiotic drug R&D budgets since 1980.

This "Perfect Storm" of rapidly increasing infection rates compels the use of preventive decontamination technologies which must be developed and enhanced as an indispensable addition to vaccines and antibiotics to allow the human race to defend itself from the array of ever-present threats that are posed by pathogenic infection.

Source: "Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them," Brad Spellberg, M.D., UCLA, 2009


THE ZIMEK DEFENSE
:

Infectious microbes are by nature highly toxic, and eliminating them has proven to be profoundly difficult. Many varieties thrive within our interior living and working environments. People with weak immune systems, respiratory problems, and even the healthiest athletes and soldiers can suffer serious and even fatal illnesses from exposure to such infectious diseases. Infectious microbes are mutating into more lethal pathogens due to a variety of contributing factors such as antibiotic overuse and abuse, coupled with unsanitary conditions and inadequate infection control practices in the public sectors. As deadly bacteria, viruses, and fungi continue to find new ways to mutate and evolve, so, too, must technology progress to combat the threat that these pathogens cause to public health and safety.

Below are but a few examples of “the enemy” and the pandemic threats that Zimek, utilizing Vital Oxide in its micro-droplet dispersion technology (Micro-Mist®), will combat:


STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS: METHICILLIN-RESISTANT (MRSA)

 
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that causes a variety of suppurative infections and toxinosis in humans including superficial skin lesions such as boils, styes and furuncles. More serious infections like pneumonia, mastitis, phlebitis, meningitis, urinary tract infections, osteomyelitis, toxic shock syndrome and endocarditis may also be attributed to S. aureus. S. aureus is a major cause of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) associated with indwelling medical devices and infections of surgical wounds (Todar, 2008).

Treating S. aureus infections is not easy – there are very few effective antibiotics left due to increased antibiotic resistance shown by the organisms.

One of the last truly effective drugs used to treat antibiotic resistant Staph infections is vancomycin – the last great hope in our antibiotic arsenal. However it appears that this line of defense has also now been breached.

In 2002, our greatest fear was realized – true vancomycin resistant S. aureus (VRSA) was identified in a Michigan patient. VRSA are MRSA strains that are entirely insensitive to treatment with vancomycin, something that occurs after the exchange of specific resistance genes, most likely with the vancomycin resistant Enterococcus. On another worrying note, we are beginning to see MRSA cases which are community-acquired (CA)-MRSA – this is particularly troubling because CA-MRSA tends to be more aggressive pathologically. If the hospital acquired (HA)-MRSA trend is seen in CA-MRSA then we are potentially faced with strains of S. aureus that have elevated and aggressive virulence and no real drugs to treat them.

S. aureus infections are considered to be preventable HAIs that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


ACINETOBACTER

 
Acinetobacter is an opportunistic pathogen that is highly troublesome for many institutions globally. As a result of the organism’s ability to rapidly evolve, acquire, and upregulate antibiotic resistance, it has been propelled to the forefront of scientific attention (Peleg AY, Seifert H, Paterson DL., 2008).

Acinetobacter is spread to susceptible patients by contact from person to person, contact with contaminated surfaces and exposure to a contaminated environment. Infections are difficult to prevent because the organism is ubiquitous and found everywhere, even colonizing the skin of healthy people.

Acinetobacter infections rarely occur outside of healthcare settings and outbreaks are common in intensive care units. Of all the species of Acinetobacter, Acinetobacter baumannii is responsible for 80% of the reported infections. Infections are commonly treated with antibiotics but due to their broad antibiotic resistance, treatments can often be troublesome (Acinetobacter, 2004).

Acinetobacter infections can be considered preventable HAIs that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


ESCHERICHIA COLI (E. COLI)

 
Escherichia coli is a commensal organism commonly found in the intestine of humans. There are many strains of E. coli, some of which contain virulence factors capable of causing disease in humans. Because of these virulence factors, E. coli is capable of causing some of the most common bacterial infections including cholecystitis, bacteremia, cholangitis, urinary tract infections (UTI), traveler's diarrhea, neonatal meningitis, pneumonia and other clinical infections.

E. coli is one of the major causes of neonatal meningitis and can also cause neonatal sepsis. These infections carry an 8% mortality rate and most survivors develop neurologic or developmental abnormalities.

E. coli can also cause meningitis in adults following neurosurgical trauma or procedures. E. coli accounts for 80% of all urinary tract infections, and over 90% of all uncomplicated UTIs, including urethritis-cystitis, symptomatic cystitis, pyelonephritis, acute prostatitis, prostatic abscess, and urosepsis (Tarun Madappa, Chi Hiong U Go, 2009).

What E. coli is most well known for is abdominal cramps, sudden onset of watery diarrhea which is often bloody, and vomiting. More serious complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or postdiarrheal thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) occurs in up to 10% of the cases (Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC), 2001). Treating E. coli infections has become more complicated over time. E. coli has acquired antibiotic resistance plasmids which makes treating infections more troublesome (Todar, Pathogenic E. coli, 2008). Approximately 50% of community strains of E. coli are now resistant to the best oral flouroquinolone antibiotics (such as Ciprofloxacin).

E. coli organisms can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


SWINE INFLUENZA (H1N1)

 
Novel swine influenza A, also known as swine flu, is a virus responsible for causing respiratory infections. The novel swine flu virus is unlike typical swine flu in that it spreads quickly and easily. This is due to the fact that the novel swine flu influenza is new and everyone is at risk, especially healthcare workers and people in settings that are more frequently exposed to individuals already infected with the virus.

The virus infects the lining of the nose, throat and lungs. It enters the body by the inhalation of infected droplets or the transfer of the live virus from a contaminated surface to the surface of the eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. More severe complications can also occur, including the worsening of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, pneumonia, and even respiratory failure. Antiviral drugs can be administered to patients for symptomatic relief, but due to the development of resistance to these antiviral drugs, they should only be administered to high risk patients (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009).

The swine flu virus and its spread can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


NOROVIRUS

 

Norovirus is a major cause of gastrointestinal illness in closed environments such as hospitals, nursing homes and cruise ships because it is highly contagious. It is spread through food or water contaminated with fecal matter during preparation and can also be transmitted by coming in close contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms of a norovirus infection begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure and include nausea, abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, weight loss, malaise and a low grade fever.

Even though most infections clear up after a few days, some cases can result in severe dehydration, malnutrition and even death, especially when children, the elderly and immunocompromised adults in hospitals and nursing homes are infected.

There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection. Recovering from an infection is generally dependent on the immune system of the infected individual and the replacement of lost fluids (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009).

Norovirus is a preventable HAI that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


ASPERGILLUS

 
Fungal infections comprise 9% of all healthcare-associated infections (Haiduven D, 2009). Vonberg and Gastmeier reviewed outbreaks of infection caused by Aspergillus and found that almost half were associated with construction or renovation in hospitals. In addition, a dose of only one colony forming unit was needed to cause infection in immunocompromised patients. This highlights the critical need for isolation and containment of construction activities from other occupied spaces (Vonberg RP, Gastmeier P, 2006).

It is important that hospital rooms where immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant recipients, HIV-infected, or cancer patients) are placed and operating rooms remain free of airborne Aspergillus fungi (Vonberg RP, Gastmeier P, 2006).

Aspergillus species are ubiquitous organisms that can be found in every region of the world. Among about 185 Aspergillus species identified, approximately 20 are involved in human diseases. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common species that causes invasive infections (about 80%). Aspegillus flavus (15%-20%) is a common isolate in sinusitis. The emergence of Aspergillus terreus and Aspergillus niger has recently been reported, and other Aspergillus species have been implicated anecdotally. Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus are the leading species of the genus causing the invasive Aspergillosis fungal infection. Outbreaks of HAI Aspergillosis are attributed to airborne sources and even smaller concentrations of spores (Nicolle MC, Benet T, Vanhems P, 2010).

Fungal infections in hospital settings due to Aspergillus are preventable HAIs that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.

PSEUDOMONAS AERUGINOSA (Pseudomonas aerugonisa)

 
Another of the MDRO class of bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas infections in humans are caused by strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that are abundant in the environment, and most commonly found in soil, plant surfaces and water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution the public to avoid hot tubs or pools that may be poorly maintained and to avoid contamination of contact lenses, solutions and equipment.

If a hospital patient does not have symptoms of a Pseudomonas infection present on admission, a Pseudomonas infection contracted in the hospital is considered a preventable HAI.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen. The bacterium can infect almost any human tissue if the tissue defenses are in any manner compromised. Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes urinary tract infections, respiratory system infections, dermatitis, soft tissue infections, bacteremia, bone and joint infections, gastrointestinal infections and a host of other systemic infections. Patients with severe burns, cystic fibrosis, cancer and AIDS, who are immunosuppressed, are at considerable risk. Surgical patients, patients who are ventilated or have indwelling catheters are also at risk for Pseudomonas infection. Pseudomonas infections can become severe and lead to death in these at-risk patients.

According to Todar (2013) citing the CDC, the incidence of P. aeruginosa in hospitals averages 4 per 1,000 discharges. Furthermore, the bacterium is the fourth most commonly isolated pathogen accounting for 10.1 percent of all HAIs.

In the hospital setting, Pseudomonas aerugonisa is transmitted on the hands of healthcare workers or by contaminated equipment that is not properly cleaned. Pseudomonas infections are HAIs that could be substantially reduced by proper hand hygiene and diligent environmental cleaning and decontamination and infection prevention procedures.

Sources: (1) Todar’s Online Textbook of Bacteriology at http://textbookofbacteriology.net/pseudomonas.html (Last revised March 27, 2013) - Last accessed 061313; and (2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/pseudomonas.html (Last revised April 2, 2013) - Last accessed 061313.

Pseudomonas infections in hospital settings are preventable HAIs that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.

CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE (C. difficile or C. diff)

 
Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI) is caused by a spore-forming anaerobic bacillus. C. difficile is the most recognized cause of infectious diarrhea in healthcare settings. C. difficile is transmitted in healthcare settings (most frequently hospitals and long term care facilities) on the hands of healthcare staff who fail to wash their hands or change gowns or gloves between patients, or by touching soiled surfaces of rooms and shared devices and then touching patients.

Additional opportunities in healthcare settings for the transmission of C. difficile include ineffective or inconsistent disinfection of patient care equipment and ineffective environmental cleaning.

In its spore form, C. difficile can remain virulent on surfaces in the healthcare environment for up to five months. The spores are highly resistant to routine cleaning and disinfection.

Patients infected with C. difficile experience diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, systemic toxicity, and abdominal tenderness. Sequellae of severe disease include toxic megacolon, perforated colon, pseudomembranous colitis, sepsis, and death. People most at risk of CDI include those of advanced age, those who have had a recent or extended hospitalization or healthcare exposure, a recent gastrointentinal tract surgery, a weakened immune system, using chemotherapy drugs, and those who have received recent regimens of antibiotics, especially fluoroquinolones.

Sources: (1) Florida Department of Health, Division of Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/disease_ctrl/epi/HAI/CDI.html - Last accessed 061213; and (2) Web MD Medical Reference at http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/clostridium-difficile-colitis - Last accessed 061313.

CDI is a preventable HAI that can be significantly reduced by implementing Zimek’s Best Practices Rapid Decontamination® technology.


CALL TO ACTION:

The expectation of people receiving inpatient or outpatient services in a healthcare facility is to depart feeling better or knowing they will get better after proper recuperation at home or in a subsequent healthcare setting. To acquire a recognized and largely preventable condition as a result of receiving healthcare services should be an unconscionable concept. Yet, it happens every day to all types of patients. Zimek’s technology cannot influence healthcare worker handwashing routines or other patient care processes. However, it can reduce or virtually eradicate the prevalence of pathogens breeding in our healthcare environments laying in wait to attack an unsuspecting victim.

Please refer to the EPA-registered disinfectant label for a list of the targeted infectious microbes.


[Revised February, 2014]

 
zimek systems