Battling Germs with Better Technology

HUB vendor offers immersible keyboards and more

Feb. 18, 2018—At UNT's Historically Underutilized Business vendor fair last November in the University Union, David Athans, an account representative from Checkpoint Services Inc., displayed several products made by Seal Shield, LLC. The company is a manufacturer of infection-control products and antimicrobial solutions.

More than two million people will acquire hospital-acquired infections resulting in more than 75,000 deaths and $45 billion in healthcare costs annually, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention—a fact that is driving the battle against sickness through better technology, Athans said.

keyboards loaded into a dishwasherPointing at a keyboard on Athans' table, he explained that studies have shown the computer keyboard and mouse are a significant source of cross‐contamination infections. This technology has been available to the medical community for quite a while, Athans said.

Seal Shield Corporation in the U.S. has introduced the Silver Seal family of antibacterial products for infection control, he said, including an antibacterial, washable keyboard and mouse. According to Athans, the keyboard and mouse are the first such products to be fully submersible and dishwasher safe.

"Bacteria that reside in the upper mouth or respiratory tract can travel to an in‐office computer keyboard and survive as long as 24 hours," said Daniel LaPera, DDS, one of Athan's sources. Viruses can live on them for one hour or more," according to a study reported at the American Society for Microbiology that found MRSA, a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body, can survive on computer keyboards for up to six weeks. Increased dependence on computer technology has found the use of computers and their associated input devices to be much more common in patient care rooms and even operating rooms where open wounds are prime targets for such bacteria.

"There is increasing evidence to support the contribution of the environment to disease transmission, and that we pick up pathogens at the same level by touching the environment as we do by touching the patient. Unless we inactivate or remove these microbes, they are going to be present in a patient room for a long time," said William Rutala, director, Statewide Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Just entering a room previously occupied by a patient who has MRSA, VRE or other severe infection significantly increases the risk of contracting that pathogen, Rutala said.

Outside of hospitals, approximately 22 million school days were lost, according to the CDC. This absenteeism does not include days of work missed and numerous other results from infections originating in common-use areas. For example, think of any place that has a common-use touch screen. When was the last time it was cleaned and how well?

More than a sales pitch, technology can save lives

Have you looked at your keyboard lately, used a common-use computer lab or checked your mobile-phone case? Athans explained that using the SILVER SEAL™ Protection, Seal Shield has developed keyboards, mice and TV remotes that are anti-microbial and dishwasher safe. These and the screen overlays can be cleaned directly with healthcare cleaners.

Seal Shield Corporation in the U.S. has introduced the Silver Seal family of antibacterial products for infection control, including an antibacterial, washable keyboard and mouse. According to the company, the keyboard and mouse are the first such products to be fully submersible and dishwasher safe. Washable keyboards and mice may help reduce the risk of cross contamination infections, including the "superbug," MRSA.

Water tub filled with immersed keyboardsSeal Shield has developed the Silver Seal family of antibacterial computer input devices that can be disinfected and washed to prevent the spread of bacterial infection.The devices use antibacterial plastic containing pure silver ions which create a safe and effective antibacterial solution. Silver is a natural antibiotic product and its properties have been incorporated into the Silver Seal product line using nanotechnology.

"We know the dangers associated with shared input devices. Studies have shown that computer keyboards and mice are among the primary cross-contamination points for the spread of viruses and bacterial infections," said Bradley Whitchurch, CEO at Seal Shield Corporation. "Our products are designed for healthcare, and aggressively priced for the mass market," said Whitchurch.

Here is the science behind the product, according to Athans: the active ingredient of the antimicrobial additives in the SILVER SEAL™ solution is all natural, pure silver. Silver and certain other metals such as copper have antimicrobial properties. For example, silverware and copperware have been known to prevent decay of water and food since the ancient times.

SILVER SEAL™ solutions use antimicrobial additives that are based on a soluble glass containing antimicrobial silver ions. Glass is considered to be a material with high chemical inertness due to its strong network structure. However, it is possible to lower this chemical inertness by continuously altering its structure, especially in water. Additionally, glass has an interesting property which allows it to retain metal as ions. These properties have enabled chemists to create glass with low chemical inertness which can also retain antimicrobial metal ions such as silver and copper. With the presence of water or moisture, the glass will release these metal ions gradually to function as an antimicrobial material.

Computer keyboard immersed in water. Gloved hand shown scrubbing the keys with a wet sponge.With the presence of moisture, an antimicrobial additive releases a few silver ions gradually. Silver ions can strongly bind to the cellular enzyme of microbes and inhibit enzyme activity of cell wall, membrane, and nucleic acids.

As microbes have a negative surface charge, silver ions with a positive charge are drawn toward microbes and disturb their electric balance. The result is that the microbes burst their cell walls and are extinguished.

Otherwise, silver ions are taken into microbes where they react and bond to the cellular enzyme microbes. This inhibits enzyme activity and multiplication of microbes, thus extinguishing the microbes. This unique application of this technology introduces a new era in infection control as applied to everyday products and surfaces.

They also have developed ElectroClave™ automated mobile device management, MDM, by providing 360-degree LED UV-C disinfection, smart charging technology and RFID tracking; providing vital oversight to both IT Administrators and Healthcare workers. At the heart of ElectroClave™ is a web-based management portal, an indispensable tool for setting-up rules and notifications to support disinfection policies at different levels.

Sources: Cleanroom Technology, "Antibacterial keyboard and mouse can go in dishwasher," Jan. 11, 2011; David Athans.

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