Deactivating COVID-19 on Footwear

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Researchers have proven a device using ultraviolet light technology can neutralize the COVID-19 virus and other infectious diseases on the soles of shoes by more than 99.5 percent, according to a new study. The device, called HealthySole® PLUS, is being introduced in hospitals and other settings where infection control is urgent. A home version of the device (HealthySole® HOME) is also available.

“The device deactivated coronavirus markers by over 99.5 percent versus the control across three separate tests,” according to the report as published by CREM Co, an internationally recognized infectious disease research and testing organization based near Toronto, Canada.

As hospitals seek ways to reduce COVID-19 infections, a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) report points out that the virus is spread through floors and foot traffic, and not just by person-to-person contact.

“As people walk, they not only collect and spread pathogens on the soles of their shoes, but also aerosolize the virus, essentially kicking it back up in the air,” said HealthySole CEO Nelson Patterson. “The HealthySole device helps ensure pathogens aren’t tracked from patient rooms or wards to other locations. Preventing pathogen spread is critical for hospitals and other facilities, such as police stations with close quarters and high foot traffic, too.”

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Research published April 10 by the CDC found that floors and shoe soles had the highest concentrations of COVID-19 in samples taken at a hospital facility in Wuhan, China. It also found the virus was being tracked well beyond patient rooms to other parts of the hospital, including into non-patient care areas such as hospital pharmacies where sampling indicated a 100 percent COVID-19 presence.

The study strongly recommended that “persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.”

While hospitals often scrub floors daily with a variety of cleaning agents, these steps provide only a temporary solution. As soon as someone walks on the cleaned floors with infected shoes, floors are rapidly re-contaminated, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes.

Prior research on one of the most difficult to control hospital pathogens, C. difficile, conducted at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger by the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga found UVC light exposure to shoe soles to be statistically beneficial with an overall average decrease of 28 percent for the number of positive swabs per room.

“These studies clearly show that infection prevention must move beyond the traditional single-minded focus on hand washing and reliance on personal protective equipment (PPEs),” Patterson said. “We have to look at our shoe soles – where we’ve been and where we’re going. Fortunately, UVC technology is offering a solution.”

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