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More than 4 million people each year in the EU suffer from infections contracted while in hospital and around 37,000 die as a direct result. In the UK alone the cost associated with such infections is estimated to be around £1 billion per year. Current infection control programs have proved somewhat effective in reducing the levels but still the problem remains. A key element in the spread of these infections is the large number of textile items used in hospitals because, once contaminated, they can sometimes harbour microorganisms for many weeks.

We have developed a method of impregnating almost any fabric with antimicrobial metal oxide particles so that it becomes antimicrobial and can be used to limit bacterial growth and reduce the spread of infections.

Infections that are developed as a result of some form of treatment in a hospital or a health care unit are referred to as nosocomial infections. Fabrics of all types are very proficient at carrying bacteria and serving as reservoir in transmission of infection.

In EU nosocomial infections:

  • Affect up to 1 in 10 patients
  • Are responsible for more than 50,000 death each year
  • Cause considerable financial impact, adding major burdens to health care sector
  • Are a particular risk for transplant patients, immuno-compromised patients and premature babies.

Infection control programs in terms of the use of bactericides and deep cleaning have proven to be highly effective in reducing but not eliminating the incidence of nosocomial infections. However the addition of antimicrobial and antifungal fabrics will improve control through a reduction or elimination of the microbial load.

Some antimicrobial textiles are already available, but there are concerns over their safety and long term efficacy of some of the antimicrobial agent used to date (e.g. silver).

Antimicrobial fabrics when used for medical textiles, such as healthcare workers’ uniforms, bedding, drapes, gowns and dressings, may provide a useful weapon in the on-going fight against these infections