Given the proven effectiveness of ozone laundry in killing MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in infected clothing and linens, it is amazing that ozone is not required in healthcare facilities’ on premise laundries. We have talked about this before in this space. In this post, we put the ozone laundry system in the context of a broader preventive campaign against MRSA.
Reducing the Incidence of MRSA
Although research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a reduction in the incidence of MRSA cases, the overwhelming majority (82%) of the ones they did find were in healthcare settings. To the extent there were declines, they may have been due to increasing attention to preventive practices or guidelines adopted in healthcare settings.
The typical MRSA case starts as a simple-appearing skin infection. These “colonies” may or may not lead to a full blown systemic infection, but when they do, they are almost impossible to treat. The problem is that MRSA is easily spread through person-to-person contact. An uninfected person who touches the skin, clothing, bedding, surfaces, dishes or other personal objects of the infected person can acquire the pathogen.
Therefore, it’s predictable that prevention guidelines would center around blocking these transmission paths. The Mayo Clinic suggests some common-sense sounding steps:
- Wash your hands well and frequently, and keep your hands away from surfaces that might have contacted MRSA (e.g., use a disposable towel to turn off the faucet after you wash your hands).
- Keep wounds covered.
- Keep personal items, including “towels, sheets, razors, clothing, and athletic equipment”, personal. “MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact.”
- Shower after athletic games or practices.
- Sanitize linens. “…wash in the hottest water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer.
“Sanitize Linens” That’s What Ozone Does
Obviously, the Mayo Clinic doesn’t have to pay the energy bills for all that heat! The value of ozone laundry is that it works in cold water. At a time when healthcare costs have become almost unbearable, reducing costs is in the crosshairs of every healthcare administrator. Ozone offers a win-win: reduce costs and kill MRSA at the same time.
Ozone Impact on MRSA
There are many reports of research showing that ozone laundry systems can produce up to a 6 log reduction in MRSA (99.9999%). Installing low temperature ozone laundry adds an important layer of protection for healthcare facility residents, patients and staff, at the same time it saves money.
More broadly, numerous studies have shown that ozone is a generally effective treatment for MRSA on surfaces of all kinds. Hard surface sanitation (ozone sprays in health clubs or locker rooms), room treatments (gaseous ozone), and personal object sanitation (ozone laundry, soaking or spraying, or gaseous treatment) can erect barriers to the transmission of MRSA. Healthcare facilities have even used ozone successfully to treat the homes of workers colonized by MRSA.
Ozone Cleans the Environment to Remove MRSA
Ozone can be used in many forms to help remove MRSA from the environment. The CDC reported about 19,000 deaths attributable to this scourge in 2004. Many of these deaths could have been avoided.