Clinical study highlights serious risk posed by shoe sole pathogens

University of Houstonís clinical study showed that the HealthySole HSPLUS is effective in killing pathogens that cause healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) and reduces the environmental microbial load in infection-sensitive areas

The HealthySole HSPLUS decontamination system could effectively decrease the risk of pathogen colonisation and transmission emanating from floors

In October 2017, the Journal of Hospital Infection published the results of an in-depth, year-long clinical study to determine whether shoe soles are a vector for pathogen colonisation, transmission and contamination of floors in hospitals.

The study also looked at whether the HealthySole HSPLUS decontamination system could effectively decrease the risk of pathogen colonisation and transmission emanating from floors, thus lowering the risks of HAIs. The HealthySole HSPLUS allows the subject to step onto a platform where UVC light decontaminates the shoe soles. The decontamination period†takes 8 seconds and is no-touch; the unit has an eye-level LED screen that provides an 8-second visible countdown.

Several of the different strains of bacteria that were used in this study ó Enterococcus,†E. coli, S. aureus, C. difficile ó are found to be abundantly present on the soles of shoes. Most importantly, these bacteria were proven to spread via aerosolisation, direct contact and indirect contact, which are a commonly-overlooked means of pathogen transmission that can lead to HAIs and contamination in infection sensitive environments.

The†three-phase study prepared shoe soles with different strains of microorganisms at random to UVC exposure or a lack thereof. Doctors Tasnuva Rashid, Kevin Garey, and their colleagues from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy (Houston, TX), University of Texas School of Public Health (Houston, TX), and University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK) were members of the research team. Three separate sets of experiments were run to investigate the efficacy of the HealthySole HSPLUS system to determine shoe sole decontamination and the following bacterial colonisation and transmission throughout a specific hospital area.

The first experiment studied UVC efficacy, the second phase marked the transfer of each bacterial strain to four different types of flooring, and the third phase mimicked human traffic in a hospital patient room to measure specific bacterial contamination. All of these experiments included blinded positive and negative controls.

In the first experiment, the HealthySole HSPLUS reduced shoe sole decontamination more than 99% for the bacterial strains that were tested (P<.01 for each strain). The second experiment, which measured transmission to four different common floor types, revealed the HealthySole HSPLUS significantly decreased floor contamination more than 99% (P<.01 for each strain).

In the third phase of the study the HealthySole HSPLUS significantly lowered contamination levels in the room as compared to the control group (mean log10 reduction 2.79+- 1.25; P<0.0001). Proportions of samples from furniture, bed and patient dummy samples decreased from 96-100% positive in controls to 5-8% positive in the Healthysole UVC device experiments (P<0.0001 for all analyses).

In all three phases of the study, the HealthySole HSPLUS proved effective in reducing microbial load and transmission.

Detecto says the transmission of pathogens on shoe soles to infection sensitive environments can increase a patientís risks of contracting HAIs, and adds the addition of the HealthySole HSPLUS to any infection or contamination vulnerable area will aid in providing a much cleaner and safer environment reducing the risk of HAIs for patients, healthcare professionals and sensitive manufactured products alike.