Permaguard Invention Fights Spread of Bacteria

Student nurses in Kent and Medway are testing a new type of uniform designed to help in the fight against the hospital superbug MRSA. The fabric contains an anti-microbial treatment which "electrocutes" harmful bacteria to stop them spreading. Canterbury Christ Church University believes it is the first in the UK to trial the product, called Permagard.

It is a new antimicrobial finish that controls the growth of bacteria. It can be applied to a wide range of fabrics and surfaces and is intended for use in the food, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Unlike most antimicrobial products it does not rely on the slow release of a poison to kill the bacteria but utilises a mechanism that penetrates the cell wall and on contact destroys them.

There are two sorts of antimicrobial agent - the migrating and the non-migrating. Migrating antimicrobials create a zone of inhibition in order to affect as much bacteria as possible. However, some of the bacteria in this zone are not always killed outright and can learn to survive and recover, and therefore build up a resistance to the antimicrobial used.

Permagard is a non-migrating antimicrobial and as explained above uses a physical kill method. It breaks the cell wall and kills the bacteria outright. As it does not create a zone of inhibition but kills only what comes into contact with it, no bacteria can learn to recover from it.

Field trails followed by microbiological testing have shown that Permagard is still effective after 100 washes @ 85ÂșC. Its performance has also been evaluated and verified by the Hospital Infection Control Research Laboratory of the Birmingham City Hospital NHS Trust, UK.

Hospital acquired infections have attained much greater public awareness in recent times and a somewhat notorious reputation because of the emergence of species of micro-organisms, in particular MRSA, which have become resistant to antibiotics. Figures issued by the National Audit Office report that 100,000 infections a year are acquired in hospitals in the UK equating to 1 in 10 patients. All this at a cost of £1 billion to the UK NHS.

Recognizing the need for an anti-microbial product that is effective and durable, Carrington Career & Workwear Ltd, the UK's largest supplier of healthcare fabrics has developed Permagard to help in the fight against hospital acquired infections.

It is effective against MRSA. In addition, it provides effective control against the growth of a wide range of bacteria, fungi, algae and yeasts. There is no known risk of bacterial mutation with Permagard. Because it destroys bacteria by physical rather than chemical means it will not cause the bacteria to adapt and become resistant to it.

It protects both the wearer and the patient. The moist warm environment in a fabric worn next to the skin is a good breeding ground for bacteria. These can transfer from person to person and from patient to healthcare worker. Such hospital acquired bacteria can than be transferred to the home environment as healthcare uniforms are usually worn to and from work and washed domestically. Treated uniforms will aid in the prevention of such transfer.