Johns Hopkins Hospital using robots against superbug contamination

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital are using robotic disinfectant systems to fight drug-resistant bacteria and could potentially use it to fight bioweapons.

The devices, which resemble portable air conditioning units, flood the air inside sealed rooms with hydrogen peroxide mist. The mist disinfects all surfaces in the environment before safely converting into water vapor. Johns Hopkins Hospital said it has used the procedure more than 4,000 times in the last five years, according to the Baltimore Sun.

A report of the promising results was recently published in the Oxford University's journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The research concludes that patients who were admitted to hospital rooms that had been disinfected by the system were two-thirds less likely to acquire drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The findings ad critical information to the growing knowledge base of how so-called superbugs move through hospital environments. Public health officials are continually searching for methods other than the use of antibiotics to stop outbreaks, particularly those in healthcare settings.

"If you had talked to me maybe seven or eight years ago, we would have discounted the role of the environment as important in transmission," Dr. Trish Perl, a senior epidemiologist for Johns Hopkins Health System, said, the Baltimore Sun reports. "The whole concept of the role of the environment as important in how these organisms are transmitted to patients and from patient to patient has really emerged."