Up to 1 in 25 patients with hospital-acquired infections. It may be that standard hand-washing and sterilization procedures in hospitals aren’t enough, which is where these new fabrics that can kill bacteria come in.
University researchers in Australia have shown how cotton fabrics impregnated with a silver solution can kill off bacteria in about 10 minutes. They suggest the method could be used in bed linens and surgical aprons, staunching potential infections before they spread.
“Hospital-acquired secondary infections are a major issue in health care settings,” wrote Vipul Bansal, an associate professor at RMIT University, in an email. “One of the most common route of such secondary infections is through fabric-based materials such as linens and aprons. Pathogens can easily home in fabric-based materials. Antibacterial fabrics can act on the route cause of those infections.”
In experiments, Bansal’s team entwined slowly dissolving nano-wires into fabrics, which released silver ions over a period of five days. They showed the fabrics were successful in killing E.coli, though the fabrics have yet to be tested around actual humans.
Bansal is also making Band-Aid-type dressings are also possible that “will not allow bacteria to grow, which means faster wound recovery,” he says. Outside the hospital, sports gear that takes a lot of sweating is another possibility. “By controlling bacterial growth, we can develop odor-free textiles,” Bansal adds.