A New UV Light to Kill the Flu Virus?

According to a new study in Scientific Reports, scientists have come up with a UV light that kills the influenza virus and is also safe for human contact. Current UV devices are often used for sterilization in medical settings but prolonged exposure can cause skin cancer and other problems.

A team at the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found a potential solution by using something known as far-UVC light instead:

“We wanted to get all the benefits of UV light in terms of killing microbes, but none of the health hazards,” says Brenner. Earlier studies, on animals and humans, have shown that exposure to far-UVC light does indeed appear to be safe. “We haven’t seen any biological damage to skin cells or eye cells, whereas with conventional UV light we’ve always seen lots of biological damage,” he says. Previous research has also shown that far-UVC light can kill MRSA bacteria, a common cause of infections after surgery.

The study shows that the light “inactivated the viruses with about the same efficiency as conventional germicidal UV light…” This type of light could be effective for numerous public settings where the flu and other viruses could quickly spread.

Now, the team hopes to develop commercially available lamps that will kill viruses in public places. Note that this is not an excuse to not practice good hand-washing habits.

Beware the Flu, Part Four

Flu is still on the rise, according to the CDC. Alarming headlines like “The Flu is Killing Up to 4,000 Americans a Week” and stories of kidsteenagers, and young people dying are popping up all over. Another article tells the story of a woman who contracted two different strains of the flu at different times; the second flu ultimately leading to her death.

There are signs of a slowdown along the Canadian border and the West Coast but overall cases are expected to rise in the coming weeks, according to CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. She adds that anytime H3N2 strains are dominant, “we tend to see more severe disease more hospitalizations, more deaths.” In addition, it’s possible we are seeing a second wave of Influenza B infections.

 

As a reminder, you can still get a flu shot! The flu shot can lessen the severity of flu symptoms. And please don’t “forget” to wash your hands. I am forever astounded by the number of people I see use the bathroom and not wash their hand with soap and water. Don’t be a blockhead, wash your hands.

Earlier:
Beware the Flu
Beware the Flu, Part Two
Beware the Flu, Part Three