Friday, May 08, 2009

Flu Fatigue

One of the most subtle, yet most dangerous symptoms of the recent H1N1 flu outbreak is Flu Fatigue. Flu Fatigue is weariness brought on by media hype fed through a 24-hour news cycle that is constantly seeking its next crisis. Flu fatigue results in a built-up immunity to care about future epidemics and a general malaise regarding pandemic preparedness. Assuming that this most recent outbreak is over and should be forgotten is dangerous. History has shown that pandemic diseases are likely to quietly die-down, only to emerge more virulent than ever a few months later. This phenomenon is known as the ‘second wave’.

Second Wave
The three major pandemics over the past 100 years have shared a common epidemiology. The Spanish Flu (1918), Asian Flu (1957) and the Hong Kong Flu (1968) each began as mild illnesses in the springtime. Each of the three pandemics emerged in the autumn as much more virulent killers.1,2 Will the recent H1N1 shift into a more deadly strain this Fall? Pandemic experts such as the World Health Organization’s Director General Margaret Chan are preparing for the worst. “We hope the virus fizzles out, because if it doesn’t we are heading for a big outbreak. I’m not predicting the pandemic will blow up, but if I miss it and we don’t prepare, I fail. I’d rather over-prepare than not prepare.”3

Age of Pandemics
Epidemiologist and Chairman of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee Lawrence Brilliant says we’re heading into an ‘Age of Pandemics’. “The 2009 swine flu will not be the last and may not be the worst pandemic that we will face in the coming years. Indeed, we might be entering an Age of Pandemics. In our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, we will face a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs. You can bet on it.”4

Betting on the outcome of a particular epidemic is risky. But amidst the uncertainty, experts agree that humanity will face a deadly pandemic in the future. Hospitals, and especially Emergency Departments, will be inundated by the sick and their families. The time to prepare is now, and several measures must be integrated to provide the maximum protection against transmission of pandemic disease.

Clearing the air
Increasingly, scientists are unraveling the secrets of viral disease transmission. New research has determined that air plays an important role in how we ‘catch’ respiratory diseases.5,6,7 Exhaustive studies following the SARS outbreak in 2003 indicate that this virus was airborne and that it is likely to have spread via a ventilation system within an apartment building.8,9

Recognizing the role air plays in disease transmission, architects, engineers, hospital administrators and building managers are looking to VIGILAIR® technology to reduce airborne pathogens. Installed within a building’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, VIGILAIR® technology incorporates Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and filtration to inactivate and remove pathogens within the HVAC air stream. UVGI damages the DNA/RNA of viruses, bacteria and fungi, preventing the microorganisms from reproducing and becoming infectious.

By disinfecting the air as it passes through the HVAC system, VIGILAIR® significantly reduces the amount of infectious microorganisms that are circulated throughout the building. Multiple hospital studies verify VIGILAIR® drastically reduces microbial contamination resulting in reduced infection rates.

VIGILAIR Systems, Inc. is the only UVGI manufacturer that has performed UVGI irradiation tests with live infectious agents including Anthrax, Avian flu (H5N1) and the SARS virus. The VIGILAIR® Biodefense system is the only UVGI technology to earn the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘designation’ as a Qualified Anti-terror Technology.

Fighting Flu Fatigue
Complacency can be costly--the time to make pandemic preparations is now. While no single measure can prevent disease transmission, VIGILAIR® is a technology that is proven to significantly reduce airborne pathogens. VIGILAIR® can play an important role in your comprehensive pandemic preparations. More information on pandemic preparations can be found at .


1. Pandemics and Pandemic Threats since 1900. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from
2. .Hellerman, C. April 30, 2009. Scientists dig for lessons from past pandemics. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from
3. Jack, A.. May 3, 2009. Chan hits back at WHO critics. Financial Times. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from,dwp_uuid=819fc44c-33e2-11de-9eea-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1
4. Brilliant, L. May 2, 2009. The Age of Pandemics. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 6, 2009 from
5. Li Y, et al. Role of ventilation in airborne transmission of infectious agents in the built environment—a multidisciplinary systematic review. Indoor Air 2007; 17: 2-18.
6. Tellier, R. Review of aerosol transmission of influenza A virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2006; 12: 1657-1662.
7. Beggs, CB. The airborne transmission of infection in hospital buildings: fact or fiction? Indoor and Built Environment 2003; 12: 9-18.
8. Li, Y, et al. Multi-zone modeling of probable SARS virus transmission by airflow between flats in Block E, Amoy Gardens. Indoor Air 2004; 15: 96-111
9. Yu, I. Evidence of airborne transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus. New England Journal of Medicine 2004; 350, 1731–1739
Flu Chart- Taubenberger, J, Morens, D. 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics. Emerging Infect Dis. Volume 12, Number 1, January 2006. Retrieved from

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Facts for Architects and Engineers

UV-C destroys Swine Flu virus in the air stream
Swine Flu is caused by an influenza A virus subtype known as H1N1. Influenza A viruses are highly susceptible to the germicidal effects of ultraviolet light in the ‘C’ band. Technically speaking, UV-C does not kill the virus; UV-C inactivates the virus. Inactivated viruses have irreparable DNA damage caused by UV-C and are unable to reproduce and are therefore, rendered non-infectious.

Is Swine Flu airborne?
Existing research on influenza transmission is not definitive. However, there is a growing consensus amongst scientists that influenza viruses are transmitted through the air. All research agrees that influenza viruses are airborne as they are expelled by infected people via coughs, sneezes and normal respiration. Some of these infectious droplets settle on surfaces, some of the droplet nuclei travel through the air.
Swine Flu is transmitted when a person inhales the infectious nuclei or touches the droplets and then transfers the virus to the body through the nose, mouth or eye. So the real issue isn’t if influenza is airborne, the debate focuses on how the virus enters the body either by inhaling flu aerosols or by contact and transfer to the body. Most researchers say airborne and contact transmission both play a role, but are not certain of each mode’s relative contribution to human infection.

The VIGILAIR® Solution

When it comes to pandemic planning, there is no panacea. The best strategies involve a comprehensive approach to reducing pathogens in the built environment and preventing transmission of disease. VIGILAIR® is a proven technology that is currently used for pathogen control and bio-defense in hospitals, research labs and other high profile government buildings.
VIGILAIR® captures and destroys pathogens such as A(H1N1) as the microorganisms circulate through the HVAC system. Each VIGILAIR® system is designed to yield a predictable kill rate on specific pathogens. Engineering and design are crucial for VIGILAIR® Pathogen Control and Biodefense systems. Airborne inactivation of viruses such as A(H1N1) requires a specific energy intensity and exposure time (also known as the ‘dose’). Without proper scientific design, UV systems will not deliver a strong enough dose to have any effect on the A(H1N1) virus. VIGILAIR Systems, Inc. is the only UVGI manufacturer that has performed UVGI irradiation tests with live infectious agents including Anthrax, Avian flu (H5N1) and the SARS virus. The VIGILAIR® Biodefense system is the only UVGI technology to earn the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘designation’ as a Qualified Anti-terror Technology.

For Architects and Engineers

In light of the recent Swine Flu outbreak, you may be asked if there are any engineering controls to help prevent or lessen exposure to A(H1N1). While no one individual tactic can eliminate virus transmission, there are steps to lessen exposure to the virus. VIGILAIR® is a proven technology that reduces the concentration of infectious microorganisms within buildings. VIGILAIR® is an evidence based design tool that you can recommend to your clients as they seek innovation solutions to the challenges caused by A(H1N1).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu: time for planning, not panic

First, an update on the current state of swine flu infection across the world. Here's a Google map listing all known and suspected swine flu cases worldwide:

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map
Now, what to do about it!
Many of our clients are calling, asking about the protection VIGILAIR offers against the current swine flu virus. The good news is that influenza A (H1N1) virus is highly susceptible to UV. Both our Pathogen Control Systems (PCS) and Biodefense Systems (BDS) are designed to provide the proper dose of UV energy to inactivate the swine flu virus in the air stream.
Now the not-so-good news. No single technology or drug will provide 100% protection against contracting swine flu. VIGILAIR is an excellent component in a comprehensive strategy to reduce infection risk.
For a realistic statement of what VIGILAIR offers in protection against swine flu, click here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

UK Terrorism Experts say Dirty Bomb Threat Increasing

Britain's Home Secretary couldn't be more direct. She said that the threat of of terrorists using a dirty bomb is, "...severe..."

Secretary Jacqui Smith made this assessment as her government launches a new
and aggressive effort to combat terrorism that includes a much greater role for citizens. The new effort is described as "extremely broad ranging" and includes training 60,000 citizens in terrorism prevention and response.

Apparently new intelligence has raised concerns over the use of a chemical, biological or nuclear dirty bomb that could contaminate a wide area, endangering thousands, if not millions of people. British Government reports say that the dirty bomb threat is elevated because it has become easier for terrorists to obtain necessary materials from rogue and failed states, as well as from hospitals.

Ms. Smith warns, "Changing technology and the theft and smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials make this aspiration more realistic than it may have been in the recent past."

Britain's counter-terrorism forces have grown from 1,700 officers in 2003, to 3,000 in 2009.

Monday, February 02, 2009

UV offers green alternative for cleaning genome lab

Although VIGILAIR is known for disinfecting air circulated through hospitals, our UV technology has several other applications. VIGILAIR Systems has partnered with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to create a UV sterilization system used in a genome lab.
Find the media release here.
Labs that research human DNA require extremely clean environments. Tiny molecular contamination can ruin weeks of hard work by lab techs. Traditionally, workers had to use caustic chemicals and cleaning materials to 'scrub down' the lab. This process has several disadvantages:
  • Maintenance staff needed specialized training to complete the task
  • Results were mixed
  • Chemicals and cleaning materials used in the process are 'hazardous waste' and must be disposed of properly
  • Costs associated with manual cleaning are high
After conferring with Sloan Kettering, we went on-site to measure the lab room and to begin our calculations on how to safely and effectively irradiate all the surfaces in the room. We designed an in-room system consisting of UV emitter lamps that were strategically placed in the lab's ceiling. The system produces a predetermined dose of UV capable of inactivating target organisms by a minimum of 99.999%.

The system's controls initiate the lights when the room is unoccupied and shuts-off the lights should anyone enter the room. This prevents any exposure to UV radiation.

We are proud of our partnership with Sloan Kettering, an institution recognized as a world leader in research and patient care.