By Christi Milligan
Senior Staff Writer
For David St. Clair, chairman of Sanosil International, red tape and travel glitches are maddening.
As each day brings a new wave of heartbreaking images from West Africa and safety concerns here at home, he fights to get his one-of-a-kind disinfecting fogger system onto a plane and into a Liberian Clinic. “Even when you say this is for Ebola relief, it takes a lot of time,” said St. Clair.
At press time, the Ebola virus had claimed more than 4,000 lives with widespread transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. One 42-year-old Liberian man died in a Texas hospital while undergoing treatment and two nurses who treated him tested positive for the virus.
“We’ve never claimed to have the silver bullet, but rather unique technology that will help in certain circumstances, particularly treatment centers that have been overwhelmed with levels of infection,” said St. Clair.
Sanosil is the only company approved by the EPA to create an aerosol and disinfectant that will kill anything. Called the Halo Disinfection System, it combines two patented hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants for use in its dry-mist fogger dispenser. The solution can also be used from a spray bottle, but it’s the fogger that boasts the highest kill rate.
The solution is effective against H1N1, Methicillin Resistant Staph, Avain Flue, HIV-1, E-Coli, Salmonella, C.diff, and of course, Ebola.
Pennsylvania Hospital reduced C. diff infection rates by two-thirds by using the Halo system, according to St. Claire. Known as Clostridium difficile, it is a notoriously stubborn bacteria that can run rampant through hospitals and medical facilities, causing diarrhea and other symptoms. While not nearly as deadly, C.diff is a pathogen that is far more difficult to kill than Ebola.
According to St. Clair, Sanosil’s effectiveness against C.diff is 99.999999 percent. That’s the harnessed capability he wants to send to West Africa.
“We’re just trying to figure out what role we can play in field hospitals,” said St. Clair. “We’re thinking creatively. Here we’ve got something that’s been proven to work on all kinds of pathogens that are more difficult to kill that the Ebola virus.”
That creative thinking has St. Clair reaching out to U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. John Carney to expedite an initial order that’s sitting in a New York airport. The current hold up is paperwork from the Delaware State Department, the U.S. State Department and the Nigerian Embassy.
“I’ve never been as frustrated in all of my life,” said St. Clair. “We talk forever about Ebola because it’s really scary and it has to be all hands on deck.”
The initial order from the Nigerian Embassy will be used in the operating rooms, treatment centers, clinics and hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Subsequent orders will target the country’s transportation system.
The Halo fogger system is used in an empty room, and can take less than an hour to spray a room, depending on its size. It is one approach to a virulent virus that’s proven impervious to anything else. “It will never take an infection rate to zero but the notion is you want to periodically drop the bio load to as close to zero as possible and then start all over again,” said St. Clair.
As the first shipment of six Halo systems wait for paperwork clearance, St. Clair has contacted the U.S. Agency for International Development, and UNICEF and the CDC trying to market the system. Their interest has been lukewarm.
“We’ve put out a pretty broad net but we’ll keep trying,” said St. Clair. “They care but they’ve got so many issues they’re trying to deal with.”
Their disinfecting solution and fogger system method is used globally by hospitals, emergency care facilities, clinics, medical research laboratories, nursing homes, and childcare centers.
Sanosil is an international company based in New Castle. Currently, there are no Delaware hospitals that use the system in-house, but A.I. duPont Hospital for Children utilizes the system in its on-site daycare, according to St. Clair.
In the meantime, the Delaware Division of Public Health remains the nexus for information and protocols in Delaware and is in communication with hospitals, medical providers, medical associations, law enforcement leadership and educational institutions.
Those precautions are simple, and straightforward: “DPH reminds medical providers to screen for travel history and isolate the patient if Ebola is suspected, and alert the DOG Office of Epidemiology. Medical professionals are also encouraged to visit the Delaware Health Alert Network website.”