With October in the rear-view window, November ushers in a season of windy, chilly days and heralds the beginning of cold and flu season. For older adults, especially those with chronic health conditions, influenza and seasonal cold viruses can lead to serious complications. Getting an annual flu shot, staying home when you are sick and practicing good hand washing are habits that can help minimize the risk of becoming ill this season. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to halt the spread of illness in a highly mobile population; students in Hong Kong have developed a promising new door handle for public spaces that will kill bacteria using UV light, as an alternative to sanitizing hand gels and wipes.
In recent years, studies have found that ethanol-based disinfectants may not be as effective at killing the influenza virus as once believed and that thorough hand washing is the best way to protect against the spread of viruses. But in busy public spaces like public restrooms in airports, shopping centers, hotels and hospitals, the risk for infection is high.
According to a recent article in My Modern Met, student designers of the UV lit door handle were motivated by recent outbreaks of SARS in southern China which resulted in 774 deaths in 37 countries. Using the kinetic energy generated by the opening and closing of doors, a generator inside the door provides power to constantly shine UV light on the surface of the handle which in testing, destroyed 99.8 percent of microbes.
The innovative design placed the student project among the top 20 entrants in the James Dyson Award 2019 competition. A winner and two runner-ups will be selected in November by engineer and inventor James Dyson.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. Ideally, people should get their vaccination by the end of October but flu activity is currently low and it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Adults over the age of 65 should talk with their doctor about getting the high-dose flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine to help prevent pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. The number of seniors who died from the flu in the 2016-17 season reached 12,230 in the United States, a significant increase from previous years.
Follow this link to the CDC website to learn more about how to stay healthy this winter.