Problem: Contaminated surfaces
A host of different disease-causing microorganisms can survive on everyday surfaces.
For example, the virus that causes COVID-19 can be detected on plastic and steel for two to three days. Other hardy strains like Streptococcus pyogenes and Clostridium difficile can live outside the body for weeks or even months.
Touching a contaminated surface helps spread the disease. Outbreaks like COVID-19 make the staggering impacts of pandemics clear, both in lives lost and economic costs. Meanwhile, common infections like the seasonal flu kill roughly half a million people around the world each year, serving as regular reminders of the dangers posed by tainted tabletops and sneeze-laden swing sets.
By addressing this mode of transmission, GermStopSQ helps curb the spread of a host of diseases.
Contaminated surfaces are especially dangerous in hospitals. In Canada, one in eight patients will pick up a hospital-acquired infection (HAI), leading to longer stays and greater pain. In some cases, those infections prove fatal, killing about 8,000 Canadians each year and costing the health-care system more than $100 million in prolonged hospitalization, treatments, surveillance and special control measures. In the U.S., approximately two million patients get HAIs annually, causing 90,000 deaths and costing billions of dollars.
Disinfectants offer a powerful way to stop transmission. But it’s not easy to sanitize every square inch with enough contact time to kill the microorganisms that might be hiding there. A 2011 study found that even after four rounds of bleach disinfection, 27 per cent of hospital rooms still contained either Acinetobacter baumannii or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), major causes of hospital-acquired infections. Ineffective measures can even lead to antimicrobial resistance — a top 10 global health threat alongside global flu pandemics and Ebola, according to the World Health Organization in 2019.
The costly common cold
Even the humble cold carries a hefty price tag. According to one study, the average employee who comes down with a cold loses more than eight hours of productivity. Over the course of a year, colds cost U.S. companies an estimated $25 billion in time off — either because an employee is ill or they’re staying home to care for a sick child. Meanwhile, the common cold costs Americans billions of dollars annually in doctor visits, medications and treatments for secondary infections.