Case example: Research in Applied Hospital Hygiene: Prevention and Control of Hepatitis C Virus Infections

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases worldwide with approximately 71 million virus carriers. According to the Robert Koch Institute about half a million virus carriers live in Germany. It is estimated that one and a half percent of the population is infected in the US and Europe, while in Egypt and Central Africa, the rate is much higher with up to 20 percent. An important aspect in the field of HCV transmission is prevention, because the transmission from blood to blood should be manageable with appropriate hygiene measures.

Previous studies and experience were based almost entirely due to the lack of HCV model systems on studies with the bovine diarrhea virus (BVDV), which is a relative of HCV and can already been cultivated for some time. However, these studies with the surrogate virus for HCV allow only limited reliable assessment of the infectivity of HCV. In our studies in recent years we have been able to show that HCV is infectious on surfaces for several weeks and have for the first time investigated the effect of disinfectants against the virus.

Furthermore, we have established methods to dry HCV on inanimate surfaces and to test stability and hygiene measures. With our studies on the stability of these viruses against disinfectants, including various environmental influences (medicines, breast milk, paraphernalia, etc.), we have made a significant contribution to assessing the transmission risks of viral infections and to defining reliable preventive measures. In another project, we looked at two alcohol-based disinfectants that the World Health Organization (WHO) provides and can be mixed directly in crisis areas. In several publications, we tested these formulations against various viruses and recently evaluated them against emerging viruses such as Zikavirus, Ebolavirus, SARS and MERS. Currently, the methods developed by us are also applied to other "blood-borne viruses" such as the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and future studies should be concerned with the establishment of practical test systems to investigate the use of disinfectant wipes.

13. February 2017

WHO handrub formulations are effective against emerging viruses

In the last few years, previously unknown viruses or viruses, which were considered eliminated, have been unveiled: last year, the World Health Organization WHO declared “A Public Health Emergency of International Concern”...

28. November 2016

Hepatitis C and HIV prophylaxis from the microwave – A powerful kitchen tool reduces viral transmission in the drug injection community

Infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among people who inject drugs (PWID) are a global health problem. For example, sharing of drug preparation equipment within this population...

28. October 2013

28 October 2013 As strong as a disinfectant: breast milk inactivates hepatitis C viruses

Experts agree that breast milk during the first months of life is the best food for babies. But what to do if the mother suffers from viral infection of hepatitis C? Is "Breast" still "best"? Scientists at the...