Neutropaenic patients are susceptible to fungal infection, which are extremely difficult to treat and can often be fatal. The problem is that fungi are all around us - especially in the air. This isn't a problem for healthy people, but can be a major problem for neutropaenic patients, who have a low white cell count so struggle to fight infection. An emerging approach to this problem is the use of stand alone air handlers to reduce the amount of fungi in the air. A recent study shows that this approach significantly reduced the rate of Aspergillosis in neutropaenic patients.
The study was performed over two years in patients with chemotherapy-induced neutropaenia in a haematology ICU. Half of the 15 bed unit was fitted with Plasmair air decontamination units. Regular environmental sampling demonstrated a significant reduction in air contamination above 5 cfu/m3 (7% vs. 19%), and particle count above 350,000 per m3 (4% vs. 93%). There was also a non-significant reduction in surface contamination in Plasmair-containing rooms. More importantly, there as a significant reduction in the rate of Aspergillosis in patients admitted to Plasmair-containing rooms (1 case) vs. non-Plasmair-containing rooms (10 cases) (odds ratio 0.11, 95% confidence interval 0.00-0.84).
The study isn't perfect: patients were not randomised to the different rooms, and the number of clinical cases of Aspergillosis was low. However, the study does demonstrate a stark environment and clinical impact of Plasmair in patients who have chemotherapy-induced neutropaenia.