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German scientists develop fast-acting germ killer

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A new fast-acting disinfectant that is effective against bacteria, viruses and other germs could help stop the spread of deadly infections in hospitals, German scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin said they had developed a fast-acting, practical formula which would kill germs on surgical instruments without damaging them through corrosion.

Disinfectants are the first line of defense against the spread of hospital-acquired infections and effective cleaning of surgical instruments is vital to beating them.

The German formula works against a wide range of germs, including some that survive ordinary disinfectants, such as Mycobacterium avium bacteria which can cause a tuberculosis-type illness and enteroviruses that may cause polio.

Drug-resistant bacteria, the so-called "superbugs," are a growing problem in hospitals worldwide and poor hygiene among staff is often blamed for the spread of such infections.

They kill about 25,000 people a year in Europe and about 19,000 in the United States.
 
 

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