NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A robot built locally will aid in the fight against Ebola in Africa. The germ-killing device was invented by a Charleston physician who is traveling to Monrovia, Liberia Tuesday to train hospital staff to use the units.
Two of the 5-foot-5-inch robots were deployed to Liberia last week where they will help disinfect environments where Ebola patients are being treated.
Inventor Dr. Jeffery Deal designed the first prototype of the TRU-D Smart UVC in the early two-thousands. The portable device uses sensors to measure the size and geometry of a room.
It emits a wavelength of ultraviolet light that targets an entire space. According to Deal, the energy can change the DNA structure of viruses and bacteria in such a way that it destroys them, keeping them from reproducing.
"All living organisms have DNA or RNA. It's a double-stranded helix, and what this wavelength does, it creates breaks in that. If it's a one-strand break, in certain kinds of bacteria, they can repair themselves. A double-stranded break is universally fatal to every cell, every organism."
According to health officials, Liberia is one of the worst-affected nations with more than 30 new cases being discovered in Monrovia every day. Deal says, during this outbreak, hospital-acquired infections have been a leading cause of death.
Ten to 15 percent of the cases and the mortalities have occurred in healthcare workers. People come to the hospital and the nursing staff catches Ebola. In fact, they've lost several physicians in Sierra Leone and Liberia to Ebola."
"We're very confident that he will be able to teach hospital workers and hospital staff there to use the device, effectively, on their own and to leave it behind for very long-term use and benefit for the people of Liberia," says Chuck Dunn, the president and CEO of TRU-D.