Texas company owner explains Ebola decontamination

Austin -- If a case turned up in Central Texas -- what measures would be taken to clean up the places where patients have stayed? KVUE talked with the owner of the Dallas company that decontaminated the apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan stayed. The company has an office in Austin.

The Cleaning Guys Hazmat team has been there from the beginning -- not only cleaning up Duncan's apartment -- but also the section of Presbyterian Hospital where doctors kept him isolated and now the apartment of the nurse who contracted Ebola working his case.

From Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, to the first Ebola patient's apartment and now the second – the Cleaning Guys Hazmat team has been on the job under the direction of the CDC. As for what's cleaned, destroyed and removed…

"It's really based on if the person is symptomatic while they're inside," said Erick McCallum, the owner of Cleaning Guys. He says if the patient shows symptoms prior to being taken to a hospital, there's little question of what needs to be done inside their home.

"Unless it's an item that can't be replaced, it will be destroyed," said McCallum. "Cost effectively it's better to get rid of it than it is to try to take the time to neutralize something."

McCallum says his team uses a process that goes beyond the CDC recommended bleach water solution.

"We go through with three different items including the bleach water to reassure that everything is neutralized and then some," he said.

While scrubbing things by hand can remove some of the Ebola contamination, McCallum says it leaves too much room for error. So his team fills the room with a static electric charge that allows the disinfectant – an extremely high concentration of hydrogen peroxide -- to attach itself more effectively to the targeted areas.

"It allows the fluid to attach to the product to neutralize every nook and cranny," said McCallum.

The disinfectant fluid contains dye markers.

"We can come through with a black light, and we can see everything that's been hit to be sure nothing's been missed," he said.

McCallum says everything removed is triple bagged and placed in sealed containers – all inside the home. As for making sure his workers don't get contaminated during the process, he says it's all about….

"Training, training, training -- that's what we pride ourselves on here," he said.

McCallum's staff works on a buddy system. They put on hazmat suits – in a clean area -- while the buddy -- also in a hazmat suit -- makes sure everything is secure and masks, gloves, and other areas that could be exposed are sealed shut with tape. The same buddy system is used to remove the hazmat gear – which is then destroyed. While some companies decontaminate their gear and use it again, McCallum says it's better to be safe than sorry.

Click here for a link to the Cleaning Guys website.


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