Ecolab's 'Hydris' Reduces Flu Risk at Hamline University

Updated: 10/03/2013 5:15 PM By: Katherine Johnson

In just minutes, three different people use one computer and hundreds of students are in and out of the same doors. Close to 1,000 people use the Anderson Center on Hamline University in St. Paul every day.

"The door handles, the light switches, going from basically one hand to another hand to the door surface," said Jim Tarara of Ecolab. "The transmission of those if someone's sick can rapidly find it's way through the student population."

"Oh, God, our communal bathrooms are so gross," said Sophomore Phoenix Mongin.

For the Chemistry major, missing class for the flu is not an option.

"I know a couple people were sick and the cough just sort of starts and my professor was like 'Oh God, it's coming!'" she recalled.

But a machine, about the size of a fridge, can help. Ecolab's Hydris makes three cleaning solutions that kill viruses like the flu in less than five minutes. Most normal cleaners take ten minutes to work.  

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, last flu season, 487 schools throughout the state reported a flu outbreak. Also, 105 long-term care facilities like nursing homes said the virus was spreading there. It's the communal living and shared buildings, like a college campus, that makes for a perfect breeding ground for the virus.

"On a close, small college campus, you're just around people so much," said Mongin.

Hydris cuts the chance of spreading the flu at Hamline in half, so students like Mongin don't have to suffer through the semester.

The product also protects students from other germs, like Staph, E. coli, MRSA and Norovirus. That's a key point since it's those secondary infections to the flu that often kill people.

There are no plans to make a similar product that will work in your home, but Hydris could soon end up in schools and airports and make those places more sanitary.