A plastic, mechanically ventilated source isolator with filters in the air effluent was designed to enable infected patients to be nursed and treated in a general ward or to be transported without risk to staff or other contacts.
Two models of isolator were developed. Their potential value was tested by the challenge of heavy dispersal, inside the isolator, of bacteria (a) from patients with burns, during the change of dressings, (b) from contaminated bedding during simulated bed-making, and (c) from the dispersal of a suspension of Bacillus subtilis var. globigii.
Sampling of air by slit samplers outside the isolator and, in comparable control patients, from the air of the room in which dressings were changed, showed consistently lower counts of bacteria and of Staph. aureus during dressings when the isolator was used; on removal of the isolator canopy there was, in some experiments, a considerable increase in airborne bacteria, due to residual bacteria in the isolator or to the re-dispersal of bacteria which settled on the patient and his bedding during the dressing.
Simultaneous sampling with slit samplers inside and outside the isolator during and after bed-making or dispersal of B. subtilis var. globigii showed an almost complete protection of the air outside the isolator against contamination by bacteria released inside the isolator.