Medicine

New superbug fear as hospital bacteria become ‘immune’ to disinfectant handwash

New superbug fear as hospital bacteria become ‘immune’ to disinfectant handwash

Hospital superbugs are becoming resistant to alcohol - which is used in handwashes as a means to control their spread.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now showing resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants used in place of the controversial ingredient Triclosan in mitigating the spread of these harmful "superbugs".

They found strong evidence that the superbug vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) is growing increasingly immune to alcohol-based disinfectants.

However, scientists have discovered that the use of alcohol sanitizers has led to increased frequency of diseases caused by vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).

'It only impacts the most susceptible people - so healthy people do not get VRE infections'.

To combat this, hospitals around the world have adopted strict hygiene procedures that generally involve hand rubs or washes containing ethyl or isopropyl alcohol disinfectants. They found the alcohol resistant strains in the mice poop and that both antibiotic-resistant and normal strains of the bacteria had the same rate of tolerance, which doesn't bode well for the future.




Alcohol-based disinfectants and particularly handrubs are a key way to control hospital infections worldwide.

The researchers analyzed 139 isolated bacterial samples from two Melbourne hospitals, gathered from 1997 up until 2015, and examined how well each of them managed to resist exposure to diluted isopropyl alcohol.

Tim Stinear, a microbiologist at Australia's Doherty Institute who co-led the study, said that in Australia alone, use of the alcohol-based hand hygiene has increased tenfold over the past 20 years.

"Alcohol-based hand rubs are global pillars of hospital infection control and remain highly effective in reducing transmission of other hospital superbugs, particularly MRSA", he said.

Their findings were published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Instead they suggested trying higher-alcohol concentrate products and renewed efforts to deep clean hospitals while isolating patients found to carry VRE.


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