Certain bacteria are growing to be intolerant to hand sanitizers

This Hospital Superbug Can Now Withstand Hand Sanitizer

Hospital bacteria becoming tolerant towards alcohol-based hand sanitizers is a bigger problem indeed.

Globally, hospitals use isopropyl or ethyl alcohol-based disinfectants, such as hand rubs, to prevent patients from becoming sick from many germs. Characteristically hand sanitizers contain 60 % alcohol.

Enterococcus faecium is actually a common gut bacteria but can cause serious illness when encountered at a hospital, with the illnesses ranging from urinary tract infections to bloodstream and surgical wound infections.

One in every 10 hospital-acquired infections across the globe is due to an Enterococci bacterium, which also ranks as the 4 and the 5 leading cause of sepsis in North America and Europe. The cultured bacteria collected after 2009 were up to 10 times more tolerant to alcohol than pre-2004 bacteria - the year the local government pushed the use of hand sanitizers in hospitals. The study was conducted in two Australian hospitals over 19 years, ending in 2015. Experts say that people should stop being so confident about hygiene just because they used alcohol-based hand sanitizers. To get to this conclusion, researchers collected almost 140 E. faecium isolates from hospitals between the years of 1997 and 2015 and tested to see the alcohol-tolerance of each one. They studied how well each sample survived when exposed to diluted isopropyl alcohol.

According to a study that was recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, E. faecium has been growing increasingly tolerant of alcohol-based disinfectants.

Although the results suggest that microbes can adapt to alcohols and other ingredients found in disinfectants, this conclusion cannot be drawn until more research is done, the researchers warn. Tim Stinear, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Melbourne, also suggests that further study needs to be done in other locations to discover just how widespread this really is. One is understanding exactly how the bacteria are becoming more tolerant. In fact, infections with drug-resistant E. For instance, half of such bacterial strains don't respond to vancomycin, a very potent antibiotic which is typically used as a last line of defense when treating infections. Particularly in hospitals, such disinfectants prevent the transmission of potentially harmful pathogens, including some bacteria that are already multidrug-resistant.

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True perhaps in hospitals, but the same might not apply to the world at large.

The founding director of GW's Antibiotic Resistance Action Center and a professor at the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, Lancer Price too was amazed by the research studies.

Hand sanitizers in hospitals and other public places are put in place in order to reduce the chances of bacteria and illness transmission.

"The germs that were tested in this study are really hospital-based germs, not the kind of thing you would encounter in the community routinely", he said.

Still, the findings don't mean that hospitals should ditch the hand sanitizer. "This interesting and carefully done study refutes that assumption". Even when the cages of the mice were cleaned with an alcohol solution, the guts of mice instantly showed signs of alcohol-resistant bacteria.

"It is important for people to understand that this study is specifically concerned with one particular germ that is increasingly implicated in hospital-acquired infections", Scott said.

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