Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Hospital Bacterial Species Becoming Tolerant to Alcohol Disinfectants

Alcohol-Resistant Bacteria Superbugs becoming resistant to alcohol disinfectants
Delores Daniels | 07 August, 2018, 17:45

The researchers, co-led by Tim Stinear, Ph.D., a microbiologist at Australia's Doherty Institute, found specific genetic changes over 20 years in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE, and described the bugs as a "new wave of superbugs". This bacteria is already resistant to some antibiotics and is a leading cause of unsafe infections acquired in hospitals, including sepsis and urinary tract infections.

In efforts to tackle the rise of hospital superbugs such as VRE and MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, institutions worldwide have adopted stringent hygiene steps - often involving hand rubs and washes that contain alcohol.

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The bacteria's improved ability to survive hand sanitizer lined up with the hospitals' gradual increase in use of alcohol-based sanitizers. According to Melody Schreiber of NPR, nations around the world have seen increasing rates of enterococcal infections, despite greater use of hand sanitizers.

The isolates gathered after 2009 were on average more tolerant to the alcohol compared to bacteria taken from before 2004. This research focused on bacteria collected from two Australian hospitals from 1997 until 2015, which coincides with an increased usage of hand sanitizers based on alcohol. This experiment, which was repeated several times, showed that alcohol-resistant bacteria infected significantly more rodents than older and less resistant strains.

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"Our findings do not signal the end of hand sanitisers, but indicate you can not rely exclusively on alcohol-based disinfectants to control E faecium in the hospital/health care setting". Once the cages were cleaned, the mice were placed in them for one hour. Subsequent testing revealed that mice exposed to the alcohol-tolerant samples were more likely to have Enterococcus faecium colonizing in their guts. In the result, it was found that more "young" strains of bacteria 70% more resistant to disinfectants alcohol-based. The acquisition by bacteria of resistance to alcohol suggests that in order to insure sterility, it is necessary to use combined detergents that kill bacteria not only through the content of alcohols.

Paul Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases at Austin Health in Australia who also co-led the study, said the findings should not prompt any dramatic change in the use of alcohol-based disinfectants.

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