Hand Sanitizers Are Becoming Less Effective Against Germs In Hospitals, Study Finds

Posted: Aug 5 2018, 1:22pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 6 2018, 12:00am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Hand Sanitizers are Becoming Less Effective Against Germs in Hospitals, Study Finds

Bacteria called E. faecium is developing resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Germs in hospital are becoming resistant to common alcohol-based disinfectants, a new study says.

E. faecium, a type of bacteria, is a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections and hand sanitizers are already losing effectiveness against it.

"It's a WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC-recognized superbug. In the hospital it is already resistant to nearly all classes of antibiotics,” said Timothy Stinear, a molecular microbiologist at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “E. faecium has adapted to the health-care environment.”

E. faecium resides in our gut and usually is not harmful but it can cause complicated skin, blood and abdomen infections in a hospital environment. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it kills more than 1,000 people a year in the U.S.

It appears that the bacterium is developing resistance to alcohol-based sanitizers, possibly due to their growing use in hospitals. To see how effectively alcohol would kill off the bacteria, researchers collected more than a hundred E. faecium samples from two Melbourne hospitals and exposed them to diluted isopropyl alcohol. The samples were obtained between 1997 and 2015.

Researchers found that bacteria samples gathered after 2009 were, on average, more resistant to the alcohol compared with bacteria taken from before 2004.

“We were able to identify and document the specific genetic changes that have occurred in the bacteria over the 20 years, which also helps to explain the increased tolerance," said Stinear. "Alcohol-based hand hygiene use has increased 10-fold over the past 20 years in Australian hospitals, so we are using a lot and the environment is changing.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir. With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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