Handwash disinfectants containing isopropyl alcohol or ethanol disinfectants are currently being widely used in hospitals around the world, and it does reduce the infection rate of super bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
But a terrible thing is happening: According to a recent study published in the journal Science, Translational Medicine, a popular science-based translational disinfectant, the current alcohol-based hand sanitizer is now the same as antibiotics. On the road – super bacteria are constantly evolving and have been able to resist hand sanitizers.
After 2009, bacteria are more tolerant
Alcohol-based hand wash disinfectants usually contain more than 70% isopropanol or ethanol. They generally destroy bacteria – alcohol kills them by tearing the outer membrane of the bacteria. Therefore, this hand sanitizer and related hand cleaning programs are the main strategies for health care institutions to control infection on a global scale. The introduction of this method has led to a significant decline in some acquired infections in hospitals.
However, bacterial strains that could have been easily killed have gradually evolved resistance. Researchers have shown that an infection called Enterococcus faecium is on the rise in hospitals.
To better understand the details of this bacterial transmission, the team conducted a detailed analysis of bacterial samples collected between two hospitals in Australia between 1997 and 2015. It was found that the bacteria gradually resisted alcohol-based disinfectants. According to the study, samples collected after 2009 were more tolerant to alcohol than samples collected before 2004.
According to the report, in 2002, the hospital began to use alcohol-based disinfectants. In the two hospitals that collected bacterial samples, 100 liters of alcohol-based hand sanitizer was used every month in 2001, but in 2015, 1000 liters per month was used, and the amount increased by 10 Times.
Alcohol disinfectants turn into “accomplice”?
On the one hand, bacteria have gradually improved their tolerance for alcohol; on the other hand, hospitals are still increasing the use of alcohol disinfectants to improve hygiene and prevent the spread of bacteria. Combined with bacterial monitoring data and mouse-related experiments, the researchers believe that the alcohol disinfection measures taken by the hospital may be “opposite”, but expand the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This enterococci is originally an intestinal symbiotic bacteria in humans and many animals, but enterococci are characterized by the ability to produce drugs that are resistant to drugs, making them less susceptible to antibiotics, and also easily spreading drug resistance. Become an important pathogen of clinical infection.
According to the research team’s report, enterococci account for about one-tenth of all hospital-acquired bacterial infections worldwide, and are the fourth and fifth most common causes of sepsis in North America and Europe. Enterococcus faecium is the most difficult to treat in all enterococcal infections. A survey in Australia found that Enterococcus faecium caused 1/3 of the country’s enterococci infections, 90% of which were resistant to ampicillin. 50% is also resistant to vancomycin.
Even more troubling is the discovery that bacterial resistance continues to increase even with alcohol-based disinfectants.
The hospital needs to optimize the disinfection plan
This new discovery means that the hospital originally expected to increase the use of alcohol-based disinfectants to prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce infections, but this has made the drug-resistant Enterococcus faeces improve their alcohol tolerance.
But the researchers also said they need more research to verify and understand this “alcohol resistance.”
However, regardless of the cause of the bacteria’s resistance to alcohol, it is destroying the effectiveness of standard precautions based on alcohol disinfectants. So, to some extent, this also seems to reveal why hospitals in Europe, Asia, and the Americas have reported an increase in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus infection.
In light of this, the researchers called on the hospital to rethink the alcohol-based disinfection program and optimize it.Include sufficient dosage, adequate disinfection time, and use or add other cleaning agents and disinfection methods.