C. diff persists on hospital gowns after disinfection, study finds

Clostridium difficile remains on surgical gowns despite treatment with recommended disinfectant, according to a study published July 12 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

To conduct the study, researchers placed C. diff spores directly onto surgical gowns in liquid for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and 10 minutes before they were removed and discarded. The procedure was designed to imitate the transfer of infectious bodily fluids in the clinical setting. The number of spores taken from gowns did not increase with contact time, the researchers found, suggesting the spore transfer occurred within the first 10 seconds of contact.

Next, researchers treated the gowns with a disinfectant containing 1,000 ppm chlorine for 10 minutes. They still found C. diff spores on the gowns after the disinfectant. Stainless steel and vinyl flooring also retained the spores following disinfection.

"This shows that spores are becoming resistant," said Tina Joshi, PhD, a lecturer in molecular microbiology at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. "We need to reconsider how we decontaminate and employ hygiene measures in hospitals."

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