Multidrug-resistant pathogen becoming more tolerant to alcohol

A study, published in Science Translational Medicine, found that a certain type of multidrug-resistant pathogen is becoming increasingly tolerant to alcohol-based infection control products, such as disinfectants and hand rubs.

Australian researchers tested alcohol tolerance of 139 hospital isolates of multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecium obtained between 1997 and 2015. They developed an assay that they used to test the tolerance of the isolates to a solution containing 23 percent isopropyl alcohol, according to Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Researchers found E. faecium isolates after 2010 were 10-fold more tolerant to alcohol as compared to older isolates.

Additionally, the researchers used a mouse model to further test tolerance to alcohol. They placed E faecium isolates on the floors of mice cages and wiped them down with a solution containing 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, which is the same amount of alcohol that hand rubs contain. The study shows that isolates resisted the alcohol and colonized the guts of the mice, CIDRAP reports.

"These findings suggest that bacterial adaptation is complicating infection control recommendations, necessitating additional procedures to prevent E. faecium from spreading in hospital settings," study authors concluded.


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