Hand sanitizers becoming less effective against some bacteria
A new study out of Australia has found that some superbugs are becoming more resistant to alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — New research has found that certain germs are becoming more and more resistant to hand sanitizers.
CNN reports that alcohol-based disinfectants are widely used to eliminate germs, and have proven effective against reducing infections like those caused by the staphylococcus bacteria.
But a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine noticed a rise enterococcal infections, suggesting that the bacteria that causes it may have developed a tolerance to alcohol.
Alcohol is believed to kill bacteria by dissolving their cellular membrane, so it was thought that germs and viruses were unable to adapt to it.
Researchers analyzed 139 types of bacteria from 1997 to 2015 and found that on average, those taken after 2009 tolerated alcohol more than pre- 2004 strains.
Further testing showed that the alcohol-tolerant bacteria appeared in the guts of mice even after their cages were cleaned with sanitizing wipes.
Currently, the enterococcus bacteria can only be killed with a 70% alcohol solution, according to NPR, though It's unclear if the bacteria will mutate to tolerate higher concentrations, or even build total resistance.
The study authors say this doesn't mean people should give up hand sanitizers altogether, but there's a strong indication washing with soap and water is still the best way to eliminate germs."
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