Superbugs learned a new trick

Avatar By Neil Raymond | 2 years ago

Drug-resistant superbugs are already becoming a big problem in hospitals, and now one seemingly learned a new trick, according to NBC News.

These bugs have evolved resistance to alcohol, the ingredient in hand sanitizers and disinfectants that are one mainstay of hospital infection control, Australian researchers said.

If this information is true, then it could be even harder than it already is to control the spread of infection in hospitals, the researchers wrote in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

If these forms of bacteria can evade the effects of alcohol, it will come as a surprise to many microbiologists, who have assumed that it could not happen. While bacteria can evolve the ability to resist antibiotics, for example by pumping them out, alcohol kills more efficiently.

A research team at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne identified and studied a strain of vancomycin resistant enterococcicalled Enterococcus faecium. It is a common hospital problem and while not particularly deadly, it can make hospitalized patients even sicker.

“The development of alcohol-tolerant strains of E. faecium has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of alcohol-based disinfectant standard precautions and may, in part, explain the increase in VRE infection that is now widely reported in hospitals in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Australia,” they wrote in their report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 23,000 Americans due from drug-resistant infections. This means that the need to battle the spread of these germs is the reason why people are constantly reminded to wash their hands and why dispensers of alcohol foam or gel have appeared everywhere in hospitals and in other public spaces.