Bacteria increasingly resistant to hand sanitizer in hospitals — 6 study findings in 'Science Translational Medicine'

Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to alcohol-based disinfectants used in hospitals, such as hand rubs, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers tested alcohol tolerance of 139 hospital isolates of Enterococcus faecium collected between 1997 and 2015.

Here's what they found:

1. E. faecium has developed increased tolerance to alcohol-based disinfectants widely used for infection control in hospitals.

2. E. faecium isolates after 2010 were 10 times more resistant to alcohol than older isolates were.

3. In a mouse gut colonization model, alcohol-tolerant E. faecium resisted standard 70 percent isopropanol surface disinfection, causing greater gut colonization than alcohol-sensitive E. faecium.

4. Alcohol-tolerant E. faecium developed mutations in genes involved in carbohydrate uptake and metabolism, meaning these genes play a role in E. faecium's isopropanol tolerance.

5. The growing resistance might help explain a recent increase in healthcare infections caused by E. faecium.

6. Researchers concluded bacterial adaptation makes it necessary to develop additional procedures to prevent E. faecium from spreading in hospital settings.

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