Public health advocates have warned for years that overuse of common antibacterial agents leads to build up of resistance in microorganisms, including those that can cause death and disease. Now, new research gives more evidence that even professional healthcare workers are part of the problem.
According to news reports, microbiologist Gareth Williams of the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University has presented findings indicating that disinfectant wipes commonly used in hospitals may actually spread drug-resistant bacteria rather than kill them. Williams addressed the American Society of Microbiology's General Meeting in Boston on the issue.
Williams and his team in Wales looked at two hospitals and focused on bacteria that included methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which can cause unsightly boils and other infections, including some that can be life-threatening.
The researchers found that many hospital workers used the same wipe to scrub down multiple surfaces, which was found to spread bacteria around, rather than remove it. They recommend using a single disposable wipe per surface.
Such a procedure would result in mountains of discarded wipes, which would take a lot of resources, not to mention money. So it's not surprising that busy, money conscious staffers would try to make wipes last longer. But clearly this approach is problematic.
In less germ-intensive environments than hospitals, such as ordinary homes, most experts recommend not using antibacterial wipes for typical surfaces, which really aren't needed (beyond soap and water) and can clearly contribute to dangerous resistance.
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