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VRE bacteria develops resistance to hand sanitizers

August 21, 2018

News of a superbug that is becoming tolerant to hand sanitizers has been hitting the headlines. But is this something that care homes need to worry about? Or is there something they can do to tackle the problem?

 

What’s the story?

According to the Smithsonian magazine, researchers have found that a strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria called vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) is growing more resistant to alcohol-based disinfectants.

By analysing samples of a strain of VRE collected from hospitals between 1997 and 2015, which they exposed to alcohol solutions, the researchers found that samples collected after 2010 were 10 times more tolerant to alcohol than the earlier ones.

Though not yet fully resistant to hand sanitizers, the newer VRE samples survived for longer after being exposed to alcohol solutions.

In fact, only VRE exposed to a 70% alcohol mixture were killed completely, something of concern considering that many hand sanitizers only contain 60% alcohol concentrations.

 

What are Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci?

VRE are bacteria that can live in the intestines and female genital tract.

Whilst they do not usually cause illness in healthy people, they can cause urinary tract, wound and bloodstream infections in residents whose immune system is compromised, for example where they are undergoing cancer treatment.

For this reason, it is vital that care homes continue to find a way to destroy this bacteria.

 

What can care homes do?

First, look at the type of hand sanitisers and disinfectants you are using to get rid of bacteria like VRE. The above study only relates to hand sanitisers containing Propan-2-ol (iPA), an ingredient that is used in some but not all hand sanitizers.

If instead you use a product like Virusan, which is based on 70% w/w Ethanol, rather than Propan-2-ol, and CHG (Chlorhexidine Gluconat /Chlorhexidine Digluconate) as active ingredients, it will be effective against VRE.

Likewise, if you need a cleaner and disinfectant for floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces that is effective at destroying VRE, then Virusolve+ will do this for you.

If you want to find out more about Virusan Hand Sanitiser or Hand Scrub click here. In addition to being effective against Vancomycin-resistant Enterococi, it will also kill MRSA, fungi, HBV, HBC, HIV and much more.

For information on our Virusolve+ infection control products for care homes, just click here.