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Study: Bacteria becoming immune to disinfectants

December 28, 2009
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GALWAY, Ireland — A new study by the National University of Ireland at Galway that was published in the journal Microbiology suggests that certain bacteria have adapted to survive not only common antibiotics, but also the disinfectants used to clean surfaces, according to LiveScience.
According to the story, researchers, who focused on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium responsible for a range of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), found that the bacteria — when exposed to disinfectants — were able to efficiently pump out antimicrobial agents, causing a genetic mutation that allowed them to resist various antibiotics, specifically ciprofloxacin.
Though more research is needed, the new study suggests disinfectants may be part of the problem of resistant bacteria, the story stated.
Dr. Gerard Fleming of the National University of Ireland in Galway and lead researcher said: "In principle, this means that residue from incorrectly diluted disinfectants left on hospital surfaces could promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. What is more worrying is that bacteria seem to be able to adapt to resist antibiotics without even being exposed to them. We need to investigate the effects of using more than one type of disinfectant on promoting antibiotic-resistant strains. This will increase the effectiveness of both our first and second lines of defense against HAIs."
Studying the environmental factors that might promote resistant bacteria is very important as superbugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have become a deadly and growing problem in hospitals in recent years, the story noted.
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