Antibiotic-Resistant 'Superbugs' Show Resistance to Alcohol-Based Sanitizers in Hospitals

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Antibiotic-Resistant 'Superbugs' Show Resistance to Alcohol-Based Sanitizers

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now showing resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants used in place of the controversial ingredient Triclosan in mitigating the spread of these harmful "superbugs."

A recent study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, says these resistant bacteria, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus), could pose greater safety risks in hospital settings where these infections are widespread.

Bacteria that continue to show signs of resistance to sanitizing agents could lead to more deaths as a result of infection. Already more than 20,000 Americans are killed each year from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Antibiotic resistance stems from the overuse of antibiotics by the animal agriculture industries. Administered as a preventative and treatment against infections caused by thousands of animals living together in tight conditions with little access to fresh air or sunlight, antibiotics are also used to enhance animal growth. A side-effect of the drugs, antibiotics help to speed animals to market weight faster than animals raised organically, allowing for more animal cycles per year.

Current estimates suggest the livestock industry consumes nearly 80 percent of all anitbiotics produced in the U.S. The antibiotic resistance issue has been called out by the World Health Organization as a crisis that could lead to a "post-antibiotic era" in which an injury as minor as a scraped knee could become lethal as infections spread and become untreatable.

While the research noted the increasing resistance to alcohol-based disinfectants, it encouraged hospital workers to continue to use the sanitizers to control the spread of harmful bacteria to patients or coworkers.

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