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Originally published September 17 2008

Hospital Warning: Antibacterial Wipes Found to Spread Superbugs

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The disinfectant wipes used in hospitals are more likely to spread dangerous infections than to prevent them as currently used, a study conducted by researchers from Cardiff University and presented at the general meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in Boston has warned.

Researchers observed the cleaning procedures in the intensive care units of two Welsh hospitals. They noted that staff tended to use disinfectant wipes on more than one surface, rather than using a clean wipe for each surface.

"There was a tendency for the staff in the intensive-care unit to ... move on to consecutive surfaces in close proximity to the initial surface," said lead researcher Gareth Williams. "So from a bed rail to a table, for instance. ... with the same wipe. That set the alarm bells ringing."

The researchers then tested how effective three different types of disinfectant wipes were at killing and removing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). One type of wipe contained a detergent, another contained a disinfectant and the last contained a natural antimicrobial.

Rather than killing most of the bacteria on a surface, the wipes were more likely to scoop them up.

"We found that all three wipes suffered from the same problem" Williams said, "in that they transferred high numbers [of bacteria] and in fact in most cases uncountable numbers to consecutive surfaces. ... too many to count to the consecutive surfaces."

"These disinfectants don't kill all the bugs. That's not how they work," said Andrew Simor, head of microbiology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto. "You're physically removing a layer of the organisms. But that doesn't necessarily kill them. And so it's easy to pick them up and transfer them to another area."

"We found that the most effective way to prevent the risk of MRSA spread in hospital wards is to ensure the wipe is used only once on one surface," Williams said.

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