Multidrug-resistant “superbugs” that can cause dangerous infections in hospitals are becoming increasingly resistant to alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants designed to hold them at bay, scientists said.
In a study of what the researchers described as a “new wave of superbugs”, the team also found specific genetic changes over 20 years in vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, or VRE – and were able to track and show its growing resistance.
Their findings were published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
VRE bugs can cause urinary tract, wound and bloodstream infections that are notoriously difficult to treat, mainly because they are resistant to several classes of antibiotics.
In efforts to tackle the rise of hospital superbugs such as VRE and MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, institutions worldwide have adopted stringent hygiene steps – often involving hand rubs and washes that contain alcohol.