According to UK researchers, bleach is not effective against a deadly superbug commonly found in hospitals.
According to researchers, liquid bleach is not effective in eliminating a hospital superbug that can result in deadly infections.
According to the researchers, alternative methods are necessary for disinfection in care facilities.
Clostridium difficile, also known as C diff, is a type of bacteria found in the human gut. While it can coexist alongside other bacteria without problem, a disruption to gut flora can allow C diff to flourish, leading to bowel problems including diarrhoea and colitis.
Serious infections have the potential to be fatal, resulting in 1,910 individuals in England dying within 30 days of contracting an infection during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Individuals with a higher likelihood of developing C diff infections include those who are 65 years or older, individuals who are hospitalized, people with a compromised immune system, and those taking antibiotics. Some people may also experience multiple infections.
The government’s updated guidelines from 2019 state that cleaning products containing chlorine and with a minimum of 1,000 ppm available chlorine should be used as a disinfectant to combat C diff.
According to researchers, it is improbable to be effective as their studies indicate that even at elevated levels, sodium hypochlorite, a commonly used bleach, is not superior to water in its ability to accomplish the task.
Dr. Tina Joshi, a co-author of the study from the University of Plymouth, explains that as antimicrobial resistance continues to rise, it is important for individuals to understand that excessive use of biocides can lead to tolerance in specific microbes. This is evident in the case of chlorine and C diff.
According to her, although chlorine-based compounds were previously successful in eliminating these bacteria, this is no longer true.
She stated that the UK currently does not have a established protocol for disinfecting C diff and believes it should be addressed promptly.
In a study published in the journal Microbiology, Joshi and his team discuss their findings on the effects of sodium hypochlorite bleach on spores from three strains of Clostridium difficile. The spores were exposed to varying concentrations of bleach, ranging from 1,000 ppm to 10,000 ppm, for 10 minutes before being neutralized.
The scientists subsequently tried to grow the spores on agar dishes and compared the outcomes to the spores that were only exposed to water or a neutralizing agent.
The findings indicate that spores from three different types of C diff were able to survive even when exposed to three different levels of bleach. This did not have a significant impact on their ability to germinate compared to the control group. Further examination of the spores using scanning electron microscopy revealed no visible damage after exposure to the cleaning agent.
The scientists also exposed C diff spores to pieces of cloth taken from recently used surgical scrubs and patient gowns. They then checked if the spores would transfer when the fabric touched an agar plate.
The researchers discovered that the spores were mostly still present on the gowns and scrubs, regardless of being exposed to varying amounts of bleach.
Joshi noted that the spores are clearly attaching to the fibers, indicating that these items could potentially serve as reservoirs for transmission.
According to Joshi, the new task has significant consequences. She stated, “Even when attempting to disinfect various surfaces, chlorine is not effective in its role as a biocide.”