Bacterial superbugs are becoming increasingly tolerant of alcohol, the key ingredient of the hand sanitizers used to prevent infections in many hospitals. In a study published this week in Science Translational Medicine, researchers analyzed 139 samples of Enterococcus faecium bacteria collected from two hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, between 1997 and 2015. Samples taken after 2010 were 10 times more tolerant to alcohol exposure, coinciding with the increased use of hand sanitizer in Australian hospitals after it was first introduced in the early 2000s, The Guardian reports. The superbug is known to colonize patients’ guts, causing serious infections in the bloodstream, and is resistant to nearly all antibiotics, the scientists say.
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