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J Hosp Infect. 1991 Jul;18(3):211-8.

Hygienic hand disinfection for the removal of epidemic vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium and gentamicin-resistant Enterobacter cloacae.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, King's College School of Medicine & Dentistry, London.


An outbreak strain of Enterococcus faecium, bearing plasmid-mediated vancomycin resistance, and an epidemic gentamicin-resistant, multiply-resistant strain of Enterobacter cloacae, both survived well on fingertips of three volunteers for up to 30 minutes after inoculation. Hand disinfection of inoculated fingers with 60% isopropyl alcohol, or with alcoholic chlorhexidine, reliably gave a 4 log10 reduction of both test organisms. Enterobacter cloacae could not be detected in any finger washings, even by enrichment culture. Chlorhexidine digluconate and povidone-iodine were also effective against E. faecium and Ent. cloacae, giving 4 log10 reductions, but finger washings taken after disinfection yielded low counts of the test strains, e.g. less than 45 recoverable colony forming units (cfu) per finger. Handwashing with soap and water was the least reliable method. The epidemicity, serious antimicrobial multiple resistance and survival on finger-tips of these two strains justifies the use of handwashing agents which have maximum effect. The rapid bactericidal (and residual) activity of alcoholic chlorhexidine suggests that, on the basis of present evidence, it is the preferred agent for hygienic hand disinfection against such strains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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