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J Hosp Infect. 2007 Jun;65 Suppl 2:60-72.

Bacterial resistance to biocides in the healthcare environment: should it be of genuine concern?

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Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

Erratum in

  • J Hosp Infect. 2007 Sep;67(1):108.


The emergence of bacterial resistance following exposure in healthcare facilities has been a recurrent topic of interest over the last 10 years. The overwhelming and increasing body of evidence from studies in vitro showed that bacteria have an immense capacity to respond to chemical stress brought upon by biocides. Empirically two major types of mechanisms have been described: intrinsic and acquired. However, the increasing documented response from bacteria exposed to biocide in conditions close to those found in practice suggests that intrinsic resistance does not adequately describe bacterial survival mechanisms, and that other terms such as biofilm resistance and environmental resistance would be therefore more appropriate. In addition, such terms are more relevant when describing in-situ conditions. The lack of evidence of bacterial resistance in practice and the inability to correlate emerging bacterial resistance from in-vitro experiments with practical situations is a major drawback when attempting to ascertain whether emerging bacterial resistance in healthcare facilities is of genuine concern. Microbial resistance to high or in-use concentration of biocides has been described in practice, although it remains uncommon. The efficacy of biocides in eliminating bacterial contaminants within healthcare facilities has to be questioned with the widespread and increasing use of products containing low concentrations of biocide or possessing low bactericidal activity, as is the selection of less susceptible bacteria following such exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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