Antimicrobial resistance: a problem with disinfectants
South African scientists warn of grave danger that disinfectant use against SARS-CoV-2 could be helping bacteria to become resistant to disinfectants.
SARS-CoV-2 is susceptible to most disinfectants including those containing 70% ethanol and should be able to kill the virus fairly quickly. However, there is a growing risk of microbial resistance to disinfectants and antibiotics, says a group of South African scientists at the University of the Free State (UFS) who are at the cutting edge of researching the current pandemic.
Nevertheless, it was found that some bacteria are highly resistant to several commercially available disinfectants. These bacteria are currently still quite rare, and the work of the Veterinary Biotechnology group at the UFS aims to prevent the development of more highly resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest life-threatening challenges of our time – even overshadowing the current pandemic – as multidrug-resistant infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat. Bacterial infections that are present in hospitals and agriculture are becoming unresponsive to many of the antibiotics currently in use, marking the start of a post-antibiotic era, say the South African scientists.
The research group is currently monitoring disinfectant resistance, looking at which microorganisms are resistant to which disinfectants. It takes environmental samples and test the levels of disinfectant resistance to observe the development and spread thereof.
With an understanding of the development of disinfectant resistance, the Veterinary Biotechnology group will be able to make recommendations to hospitals and the agricultural industry on how to prevent the development of these resistant microorganisms.