basic principles is all it could take to reduce the incidence of MRSA
in hospitals according to a new research by Cardiff University.
are routinely used on hard surfaces in hospitals to kill bacteria, with
antimicrobial containing wipes increasingly being employed for this
purpose. Antimicrobial wipes were first introduced in 2005 in hospitals
A study by the University's Welsh School of
Pharmacy looked into the ability of antimicrobial-surface wipes to
remove, kill and prevent the spread of such infections as MRSA. They
found that current protocols utilised by hospital staff have the
potential to spread pathogens after only the first use of a wipe,
particularly due to the ineffectiveness of wipes to actually kill
The team, led by microbiologist Dr Jean-Yves
Maillard is now calling for a 'one wipe – one application – per
surface' approach to infection control in healthcare environments.
research involved a surveillance programme observing hospital staff
using surface wipes to decontaminate surfaces near patients, such as
bed rails, and other surfaces commonly touched by staff and patients,
such as monitors, tables and key pads. It was found that the wipes were
being applied to the same surface several times and used on consecutive
surfaces before being discarded.
These actions were then
replicated in the lab alongside a three-step system, developed by the
research team to test the ability of several commercially available
wipes to disinfect surfaces contaminated with strains Staphylococcus
aureus, including MRSA and MSSA. The system tested the removal of
pathogens, the transmission of them, and the anti-microbial properties
The study revealed that although some wipes can
remove higher numbers of bacteria from surfaces than others, the wipes
tested were unable to kill the bacteria removed. As a result, high
numbers of bacteria were transferred to other surfaces when reused.
Gareth Williams, microbiologist at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, said:
"Claims of effectiveness, such as 'kills MRSA', are ubiquitous on the
packaging of antimicrobial-containing wipes. Methods currently
available to test the performance of these products may be
inappropriate since they do not assess the ability of wipes to actually
disinfect surfaces. We have developed a simple, rapid, robust and
reproducible method which will help identify best practice in the use
of the wipes.
"Our surveillance study in its own right has
been highly revealing in that it has highlighted the risks associated
with the way decontamination products are currently being deployed in
Welsh hospitals and the need for routine observation as well as proper
training in the use of these wipes in reducing risks of infection to
"On the whole, wipes can be effective in removing,
killing and preventing the transfer of pathogens such as MRSA but only
if used in the right way. We found that the most effective way is to
prevent the risk of MRSA spread in hospital wards is to ensure the wipe
is used only once on one surface."
It is anticipated the
research will promote a UK and worldwide routine surveillance programme
examining the effectiveness of disinfectants used in hospitals, and if
applied will help assure the public that control measures are being
carefully scrutinised would undoubtedly be beneficial.
Dr Gareth Williams is presenting the research findings at the American
Society of Microbiology's 108th General Meeting in Boston,
Massachusetts on 3rd June.