Cross-Contamination by Disinfectant Towelettes Varies by Product Chemistry and Strain

Disinfectant products are used frequently on environmental surfaces (e.g. medical equipment, countertops, patient beds) and patient-care equipment within healthcare facilities. The purpose of this study by Voorn, et al. (2020) was to assess the risk of cross-contamination of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa during and after disinfection of predetermined surface areas with ready-to-use (RTU) pre-wetted disinfectant towelettes.

This study tested six disinfectant towelette products against S. aureus ATCC CRM-6538 and P. aeruginosa strain ATCC-15442 on Formica surfaces. Each disinfectant was evaluated on a hard nonporous surface and efficacy was measured every 0.5 m2 using a modified version of EPA MLB SOP-MB-33 to study the risk of cross-contamination.

The researchers found that all of the wipes used in this study transferred S. aureus and P. aeruginosa from an inoculated surface to previously uncontaminated surfaces. Disinfectant towelettes with certain chemistries also retained a high level of viable bacteria after disinfection of the surface area. The cross-contamination risk also varied by product chemistry and bacterial strain.

Disinfectant wipes can cross-contaminate hard nonporous surfaces and retain viable bacterial cells post-disinfection, especially over larger surface areas. This highlights a need to further investigate the risk disinfectant wipes pose during and post-disinfection and guidance on maximum surface areas treated with a single towelette.

Reference: Voorn MG, et al. Cross-contamination by disinfectant towelettes varies by product chemistry and strain. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 9, No. 141. 2020.

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