Nkemngong, et al. (2020) state that pre-wetted disinfectant wipes are increasingly being used in healthcare facilities to help address the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). However, HAIs are still a major problem in the U.S., with Clostridioides difficile being the most common cause, leading to approximately 12,800 deaths annually in the U.S. An underexplored risk when using disinfectant wipes is that they may cross-contaminate uncontaminated surfaces during the wiping process. The objective of this study was to determine the cross-contamination risk that pre-wetted disinfectant towelettes may pose when challenged with C. difficile spores. The researchers hypothesized that although the tested disinfectant wipes had no sporicidal claims, they will reduce spore loads. They also hypothesized that hydrogen peroxide disinfectant towelettes would present a lower cross-contamination risk than quaternary ammonium products.
They evaluated the risk of cross-contamination when disinfectant wipes are challenged with C. difficile ATCC 43598 spores on Formica surfaces. A disinfectant wipe was used to wipe a Formica sheet inoculated with C. difficile. After the wiping process, they determined log10 CFU on previously uncontaminated pre-determined distances from the inoculation point and on the used wipes.
The researchers found that the disinfectant wipes transferred C. difficile spores from inoculated surfaces to previously uncontaminated surfaces. They also found that wipes physically removed C. difficile spores and that hydrogen peroxide disinfectants were more sporicidal than the quaternary ammonium disinfectants.
The researchers conclude that regardless of the product type, all disinfectant wipes had some sporicidal effect but transferred C. difficile spores from contaminated to otherwise previously uncontaminated surfaces. Disinfectant wipes retain C. difficile spores during and after the wiping process.
Reference: Nkemngong CA, Chaggar GK, et al. Disinfectant wipes transfer Clostridioides difficile spores from contaminated surfaces to uncontaminated surfaces during the disinfection process. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 9, No. 176. 2020.