Good news everyone: those superbugs we're all so afraid of? They're evolving to be immune to a number of those popular alcohol-based hand sanitizers we all assumed would help to keep us from getting sick. Nature's amazing!
Seriously though, the planet is totally trying to kill us for all the shit we do to it.
From Ars Technica:
Bacteria gathered from two hospitals in Australia between 1997 and 2015 appeared to gradually get better at surviving the alcohol used in hand sanitizers, researchers found. The bacteria's boost in booze tolerance seemed in step with the hospitals' gradually increasing use of alcohol-based sanitizers within that same time period—an increase aimed at improving sanitation and thwarting the spread of those very bacteria. Yet the germ surveillance data as well as a series of experiments the researchers conducted in mice suggest that the effort might be backfiring and that the hooch hygiene may actually be encouraging the spread of drug-resistant pathogens.
The more the bacteria drink, the higher their resistance to alcohol becomes. They're just like us!
The bacteria that researchers are most concerned about becoming tolerant to current booze-based sanitation products is called enterococcus faecium: it's responsible for the majority of infections that folks pick up in a hospital environment and has already proven to be resistant to a number of antibiotics. According to this report, bacterial tolerance to alcohol-based sanitizers could undermine the way that hospitals prevent the spread of bacteria and other ugly stuff, on a world-wide basis.
Happy Hump Day.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Manchester City Library